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3. Note what writers are considered by the most competent critics to have been the greatest masters of the type. This bit of information will be valuable to have.
4. Now apply what you have learned to the examples given. Read these first to get the thought, story, or feeling expressed and then study them, both to see how many of the characteristics pointed out are embodied in these particular selections, and also to see wherein they show any divergence from the usual form. You will be sure to find some differences, for every writer is free to use his own individuality.
5. Next, in your outside readings, apply what you know and write a brief report of your discoveries.
6. Perhaps there may be some types that you will like to try to write yourself. If so, do it in lieu of your regular theme work.
There will be other suggestions found scattered through the chapters, but always, as you study a type, keep what has been said here in mind. This sort of work will bring good results.
With best wishes for a happy and profitable year, I am
Sincerely your friend,
MABEL I. RICH.
JAMES FLEMING HOSIC, PH.D., GENERAL EDITOR
The newer conception of the aims of literature study in high schools demands reorganization of the subject matter and redirection of the activities of the pupils. The older conception, though not denying the possibility of other values, was inclined to lay stress on mental discipline, academic information, and rhetorical analysis. By contrast the modern tendency is to regard literature as primarily a means to the enlargement of experience, the formation of ideals, and the unselfish enjoyment of leisure. It would treat discipline, general information, and critical technique not as ends but as means and attainment in them as inevitable by-products of sincere efforts to master literary works approached as human documents rather than as forms for dissection.
The shift in method is no less marked. Ceasing to be a "recitation" of verbal facts committed to memory from notes or a handbook, the class exercise in literature partakes more of the nature of a literary club, where willing readers compare and correct the impressions gained from their studies, spur each other on to new endeavors, and consciously develop effective ways of approaching and mastering typical pieces of prose and verse. Theme, organization, pictures, and associations receive more attention and linguis tie oddities and erudite references less. The teacher's questions are more far-reaching and less meticulous and the pupils do more thinking, reading aloud, and acting and far less of explaining minutie and of labeling with grammatical and rhetorical terms. In a word, the newer ideal of method in high school literature appears to be to train the ordinary citizen in the use of books and the enjoyment of the theatre through their actual use and enjoyment in school days. Editorial and critical specialists will find their opportunity later on.
From such a point of view the reading for young people is selected somewhat differently from what it once was. Variety of
experience reasonably within the range of the pupils' comprehension becomes the chief criterion. Value as a means of training in method of approach also ranks high. Excellence is thought necessary for the cultivation of taste and judgment, but it must be seen to be excellence by contrast with that less worthy. And since the object of the work is in large part to establish well-regulated habits of reading magazines and books in ordinary life, the contemporary must be included side by side with the classical. Contemporary art must, however, not be thought of as necessarily youthful because it is new nor the classics mature because they are old. It is the author's attitudes, his way of thinking and feeling about his subject, that must determine.
Several numbers will compose the present series, at least one for each school grade. The pupils will first be introduced to the systematic study of literature by means of typical experiences in reading a variety of pieces in verse and prose, selected not only because they are worth-while in themselves and suited in theme and treatment to early high-school years but because they are representative of the problems which pieces of their class present. The pupils will be made to realize that they are learning how to read.
Succeeding numbers will stress American and British ideas and ideals brought into comparison with those of other countries, and while carrying forward, enforcing, and enlarging the training in methods of reading and study developed in the first part of the course, will show the pupil how he may find in the writings of representative authors forceful expression of interests and points of view which he can begin to recognize as more or less characteristic of the people of the country as a whole. In a word, he is started on the way to finding in literature a reflection not only of the life of individuals but also of the life common to groups, communities, and nations.
The present volume, though the first of the series to appear, is planned as part of a progressive scheme, and while well-adapted to the upper years of any secondary school course will prove most effective in classes which have had the advantage of using the earlier volumes in the series.
In her Study of the Types of Literature Miss Rich has at last provided a way of escape from the over-mature and formal history of English literature, on the one hand, and the over-minute and pedantic study of three or four examinable masterpieces on the other. Recognizing the need of organizing one's knowledge of lit
erature, she has provided for the closing years of high-school work a comparatively simple and objective view of literature as a whole and thus has enabled the young man or young woman about to go out into life or on into college to bring all of his reading into perspective and so to generalize his experiences with various types of writing that he has a good working basis for further adventures. It is remarkable that she should have been able in so small a space to compass so much and with such admirable restraint. The temptation to indulge in critical estimates, to trace literary influences, and to purvey details of authors' lives must have been considerable.
The necessary apparatus for gaining a really useful knowledge of books and authors she has, however, painstakingly supplied. The pupil need go no farther to find the essential facts as to who wrote what and when-such facts at least as a young person can probably find use for. And other facts may wait till needed. In reality they usually do, courses of study and textbook makers to the contrary notwithstanding.