Library of America

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The signature spines of the Library of America series

Library of America is the name of a book series published by the non-profit publishing house of the same name, which makes classics of American literature available to the general public in high quality and affordable editions. The Library of America is the equivalent of the French Bibliothèque de la Pléiade and has comprised more than three hundred volumes since it was founded in 1982.


The Library of America was founded in 1979 with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the private Ford Foundation of $ 1.8 million. The idea of ​​a collection of classics of American literature came from the writer and literary critic Edmund Wilson , who had dreamed of an American equivalent to the French Bibliothèque de la Pléiade since the early 1960s , but died before the Library of America was founded. In spring 1982, exactly ten years after Wilson's death, the first four volumes of the book series were published with works by Herman Melville , Nathaniel Hawthorne , Walt Whitman and Harriet Beecher Stowe . Since then, more than 300 volumes have appeared, with the actual Library of America book series being supplemented over the decades by a number of anthologies on special topics. On the 30th anniversary of the book series, the American literary scholar Michael Gorra pointed out that the achievement of the Library of America consisted not only in making classics of American literature available in carefully edited editions, but also in providing the image of classic American literature To have sharpened literature myself.

Description of the volumes

The Library of America volumes range from 700 to 1,600 pages and are printed on acid-free thin paper. The hard cover is 13 × 20.5 cm in size, with the book block connected to the book cover by means of sturdy thread stitching in the "Smyth Sewing" style. The book covers are made of artificial silk in the colors dark green, dark red, dark blue or light brown and are embossed with the last name of the author, the title and the logo of the Library of America in gold. Each volume contains a ribbon bookmark in the same color as the book cover and is delivered in a sturdy, cream-colored slipcase.


Web links


  1. ^ Paul Gray, Books: A Library in the Hands , in: Time, May 3, 1982.
  2. Michael Gorra, The Library of America at Thirty , in: The Sewanee Review 120, 4 (2012), pp. 545-553, here: p. 546.
  3. Library of America Series , list of volumes published to date on the Library of America website, last accessed on February 17, 2019.
  4. ^ Gorra, The Library of America at Thirty , p. 548.