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and character of our forefathers.
Furthermore, the extracts in the appendix will be found to contain much that is interesting as well as illustrative of the times; and the very spirit of the age speaks in some of the unconsciously humorous title-pages given in the bibliography.
Throughout the book the literature has been presented in its relation to general conditions in America and to the literatures of England and the Continent of Europe, for only so can it be completely understood and its full significance perceived; but the personality of the authors and the intrinsic qualities of their work have, it is hoped, received due attention. The division into periods is not meant to be insisted upon too strongly. But some dividing lines must be run for convenience and clearness in treating of so wide and diversified a field, and those adopted are perhaps liable to fewer objections than any others. They have, however, been transgressed freely where it was necessary to do so in order to avoid splitting the discussion of an author's work. In the case of writers with whom the reader is probably not familiar and never need be, the method is chiefly descriptive; elsewhere the book is intended to be merely a guide in reading and studying the literature itself.
I wish to express my indebtedness, for inspiration and guidance and occasionally for information, to Professor Tyler's admirable history of the Colonial and Revolutionary literature. But it is due to the reader to add that even the earlier portions of this little work are based almost wholly upon a study of the literature at first hand. Any other method, indeed, would have been inexcusable in the case of one having access to such remarkable collections of Americana as the Harris Collection of
American Poetry, in the library of Brown University, and the John Carter Brown Library in the city of Providence. It has been my privilege to work from many rare first editions, and in a few instances to hit upon material not hitherto utilized, so far as I know, in books upon American literature. It may be fitting to say, further, that what is presented upon pages 79–90 embodies the results of a canvass of all the poetry published between the years 1789 and 1815 and contained in the Harris Collection. It is perhaps hardly necessary to add that the bibliography in the appendix has been made to a considerable extent from the original editions, and, where these were lacking, largely from Sabin's Bibliotheca Americana; that the lives of the greater authors and the lists of their works are derived from the larger biographies and bibliographies; and that details about minor authors have been taken from standard books of reference.
My special thanks are due to Mr. Harry L. Koopman, librarian of Brown University, and to his assistants, for many courtesies; to Mr. George P. Winship, librarian of the John Carter Brown Library, for the use of that collection; to the authorities of the Rhode Island Historical Society for access to some rare publications on their shelves; to Mr. William E. Foster, librarian of the Providence Public Library, for special privileges; and to Professor Alois Brandl, of the University of Berlin, for securing me the use of the University and Royal Libraries in Berlin. To Dr. F. R. Lane of the Central High School, Washington, D.C., to Professor L. A. Sherman of the University of Nebraska, and to Mr. H. L. Boltwood, Principal of the Evanston High
School, Illinois, I am indebted for sundry suggestions made while the book was going through the press; but as their suggestions were not always adopted, they are in nowise responsible for the faults of the book. The faults are doubtless many. I can only hope that, in spite of them, the following pages may be of some real service in the study of the literature of my country.
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION.
In the present edition the literature from 1870 to 1900 receives fuller treatment than before, and an account of the literature since 1900 is added; extracts from writers of the nineteenth century are included in the Appendix, as illustrations of their thought and style; and the Reference List of Books and Articles is brought down to date. A few corrections and insertions have also been made in the earlier pages of the book.
I express my thanks to my colleague, Professor Thomas Crosby, for aid in selecting material for the discussion of the modern American drama; to Miss Edith R. Blanchard of the Brown University Library, for assistance in collecting biographical data; and most of all to my wife, who offered helpful criticisms of the text of the new chapter, remade the index, and assisted in reading the proofs.
PROVIDENCE, R. I.,
June 15, 1919.
W. C. B.