God, Man, & Epic Poetry: A Study in Comparative Literature - Vol. 1

God, Man, & Epic Poetry: A Study in Comparative Literature - Vol. 1

God, Man, & Epic Poetry: A Study in Comparative Literature - Vol. 1

God, Man, & Epic Poetry: A Study in Comparative Literature - Vol. 1

Excerpt

A preface is an author's last words, so it usually resembles a vote of thanks to collaborators or the last appeal from the dock why sentence should not be passed. I have, unfortunately, very little occasion to speak in the former capacity, and I know, even more unfortunately, how useless it is to employ a preface for the latter purpose. So it is enough to say that I am haunted with the fear of having sometimes used authorities without the proper acknowledgment. Such oversights became inevitable because this book was begun years ago without any definite aim, and it gradually developed into an effort to justify the study of literature, at any rate to myself. Gradually a dominating idea emerged and gave point to my investigations, but by that time I had lost track of many books which I had absorbed merely as an impressionist. I have not appended a "Bibliography," because all, or nearly all, the standard works on this wide province can be found in more specialised treatises, and I should merely be copying lists from books as well known to the reader as to myself. On several occasions I have arrived independently at conclusions which were to appear in other people's books long before my own was ready for press. This also was inevitable. My scheme grew so gradually and automatically that I could not publish any part of it, till the whole was more or less developed. The division into two volumes was an after-thought. It was found that the first eight chapters dealt almost exclusively with Greek or Roman civilisation, and so might be useful to readers who had not the time or the inclination to look further. But of course they are only parts of a larger scheme.

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