« ZurückWeiter »
course in English, and the age and capabilities of the student, may permit.
A text-book at the best is only a convenient and suggestive outline of the subject to be taught. Hence no ambitious student should rest content with merely studying this book. Each and every topic should be more fully discussed and illustrated.
The author has a grateful appreciation of the kindly words of the many teachers who have acknowledged the practical benefit they have received from this book. It is to be hoped that, in its present revised and enlarged form, it may continue to prove itself, as formerly, a useful and convenient handbook to teachers and students of the standard English classics.
The selections from Longfellow, Whittier, Hawthorne, Lowell, and Holmes contained in this volume are used by permission of Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., the authorized publishers of the works of those authors.
A. F. B.
FIRST STEPS WITH AMERICAN AND
1. Literature in General. -- Literature in a general way has reference to the written productions of a nation, but in a more limited sense refers only to those writings which come within the province of the literary art; in other words, literature, as commonly spoken of, excludes scientific and technical works, and is synonymous with elegant or polite literature, or belles-lettres as the French call it.
Literature has often been defined. Emerson says it is the record of the best thoughts. “By literature," says Stopford Brooke, "we mean the written thoughts and feelings of intelligent men and women, arranged in a way that shall give pleasure to the reader.” Says John Morley, “Poets, dramatists, humorists, satirists, masters of fiction, the great preachers, the character-writers, the maxim writers, the great political orators, they are all literature, in so far as they teach us to know men, and to know human nature. This is what makes literature a proper instrument for a systematic training of the imagination and sympathies, and of a genial and varied moral sensibility.”
Strictly speaking, English literature refers only to the written productions of the British people. But inasmuch as the English-speaking world embraces two great nations, besides vast colonial dependencies, the term “English literature” is commonly used in its broad sense, referring thereby to the great classic authors who have written in the English language. English literature may thus in(clude the writings of both British and American authors. If we wish to be exact, we may designate the literature of Great Britain as British literature, and that of the United States as American literature.
2. The Study of English Literature. — Why do we study literature? The answer is brief. To be happy, and to do our whole duty, it is of paramount importance that we should habitually live with wise thoughts and right feelings. What will help us to this gracious companionship? A deep and abiding love for all that is good in literature. Hence its study is earnestly commended to our interest and care. “The object of literature in education,” says John Henry Newman, “is to open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it to comprehend and digest its knowledge, to give it power over its faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, address, and expression.'
The story of our English literature began about twelve
1" To create and maintain in every student the highest ideal of human life, is, or ought to be, the chief work of any higher school. There is no study like that of the best literature to form and glorify such an ideal. It reveals possibilities, touches to finer issues, broadens thought, kindles faith, sets the soul free, quickens and greatens as nothing else can.
“Arm in arm with a universal author, you are in living contact with the great facts and laws of nature and of human existence; you see them from the master's lofty standpoint, and your life is larger than before.” — HOMER B. SPRAGUE.