Towards the Twentieth Century: (Essays in the Spiritual History of the Nineteenth)

Towards the Twentieth Century: (Essays in the Spiritual History of the Nineteenth)

Towards the Twentieth Century: (Essays in the Spiritual History of the Nineteenth)

Towards the Twentieth Century: (Essays in the Spiritual History of the Nineteenth)

Excerpt

It is hoped that this book may be of use to serious students of the nineteenth century, in that it presents the literature of that period in an aspect not often discussed, and, moreover, traces the survival of Victorianism in the minds of the last two generations. But the work is intended to be more than a treatise. It is an inquiry into ourselves as tested by our predecessors.

When studied for this purpose, I have found that the great authors of the last century could not be explained by generalisations -- streams of tendency, periods of transition, spirit of the age -- such as text-books are bound to use. At least, not to any great extent. Now and then, under the lead of certain doctrines and discoveries, groups of individuals agreed to think alike. But the true sign of the times was spiritual isolation, not intellectual fellowship. Despite appearances, culture had become a personal problem, intimate and fundamental, both for the writer and the reader, and on both sides obscured by touches of disingenuousness. So it was necessary to concentrate on individualities, the most prominent, because the most representative. At the same time, it was necessary to penetrate deep below the surface in order to discover what their thoughts really meant to them and should mean to us.

It has also proved advisable to discuss some writers of other countries and ages. Our supposedly insular genius is astonishingly sensitive to foreign thought, and it is often difficult to see British culture in its proper perspective without reference to French, German, Greek or Latin influences. There is another reason. England may have absorbed all the ideas and ideals of Europe but (like any other country) she has not bestowed equal honours of recognition upon all. Some persuasions float vaguely through our land influencing culture, but not adequately asserted by an . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.