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That this volume of "Readings from American Literature' was made because of a real need is, perhaps, its first and best excuse for being. The editors found in their own classrooms the demand for a compact anthology, ranging in time from colonial days to the present and adapted to the high-school student and the college undergraduate. Because of this they have essayed a task, not simple in itself, but simplified to a degree, in their case, by experience in teaching the material presented here.
It is happily a fact that to-day we are not neglectful in the school curriculum of a historical survey of American literature. Better still, we link such study with history proper in a natural correlation that vitalizes both. But to read about an author is not enough; we must read his works - all of which is trite, but so true that it may be said safely many times. Not all schools are so fortunate as to have adequate and extensive reference shelves. Nor do home and town libraries meet all requirements. Few collections, however well selected, supply much material prior to Irving. And even when reference reading is practicable, the desirability of a text for classroom study is still obvious. With this by way of explanation, not apology, the editors are content.
Thanks are gratefully extended to all who have helped to make the book to the boys and girls whose frank expressions of interest or boredom have shown us what appeals to younger readers; to the fellow teachers who have advised from their experience; to the publishers who have made adequate selection possible. If there are any lingering regrets, and what compiler ever saw in his book a true compendium of his desires, it is that the number of selections could not be more generous. We are sorry not to be able to include any of Mark Twain, and we wish that our excerpts