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Figures of Several Centuries   By: (1865-1945)

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First Page:

FIGURES OF SEVERAL CENTURIES

BY

ARTHUR SYMONS

LONDON CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD 1917

First published, December 1916.

Reprinted, January, June 1917.

TO

JOSEPH CONRAD

WITH A FRIEND'S ADMIRATION

CONTENTS

PAGE SAINT AUGUSTINE 1

CHARLES LAMB 13

VILLON 37

CASANOVA AT DUX 41

JOHN DONNE 80

EMILY BRONTË 109

EDGAR ALLAN POE 115

THOMAS LOVELL BEDDOES 122

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 130

GEORGE MEREDITH AS A POET 141

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 153

DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 201

A NOTE ON THE GENIUS OF THOMAS HARDY 207

LÉON CLADEL 216

HENRIK IBSEN 222

JORIS KARL HUYSMANS 268

TWO SYMBOLISTS 300

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE 310

WALTER PATER 316

THE GONCOURTS 336

COVENTRY PATMORE 351

SAROJINI NAIDU 376

WELSH POETRY 390

SAINT AUGUSTINE

The Confessions of St. Augustine are the first autobiography, and they have this to distinguish them from all other autobiographies, that they are addressed directly to God. Rousseau's unburdening of himself is the last, most effectual manifestation of that nervous, defiant consciousness of other people which haunted him all his life. He felt that all the men and women whom he passed on his way through the world were at watch upon him, and mostly with no very favourable intentions. The exasperation of all those eyes fixed upon him, the absorbing, the protesting self consciousness which they called forth in him, drove him, in spite of himself, to set about explaining himself to other people, to the world in general. His anxiety to explain, not to justify, himself was after all a kind of cowardice before his own conscience. He felt the silent voices within him too acutely to keep silence. Cellini wrote his autobiography because he heard within him such trumpeting voices of praise, exultation, and the supreme satisfaction of a violent man who has conceived himself to be always in the right, that it shocked him to think of going down into his grave without having made the whole world hear those voices. He hurls at you this book of his own deeds that it may smite you into acquiescent admiration. Casanova, at the end of a long life in which he had tasted all the forbidden fruits of the earth, with a simplicity of pleasure in which the sense of their being forbidden was only the least of their abounding flavours, looked back upon his past self with a slightly pathetic admiration, and set himself to go all over those successful adventures, in love and in other arts, firstly, in order that he might be amused by recalling them, and then because he thought the record would do him credit. He neither intrudes himself as a model, nor acknowledges that he was very often in the wrong. Always passionate after sensations, and for their own sake, the writing of an autobiography was the last, almost active, sensation that was left to him, and he accepted it energetically... Continue reading book >>




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