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Brooks, Van Wyck

Van Wyck Brooks (văn wĬk´), 1886–1963, American critic, b. Plainfield, N.J., grad. Harvard, 1908. His first book, The Wine of the Puritans (1909), presented the thesis that American culture has been so pervaded by puritanism with its materialistic emphasis that the artistic side of the nation's life has been profoundly neglected. Although this theme was developed in such subsequent books as America's Coming-of-Age (1915), The Ordeal of Mark Twain (1920), and The Pilgrimage of Henry James (1925), later works, including Emerson and Others (1927), indicate his growing respect for American literature. In 1937 he won the Pulitzer Prize in history for The Flowering of New England (1936). Other volumes followed in the series he called Makers and Finders: New England: Indian Summer (1940), The World of Washington Irving (1944), and The Times of Melville and Whitman (1947). In this series, his masterwork, Brooks interprets American literary history; it is a vivid, varied chronicle, rich in anecdote and infused with the author's humanism. Among Brooks's innumerable other books are such autobiographical works as Days of Phoenix (1957), From a Writer's Notebook (1958), and An Autobiography (1965).

See The Van Wyck Brooks–Lewis Mumford Letters, ed. by R. E. Spiller (1970).

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