To the Editors:
I hope you will allow me to respond to James W. Tuttleton’s remarks (in “Rewriting the History of American Literature,” November, 1986) on my two collections of essays and on the projected multi-volume Cambridge History of American Literature. I take this opportunity to clarify certain important points which, to judge by the review, I failed to make plain.

First, Professor Tuttleton assumes that I do not share his belief in the true, the good, and the beautiful. I do. The problem is that literary historians have become aware that texts and other artifacts in which the true, the good, and the beautiful make themselves manifest are susceptible to controversy and bias, subject to the contradictions of language and the mind, and invested to varying degrees with the particular political, artistic, and intellectual processes of the societies in which they were produced. There is nothing new in this. Nor is this an...


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