Between panels at a recent American literature conference, I spoke with a younger, very much up-and-coming scholar about my current work on literary influence and nineteenth-century American literature and how it had led me back, with renewed appreciation, to the work of F. O. Matthiessen, Marius Bewley, and others writing in the postwar period significant for some of the best American critical writing. Immediately, as if reading from a script, the up-and-coming scholar began reciting Matthiessen's ideological lapses, blindnesses, offenses, the impoverished nature of his all-white, all-male literary canon, his idea of a canon at all. As I explained, part of my project (begun in these pages in a special issue I edited on Hawthorne and literary influence) is to reread these works and to explore the gender, race, and sexual politics of influence. I realize that if my work is to succeed, it will have to make this younger...

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