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The American Spirit in Literature

A Chronicle of Great Interpreters

Cover image for


Author: Bliss Perry
Published: 1918
Language: English
Wordcount: 54,263 / 169 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 51.4
LoC Category: PN
Downloads: 2,793 5639
Genre: Criticism

man institutions in this daily altering world.

"We are but strangers in an inn, but passengers in a ship," said Roger Williams. This sense of the transiency of human effort, the perishable nature of human institutions, was quick in the consciousness of the gentleman adventurers and sober Puritan citizens who emigrated from England to the New World. It had been a familiar note in the poetry of that Elizabethan period which had followed with such breathless interest the exploration of America. It was a conception which could be shared alike by a saint like John Cotton or a soldier of fortune like John Smith. Men are tent-dwellers. Today they settle here, and tomorrow they have struck camp and are gone. We are strangers and sojourners, as all our fathers were.

This instinct of the camper has stamped itself upon American life and thought. Venturesomeness, physical and moral daring, resourcefulness in emergencies, indifference to negligible details, wastefulness of materials, boundless hope and confidence in



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