Huneker’s main point in this essay was not that America will never produce great novels, but that America was so varied that it would be impossible for merely one to represent the whole country.
The question is, after all, an affair for critics, and the great American novel will be in the plural; thousands perhaps. America is a chord of many nations, and to find the keynote we must play much and varied music.
Among the novels published in the century after this essay ran: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, “Roots” by Alex Haley, and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. All are considered among the greatest American novels.
The Great American Novel Never Will Come: James Huneker, the Famous Critic, Discussing Certain Phases of Modern Fiction, Says There May Be Thousands but Not One
From July 16, 1916