The Rungless Ladder, by Charles H. Foster; The American Adam, by R. W. B. Lewis
Most writers on American literature these days take a “dialectical” view of our literary history. They tell us that the American imagination from the beginning has embraced such contraries as Calvinism and secular optimism, romanticism and realism, and that it continues to do so. This view contrasts with the older account of our literature (as expressed, for instance, in Alfred Kazin’s On Native Grounds) which pictured our literary history as a more or less monolithic drive away from Puritan superstition, provincialism, and romanticism, and towards realism in literature and a free, secular, and radically democratic culture.
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