R. W. B. Lewis

Richard Warrington Baldwin Lewis ( born November 1, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, † June 13, 2002 in Bethany, Connecticut ) was an American literary scholar. He is one of the most influential writers of the first generation of Americanists.

Lewis, son of an Episcopalian pastor, graduated from Harvard University ( BA 1941) and later at the University of Chicago (MA 1941 Ph.D. 1954). 1950-51 he was dean of the Salzburg Seminar, in consequence, he taught 1952-54 at Princeton University in 1954 and received a professorship at Rutgers University and in 1959 founded at Yale University, where he remained until his death.

Of some influence on the American, which established itself as an independent academic discipline in the 1950s, was his 1955 published first work, The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy and Tradition in the 19th Century ( " The American Adam: innocence, tragedy and tradition in the 19. century " ), in which he formulated a myth which underlies many works of American literature, especially the romance: freed the notion of Americans as a blank slate, by the conventions and constraints of European society, which is similar to the biblical Adam in a almost paradisiacal innocence his destiny in a new Eden - takes in the hand and self-determined copes with his life - the new world.

In addition to numerous other contributions to American literary history is to be mentioned in particular his biography of Edith Wharton, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976. Lewis' book was a lot to the enhancement of this in the meantime neglected novelist; in the course of his research for this book Lewis also discovered some previously unknown letters and prose fragments from Wharton spring.


  • The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century (1955 )
  • The Picaresque Saint. Representative Figures in Contemporary Fiction ( 1959)
  • Herman Melville (1962 )
  • Trials of the Word: Essays in American Literature and the Humanistic Tradition ( 1965)
  • The Poetry of Hart Crane: A Critical Study ( 1967)
  • American Literature: The Makers and the Making: Book C / 1861 to 1914 ( 1974 with Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren )
  • Edith Wharton (1975 )
  • The Jameses: A Family Narrative (1991 )
  • Literary Reflections: A Shoring of Images 1960-1993 (1993 )
  • The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings (1995 )
  • American Characters: Selections from the National Portrait Gallery, Accompanied by Literary Portraits (1999, with Nancy Lewis)
  • Dante (2001)


  • Presence of Walt Whitman (1962 )
  • Malraux: A Collection of Critical Essays (1964 )
  • The Letters of Edith Wharton (1989, with Nancy Lewis)
  • The Selected Short Stories of Edith Wharton (1991 )
  • Literary scholar
  • Pulitzer Prize winner
  • University teachers ( Rutgers University)
  • University teachers ( Yale )
  • Americans
  • Americanist
  • Born 1917
  • Died in 2002
  • Man