For the past three and a half decades the Library of America has been turning out hardcover volumes of American letters with informative introductions and commentary by distinguished scholars. The brainchild of Edmund Wilson, the Library of America was established in 1979 as a not-for-profit publishing house to celebrate our national literature by collecting the major works of American authors and by republishing classic works that have gone out of print. The directors and editors of the enterprise have been dedicated to turning Wilson’s vision into reality. Not every volume succeeds—there are some ephemeral authors in the mix and in some recent volumes one can discern a hint of political correctness in some of the editorial choices. But with nearly 300 volumes in print, the Library of America is an impressive achievement. It includes collections...


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