American Literature in Exile

“A recently lecturing Englishman is reported to have noted the unenviable primacy of the United States among countries where the struggle for material prosperity has been disastrous to the pursuit of literature.”

“(I don’t want to get to obtrusive with the ol’ triple-parens here, but let me rephrase that for you, as a kind of push-start: British critics think that American writers are a bunch of trashy, dollar-obsessed sellouts. Not a new idea!)”

“He said, or is said to have said (one cannot be too careful in attributing to a public man the thoughts that may be really due to an imaginative frame in the reporter), that among us, “the old race of writers of distinction, such as Longfellow, Bryant, Holmes, and Washington Irving, have (sic) died out, and the Americans who are most prominent in cultivated European opinion in art or literature, like Sargent, Henry James, or Marion Crawford, live habitually out of America, and draw their inspiration from England, France, and Italy.”

Read more: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2013/12/american-literature-in-exile-by-william-dean-howells/

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