From Gautier to Eliot: The Influence of France on English Literature, 1851-1939

From Gautier to Eliot: The Influence of France on English Literature, 1851-1939

From Gautier to Eliot: The Influence of France on English Literature, 1851-1939

From Gautier to Eliot: The Influence of France on English Literature, 1851-1939

Excerpt

It is difficult to do justice to the subject of this monograph within such restricted limits. It is not possible to deal with the whole of French and English literature during the period, and so only those writers are studied who indubitably gained something from their connection and sympathy with France, and her literature, only those who definitely experienced her seminal influence; and they are dealt with solely from the point of view of the impact which France made upon them.

It is not a book intended for specialists. Each section, each subdivision, could be the subject of a whole book, and occupy a lifetime of research. It can serve only as a signpost for those who are not well informed, to point the way and indicate the direction which literature has taken. Those who are interested can continue along the same road, lingering at will at the various stages, to get to know the territory better, and finally make a longer stay when they reach their destination.

I have tried to chart the large currents, to indicate the trend of influences, and have avoided long lists of names which would mean little to those who have not read their works. My endeavour has been to generalize, to indicate movements and to suggest atmosphere. I do not intend to estimate relative merit -- or indeed worth at all -- I am only investigating the prevalence and extent of the influence of France on English literature, between the Second Empire and the Second World War.

The book is primarily addressed to readers of English literature rather than to those who specialize in French. It is more important to realize whence the literature of a country comes, than where it is going.

I have adopted a different plan for each of the two parts of the book. At first the influence of France drifted over to England in a haphazard manner, the seeds carried on the air without conscious sense of direction. At that moment movements are more important than the various forms of literature. Moreover, at the end of the nineteenth century, all the arts and forms of literature tended to merge into one another, aspiring to the ideal of unity between all the arts. That is the first part, which ends with the advent of the First World War. The influence of France was firmly established in England when war broke out, and it . . .

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