These four landmark novels of nineteenth-century American literature have gained a permanent place in our culture as great classics. They are not only part of our national heritage, but masterpieces of world literature whose deep and lasting influence is felt to this day.
The Scarlet Letter vividly records America's moral and historical roots in Puritan New England and masterfully re-creates a society's preoccupation with sin, guilt, and pride.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn carries readers along on Huck's unforgettable journey down the Mississippi in America's foremost comic epic--the first great novel in a truly American voice.
The Red Badge of Courage re-creates the brutal reality of war and its psychological impact on a young Civil War soldier in one of the most moving and widely read American novels.
Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories joins the world's great tragic literature as a doomed seaman becomes the innocent victim of a clash between social authority and individual freedom.
About the Author
American author Stephen Crane began writing early in life, and was already a published author by the age of sixteen. Among Crane's best known works are Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which is considered to be the first literary work in the early American tradition of Naturalism, a literary movement marked by detailed realism and the acknowledgement of social conditions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and The Red Badge of Courage, which was influenced by his own experiences in military school and personal contact with Civil-War veterans. Crane died in 1900 at the age twenty-eight of tuberculosis, but had a significant and lasting impact on twentieth-century literature, influencing early modernist writers such as Ernest Hemingway.
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an American humorist and writer, who is best known for his enduring novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has been called "the Great American Novel." Raised in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain held a variety of jobs including typesetter, riverboat pilot, and miner before achieving nationwide attention for his work as a journalist with "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." He earned critical and popular praise for his wit and enjoyed a successful career as a public speaker in addition to his writing. Twain's works were remarkable for his ability to capture colloquial speech, although his adherence to the vernacular of the time has resulted in the suppression of his works by schools in modern times. Twain's birth in 1835 coincided with a visit by Halley's Comet, and Twain predicted, accurately, that he would "go out with it" as well, dying the day following the comet's return in 1910.