An important study of literary criticism in America as related to social history, fully documented, analytical, for long term sales. It lacks the facile, descriptive charm which made the Van Wyck Brooks' book quickfire success stuff, and is intended for a more scholarly market. Smith proves how ""literary movements and tendencies are replies to society's demands"". Provincial criticism at the opening of the 19th century, the rise of an independent American tradition in 1830 leading to the Emerson, etc., transcendentalist movement. Realism hand in hand with democracy, aestheticism led by James and Poe, and finally the early years of the 20th century with warring creeds formulated by Huneker, Dell, Mencken, etc. Each moveis analyzed in conjunction with its leading examples. Authoritative yet stimulating.