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PRELIMINARY I The writing of this preliminary chapter, and the final survey and revision of my Whitman essay, I am making at a rustic house I have built at a wild place a mile or more from my home upon the river. I call this place Whitman Land, because in many ways it is typical of my poet,—an amphitheatre of precipitous rock, slightly veiled with a delicate growth of verdure, enclosing a few acres of prairie-like land, once the site of... more...

PREFACE 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... more...

CHARLOTTE BRONTË Objection is often raised against realistic biography because it reveals so much that is important and even sacred about a man's life. The real objection to it will rather be found in the fact that it reveals about a man the precise points which are unimportant. It reveals and asserts and insists on exactly those things in a man's life of which the man himself is wholly unconscious; his exact class in society, the... more...

OMAR CAYENNE I Wake! For the Hack can scatter into flight Shakespere and Dante in a single Night! The Penny-a-liner is Abroad, and strikes Our Modern Literature with blithering Blight. II Before Historical Romances died, Methought a Voice from Art's Olympus cried, "When all Dumas and Scott is still for Sale, Why nod o'er drowsy Tales, by Tyros tried?" III A cock-sure Crew with Names ne'er heard before Greedily... more...

CHAPTER I BROWNING AND TENNYSON Parnassus, Apollo's mount, has two peaks, and on these, for sixty years, from 1830 to 1890, two poets sat, till their right to these lofty peaks became unchallenged. Beneath them, during these years, on the lower knolls of the mount of song, many new poets sang; with diverse instruments, on various subjects, and in manifold ways. They had their listeners; the Muses were also their visitants; but none of them... more...


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY In history we find certain names associated with great movements: Luther with the Reformation, or Garibaldi with the liberation of Italy. Luther certainly posted on the door of the church at Wittenberg his famous Theses, and burnt the Papal Bull at the gates of that city; yet before Luther there lived men, such as the scholar Erasmus, who have been appropriately named Reformers before the Reformation. So, too, Cavour's... more...

I.   LD King Cole Was a merry old soul, And a merry old soul was he; He called for his pipe, And he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three. Every fiddler, he had a fiddle, And a very fine fiddle had he; Twee tweedle dee, tweedle dee, went the fiddlers. Oh, there's none so rare, As can compare With King Cole and his fiddlers three! [The traditional Nursery Rhymes of England commence with a legendary satire... more...

The Supreme Literary Gift When we have been reading some transcendent passage in one of the world's masterpieces we experience that mental sensation which Longinus declares to be the test of true sublimity, to wit, our mind "undergoes a kind of proud elation and delight, as if it had itself begotten the thing we read." We are disposed by such literature very much as we are disposed by the Sistine Madonna or before the Aphrodite of Melos. Things... more...

ALMAYER'S FOLLY I am informed that in criticizing that literature which preys on strange people and prowls in far-off countries, under the shade of palms, in the unsheltered glare of sunbeaten beaches, amongst honest cannibals and the more sophisticated pioneers of our glorious virtues, a lady—distinguished in the world of letters—summed up her disapproval of it by saying that the tales it produced were "de-civilized." And in that... more...

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL The papers collected here under the name of 'My Literary Passions' were printed serially in a periodical of such vast circulation that they might well have been supposed to have found there all the acceptance that could be reasonably hoped for them. Nevertheless, they were reissued in a volume the year after they first appeared, in 1895, and they had a pleasing share of such favor as their author's books have enjoyed. But it is... more...