19th Century American (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


In one glorious swoop, eager readers can gain access to seminal works by seven literary masters of the American Renaissance:

• Moby-Dick "I have written a wicked book and feel as spotless as the lamb," wrote Herman Melville after the publication of Moby-Dick. His contemporaries voiced mixed feelings about this sprawling whaling epic, but today this "wicked book" is generally regarded as the prose masterpiece of the American Renaissance.
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In one glorious swoop, eager readers can gain access to seminal works by seven literary masters of the American Renaissance:

• Moby-Dick "I have written a wicked book and feel as spotless as the lamb," wrote Herman Melville after the publication of Moby-Dick. His contemporaries voiced mixed feelings about this sprawling whaling epic, but today this "wicked book" is generally regarded as the prose masterpiece of the American Renaissance.
• Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Ernest Hemingway declared "all modern American literature comes from Huck Finn," but for millions of readers, this witty, wise Mississippi River novel requires no endorsement beyond its own pages.
• The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson Only a handful of her poems were published during her lifetime, but today "the Belle of Amherst" is honored as the most recognized and beloved female poet to write in the English language. This 400-page collection of her verse displays the diversity and depth of her artistry.
• Essays & Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson The complete works of "the Sage of Concord" fill forty volumes, but this 530-page collection contains his most importance and representative prose works and verse. The paperback contains major prose including Nature, "Self-Reliance," "The American Scholar," "Experience," and "The Poet," and a generous selection of his poetry.
• The Red Badge of Courage and Selected Short Fiction When Stephen Crane's Civil War novel was published in 1895, it made its 24-year-old author famous. In addition to that immortal work, this paperback collection contains other major Crane works, including "The Open Boat," "The Men in the Storm," and "The Veteran."
• The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel about a woman punished for sin in colonial New England has captured the hearts of readers and stirred controversy since it was first published in 1850. It has been called America's first psychological novel.
• Walden and Civil Disobedience This paperback collects the two books for which Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau is most renowned. The first is an autobiographical account of his two years living at in a small cabin at isolated Walden Pond; the second, his essay call to individual conscience that deeply influenced thinkers and activists including Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Barnes & Noble Classics series offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics series:
• New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
• Biographies of the authors
• Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
• Footnotes and endnotes
• Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
• Comments by other famous authors
• Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
• Bibliographies for further reading
• Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594163855
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 12/17/2010
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sales rank: 598,313
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 12.80 (h) x 4.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Riverboat pilot, journalist, failed businessman (several times over): Samuel Clemens -- the man behind the figure of Mark Twain -- led many lives. But it was in his novels and short stories that he created a voice and an outlook on life that will be forever identified with the American character.

Herman Melville's legend is as mammoth and elusive as the whale that established it. The author's Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale stands as one of literature's greatest epics, a story of mythological proportions that was grounded in real life and a new way of storytelling. Melville's work, underappreciated in its time, remains as much subject to debate and interpretation as it was when he first caught the public eye with his South Seas adventure, Typee, in 1846.

"Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them," Nathaniel Hawthorne once reflected. Hawthorne's own words indeed had an undeniable power. Author of The Scarlet Letter and originator of the American short story, Hawthorne left an indelible impression on literature that would influence his fellow writers into the next century.

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live," Henry David Thoreau once observed. The American poet, essayist and philosopher certainly held himself to that standard -- living out the tenets of Transcendentalism, recounting the experience in his masterpiece, Walden (1854), and passionately advocating human rights and civil liberties in the famous essay, Civil Disobedience (1849).

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1817, and attended Concord Academy and Harvard. After a short time spent as a teacher, he worked as a surveyor and a handyman, sometimes employed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Between 1845 and 1847 Thoreau lived in a house he had built himself on Emerson's property near to Walden Pond. During this period he completed A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and wrote the first draft of Walden, the book that is generally judged to be his masterpiece. He died of tuberculosis in 1862, and much of his writing was published posthumously.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was the progeny of a well-off, well-educated family in Amherst, Massachusetts. The poet was born, lived, and died in the house they called the Homestead. Though she traveled little, she wrote prolifically, maintaining extensive correspondences even with near neighbors and writing poetry, which she often slipped into her missives. Never eager to distribute her verse beyond her near circle, she refused publication offers; only a few of her 1,775 poems were printed in magazines before her demise.

Stephen Crane (1871-1900) died before his twenty-ninth birthday, but packed more excitement and writing into that short life than many authors of twice that longevity. The fourteenth and last offspring of a Newark Methodist minister and a clergyman's daughter was a sickly, precocious child who took an early interest in writing. After jumping from school to school, he dismissed college as "a waste of time" and became a professional wordsmith. In 1893, after working as a New York Tribune journalist, Crane took a major leap, using his own inheritance money to publish Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Although the novel had dismal sales, it did not squelch its author's writing ambitions. Two years later, he published The Red Badge of Courage, which he conceived as "a psychological portrayal of fear." Suddenly famous, Crane became a sought-after newspaper and magazine correspondent; his pieces ranging from Civil War tales to on-the-spot coverage of the Greco-Turkish War and the Spanish-American conflict. Though plagued by health problems, he continued to write too for book publication, issuing a total of five novels, three short story collections, and two volumes of poetry before his untimely death.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American lecturer, philosopher, essayist, and poet, best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for man to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than naturalistic; "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul."

Emerson's work not only influenced his contemporaries, such as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, but would continue to influence thinkers and writers in the United States and around the world down to the present. Notable thinkers who recognize Emerson's influence include Nietzsche and William James, Emerson's godson.

In his book The American Religion, Harold Bloom repeatedly refers to Emerson as "The prophet of the American Religion," which in the context of the book refers to indigenously American and gnostic-tinged religions such as Mormonism and Christian Science, which arose largely in Emerson's lifetime. In The Western Canon, Harold Bloom compares Emerson to Michel de Montaigne: "The only equivalent reading experience that I know is to reread endlessly in the notebooks and journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American version of Montaigne."

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