The Enchanted Glass: The Elizabethan Mind in Literature

The Enchanted Glass: The Elizabethan Mind in Literature

The Enchanted Glass: The Elizabethan Mind in Literature

The Enchanted Glass: The Elizabethan Mind in Literature

Excerpt

The following pages attempt to bring within the range of ordinary literary study, such as that pursued in colleges and universities, a body of scientific, philosophic, and social considerations sometimes unknown, often concealed from view, and oftener still disregarded. There is nothing difficult in the matter or the point of view, the former being usually common-place and familiar things and the latter extremely simple and practical. The fundamental idea is that the literature of the Renaissance may be made more vital and significant by understanding it as fully as possible and by assuming with reference to it a point of view of immediacy both in knowledge and sympathy.

As to the outlines of the book, the author tries, first of all, to see man as part of a general formal order or cosmology, for the cosmology is a matter of importance in all mental life. We inquire how man received it and thought and felt about it. We observe that many of man's opinions in that bygone time are still valid, though error was permeative and omnipresent. Error, moreover, has an importance of its own in literary history, since it is not truth itself but what man believes to be truth that finds literary exemplification and emphasis. What, we ask, were man's chances to discover more of the truth about the external world than he then knew? How he thought he was related to the World Machine, his opinion of his own state, is seen to be a primary consideration in such an investigation. Man's distinguishing gift, as he knew then and knows now, is reason; the men of the . . .

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