Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 48. Imaginative Literature Dealing with Education

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XXIII. Education

§ 48. Imaginative Literature Dealing with Education

Of literature presided over by the muses, there is little which relates to education. In this group Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1819) undoubtedly takes first place. If the delineation of Ichabod Crane is a caricature, that of the school is not, nor is the “half itinerant life” of the master. No other account of the old district school approaches this one in charm. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Grandfather’s Chair retells the story of Ezekiel Cheever; and Daffy-down-Dilly and other stories draw on the rich experience of the district school. Henry Ward Beecher’s Norwood (1868) is a tale, or rather a series of sketches, of New England life in which the New England academy finds a place, as it properly should, since no institution or phase of life was more characteristic of this period. In a more humorous vein is Oliver Wendell Holmes’s description of the Apollinean Female Institute in Elsie Venner. At a later day and in more attractive form the New England private school receives probably the most attractive treatment given to a school in American literature in J. G. Holland’s Arthur Bonnicastle (1873).