In this. referance book I have, tabulated the literature of Great Britain, France and Germany -- to include Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. The books have been ranged, not in such categories as 'The Classical Age', 'Romanticism', 'Realism', 'Naturalism'. 'Impressionism', and other such terms, but rather as a constant stream that has flowed, and continues to flow, from the hearts and minds of men and women belonging to these nations. For each year through four centuries, from 1531 to 1930, are shown the writers who were born and those who died, and the titles of the works they created. The three languages are listed side by side in parallel columns. This long period of human history and creative output contains most of the greatest literary treasures of the countries represented. The authors and their works in prose and poetry reflect the national genius and, in greater or lesser degree, the age in which they appeared.
There can be traced in this chronological and parallel table the contemporaries of any one given author, the emergence of each literary figure, the year in which some giant quitted the active world of letters, the books that were published one hundred years ago, and the date of any writer's centenary or bicentenary of birth or death. Parallels may be drawn between one country and another. A decade like the 'Nineties can be seen to contain in Britain writers other than those who contributed to The Yellow Book and who typify the decade in popular imagination. Or, again, a student of the Romantic Movement in France, when told of the influence upon French poets and novelists of Byron and Sir Walter Scott, can find out when and what those two great writers produced. In fact, the lists of literary works and their authors that follow provide material from which many deductions may be drawn.
I have not attempted to include every writer of any importance, nor have I listed every work of the authors who are mentioned. In certain cases a minor figure is represented by a single title, usually his or her most famous or characteristic work, so as to remind the reader that this particular writer was on the scene at the time. In some instances it has been difficult to place the works at the same period as that in which the author lived. This applies especially to memoirs published posthumously, often a century or more after the writer's death. Examples are Cardinal de Retz and Saint-Simon for memoirs; and Diderot, Chénier and Georg Büchner for some of their works. In the . . .