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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVIII (search)
XVIII The Westminster Abbey of a book catalogue the American visitor enters Westminster Abbey prepared to be hushed in awe before the multitude of great names. To his amazement he finds himself vexed and bored with the vast multiplicity of small ones. He must approach the Poets' Corner itself through avenues of Browns, Joneses, and Robinsons. It seems that even Westminster Abbey affords no test of greatness, nor do any of the efforts to ascertain it by any other test succeed much better. The balloting in various newspapers for the best hundred authors or the forty immortals has always turned out to be limited by the constituency of the particular publication which attempted the experiment; or sometimes even by the action of jocose cliques, combining to force up the vote of pet candidates. As regards American authors, the great Library of American Literature of Stedman and Hutchinson aims to furnish a sort of Westminster Abbey or Valhalla, where the relative value of differ