THE COMMONWEALTH TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
WE are so accustomed to think of the late seventeenth century as the second flowering time of the drama that it is somewhat surprising, upon reading over its publishers' catalogues, to discover a mass of fiction as voluminous as the publications upon that favorite subject of the British reader of the Restoration, divinity. The bulk of this fiction was so jejune in content, so ephemeral in nature, so unoriginal in style, that it has left few remainders even in the greater libraries. Only'a little of it can be called, without stretching the term, short narrative, but that little has more than a modicum of interest for itself and for its relation to earlier and to later works. Yet the period permits of, almost requires, a cursory treatment in which types, tendencies, and influences are to be treated as abundantly as individual books. The great preponderance of translations makes this method all the more advisable, and it is justified by the deadly inferiority of most of the works. However, there are some masterpieces, and not a little curious forgotten reading.