Studies in Humanism

Studies in Humanism

Studies in Humanism

Studies in Humanism

Excerpt

This volume contains a selection of papers written at various times over a good many years, all dealing with humanism as an expression of the human spirit. They follow at conspicuous Points, indicated and illustrated by representative figures, the long chain of lights which extends from ancient Greece and Rome down to the present day. For reasons which will be obvious, the original date of each paper is given; but all have been revised, and some of those which had been already separately printed largely re-written.

They are introduced by a discourse given at the inauguration of one of the new institutions of university rank in the United States. It endeavours to set forth and vindicate the function of poetry, as the form of creative art in which the spirit of humanism displays itself most fully and intimately, in its relation to the problems and conditions of the present day and the actual world. Following it are a defence of the value of Greek, and an appreciation of an Ode of Horace; essays dealing with Dante as the central figure of the Middle Ages; with Erasmus and Ariosto as almost exact contemporaries in the full flowering of humanism; then, passing on to our own country, wire the Paradise Lost as handled byBentley, and with an English classic of no less eminence and vitality, the Pilgrim's Progress; with the foundation, a generation later, of the Chair of Poetry at Oxford, in its relevance towards the movement of the eighteenth century in English letters; with points in that movement marked by the Romantic Revival originated in Scotland by Allan Ramsay, and, when a wholly new orientation was already being given to poetry, by the little-known but significant work of Hurdis, the pupil of Cowper and the contemporary of Wordsworth. Fluctuations of humanism since then are illustrated by a study of Ruskin . . .

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