The late Tony Tanner was one of the most distinctive and distinguished critical voices on American literature. His work is familiar to generations of students and scholars, and bas helped shape our understanding of the major nineteenth- and twentieth-century American writers. This book, which brings together his essays on a wide range of American authors, is written with Tanner's characteristic style and verve. Exploring writers as diverse as Melville, Emerson, Henry James, DeLillo and Pynchon, it offers an introduction to the major figures and themes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. This volume of essays was planned by Tony Tanner before his death. An introduction by Ian Bell assesses his contribution to the development of American literary criticism, and places his work in the larger context of critical approaches to American literature and culture in recent years. This book should interest all students and scholars of American literature and culture of the period.