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MODERN ENGLISH LITERARY
CHOSEN AND EDITED
WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
WILLIAM T. BREWSTER
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
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This book belongs to the realm of rhetoric rather than that of literature or literary history. It aims to use critical writing, more completely than is done in any existing text-book of selections, as an agent in rhetorical study and intellectual discipline. Books of specimens of the so-called forms of discourse, narration, description, exposition, and argumentation, are abundant, as well as useful. The present volume is less a complete illustration of a form of discourse than an analysis of a fair variety of pieces that would commonly be called literary criticism, but it is hoped that it also will be useful — at least to those moderately advanced students for whom it is intended.
The point of view in the editing of these selections is one from which literary criticism is regarded, rhetorically, largely as a form of exposition and argumentation, and, as a matter of fact, as a body of more or less particular theses and opinions. Selections, therefore, are given without abridgment, and the important points all along brought out relate to the dicta of each critic and his reasons for holding his opinions. The safest way to begin the study of literary criticism and the surest progress toward a sound knowledge of that art is, in my opinion, to be found in the examination of actual critical production. It is certainly wholesome to treat works of criticism like any other body of facts, as well as an illustration of some theory or other of the universe. Supplying material for analysis and some direction for study is, therefore, as far as this book attempts to go.
In arrangement, the essays proceed from the simplest, most matter of fact, and most easily demonstrable, to the more general, more abstract, and less easily provable. The arrangement is as follows: the first eight essays deal with particular men; numbers 9 and 10 have to do with special topics; and the last five are illustrative of general discussions — from highly different points of view — of literary art and morality. For any of the essays here an infinite variety of substitution and supplementation may, of course, be made, according to the preference of the teacher. I have chiefly tried to get as large a variety as possible within the limits of literary criticism, to avoid repetition of type, to present well-contrasted views and methods, and to avoid essays of too difficult a character. These reasons will