Preface; 1. Scenes of nature, signs of men; 2. Notes for a comparison between American and European Romanticism; 3. Problems and roles of the American artist as portrayed by the American novelist; 4. James on Hawthorne; 5. The lost America - the despair of Henry Adams and Mark Twain; 6. Henry James and Henry Adams; 7. William Dean Howells and A Hazard of New Fortunes; 8. Stephen Crane; 9. The Bostonians and the human voice; 10. Games American writers play: ceremony, complicity, contestation, and carnival; 11. Toward an ultimate topography: the work of Joseph McElroy; 12. Frames and sentences; 13. William Gass's barns and bees; Index.
This book is about the relationship of the American writer to his land and language.
'What brings the book together, of course, is the extraordinarily inventive, creative and coherent consciousness of one of our most distinguished literary critics. Everything Tanner touches seems to me somehow newer and fresher. He reminds me of a kind of critical alchemist who is able to take the most used and jaded of literary materials and turn them into brilliant objects.' American Literary Realism 'Always, Mr Tanner is sensitive, subtle, surprising ... From Walt Whitman to William Gass, Mr Tanner beautifully illuminates, in Emily Dickinson's words, all these Continents of Light.' The New York Times Book Review