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The field of American fiction is so wide and so varied that only one phase of it has been touched upon in the present volume, certain types of American provincial life as studied since the Civil War by authors in New England, the South, the Middle West, and the Far West. The literature of these sections of the country written since the Civil War is so embarrassingly rich that, with one exception, nothing of the flood of very recent fiction is included in the scope of this limited study. The effort of the writer has been to confine himself largely to what is rather indefinitely called realistic literature, and to emphasize the truth of characterization found in such fiction as has come to be generally recognized for its special significance and permanent value as a reflection of certain phases of our national life. The present volume can, of course, be only suggestive, but if it succeeds in stimulating to an appreciative study and enjoyment of the dozen works of fiction considered, it will have largely accomplished its purpose.