George Santayana

George Santayana

George Santayana

George Santayana

Excerpt

Prophecies are always hazardous, but it seems increasingly clear that we shall have had in George Santayana one of the remarkable men of this generation. Not only has the wisdom of his philosophy great significance for the modern world, but he has also managed to combine a rare intellect with a rare gift of expression, so that his works have an interest for the general reader and student of literature as well as for the professional philosopher. And now that he has been writing for many years and his work has approached a state of finality, it is perhaps fitting to stand off and view his unique contribution to the literature and to the culture of our times. The years have brought into relief the various sides of Santayana's genius, and it is not premature, I believe, to study these--the poet, the critic, the moral philosopher, the master of prose, and the metaphysician--in their interrelationship and in their underlying unity, for all these are manifestations of a central, consistent view of life and a love of the beautiful wherever found. I believe the reader will find that the artistic and philosophic sides of Santayana illuminate each other; that the poems, soliloquies, dialogues, and novel contain Santayana's philosophy in its most fluid, personal form, and that the philosophical treatises not only clarify the former, but also have themselves a beauty of conception and an artistry of execution. In bringing the manifold expressions of Santayana's art into closer relationship and in seeking for the central vision which animates them, I have tried to do something, however inadequately, which has seemed to me for some time to demand the undertaking.

I do not claim for the present study the scope and method of biography, certainly not in any gossipy, intimate sense of the word. Even if Santayana's work could be approached in this way, and the time . . .

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