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Required Reading:
Why Our American Classics Matter Now

by Andrew Delbanco

ISBN 0374230072 / 9780374230074 / 0-374-23007-2
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Shows why our classic American writers remain indispensable, even in an age of uncertainty over what our common heritage is. In superb chapters on Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Wharton, Richard Wright, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lincoln, & others, Delbanco shows how each writer enlarged the expressive range of the American language & our imagined sense of Amer. possibilities. American artists celebrated the ideal of the free individual while conveying with searing honesty the struggle to defend this ideal against hostile conditions & ideas. Each writer tried to create what might be called a democratic prose style expressing the belief in transcendence that remains at the core of the American imagination. [via]