Complete English Literature PDF

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English Literature

This book which presents the whole splendid history of English literature from Anglo-Saxon times to the close of the Victorian Era has three specific aims.

The first is to create or to encourage in every student the desire to read the best books and to know literature itself rather than what has been written about literature.

The second is to interpret literature both personally and historically, that is, to show how a great book generally reflects not only the author’s life and thought but also the spirit of the age and the ideals of the nation’s history.

The third aim is to show, by a study of each successive period, how our literature has steadily developed from its first simple songs and stories to its present complexity in prose and poetry To carry out these aims we have introduced the following


(1) A brief, accurate summary of historical events and social conditions in each period, and a consideration of the ideals which stirred the whole nation, as in the days of Elizabeth, before they found expression in literature.

(2) A study of the various literary epochs in turn, showing what each gained from the epoch preceding, and how each aided in the development of national literature.

(3) A readable biography of every important writer, showing how he lived and worked, how he met success or failure, how he influenced his age, and how his age influenced him

(4) A study and analysis of every author’s best works, and of many of the books required for college-entrance examinations.

(5) Selections enough especially from earlier writers, and from writers not likely to be found in the home or school library-to indicate the spirit of each author’s work, and read, and where such works may be found in inexpensive editions..

(6) A frank, untechnical discussion of each great writer’s work as a whole, and a critical estimate of his relative place and influence in our literature.

(7) A series of help to students and teachers at the end of each chapter, including summaries, selections for reading, bibliographies, a list of suggestive questions.

It was simply the ideals of the Greeks and Hebrews and Romans, preserved in their literature, which made them what they were, and which determined their value to future generations.

Our democracy, the boast of all English- speaking nations, is a dream; not the doubtful and sometimes disheartening spectacle presented in our legislative halls, but the lovely and immortal ideal of a free and equal manhood, preserved as a most precious heritage in every literature from the Greeks to the Anglo-Saxons.

All our arts, our sci- ences, even our inventions are founded squarely upon ideals; for under every invention is still the dream of Beowulf, that man may overcome the forces of nature; and the foundation of all our sciences and discoveries is the immortal dream that men “shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

a word, our whole civilization, our freedom, our progress, our homes, our religion, rest solidly upon ideals for their foundation.

Nothing but an ideal ever endures upon earth.

It is therefore impossible to overestimate the practical importance of literature, which preserves these ideals from fathers to sons, men, cities, governments, civilizations, vanish from the face of the earth.

It is only when we remember this that we appreciate the action of the devout Mussulman, who picks up and carefully preserves every scrap of paper on which words are written, because the scrap may perchance contain the name of Allah, and the ideal is too enormously important to be neglected or lost.

Summary of the Subject. We are now ready, if not to define, at least to understand a little more clearly the object of our present study.

WriterWilliam J Long
Pdf Size1.5 MB


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