Andrew Lang: A Critical Biography with a Short-Title Bibliography of the Works of Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang: A Critical Biography with a Short-Title Bibliography of the Works of Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang: A Critical Biography with a Short-Title Bibliography of the Works of Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang: A Critical Biography with a Short-Title Bibliography of the Works of Andrew Lang

Excerpt

The fact that more than thirty years have passed since Andrew Lang's death, and that this is the first book which has been written about him, needs a word or two of explanation. Literary fame is notoriously short-lived, and yet when Lang died he was still one of the most important figures in contemporary letters: nor, though his fame has suffered an unmerited eclipse, is his name altogether forgotten now, even among the younger generation.

Children, we are told, do not care now for fairy-tales as devotedly as we did in our own younger days--and yet to mention Andrew Lang is still to call forth some kindly recollection of The Blue Fairy Book or of the Red, the Green and the Yellow. Nor are the young readers of today quite oblivious to the charms of Lang's own original tales: the bookshops at Christmas 1943 displayed whole shelves of the latest reprint of Chronicles of Pantouflia--shelves that were not full for many days; while 1945 had exhausted the newly-illustrated edition of Prince Prigio some months before the year's end.

Not a few readers, both young and old, who still delight in the unending enchantment of Rider Haggard's romances, number The World's Desire among their favourites, and in so doing pay tribute to Andrew Lang its part author; not only the students of St. Andrew's remember "Almæ Matres" and certain other poems; and if "Butcher and Lang" is still the favourite "crib" to Homer, it has also its admirers still among the Greekless, and with Homer the name of Andrew Lang is as fondly and inseparably linked as is that of Gilbert Murray with Euripides.

A fair meed of remembrance this, perhaps, for a versatile Victorian and Edwardian critic who tried his hand in many mediums; for a learned and meticulous historian who indulged also in lighter literary pursuits; and yet not enough.

Andrew Lang, "the divine amateur of letters," who wrote indeed only and ever of the things that he loved, brought forth out of that deep love, and out of that elusive quality which we are fain to call genius, writings in poetry and in prose that are most shamefully underrated. In poetry his name is listed unintelligently with the names of Henley and Stevenson, Dobson and Gosse--and as a poet he is least known of . . .

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