Books: Mellow Miniatures

THE TIMES OF MELVILLE AND WHITMAN (489 pp.)—Van Wyck Brooks—Dutton ($5).

When Van Wyck Brooks reached those middle years in which a writer dreams of consummating his career with a masterwork, he began his ambitious literary history of the U.S. The Flowering of New England, first volume of the history, provoked one of the bitterest intellectual battles of our time.

The book appeared concurrently with Brooks's wholesale excommunication of modern writers as "defeatists" and "fatalists." Coming from a critic who had hitherto bewailed America's indifference to her contemporary writers, Brooks's charges seemed a...

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