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Although vastly popular during its time, much nineteenth-century women`s fiction in the United States went unread by the twentieth-century educated elite, who were taught to ignore it as didactic. However, American literature has a tradition of didacticism going back to its Puritan roots, shifting over time from sermons and poetic transcripts into novels, which proved to be perfect vehicles for conveying social values. In the nineteenth century, critics reviled Poe for neglecting to conclude his stories with pithy moral tags, while Longfellow was canonized for his didactic verse. Although rhetorical changes favoring the anti-didactic can be detected as nineteenth-century American transformed itself into a secular society, it was twentieth-century criticism, which placed aesthetic value above everything else, that had no place in its doctrine for the didacticism of others.