The Jew in the Literature of England to the End of the 19th Century

The Jew in the Literature of England to the End of the 19th Century

The Jew in the Literature of England to the End of the 19th Century

The Jew in the Literature of England to the End of the 19th Century

Excerpt

I do not know whether to admire more the range and variety of Mr. Modder's reading or the patience and objectivity of his study. Anyone who has had to pursue a single theme relentlessly through the centuries knows how wearisome his task becomes. One starts out as a runner in a race, but by and by one sinks to a jog-trot. Eventually it appears that there is no originality in the human race and none in the imaginative mind. The same stereotypes occur from age to age, the same characters are invented by author after author. One begins to feel that everything has been said already, and that error is the only eternal and recurrent truth.

Weariness of this sort in literary study is an occupational disease. If Mr. Modder suffered a spell of intellectual grippe, he has not transferred its symptoms to these pages. The twentieth recurrence of the same caricature finds him gentle and eager in correcting falsehood. The fiftieth rehearsal of man's inhumanity to man leaves him hopeful, objective, and kind. The charity of his judgments and the breadth of his view are sufficient justification for literary study, which, by the unenlightened, is supposed to assume that all the good authors are dead authors.

The amazing collection of cartoons which Mr. Modder has here hung in a single gallery for the edification of mankind suggests certain interesting speculations about the conventional judgments upon literature as a mirror of particular times and places. Does the hostility towards the . . .

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