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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...

THE ART OF DISCRIMINATION The world divides itself into people who can discriminate and people who cannot discriminate. This is the ultimate test of sensitiveness; and sensitiveness alone separates us and unites us. We all create, or have created for us by the fatality of our temperament, a unique and individual universe. It is only by bringing into light the most secret and subtle elements of this self-contained system of things that we can... more...

PROLOGUE What I am anxious to attempt in this anticipatory summary of the contents of this book is a simple estimate of its final conclusions, in such a form as shall eliminate all technical terms and reduce the matter to a plain statement, intelligible as far as such a thing can be made intelligible, to the apprehension of such persons as have not had the luck, or the ill-luck, of a plunge into the ocean of metaphysic. A large portion of the... more...

PREFACE This selection of "One hundred best books" is made after a different method and with a different purpose from the selections already in existence. Those apparently are designed to stuff the minds of young persons with an accumulation of "standard learning" calculated to alarm and discourage the boldest. The following list is frankly subjective in its choice; being indeed the selection of one individual, wandering at large and in freedom... more...