For almost twenty years now I have been engaged in writing a
literary history of the United States. This was planned to fill five
volumes, and I expect the final volume will be published in 1951. In
my earlier work I was more concerned with criticism in the proper
sense. I look upon this, in fact, as my natural sphere, and I hope to
return to it when my history is finished. But, occupied as I have
been for so long with history, I have scarcely been able to do any-
thing else, and therefore I have chosen, as an example of my work,
a passage from one of my five historical volumes.
In this sketch of the poet Robinson, characterization and criticism
are combined in a manner that is typical of my historical series.
Robinson himself was the forerunner of the modern American
movement in poetry, and I think it is generally acknowledged that
his reputation has risen steadily since his death in 1935. While I
suppose he will always remain a locally American figure, he is more
than ever, in a literary sense, alive.
VAN WYCK BROOKS
WITH HENRY ADAMS, the New England mind seemed to have come full circle. It had passed through its springtime, its summer and Indian summer, and Edwin Arlington Robinson was not the only Yankee who saw
A dreary, cold, unwholesome day,
As if the world were turning the wrong way,
And the sun dead.
Had Charles Francis Adams's "ice-age" reappeared in this vigorous region, which had produced such abundant fruits of the spirit? The fatalism of Henry Adams was surely ten times darker than Calvin's fatalism had ever been. Was the tale of the Adamses symbolic? One