The Drift of Romanticism: Shelburne Essays, Eight Series

The Drift of Romanticism: Shelburne Essays, Eight Series

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The Drift of Romanticism: Shelburne Essays, Eight Series

The Drift of Romanticism: Shelburne Essays, Eight Series

Read FREE!

Excerpt

To Frank Jewett Mather, Jr.

DEAR MATHER, --When the essay on Pater, now in this volume, was first printed in the Nation, you, who have been in general so kindly a reader of my work, were honest enough to tell me you did not like it at all. What profit was it, you asked, to take an author whose writing is filled with the subtlest appreciation of the world's beauty, and stretch him on the rack of a harsh ethical formula? Why not follow the lure and enjoy the spell of romance wherever it meets the eye? Pater was a lover and confessor of strange souls; should not, then, a true critic come to him in the same receptive spirit? Well, I dare say you were right. I dare say other readers of the essay were right, who, in print and in speech, objected to its severity with less friendly intention. My preface, you see, is a sort of apology for what may seem a lack of sympathetic taste, even of understanding.

Yet if it is an apology, it is not altogether an admission of wrong-doing. There is a kind of criticism that limits itself to looking at the thing in itself, or at the parts of a thing as they successively strike the mind. This is properly the way of sympathy, and those who choose this way are . . .

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