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26 June, 2013
Outlines of English and American Literature|
by Long, William J.
|We are still too near that period to make a history of it, for the simple
reason that a true history implies distance and perspective. No historian
could read, much less measure and compare, a tenth part of the books that
have won recognition since 1876. In such works as he might select as
typical he must be governed by his own taste or judgment; and the writer
was never born who could by such personal standards forecast the judgment
of time and of humanity. In a word, contemporary or "up-to-date" histories
are vain attempts at the impossible; save in the unimportant matter of
chronicling names or dates they are all alike untrustworthy. The student
should bear in mind, therefore, that the following summary of our recent
literature is based largely upon personal opinion; that it selects a few
authors by way of illustration, omitting many others who may be of equal or
greater importance. We are confronted by a host of books that serve the
prime purpose of literature by giving pleasure; but what proportion of them
are enduring books, or what few of them will be known to readers of the
next century as the Sketch Book and Snow-Bound are known to
us,--these are questions that only Father Time can answer.|