a history of american literature 1607 1865

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER VI LATER COLONIAL PROSE (1701-64) It is a commonplace of literary history that during the first half of the eighteenth century the achievements of British writers in the domain of prose were conspicuously great. The essay and the novel are practically creations of the era, and so is the popular magazine. The same period witnessed the development of criticism and political writing, saw notable work accomplished in metaphysics, and furnished training to the writers who were soon to lay the foundations of modern history and biography. With regard to formal style also the importance of the epoch cannot be easily overestimated. Cowley and Dryden had done much to introduce the needed qualities of regularity, uniformity, precision, balance—-to borrow Matthew Arnold's classification—but Addison and Swift, to name no others, did more. It may be doubted whether for the main purposes of prose the style of the author of Gulliver's Travels has ever been surpassed, and, if the name of Addison means less to us than it did to Macaulay, this is not due to the fact that we can point to many later writers possessed of more urbanity. But what of American prose during this period, which was even less propitious to imaginative creation in poetry than was the corresponding period in England? Professor Tyler, its main historian, found many good words to say of it, discovered worthy writers who had been unjustly forgotten, and apparently thought that a considerable advance had been made over the work of the seventeenth century. It would seem that in many respects he was right. It was well for Americans and their literature that thought should be gradually secularized. It wae well that the isolation of New England should be broken down even at the expense of the introduction of a colonial ...
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