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Showing: 71-80 results of 180

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...

THE DEGRADATION OF BEAUTY Some time ago I found myself at an exhibition of Post-Impressionist pictures, under the ægis of an artist who was himself of that persuasion. Indeed, he was one of the exhibitors, and I was constrained to express my opinions in the form of questions. We passed before a picture which to my untutored eyes was formless, meaningless and ugly. It was by a well-known artist, and my instructor admired it. He said it... more...

The beginnings of Literature in England. Two poets of the best period of our old poetry, Caedmon and Cynewulf. The language they wrote in. The monastery at Whitby. The story of Caedmon's gift of song. How many of us I wonder, realise in anything like its full extent the beauty and the glory of our Catholic heritage. Do we think how the Great Mother, the keeper of truth, the guardian of beauty, the muse of learning, the fosterer of progress, has... more...

BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION. There comes a time in the career of every man of genius who has devoted a long life to the instruction and enlightenment of his fellow-creatures, when he receives before his death all the honours paid by posterity. Thus when a great essayist or historian lives to attain a classic and world-wide fame, his own biography becomes as interesting to the public as those he himself has written, and by which he achieved his... 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...


Elsewhere we literary folk are apt to be such a common lot, with tendencies here and there to be a shabby lot; we arrive from all sorts of unexpected holes and corners of the earth, remote, obscure; and at the best we do so often come up out of the ground; but at Boston we were of ascertained and noted origin, and good part of us dropped from the skies. Instead of holding horses before the doors of theatres; or capping verses at the plough-tail;... more...

INTRODUCTION The anonymous essay "Of Genius," which appeared in the Occasional Paper of 1719, still considers "genius" largely a matter of aptitude or talent, and applies the term to the "mechanick" as well as the fine arts. The work is, in fact, essentially a pamphlet on education. The author's main concern is training, and study, and conscious endeavor. Naturally enough, his highest praise—even where poetry is in question—is... more...

I am sorry not to have been able to persuade my old friend, George Radford, who wrote the paper on ‘Falstaff’ in the former volume, to contribute anything to the second series of Obiter Dicta.  In order to enjoy the pleasure of reading your own books over and over again, it is essential that they should be written either wholly or in part by somebody else. Critics will probably be found ready to assert that this little book has... more...

CARLYLE The accomplishments of our race have of late become so varied, that it is often no easy task to assign him whom we would judge to his proper station among men; and yet, until this has been done, the guns of our criticism cannot be accurately levelled, and as a consequence the greater part of our fire must remain futile. He, for example, who would essay to take account of Mr. Gladstone, must read much else besides Hansard; he must brush... more...

TRAGEDIES Vol. IV MACBETH (392) Most of the notes which the present editor has subjoined to this play were published by him in a small pamphlet in 1745. I.i (393,*) Enter three Witches] In order to make a true estimate of the abilities and merit of a writer, it it always necessary to examine the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries. A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment, and... more...