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The Pictures; The Betrothing Novels   By: (1773-1853)

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Source: Web Archive http://www.archive.org/details/picturesbetrothi00tiec

THE PICTURES;

THE BETROTHING.

NOVELS,

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN

OF

LEWIS TIECK.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR GEO. B. WHITTAKER, AVE MARIA LANE. 1825.

LONDON: PRINTED BY THOMAS DAVISON. WHITEFRIARS.

THE TRANSLATOR TO THE READER.

A tale ought never to stand in need of a preface or commentary. The best are those which are the most strictly national and in the highest sense of the word popular, which touch immediately the sympathies of the living generation, and display the common elements of our nature, the purely human, under the social relations most familiar to the author and the reader. For then essence and form are most intimately, because naturally and unconsciously blended; neither is exclusively studied, or sacrificed to the other. But even when it is the poet's endeavour, as it is often the highest exercise of his high vocation, to recall the image of the past with its individual peculiarities, to refresh the fading colours of an important, but half forgotten period, to catch and raise the faint tones of an expiring tradition; when even his historical groundwork is fixed in a remote age and a foreign scene, still the tale ought to contain every thing necessary for it to be fully felt and understood within itself. It should not only be completely independent of any formal introduction or addition, but should even be able to dispense with the aid of those digressions and reflexions and elaborate descriptions, which are in fact only prefaces out of their place, or notes taken up into the text, and which sometimes disfigure even the best of our modern novels, and dispel the illusion created by the poet's genius, by taking us behind his magic lantern and shewing us the machinery of his art. This will apply in most cases to translations of such works. It may however sometimes happen, that a tale perfectly intelligible and luminous in the circle of readers for which it was designed may to a different public seem obscure, or give occasion for misapprehension. Such is most frequently the case with those which belong most exclusively to the age and country of the writer, when he does not merely aim at exhibiting human nature clothed in the existing forms of society, but takes for his immediate theme the spirit and tendency of the times in which he lives, the principles and opinions, the tastes and the pursuits of his generation. In works of this nature many things will be taken for granted, many slightly alluded to, with which a foreigner is imperfectly, if at all, acquainted; the whole representation may wear a partial aspect, which, though in the society where it originated it may be sure of finding sufficient correctives, may elsewhere perplex and mislead.

The two little works here presented to the public fall within this exception to the general remark, and the Translator felt that he should not be doing them full justice, if he were not to preface them with a few words of introduction. Their beauty it is true can hardly fail to strike even those who are least conversant with the state of things out of which they arose, and of which they exhibit several interesting sides, but still without some additional explanations every part might not be sufficiently clear to the English reader, and the whole might appear to him in a false light, and perhaps lose its highest interest and meaning.

Little more than half a century has passed, since Germany began to rouse herself from the state of lethargy which followed the convulsive struggles produced by the Reformation... Continue reading book >>




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