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The Chronology of American Literature: America's Literary Achievements from the Colonial Era to Modern Times [Hardcover]

Daniel S. Burt
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 10 2004
If you are looking to brush up on your literary knowledge, check a favorite author’s work, or see a year’s bestsellers at a glance, The Chronology of American Literature is the perfect resource. At once an authoritative reference and an ideal browser’s guide, this book outlines the indispensable information in America’s rich literary past--from major publications to lesser-known gems--while also identifying larger trends along the literary timeline.
Who wrote the first published book in America? When did Edgar Allan Poe achieve notoriety as a mystery writer? What was Hemingway’s breakout title? With more than 8,000 works by 5,000 authors, The Chronology makes it easy to find answers to these questions and more. Authors and their works are grouped within each year by category: fiction and nonfiction; poems; drama; literary criticism; and publishing events. Short, concise entries describe an author’s major works for a particular year while placing them within the larger context of that writer’s career. The result is a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of some of America’s most prominent writers. Perhaps most important, The Chronology offers an invaluable line through our literary past, tying literature to the American experience--war and peace, boom and bust, and reaction to social change. You’ll find everything here from Benjamin Franklin’s “Experiments and Observations on Electricity,” to Davy Crockett’s first memoir; from Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” to Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome; from meditations by James Weldon Johnson and James Agee to poetry by Elizabeth Bishop. Also included here are seminal works by authors such as Rachel Carson, Toni Morrison, John Updike, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Lavishly illustrated--and rounded out with handy bestseller lists throughout the twentieth century, lists of literary awards and prizes, and authors’ birth and death dates--The Chronology of American Literature belongs on the shelf of every bibliophile and literary enthusiast. It is the essential link to our literary past and present.

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–This hefty, reliable, and readable tome documents the development of U.S. letters from their practical, tendentious origins to the end of the 20th century. As the brief introduction explains, the editors include various representative works, not merely critically acclaimed texts. Johnny Gruelle is in with "Raggedy Ann," and so is E. B. White (but not William Steig or Russell Hoban). Robert Heinlein, Scott Turow, Stephen King, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, and Rod McKuen all appear. Essay overviews precede the year-by-year listings in each of five sections (1582-1789, 1790-1860, 1861-1914, 1915-'49, 1950-'99). They assume familiarity with basic historical facts, but provide social and political contexts. Sidebars give birth/death dates and prize and bestseller lists, again expanding the volume's scope beyond literary heights. Except for the first section, where scarcity of imaginative forms leads to inclusion of diaries, letters, and sermons, all sections include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, literary criticism, and the catch-all "publications and events" (e.g., the founding of The American Scholar and of the Folger Library). The earlier sections are a mine for browsing. With the last decade(s), however, readers might pick some fights: Why omit Charles Baxter, Larry Watson, Lan Samantha Chang, Ward Just, Jonathan Franzen, Mark Salzman, and Wally Lamb? There are sporadic black-and-white author photos and reproductions. This volume's scope, accuracy, and accessibility are hard to resist: it supercedes Richard M. Ludwig and Clifford A. Nault, Jr.'s Annals of American Literature, 1602-1983 (Oxford, 1989; o.p.).–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This chronology includes more than 8,400 literary works by more than 5,000 writers. Sections for each year are grouped in five chapters by period, from 1582 to 1999. Within each year, entries are grouped by genre, such as diaries and other personal writings, fiction, essays, literary criticism and scholarship, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. Within each genre, authors are listed alphabetically, generally with birth and death dates and short descriptions of named works for the year. Each chapter has an introduction, averaging about four pages, that gives an overview of the major events of the period. Not surprisingly, increasing attention is given to more recent years. The last chapter, "Modernism and Postmodernism," treats the years 1950-99 and fills 245 pages, compared to the 86 pages of "The Colonial Period" (1582-1789). Interspersed through the text are black-and-white images, primarily of writers, and tables of events, such as births and deaths from the period, best-sellers, and literary awards and prizes. The author and title indexes are indispensable.

The volume's most immediate competitors are Annals of American Literature, 1602-1983 (Oxford, 1986) and A Chronological Outline of American Literature (Greenwood, 1987). The indexing and descriptions of included titles, as well as narrative introductions, make The Chronology of American Literature preferable to both. These predecessors provide strictly titles and authors, and indexing does not get to the poem, story, or song level, the way it does in the newer volume. Neither provides the richness of detail present in The Chronology of American Literature that helps create a fuller sense of the context of literary development. In addition, The Chronology of American Literature includes the widest array of popular and little-studied authors. The year-by-year arrangement makes it a good complement to The Oxford Companion to American Literature (1995) or The HarperCollins Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature (2002).

The Chronology of American Literature is easy to browse and, for book lovers, difficult to put down. Highly recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a delight! March 1 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a great reference tool! Most chronologies just give authors and titles. This one suggests what each work is about and why it's interesting and important. Moreover, the listing of bestsellers and prize winners gathers brings together this information that you formerly needed multiple sources to find. I also think the introductions to each section are lively and informative.
A must for anyone interested in American Literature.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a delight! March 1 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great reference tool! Most chronologies just give authors and titles. This one suggests what each work is about and why it's interesting and important. Moreover, the listing of bestsellers and prize winners gathers brings together this information that you formerly needed multiple sources to find. I also think the introductions to each section are lively and informative.
A must for anyone interested in American Literature.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reference work Aug. 21 2013
By Robin K. La Rue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Totally met my expectations. It is a welcome reference work that I am sure I will be using for a very long time.
Thank you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative Resource for Teachers and Literature Aficionados Jan. 16 2013
By Education Advocate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book used from one of Amazon's affiliates, and it is in amazing condition. It looks completely new and unused. I am very satisfied with the quality of the book and the shipping and arrival times.

The contents of the book itself are very are a very interesting and thoughtfully organized chronology, thus the title, and by genre, which coincides, for the most part, with the era. What I particularly like about the book is that when I teach literature and film and ask my students to imagine what the characters in the novels and films might have been reading if they were real people, they can refer to this book and make educated guesses about their potential reading material based upon their, the characters', personalities and interests. This adds a dimension to the students' engagement with the books and films that we are critiquing.

Additionally, as an amateur writer, I can use this as a source to give me background information to make my characters more realistic. I use The Chronology of American Literature in conjunction with Grun's The Timetables of History, an Amazon purchase. By using these two sources together, I can accurately place my characters in history.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend Burt's Chronology for any teacher, reader, or writer.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TOTALLY FALSE DESCRIPTION July 5 2013
By D.B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book From more than words and the description implied it was writings from the colonial period to the present. What I got was a 1000 pages of short bios of authors. I wrote to the seller and they said it was Amazons fault because they write the book description . IT WAS TOTALLY MISLEADING . I have 4 books in my save for later file and I am having second thoughts about ordering any more books from AMAZON
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