Imágenes de páginas

the beginning of the literary epoch. It was altogether necessary to get at the real origin in each country of the literature that may justly be considered to represent this century; and for the purpose an excursion had to be made back into the preceding hundred years. Another point was the treatment of living writers. It seemed best in this case to detail only a few who have undoubtedly won their spurs. This is really all that could be done, because the long roll of illustrious names in the past precludes any general consideration of the present, which, also, is still obscured by the dust of critical controversy-a dust which rises above the literary movement of the past thirty years.

As regards arrangement, the chief stress, naturally, has been laid on English literature. Herein the grouping which appeared most graphic and comprehensive was: Poetry-The Novel--History-Philosophy and Criticism-English in America. The treatment of Philosophy, necessary enough, amounts to little more than a note. A chapter on Periodicals was thought in place. The last division was

made in order to present a concrete idea of what has been done on this side of the world. The national literatures have been kept separate; it is thankless and uncertain to institute national comparisons. Germany and France have received three chapters each. This is, of course, small measure, but it is hoped that so brief a compass has not led to the omission of any essential facts. Italy and

Spain seemed to demand, proportionately, but one chapter between them. The strange rise and evident promise of Russia set apart for her a larger section. Other literatures have been excluded.

With so many names under consideration, it was difficult to prevent in places a touch of the catalogue element. In a single book something of the kind was unavoidable. On the other hand, if Goethe and Schiller are treated at exceptional length, it must be remembered that they occupy a very exceptional position-one that obtains in no other literature. The value of quotations is considerable in any compilation of this nature; those in the Second Part, while necessarily falling short of the originals, afford a good criterion.

The following firms have courteously extended the privilege of using copyrighted matter: Messrs. D. Appleton & Co.; Messrs. Harper and Brothers; and the International Society, publishers of the "Library of the World's Best Literature."

I have endeavored to make this survey readable and adequate—a worthy member of the Nineteenth Century Series. For failings-not for low aim--I must ask indulgence.



« AnteriorContinuar »