The Cambridge History of American Literature: Volume 2, Prose Writing 1820-1865

Cyrus Patell (Editor), Sacvan Bercovitch (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology


This is the fullest and richest account of the American Renaissance available in any literary history. The narratives in this volume made for a four-fold perspective on literature: social, cultural, intellectual and aesthetic. Michael D. Bell describes the social conditions of the literary vocation that shaped the growth of a professional literature in the United States. Eric Sundquist draws upon broad cultural patterns: his account of the writings of exploration, slavery, and the frontier is an interweaving of disparate voices, outlooks and traditions. Barbara L. Packer's sources come largely from intellectual history: the theological and philosophical controversies that prepared the way for transcendentalism. Jonathan Arac's categories are formalist: he sees the development of antebellum fiction as a dialectic of prose genres, the emergence of a literary mode out of the clash of national, local and personal forms. Together, these four narratives constitute a basic reassessment of American prose-writing between 1820 and 1865. It is an achievement that will remain authoritative for our time and that will set new directions for coming decades in American literary scholarship.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages944
ISBN (Print)978-0521301060
StatePublished - 1994


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