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Classic American literature -- for a discount

February 7, 2009 | 10:53 am

Weltyroosevelt

Since the Library of America was founded 30 years ago, it has issued authoritative editions of works by  those writers it deems the nation's best and most significant. Its admirable if lofty goal is to help preserve America's cultural heritage. The books cover periods before our country's founding (Capt. John Smith and others in the early 1600s) and up to the present (Philip Roth will turn 76 in March). The Library of America has published the works of presidents and poets, critics and essayists and novelists.

But even our cherished literary heritage can go on sale.

From now until Feb. 15, the Library of America is having a 50% off sale. Among those writers who can be gotten for $20 instead of $40 are Eudora Welty (above left), George S. Kaufman, John Dos Passos, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Edith Wharton. Even the work of a president can be had for a discount -- letters and speeches by Theodore Roosevelt (seen above in 1905).

It might be a depressing sign of the shaky economy that our best writers are being offered at a cut rate. But I'm a bargain shopper: I like the idea of getting some Paul Bowles, cheap.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Eudora Welty. Credit: Eudora Welty House


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