Chapter 10: a New nation
The changes that have come over the inner spirit and the outward expression of American life since Lincoln
's day are enough to startle the curiosity of the dullest observer.
Yet they have been accomplished within the lifetime of a single man of letters.
The author of one of the many campaign biographies of Lincoln
in 1860 was William Dean Howells
, then an Ohio journalist of twenty-three.
In 1917, at the age of eighty, Mr. Howells
is still adding to his long row of charming and memorable books.
Every phase of American writing since the middle of the last century has fallen under the keen and kindly scrutiny of this loyal follower of the art of literature.
As producer, editor, critic, and friend of the foremost writers of his epoch, Mr. Howells
has known the books of our new national era as no one else could have known them.
Some future historian of the period may