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History of the English Language. By
T. B. Lounsbury, Professor in Yale University. New
and Revised Edition. Crown 8vo.
Writers. Edited by G. C. WILLIAMSON, Litt. D.
Browning, Chaucer, Coleridge, Dante, Defoe, De
Molière, Shakespeare, Spenser, Horace.
Schools. General Editor, A. GUTHKELCH, M.A.,
Full List of the Series will be found on page 10 of the
LONDON: G. BELL & SONS, LTD.
WILLIAM HENRY HUDSON
STAFF LECTURER IN LITERATURE TO THE EXTENSION BOARD
G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.
The purpose and plan of this little book may easily be gathered from the introductory chapter. Only a few words of preface, therefore, are needed.
As I conceive it, a history of English literature, however brief, should still be a history of English literature in fact as well as in name; and for a history something more is required than a list of authors and their books, and even than a chronologically-arranged collection of biographical sketches and critical appreciations. It is true that a nation's literature is made
up of the works of individual writers, and that for the ordinary purposes of study these writers may be detached from their surroundings and treated separately. But we cannot get a history of such literature unless and until each one has been put into his place in the sequence of things and considered with reference to that great body of literary production of which his work must now be regarded as a part. A history of English literature, then, must be interested primarily in English literature as a whole. Its chief aim should be to give a clear and systematic account, not of the achievements of successive great writers merely, as such, but of national changes and development.
This does not imply neglect of the personal factor. On the contrary, it brings the personal factor into relief; for if each writer is to be considered with reference to literature as a whole, one main subject of enquiry must be the nature and value of his particular contribution to that whole. But it does mean