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Chapter IIntroductory By definition the renaissance was primarily a literary and scholarly movement derived from the literature of classical antiquity. Thus the historical, philosophical, pedagogical, and dramatic literatures of the renaissance cannot be accurately understood except in the light of the Greek and Roman authors whose writings inspired them. To this general rule the literary criticism of the renaissance is no exception. The... more...

Mr. Crosby's article on Shakespeare's attitude toward the working classes suggested to me the idea of also expressing my own long-established opinion about the works of Shakespeare, in direct opposition, as it is, to that established in all the whole European world. Calling to mind all the struggle of doubt and self-deceit,—efforts to attune myself to Shakespeare—which I went through owing to my complete disagreement with this... more...

CHAPTER I THE LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE Stratford-on-Avon is cleaner, better paved, and perhaps more populous than it was in Shakespeare's time. Several streets of mean red-brick houses have been built during the last half century. Hotels, tea rooms, refreshment rooms, and the shops where the tripper may buy things to remind him that he has been where greatness lived, give the place an air at once prosperous and parasitic. The town contains a few... more...

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...

The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader as an introduction to the study of Shakespeare, for which purpose his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent are has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote: therefore, words introduced into... more...


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY The most interesting and important fifteen years in the records of English dramatic literature are undoubtedly those between 1588 and 1603, within which limit all of Shakespeare's poems and the majority of his plays were written; yet no exhaustive English history, intelligently co-ordinating the social, literary, and political life of this period, has ever been written. Froude, the keynote of whose historical work is... more...

Dr. Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare is one of the most famous critical essays of the eighteenth century, and yet too many students have forgotten that it is, precisely, a preface to the plays of Shakespeare, edited by Dr. Johnson himself. That is to say, the edition itself has been obscured or overshadowed by its preface, and the sustained effort of that essay has virtually monopolized scholarly attention—much of which should be directed... more...

The book here included among The World's Classics made its first appearance as an octavo volume of xxiv + 352 pages, with the title- page: Characters of Shakespeare's Plays, By William Hazlitt. London:Printed by C. H. Reynell, 21 Piccadilly, 1817. William Hazlitt (1778-1830) came of an Irish Protestant stock, and of a branch of it transplanted in the reign of George I from the county of Antrim to Tipperary. His father migrated, at nineteen, to... more...

SHAKSPEARE.[Endnote: 1] William Shakspeare, the protagonist on the great arena of modern poetry, and the glory of the human intellect, was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, in the year 1564, and upon some day, not precisely ascertained, in the month of April. It is certain that he was baptized on the 25th; and from that fact, combined with some shadow of a tradition, Malone has inferred that he was born on the 23d. There is... more...

CHAPTER I. A PRELIMINARY VIEW. Anglo-Saxon literature is the oldest of the vernacular literatures of modern Europe; and it is a consequence of this that its relations with Latin literature have been the closest. All the vernacular literatures have been influenced by the Latin, but of Anglo-Saxon literature alone can it be said that it has been subjected to no other influence. This literature was nursed by, and gradually rose out of, Latin... more...