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De Quincey's Revolt of the Tartars   By: (1785-1859)

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First Page:

DE QUINCEY'S REVOLT OF THE TARTARS

Edited with Introduction and Notes

by

WILLIAM EDWARD SIMONDS, PH.D. Professor of the English Language and Literature in Knox College

Boston, U.S.A. Ginn & Company, Publishers The Athenæum Press

1899

[Illustration: Thomas de Quincey. (After a drawing by ARCHER.)]

"In addition to the general impression of his diminutiveness and fragility, one was struck with the peculiar beauty of his head and forehead, rising disproportionately high over his small wrinkly visage and gentle deep set eyes." DAVID MASSON.

PREFACE.

In editing an English classic for use in the secondary schools, there is always opportunity for the expression of personal convictions and personal taste; nevertheless, where one has predecessors in the task of preparing such a text, it is difficult always, occasionally impossible, to avoid treading on their heels. The present editor, therefore, hastens to acknowledge his indebtedness to the various school editions of the Revolt of the Tartars , already in existence. The notes by Masson are so authoritative and so essential that their quotation needs no comment. De Quincey's footnotes are retained in their original form and appear embodied in the text. The other annotations suggest the method which the editor would follow in class room work upon this essay.

The student's attention is called frequently to the form of expression; the discriminating use of epithets, the employment of foreign phrases, the allusions to Milton and the Bible, the structure of paragraphs, the treatment of incident, the development of feeling, the impressiveness of a present personality; all this, however, is with the purpose, not of mechanic exercise, nor merely to illustrate "rhetoric," but to illuminate De Quincey . It is with this intention, presumably, that the text is prescribed. There is little attractiveness, after all, in the idea of a style so colorless and so impersonal that the individuality of its victim is lost in its own perfection; this was certainly not the Opium Eater's mind concerning literary form, nor does it appear to have been the aim of any of our masters. Indeed, it may be well in passing to point out to pupils how fatal to success in writing is the attempt to imitate the style of any man, De Quincey included; it is always in order to emphasize the naturalness and spontaneity of the "grand style" wherever it is found. The teacher should not inculcate a blind admiration of all that De Quincey has said or done; there is opportunity, even in this brief essay, to exercise the pupil in applying the commonplace tests of criticism, although it should be seen to as well that a true appreciation is awakened for the real excellences of this little masterpiece.

CONTENTS.

PAGE

INTRODUCTION:

CRITICAL APPRECIATION vii

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH x

AUTHORITIES AND REFERENCES xxii

THE REVOLT OF THE TARTARS 1

APPENDED NOTES BY MASSON 67

NOTES, EXPLANATORY AND CRITICAL 74

INTRODUCTION.

Thomas De Quincey is one of the eccentric figures in English literature. Popularly he is known as the English Opium Eater and as the subject of numerous anecdotes which emphasize the oddities of his temperament and the unconventionality of his habits. That this man of distinguished genius was the victim pitifully the victim of opium is the lamentable fact; that he was morbidly shy and shunned intercourse with all except a few intimate, congenial friends; that he was comically indifferent to the fashion of his dress; that he was the most unpractical and childlike of men; that he was often betrayed, because of these peculiarities, into many ridiculous embarrassments, such as are described by Mr... Continue reading book >>




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