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recent literature. Some of the translations are familiar, others have either been made expressly for this volume or involve so much revision as to make them practically new.
Users of the book will regret the absence of many pieces of recent literature which deserve inclusion. Some of these were omitted because of space limitations, others because owners of the copyrights would not grant permission to reprint on any terms.
In view of the present vogue of studying literature by types, the editor carefully considered the question of supplying a classified table of contents. After much deliberation he decided not to do so.
In the first place, the chief value of the study of literature by types is the cultivation of the student's ability to recognize and discriminate different forms and technical processes. But this is obviously better accomplished by requiring the student to select examples of a certain type and to give reasons for his selection than by merely discussing the characteristics of pieces selected by someone else.
Secondly, a systematic classification of modern literature on any single principle is impossible. Classification on the basis of form is excluded by the fact that in some instances the ancient criteria of form have entirely disappeared, and in others mixed forms have arisen. Classification by tone and purpose is interfered with by the impossibility of assigning certain pieces among them some of the most notable to any single category. Classification by subject matter will vary with the interests and purposes of the student; not one but many classifications would therefore be necessary.
Thirdly, the study of literature exclusively by types and forms is narrow and misleading. No literary genre flourishes independently or can be studied without constant reference to other kinds of literature contemporary with it. New ideas, methods, and technique are usually the result not of internal evolution, but of new elements drawn from some external source. The most profitable method of study is therefore that which takes into consideration not only the whole stream of literature of the period studied, but the whole social background. This, of course, does not exclude study of special forms; but such study should be a secondary, not a primary pursuit.
Finally, classification, generalization, and other abstract processes are unprofitable for young students. The first aim in the study of literature should be intelligent reading. It is worth much more to understand Lycidas and respond to its ideas and its beauty than to classify it and enumerate its generic criteria.
In conclusion the editor wishes to express publicly his gratitude to the Boston and London offices of Ginn and Company for untiring and efficient aid in bringing out this Enlarged Edition.
J. M. M.