Monday, January 19, 2009

Holzer & Company

In an earlier post, I already expressed my deep displeasure at just how awful the design of the dustjacket is.  But, as I suspected I would, I've now become convinced by the contents that I shall have to have my own copy of Harold Holzer's new Library of America title, The Lincoln Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Legacy from 1860 to Now.  It is a rich and varied collection -- boy howdy and how.

Where else, exactly, can one find, between two covers, H. L. Mencken's sobering and mirthful essay from his Prejudices: Third Series, in which one finds the "Lincoln legend" so perfectly described as "... a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost," and also Langston Hughes' poem "Lincoln Monument: Washington?"  Holzer has bundled together a wonderfully eclectic collection of people, from contemporaries to biographers, from cartoonists to politicians; from H. G. Wells to Dale Carnegie (!), from Emerson to E. L. Doctorow, and on and on.

Better yet, Harold Holzer has written a brief, often quite pithy preface for each entry.  This from the introduction to Woodrow Wilson's contribution: "Left entirely unmentioned in Wilson's eloquent address were slavery and emancipation -- omissions that were not surprising in light of Wilson's segregation of black government employees and his effusive praise for D. W. Griffith's racist screen epic The Birth of a Nation."

Unlike some earlier anthologies from the Library of America, and here I'm thinking specially of their truly weird collection of Sermons, this volume, in the very capable hands of Harold Holzer, manages to present the familiar and the unknown -- at least to me -- in an entirely satisfying and endlessly surprising way.

As tributes go, this is one of the best, if not the best to date on the occasion of the Bicentennial. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment! We love hearing from you.

tell all your friends!