The Spirit of American Literature

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(5 stars; 1 reviews)

THE SPIRIT OF AMERICAN LITERATURE is a collection of essays reviewing contemporary authors on the literary scene at the turn of the century and assessing the uniquely American characteristics of their growing body of work. Excerpted from the author’s preface: “In this book something is said about most, if not quite all, of the emergent figures in American literature; an attempt is made to survey the four corners of the national library and to give an impression of its shape and size. If its purpose is approximately realized, this volume will be found to be a little nearer to a collection of appreciative essays than to a formal history or bibliographic manual. …To be sure, the historian avowedly and properly puts emphasis on writers who are dead in the flesh, and finishes off his contemporaries briefly because they are not yet established and are too numerous to mention. But it seems well, in books about literature, not to discuss writers admittedly dead in the spirit, whose names persist by the inertia of reputation...All that I wish to plead is that a living lion is better than a dead mouse...If, as I believe, accepted handbooks and histories of American literature pay too much attention to doubly dead worthies, whose books are not interesting, and miss or but timidly acknowledge contemporary excellence, there is a way of accounting for it.” (Summary by lubee930) (10 hr 45 min)


00 - Preface 6:43 Read by Pamela Krantz
01 - General Characteristics 30:20 Read by Malcolm Cameron
02 - Irving 33:37 Read by Malcolm Cameron
03 - Cooper 14:39 Read by Jozef Nagy
04 - Emerson, Part 1 34:07 Read by Lori Arsenault
05 - Emerson, Part 2 32:28 Read by Lori Arsenault
06 - Hawthorne 39:09 Read by Bruce Pirie
07 - Longfellow 26:18 Read by Patti Cunningham
08 - Whittier 23:41 Read by Lori Arsenault
09 - Poe, Part 1 40:14 Read by Daniel T. Miller
10 - Poe, Part 2 28:42 Read by southernemma
11 - Holmes 33:02 Read by Lori Arsenault
12 - Thoreau 32:11 Read by Jessica Louise
13 - Lowell 39:01 Read by Maria Kasper
14 - Whitman, Part 1 33:24 Read by Chiquito Crasto
15 - Whitman, Part 2 29:08 Read by Chiquito Crasto
16 - Twain, Part 1 25:30 Read by Chiquito Crasto
17 - Twain, Part 2 25:19 Read by Chiquito Crasto
18 - Howells 33:17 Read by Chiquito Crasto
19 - William James 27:41 Read by Bruce Pirie
20 - Lanier 25:39 Read by Chiquito Crasto
21 - Henry James 31:42 Read by Bruce Pirie


(5 stars)

Some of his critical estimates seemed really off, especially towards the end. But the earlier parts show a wonderful and individual engagement with the material. The parts on Poe and Irving may have been my favourite