A Handbook to Literature

A Handbook to Literature

A Handbook to Literature

A Handbook to Literature

Excerpt

It has been my pleasant duty to act as a remodeler or modernizer of the house that the late Professor William F. Thrall and the late Dean Addison Hibbard built in 1936. The figure of a house being remodeled seems to me an appropriate one to describe this revision, for in modernizing a substantial structure one makes changes in its décor, adds new lighting fixtures, replaces the plumbing, installs the latest kitchen equipment, repaints the walls, and changes the heating system. The result is a house that looks newer than it really is, for if the original building was soundly planned, constructed of excellent materials, and solidly built, the remodeling proves to be a process by which a sound structure is made more useful and comfortable to the present-day user. This is exactly what I have tried to do with the Thrall and Hibbard Handbook.

In the process of the revision I have found to my great pleasure that I was working with a basic plan and a fundamental structure so firmly and solidly made that their adaptation to the demands of literary students in our time was a relatively simple task. A host of critical terms and a group of critical attitudes have come into being since the time when Thrall and Hibbard wrote their Handbook, with the result that many new terms are now needed; these I have tried to add. Some older terms have undergone modification of meaning since 1936, and it has been necessary to rewrite or to alter these; examples of such terms are image, ambiguity, myth. The literary history of the past hundred and fifty years has been undergoing a series of major re-assessments, and it has been necessary to re-adjust historical articles to fit these changes. In the literary history of the older periods, new attitudes and significant new facts have appeared since the writing of the Handbook, and some of these needed to be communicated to the inquiring student. Some movements and schools that looked very important in the mid-1930's have lessened greatly in significance, and statements about them needed modification. Teachers using the Handbook have noted omissions and have generously communicated them to the publishers and to me; many of these omissions have been remedied, but not all, since the author's ideal for the book is not always the same as that of the individual user. Over the years a great many teachers in various colleges and universities have helped with constructive suggestions. But the ultimate decision to include or . . .

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