is among the best poems of the three writers in question, yet there was something in each of these productions which caught the fancy of a whole American generation.
It expressed one phase of the national mind in a given historical period.
The historian of literature is bound to take account of this question of literary vogue, as it is highly significant of the temper of successive generations in any country.
But it is of peculiar interest to the student of the literature produced in the United States
Is this literature “American,” or is it “English literature in America
,” as Professor Wendell
and other scholars have preferred to call it?
I should be one of the last to minimize the enormous influence of England
upon the mind and the writing of all the Englishspeaking countries of the globe.
Yet it will be one of the purposes of the present book to indicate the existence here, even in colonial times, of a point of view differing from that of the mother country, and destined to differ increasingly with the lapse of time.
Since the formation of our Federal Union, in particular, the books produced in the United States
have tended to exhibit certain characteristics which differentiate them from the books produced in other English-speaking countries.