Books Alive: A Profane Chronicle of Literary Endeavor and Literary Misdemeanor

Books Alive: A Profane Chronicle of Literary Endeavor and Literary Misdemeanor

Books Alive: A Profane Chronicle of Literary Endeavor and Literary Misdemeanor

Books Alive: A Profane Chronicle of Literary Endeavor and Literary Misdemeanor

Excerpt

This is not a history of literature; it is a book of gossip. There are a number of dates in it that could not be helped; not too many, I hope. Occasionally, I have ventured to mention the date of somebody's birth, and again of his death, where at the moment it seemed a good idea; but I am aware that they are the two least important dates in anybody's life. There are numerous histories of literature in which dates may be found in greater quantity, if desired; solemn, handsome volumes gathering dust on the shelves of public libraries and bookshops. Many of them are most excellent in their way. I have found a number of them very helpful in compiling this profaner chronicle of literary endeavor and literary misdemeanor. One and all, however, they are just a mite too dogmatic and critical; and they are appallingly inadequate in the departments of humorous and scandalous anecdote. The one book I sought most diligently on library shelves was always missing; and ultimately I came to know that it did not exist. That circumstance fortified me in my determination to write it myself; and, if I may say so, this is it. The elder D'Israeli once had a similar idea, I think, which in time became his famous Curiosities of Literature, a capital work from which I have borrowed, now and again, items . . .

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