The Classical Background of English Literature

The Classical Background of English Literature

The Classical Background of English Literature

The Classical Background of English Literature

Excerpt

The main purpose of this book is easily stated. It is to help students of English literature who are not themselves classical scholars to form a coherent impression of the influence exerted by the ancient literatures upon our own. The extent of this influence cannot within the limits of one volume be more than indicated; its character is a less overwhelming, but perhaps not a less important, subject. I have therefore concentrated upon that, leaving the details to be filled in from such comprehensive monuments as the Cambridge History of English Literature. Nevertheless it has been a principal aim of the author to supply the reader less with opinions than with the kind of information he is likely to want. A student of English literature is not anxious to hear the views of a classical professor upon English writers. What he does feel the need of, and that, I am told, in an increasing degree, is a brief description of classical books he has not had the time or opportunity to study for himself. That will explain why a good half of a not very large volume is taken up with such a description. But two further duties imposed themselves on the author. He had to indicate the links between the Greek and Latin writers on the one hand and the mediaeval and modern on the other; and he had to show how the classics have appeared to each age in its turn. For each age has had its own view of them.

The author has laboured under certain disabilities. He cannot read Early English without the aid of translations and annotated texts. He cannot pretend to have read really widely . . .

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