Gustave Flaubert said that novels are the private histories of nations. The philosopher Richard Rorty contended that novelists and poets can shed more light than philosophy on the human condition. Fiction as history has been the theme of several recent publications. In his The Role of Place in Literature (1984) Leonard Lutwack stated: “The most elementary orientation of a reader to a narrative text is through the implication of place. Setting is immediately positive and reassuring until action and characters are gradually unfolded.” It is with such reflections that the present volume and its two predecessors have been compiled.
This is the final volume of a trilogy covering the fiction of New England, New York State and the other four Middle Atlantic states. The impetus for the present work (as for its predecessors) is the premise that creative writers, novelists especially, have nearly as much to tell us about the way we lived in the early years of our country as the historians and social scientists. Fiction as history has become a subject of research in recent years. The annotations in this bibliography are often quite extensive, covering many hard-to-find, long forgotten works, lending themselves to browsing by the general reader.
Robert B. Slocum, a retired Cornell University librarian, is the author of New England in Fiction 1787-1990 and New York State in Fiction 1751-1999. He is a 50-year member of the American Historical Association, the American Library Association and the American Association of University Professors. He lives in Dryden, New York, with his wife, Christine.