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INTRODUCTION. 1. Tongue, Speech, Language.—We speak of the “English tongue” or of the “French language”; and we say of two nations that they “do not understand each other’s speech.” The existence of these three words—speech, tongue, language—proves to us that a language is something spoken,—that it is a number of sounds; and that the writing or printing of it upon paper is a quite... more...

LECTURE I INTRODUCTORY WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1916 I In the third book of the "Ethics", and in the second chapter, Aristotle, dealing with certain actions which, though bad in themselves, admit of pity and forgiveness because they were committed involuntarily, through ignorance, instances 'the man who did not know a subject was forbidden, like Aeschylus with the Mysteries,' and 'the man who only meant to show how it worked, like the fellow... more...

Introduction My aim in this little book has been to give short sketches and estimates of the greatest modern English writers from Macaulay to Stevenson and Kipling. Omissions there are, but my effort has been to give the most characteristic writers a place and to try to stimulate the reader's interest in the man behind the book as well as in the best works of each author. Too much space is devoted in most literary criticism to the bare facts... more...

DEDICATION. MY DEAR WILLIAM ARCHER, Severe and ruthlessly honest man that you are, you will find that the levities and the gravities of this book do not accord, and will say so. I plead only that they were written at intervals, and in part for recreation, during years in which their author has striven to maintain a cheerful mind while a popular philosophy which he believed to be cheap took possession of men and translated itself into... more...

CHAPTER I THE RENAISSANCE (1) There are times in every man's experience when some sudden widening of the boundaries of his knowledge, some vision of hitherto untried and unrealized possibilities, has come and seemed to bring with it new life and the inspiration of fresh and splendid endeavour. It may be some great book read for the first time not as a book, but as a revelation; it may be the first realization of the extent and moment of what... more...


DICKENS A ‘Frightful Minus’ Mr. Andrew Lang is delightfully severe on those who ‘cannot read Dickens,’ but in truth it is only by accident that he is not himself of that unhappy persuasion.  For Dickens the humourist he has a most uncompromising enthusiasm; for Dickens the artist in drama and romance he has as little sympathy as the most practical.  Of the prose of David Copperfield and Our Mutual Friend, the... more...

INTRODUCTION A section of a long and splendid literature can be most conveniently treated in one of two ways. It can be divided as one cuts a currant cake or a Gruyère cheese, taking the currants (or the holes) as they come. Or it can be divided as one cuts wood—along the grain: if one thinks that there is a grain. But the two are never the same: the names never come in the same order in actual time as they come in any serious study... more...

CHAPTER I.INTRODUCTORY. Village libraries—Difficulties of travel—Literary Societies in the Highlands—Gaelic books—Happiness and geniality of natives—Oban to Gairloch—Winter sailing—A crofting village—Horrors of the Minch—Notes on Lewis—Highland doctors—Hotels and anglers—Recent books—Military—Moray Firth—Among the miners—Handloom... more...

Chapter I. The Historical Scope of the Subject. . . . . . . . . . Literature and Science. There are two words in the English language which are now used to express the two great divisions of mental production—Science and Literature; and yet, from their etymology, they have so much in common, that it has been necessary to attach to each a technical meaning, in order that we may employ them without confusion. Science, from the... more...

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INTRODUCTION. In England, as elsewhere, criticism was a late birth of the literary spirit. English poets had sung and literary prose been written for centuries before it struck men to ask themselves, What is the secret of the power that these things have on our mind, and by what principles are they to be judged? And it could hardly have been otherwise. Criticism is a self-conscious art, and could not have arisen in an age of intellectual... more...