THE CENTENARY of George Saintsbury birth has been celebrated in England by a memorial volume of his uncollected essays. In this country, Mr. Huntington Cairns has edited a volume of Saintsbury articles on French literature from the "Encyclopaedia Britannica: French Literature and Its Masters". These essays are not of Saintsbury's best. He needed more room to do himself justice. The article on "French Literature from the Beginning to 1900" has to account for too many names to have a chance to say anything very interesting about them, but the pieces on single figures--especially the Voltaire--are wonderful feats of condensation that manage, in summarizing a lifetime, to include a maximum of detail and, in their briefly expressed comments, to hit all the nails on the head.
It is a good thing to have these essays in book-form, but what are really most needed now are reprints of Saintsbury's important works, which are out of print and very hard to get. Saintsbury, since his death, has come more and more to stand out as the sole English literary critic of the late-nineteenth early-twentieth centuries, the sole full-length professional critic, who is really of first-rate stature. He is perhaps the only English critic, with the possible exception of Leslie Stephen, whose work is com-