Written in response to an Eastern University's request that the American ethos be defined in terms of the seemingly incongruous elements of her literature, this text presents a meticulous and comprehensive survey of American literary progress. Divided into three sections--Puritan days, the nineteenth century, and modern trends--the author shows a consistent struggle between European values absorbed through the education of the American literary elite and what is indigenous to the empirical life of the States, the struggle to implement Wordsworthian romanticism of nature into the scheme of rugged American outdoor life, the conflict between yielding to an established order and the gospel of individualism. If one were to look in a discussion of the crucial literary figures of America for consistency, one would experience vast confusion. This Leon Howard demonstrates in his fluent familiarity with the progress of our literature. But looking still more deeply he discerns a steady pulse of conviction, which he asserts, identifies the American tradition: ""...a belief in the creative power of the human spirit to endure and prevail and to exist in the meanest and queerest of individuals"". Indexed, this is an excellent reference book as well as a valuable companion to readings.