The Pochmann-Allen anthology Masters of American Litera­ture was from its first publication in the late 1940’s until recently a widely-used textbook in its field. The long historical essays giving the backgrounds to American literature from the seventeenth to the twentieth century and the extensive author-essays preceding the works made the Pochmann-Allen volumes a reference work in colleges and universities when it was not adopted as a text. Furthermore, the authors’ knowledge and judgment in concentrating on the “masters” from Cotton Mather to Stephen Crane, as is here done, were amply demon­strated: in spite of great scholarly and critical activity since the volumes were published, new discoveries have not essen­tially affected reputations and values during the past two decades, and the authors’ essays on the writers discussed remain authoritative.


The author-essays are here brought together, preceded by the historical introductions (now combined into one), and are made available once again in this handbook form. In its new, brief form the book thus affords a reliable, comprehensive, and richly detailed guide to American literature.