Literary Criticism

Rufus Wilmot Griswold

Most famous today for his unaccountable attempt to ruin Edgar Allen Poe's posthumous reputation, Griswold could be a harsh critic, and sometimes an outright scoundrel. But his opinions are worth a great deal. He has a natural ear for what is fine even in a mediocre writer, and he understands how a writer's faults are often inextricably wrapped up with his virtues.

The Poets and Poetry of America. With an historical introduction. By Rufus W. Griswold. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart. —This book was published over and over in edition after edition, with numerous revisions along the way. It was noted by grumblers that Griswold gave his personal friend Charles Fenno Hoffman more space than any other poet; but, though Griswold had more than his share of eccentricities, his opinion is always worth having.
1842 (second) edition.

1843 (third) edition.

1847 (eighth) edition.

1856 (sixteenth) edition (Parry and McMillan).

1860 edition (Moss, Brother & Co.).

1873 edition, with additions by R. H. Stoddard.

The Prose Writers of America. With a survey of the history, condition, and prospects of American literature. By Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Illustrated with portraits from original pictures. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart. —This book was published in several editions, each new one revised. It is certainly the best guide to American prose of the first half of the nineteenth century, and includes long extracts, often complete stories or essays, from the writers under discussion.
1847 edition.

1849 edition.
Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold. Cambridge (Mass.): W. M. Griswold, 1898. —This collection was put together and privately published by Rufus's son William, who was an orthographic reformer, writing "thot" for "thought" and "follo" for "follow."

Literary Frivolities, Fancies, Follies and Frolics. By Wiliam T. Dobson. London: Chatto and Windus, 1880.—Motto:

In hoc est hoax
Et quiz et joax
With gravity for graver folks