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LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE. Shakespeare, by general suffrage, is the greatest name in literature. There can be no extravagance in saying, that to all who speak the English language his genius has made the world better worth living in, and life a nobler and diviner thing. And even among those who do not "speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake," large numbers are studying the English language mainly for the purpose of being at home with him. How he... more...

I WHAT IS A PLAY?   A play is a story devised to be presented by actors on a stage before an audience. This plain statement of fact affords an exceedingly simple definition of the drama,—a definition so simple indeed as to seem at the first glance easily obvious and therefore scarcely worthy of expression. But if we examine the statement thoroughly, phrase by phrase, we shall see that it sums up within itself the entire theory of... more...

My dear Cowell: As these Lectures would never have been written or delivered but for your hearty encouragement, I hope you will now allow me to dedicate them to you, not only as a token of my sincere admiration of your great achievements as an Oriental scholar, but also as a memorial of our friendship, now more than thirty years old, a friendship which has grown from year to year, has weathered many a storm, and will last, I trust, for what to... 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...

by Various
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...


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...

PREFACE In telling the story of Shakespeare's life and work within strict limits of space, an attempt has been made to keep closely to essential matters. There is no period of the poet's life, there is no branch of his marvellous work, that has not been the subject of long and learned volumes, no single play that has not been discussed at greater length than serves here to cover the chief incidents of work and life together. If the Homes and... 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...

We had expected to stay in Boston only until we could find a house in Old Cambridge. This was not so simple a matter as it might seem; for the ancient town had not yet quickened its scholarly pace to the modern step. Indeed, in the spring of 1866 the impulse of expansion was not yet visibly felt anywhere; the enormous material growth that followed the civil war had not yet begun. In Cambridge the houses to be let were few, and such as there were... more...