Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The End of the World A Love Story   By: (1837-1902)

Book cover

First Page:

[Illustration: THE BACKWOODS PHILOSOPHER (Frontispiece. See page 40.) ]

The End of the World.









It is the pretty unanimous conclusion of book writers that prefaces are most unnecessary and useless prependages, since nobody reads them. And it is the pretty unanimous practice of book writers to continue to write them with such pains and elaborateness as would indicate a belief that the success of a book depends upon the favorable prejudice begotten of u graceful preface. My principal embarrassment is that it is not customary for a book to have more than one. How then shall I choose between the half dozen letters of introduction I might give my story, each better and worse on many accounts than either of the others? I am rather inclined to adopt the following, which might for some reasons be styled the


Perhaps no writer not infatuated with conceit, can send out a book full of thought and feeling which, whatever they may be worth, are his own, without a parental anxiety in regard to the fate of his offspring. And there are few prefaces which do not in some way betray this nervousness. I confess to a respect for even the prefatory doggerel of good Tinker Bunyan a respect for his paternal tenderness toward his book, not at all for his villainous rhyming. When I saw, the other day, the white handkerchiefs of my children waving an adieu as they sailed away from me, a profound anxiety seized me. So now, as I part company with August and Julia, with my beloved Jonas and my much respected Cynthy Ann, with the mud clerk on the Iatan, and the shaggy lord of Shady Hollow Castle, and the rest, that have watched with me of nights and crossed the ferry with me twice a day for half a year even now, as I see them waving me adieu with their red silk and "yaller" cotton "hand kerchers," I know how many rocks of misunderstanding and criticism and how many shoals of damning faint praise are before them, and my heart is full of misgiving.

But it will never do to have misgivings in a preface. How often have publishers told me this! Ah! if I could write with half the heart and hope my publishers evince in their advertisements, where they talk about "front rank" and "great American story" and all that, it would doubtless be better for the book, provided anybody would read the preface or believe it when they had read it. But at any rate let us not have a preface in the minor key.

A philosophical friend of mine, who is addicted to Carlyle, has recommended that I try the following, which he calls


Why should I try to forestall the Verdict? Is it not foreordained in the very nature of a Book and the Constitution of the Reader that a certain very Definite Number of Readers will misunderstand and dislike a given Book? And that another very Definite Number will understand it and dislike it none the less? And that still a third class, also definitely fixed in the Eternal Nature of Things, will misunderstand and like it, and, what is more, like it only because of their misunderstanding? And in relation to a true Book, there can not fail to be an Elect Few who understand admiringly and understandingly admire. Why, then, make bows, write prefaces, attempt to prejudice the Case? Can I change the Reader? Will I change the Book? No? Then away with Preface! The destiny of the Book is fixed. I can not foretell it, for I am no prophet. But let us not hope to change the Fates by our prefatory bowing and scraping.

I was forced to confess to my friend who was so kind as to offer to lend me this preface, that there was much truth in it and that truth is nowhere more rare than in prefaces, but it was not possible to adopt it for two reasons: one, that my proof reader can not abide so many capitals, maintaining that they disfigure the page, and what is a preface of the high philosophical sort worth without a profusion of capitals? Even Carlyle's columns would lose their greatest ornament if their capitals were gone... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books