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A History of English Literature   By:

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A History of English Literature

by Robert Huntington Fletcher

TO MY MOTHER TO WHOM I OWE A LIFETIME OF A MOTHER'S MOST SELF SACRIFICING DEVOTION

PREFACE

This book aims to provide a general manual of English Literature for students in colleges and universities and others beyond the high school age. The first purposes of every such book must be to outline the development of the literature with due regard to national life, and to give appreciative interpretation of the work of the most important authors. I have written the present volume because I have found no other that, to my mind, combines satisfactory accomplishment of these ends with a selection of authors sufficiently limited for clearness and with adequate accuracy and fulness of details, biographical and other. A manual, it seems to me, should supply a systematic statement of the important facts, so that the greater part of the student's time, in class and without, may be left free for the study of the literature itself.

I hope that the book may prove adaptable to various methods and conditions of work. Experience has suggested the brief introductory statement of main literary principles, too often taken for granted by teachers, with much resulting haziness in the student's mind. The list of assignments and questions at the end is intended, of course, to be freely treated. I hope that the list of available inexpensive editions of the chief authors may suggest a practical method of providing the material, especially for colleges which can provide enough copies for class use. Poets, of course, may be satisfactorily read in volumes of, selections; but to me, at least, a book of brief extracts from twenty or a hundred prose authors is an absurdity. Perhaps I may venture to add that personally I find it advisable to pass hastily over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and so gain as much time as possible for the nineteenth.

R. H. F.

August, 1916.

CONTENTS

PRELIMINARY. HOW TO STUDY AND JUDGE LITERATURE

A TABULAR VIEW OF ENGLISH LITERATURE

REFERENCE BOOKS

I. PERIOD I. THE BRITONS AND THE ANGLO SAXONS. TO A.D. 1066

II. PERIOD II. THE NORMAN FRENCH PERIOD. A.D. 1066 TO ABOUT 1350

III. PERIOD III. THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES. ABOUT 1350 TO ABOUT 1500

IV. THE MEDIEVAL DRAMA

V. PERIOD IV. THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. THE RENAISSANCE AND THE REIGN OF ELIZABETH

VI. THE DRAMA FROM ABOUT 1550 TO 1642

VII. PERIOD V. THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, 1603 1660. PROSE AND POETRY

VIII. PERIOD VI. THE RESTORATION, 1660 1700

IX. PERIOD VII. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, PSEUDO CLASSICISM AND THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN ROMANTICISM

X. PERIOD VIII. THE ROMANTIC TRIUMPH, 1798 TO ABOUT 1830

XI. PERIOD IX. THE VICTORIAN PERIOD. ABOUT 1830 TO 1901

A LIST OF AVAILABLE EDITIONS FOR THE STUDY OF IMPORTANT AUTHORS

ASSIGNMENTS FOR STUDY

INDEX

PRELIMINARY. HOW TO STUDY AND JUDGE LITERATURE

TWO ASPECTS OF LITERARY STUDY. Such a study of Literature as that for which the present book is designed includes two purposes, contributing to a common end. In the first place (I), the student must gain some general knowledge of the conditions out of which English literature has come into being, as a whole and during its successive periods, that is of the external facts of one sort or another without which it cannot be understood. This means chiefly (1) tracing in a general way, from period to period, the social life of the nation, and (2) getting some acquaintance with the lives of the more important authors. The principal thing, however (II), is the direct study of the literature itself. This study in turn should aim first at an understanding of the literature as an expression of the authors' views of life and of their personalities and especially as a portrayal and interpretation of the life of their periods and of all life as they have seen it; it should aim further at an appreciation of each literary work as a product of Fine Art, appealing with peculiar power both to our minds and to our emotions, not least to the sense of Beauty and the whole higher nature... Continue reading book >>




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