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DEDICATED

To My Wife

WHOSE ASSISTANCE IN THE PREPARATION

OF THIS WORK

HAS BEEN INVALUABLE

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OF

OF

ENGLISH LITERATURE

BY

REUBEN POST HALLECK, M.A. (YALE)

NEW YORK ::: CINCINNATI ::: CHICAGO
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY

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PREFACE

In the following pages the author aims to furnish a concise and interesting text-book of the history and development of English literature from the earliest times to the present. Especial attention is paid to literary movements, to the essential qualities which differentiate one period from another, and to showing the animating spirit of each age. It is more important to understand the relation of the age of Pope to that of Wordsworth than to know these two writers merely as individuals. It is better for the student to catch the general drift of literary thought than to study a large number of comparatively unimportant authors and to ignore the law of the survival of the fittest. The majority of people never have time for the study of any but the masters. Such people need a guide to tell them what to select from each age, just as much as travelers in England require a guidebook to indicate the most interesting places.

The writer has made no attempt to minimize the study of authors as individuals. One of the features of this work consists in devoting a special section to summing up the general characteristics of each of the greatest individual authors. The theory that it is wise to teach the general before the special is now happily going out of fashion. But the moment we know two authors we ought to begin to compare them, to note their likeness and their difference. For the cultivation of the thinking powers, the

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