Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/437

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
419
Memoirs

the schoolmaster or his need. Professor William James[1] "wrote psychology which reads like a novel," and Henry James[2] added to his novels the autobiographical volumes A Small Boy and Others and Notes of a Son and a Brother which contain much material of interest relating to the educational experience of the two brothers. Howells,[3] Aldrich,[4] and Hamlin Garland[5] in their autobiographical volumes adorn the schoolday tales of their youth with the grace of the life of the imagination; but no Kipling dramatizes fully the incidents of school life and no Wells makes the novel the instrument of educational reform. The nearest approach to this standard is that of a few educational romances, whose appeal does not carry beyond the teachers' circle. Chief among these is William Hawley Smith's Evolution of Dodd, remarkable for its early failure due to the prejudice against the title, its later success, and the fact that though over a million copies have been sold the author received not a penny.

A number of volumes of memoirs furnish valuable literary materials of education. The works of Henry James have been mentioned. The reminiscences of Senator Hoar and of Senator Lodge give illuminating accounts of mid-century New England education. More recently and at greater length, Professor Brander Matthews has performed a similar service for New York. Most important of all is the recent volume entitled The Education of Henry Adams (1908, 1916). More frankly devoted to the educational aspect of experience than any other autobiographical work, vying with them all in literary charm, this study by one of the most reflective students and keenest observers of the generation just passing holds an outstanding place in this type of literature, and in educational literature is unique.[6] Children s literature, as fits a "children's century," has become most varied and attractive. No longer is it the formal piety of the adult reduced to the priggishness of the child; nor, on the other hand, the extravagant tale for surreptitious enjoyment. Child life depicted for the enjoyment of the adult; adult life brought within the interest and comprehension of the child through the new knowledge of psychology; animal life personi-

  1. See Book III, Chap. XVII.
  2. Ibid., Chap. XII.
  3. Ibid., Chap. XI
  4. Ibid., Chaps, VI, VII, and X.
  5. Ibid., Chap. VI.
  6. Ibid., Chap. XV.