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An English Garner Critical Essays & Literary Fragments   By:

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In "An English Garner: Critical Essays & Literary Fragments," editor Thomas Seccombe Arber has done a remarkable job of curating a diverse collection of critical essays and literary fragments from prominent English writers. While the title of the book may not be particularly catchy or attention-grabbing, it accurately reflects the contents within—a rich assortment of literary discussions that will undoubtedly captivate scholars, avid readers, and literary enthusiasts alike.

One of the book's notable strengths lies in its comprehensive scope. Arber expertly selects essays and fragments written by renowned English authors from a wide range of periods, ensuring that the collection encompasses a broad historical and literary spectrum. This inclusivity not only showcases the distinctive styles, philosophies, and insights of various authors but also provides a valuable overview of the evolution of English literature.

As one delves into the pages of "An English Garner," the essays prove to be intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking. Each piece offers an insightful analysis of the chosen topic, shedding light on the social, political, and historical contexts in which these works were written. Whether it's dissecting the nuances of Shakespeare's sonnets, examining the themes in Milton's poetry, or analyzing the stylistic techniques used by the Romantic poets, the essays present an engaging and scholarly exploration of literature's timeless treasures.

The book's layout and organization further contribute to its appeal. Arber adroitly structures each chapter, grouping together essays and fragments that share thematic, temporal, or stylistic connections. This arrangement allows readers to immerse themselves in a specific literary era or genre, fostering a deeper understanding of the contextual influences on the writers and their works. The editor's concise introductions preceding each chapter provide valuable insights into the significance and relevance of the following essays, guiding readers through the collection with ease.

In addition to the essays, the inclusion of literary fragments adds an intriguing element to the book. These snippets of unfinished works or random musings offer glimpses into the creative processes of some of the most celebrated English writers. They offer a unique perspective on the authors' thoughts and emotions, leaving readers hungry for more and prompting further exploration of their complete works.

However, there are a few areas where "An English Garner" falls short. The absence of a cohesive narrative or overarching thesis sometimes leaves the collection feeling disconnected. While each essay and fragment stands independently, it would have been beneficial to include an overarching theme or analysis that ties the various pieces together, creating a more cohesive reading experience.

Furthermore, the scholarly nature of the book might deter more casual readers. The collection assumes a certain level of familiarity with English literature and literary analysis, which may be daunting for those approaching the material for recreational purposes. However, for avid readers and students of literature, this book serves as a valuable resource and an opportunity to delve deeper into the intricacies of influential English texts.

In conclusion, "An English Garner: Critical Essays & Literary Fragments" curated by Thomas Seccombe Arber demonstrates the editor's keen eye for selecting engaging and thought-provoking essays from notable English writers. With its comprehensive scope, insightful analysis, and well-structured organization, the book offers a treasure trove of literary discussions and fragments that will undoubtedly appeal to scholars, literary enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of English literature's rich tapestry.

First Page:






The texts contained in the present volume are reprinted with very slight alterations from the English Garner issued in eight volumes (1877 1890, London, 8vo.) by Professor Arber, whose name is sufficient guarantee for the accurate collation of the texts with the rare originals, the old spelling being in most cases carefully modernised. The contents of the original Garner have been rearranged and now for the first time classified, under the general editorial supervision of Mr. Thomas Seccombe. Certain lacunae have been filled by the interpolation of fresh matter. The Introductions are wholly new and have been written specially for this issue. The references to volumes of the Garner (other than the present volume) are for the most part to the editio princeps, 8 vols. 1877 90.


I. Extract from Thomas Wilson's Art of Rhetoric , 1554 II. Sir Philip Sidney's Letter to his brother Robert , 1580 III. Extract from Francis Meres's Palladis Tamia , 1598 IV. Dryden's Dedicatory Epistle to the Rival Ladies , 1664 V. Sir Robert Howard's Preface to four new Plays , 1665 VI. Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesy , 1668 VII. Extract from Thomas Ellwood's History of Himself , describing his relations with Milton, 1713 VIII... Continue reading book >>

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