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PROFEssor of MoDERN LANGUAGES IN RoANokE College
THIs work is intended to be a companion volume to the “Introduction to English Literature,” which has been cordially received by teachers in all parts of our country. As will be seen on examination, it follows substantially the same plan, though its limited field makes a fuller treatment desirable and feasible. What was said in the preface to that work about teaching literature may be substantially repeated here. Literature cannot be learned from the ordinary manuals. While they furnish many bare facts about literature, they do not present literature itself. As a result, the student knows nothing by his own investigation, and his literary training is reduced to an exercise of memory. The present work aims to introduce the student to American literature itself, with such helps as will give him an intelligent appreciation of it. The introductory chapter contains, it is hoped, some helpful observations. The “General Survey" of each period presents the conditions under which the various authors wrote. The sketches of the representative writers give with considerable fulness the leading biographical facts, together with a critical estimate of their works. The selections for special study, which are chosen to illustrate the distinguishing characteristics of each author, are supplied with explanatory notes. In this way, it may fairly be claimed, the student will gain a clear and satisfactory knowledge of our best authors. But in pursuing this method, another important result is obtained. In addition to this knowledge of our principal writers, the student learns something of the manner in which any author is to be studied. His literary taste is developed; and in his subsequent studies in literature, he will be capable, in some measure at least, of forming an intelligent and independent judgment.
It should not be forgotten that this book, as its name indicates, is but an introduction to American literature. It is not intended to be a comprehensive manual of reference. It treats only of the leading periods and principal writers. In using the book in the class-room, for which it is chiefly designed, it is not necessary that the students be restricted to the texts supplied. If time permits, it is desirable that the study of the various authors be more extended. Other texts may be introduced in their proper periods; and for such teachers as may desire to follow this course, or to give merely a general preparation for the intelligent reading of our leading authors, an edition is published without the annotated selections.
With grateful feelings for the kind reception accorded his “Introduction to English Literature,” the author sends forth the present work in the hope that it may be found likewise to supply a Want.
F. V. N. PAINTER.
PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION.
THE present edition has been somewhat enlarged by the introduction of a number of prominent authors into the text, and also by a fuller treatment of the present or “Second National Period.” Greater prominence has been given to the writers of the South and the West. The lists of writers prefixed to the several periods have been rewritten and expanded. In submitting the present revised and enlarged edition, the author wishes to express the hope that it will be found still more worthy of the cordial reception that has been given the book in all parts of our country.
F. V. N. PAINTER.