Traditions of European Literature, from Homer to Dante

Traditions of European Literature, from Homer to Dante

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Traditions of European Literature, from Homer to Dante

Traditions of European Literature, from Homer to Dante

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Excerpt

Though this book is intended for general readers, it originated in lectures given at Harvard College between 1904 and 1917. Years of dealing with Harvard students had shown me not only that Americans now know little of the literary traditions of our ancestral Europe, but also that they are seldom aware even of the little they know. Beginning with no more clear purpose than to help these needs, I gradually came to see my object more definitely; it was at once to revive knowledge which was sinking, beneath the level of consciousness, to indicate the gaps which each man must supply for himself, and to encourage in all the habit of so thinking things together instead of scrutinising them apart that each might gradually come habitually to see in perspective whatever he might know or learn about the traditions, historic and literary, which have accompanied our civilisation to the point where we are part of it.

This task is so obviously beyond the power of any modern scholar that it mercifully limits itself. Nobody can fully have mastered even all the languages involved, not to speak of the erudition in which centuries have enshrouded unnumbered facts concerning them and the matters . . .

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