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Visions and Revisions A Book of Literary Devotions   By: (1872-1963)

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[Note: I have made the following spelling changes: intransigeant to intransigent, rythm of the secret to rhythm of the secret, accummulated to accumulated, potentious and solemn to portentious and solemn, terrestial to terrestrial, Light cormer to Light comer, Aldeboran to Aldebaran, enter competely to enter completely, aplomb and nonchalence to aplomb and nonchalance, Hyppolytus to Hippolytus, abyssmal to abysmal, appelations to appellations, intellectual predominence to intellectual predominance, deilberately outraging to deliberately outraging, pour vitrol to pour vitriol, Gethsamene to Gethsemane, Sabacthani to Sabachthani, conscience striken to conscience stricken, abssymal gulfs to abysmal gulfs, rhymmic incantations to rhythmic incantations, perpetual insistance to perpetual insistence, and water cariers to water carriers. Next, I have also incorporated the errata listed at the end of the book into the text. Finally, I have standardized all the poetry quotations with indentation and spacing which were not in the original text.]





Ham. Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me with two Provincial roses on my ras'd shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir? Her . Half a share.


Copyright, 1915, by G. Arnold Shaw Copyright in Great Britain and Colonies

First Printing, February, 1915 Second Printing, March, 1915 Third Printing, October, 1915


To Those who love Without understanding; To Those who understand Without loving; And to Those Who, neither loving or understanding, Are the Cause Why Books are written.


Preface 9 Rabelais 25 Dante 35 Shakespeare 55 El Greco 75 Milton 87 Charles Lamb 105 Dickens 119 Goethe 135 Matthew Arnold 153 Shelley 169 Keats 183 Nietzsche 197 Thomas Hardy 213 Walter Pater 227 Dostoievsky 241 Edgar Allen Poe 263 Walt Whitman 281 Conclusion 293


What I aim at in this book is little more than to give complete reflection to those great figures in Literature which have so long obsessed me. This poor reflection of them passes, as they pass, image by image, eidolon by eidolon, in the flowing stream of my own consciousness.

Most books of critical essays take upon themselves, in unpardonable effrontery, to weigh and judge, from their own petty suburban pedestal, the great Shadows they review. It is an insolence! How should Professor This, or Doctor That, whose furthest experiences of "dangerous living" have been squalid philanderings with their neighbours' wives, bring an Ethical Synthesis to bear that shall put Shakespeare and Hardy, Milton and Rabelais, into appropriate niches?

Every critic has a right to his own Aesthetic Principles, to his own Ethical Convictions; but when it comes to applying these, in tiresome, pedantic agitation, to Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Lamb, we must beg leave to cry off! What we want is not the formulating of new Critical Standards, and the dragging in of the great masters before our last miserable Theory of Art. What we want is an honest, downright and quite personal articulation, as to how these great things in literature really hit us when they find us for the moment natural and off our guard when they find us as men and women, and not as ethical gramaphones.

My own object in these sketches is not to convert the reader to whatever "opinions" I may have formulated in the course of my spiritual adventures; it is to divest myself of such "opinions," and in pure, passionate humility to give myself up, absolutely and completely, to the various visions and temperaments of these great dead artists... Continue reading book >>

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