A History of the French Novel (To the Close of the 19th Century) - Vol. 1

A History of the French Novel (To the Close of the 19th Century) - Vol. 1

A History of the French Novel (To the Close of the 19th Century) - Vol. 1

A History of the French Novel (To the Close of the 19th Century) - Vol. 1

Excerpt

In beginning what, if it ever gets finished, must in all probability be the last of some already perhaps too numerous studies of literary history, I should like to point out that the plan of it is somewhat different from that of most, if not all, of its predecessors. I have usually gone on the principle (which I still think a sound one) that, in studying the literature of a country, or in dealing with such general characteristics of parts of literature as prosody, or such coefficients of all literature as criticism, minorities are, sometimes at least, of as much importance as majorities, and that to omit them altogether is to risk, or rather to assure, an imperfect--and dangerously im perfect--product.

In the present instance, however, I am attempting something that I have never, at such length, attempted before--the history of a Kind, and a Kind which has distinguished itself, as few others have done, by communicating to readers the pleasure of literature. I might almost say that it is the history of that pleasure, quite as much as the history of the kind itself, that I wish to trace. In doing so it is obviously superfluous to include inferiorities and failures, unless they have some very. special lesson or interest, or have been (as in the case of the minorities on the bridge of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) for the most part, and unduly . . .

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