In the American Grain - Edgar Allen Poe and Abraham Lincoln Summary & Analysis

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The author finds the first truly American writer in Edgar Allen Poe, the first great expression of place, “a genius intimately shaped by his locality and time.” Williams quotes extensively from Poe’s critical writings. Poe wrote criticism on the subject of American writing – and found most of it wanting. Williams urges his readers to read all of Poe’s stories, not just the macabre and famous ones, to get a sense of this original American author. “Poe was unsophisticated,” says the author, and it is necessary for a writer who wants to tear down the presumptions of those writers who borrowed the traditions of English and French literature and called it American because of its subject matter. Poe wants to create an American style from the ground up.

Williams’s one page on Lincoln is impressionistic and obscure. He likens Lincoln to...

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This section contains 494 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the In the American Grain Study Guide
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