A History of Elizabethan Literature

By George Saintsbury | Go to book overview

PREFACE

IT is an old-fashioned practice, but one which is perhaps none the worse for being old-fashioned, that an author should offer some kind of apology for undertaking a book, especially on a great and important subject. My only excuse for undertaking to write on the greatest period of the greatest literature of the world is that I have been diligently reading the productions, small and great, of this period for some five-and-twenty years with ever-increasing admiration, and that I find the increase of my admiration due in no small degree to the comparison with other periods and other literatures, ancient and modern, which I have been enabled to make in the meantime. As for the particular purposes and methods by which I have been guided in writing this book, they are easily explained. I have endeavoured to give as complete and clearly arranged a view as I could of the actual literary performance of the period from 1560 to 1660, excluding or only lightly touching on those authors in its later part who may be said to have anticipated or prepared the post-

-vii-

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