« PředchozíPokračovat »
worn fingers and weary eyes, to join with Jonson in mourning and praising the great fellow-craftsman whom he knew, to watch with Pepys the coronation of the king or hear him piously thank God for the money won at gaming-these are things, it should seem, to arouse the most torpid imagination. If, from excursions of this nature, the student learns that good literature and interesting reading matter meet, that the one is not confined to exalted odes nor the other to current magazine fiction, a very real service will have been done by widening the scope of this volume.
It is obvious that in pursuing the study of such diverse material, no single method will suffice. Sometimes, as has already been hinted, reading is all that is necessary. But when a writer like Bacon, let us say, or Pope, writes with the deliberate purpose of instruction, his work must be studied with close application and may be analyzed until it yields its last shade of meaning. On the other hand, when Keats sings pathetically of the enduring beauty of art and the transient life of man, or when Browning chants some message of faith and cheer, a minutely analytical or skeptical attitude would be not only futile but fatal. And when the various purposes of instruction, inspiration, and æsthetic delight are combined in one work, as in the supreme example of Paradise Lost, the student who hopes to attain to anything like full comprehension must return to it with various methods and in various moods. It is from considerations like these that the teacher must determine his course. One thing, however, cannot be too often repeated. The most successful teacher of literature is he who brings to it a lively sympathy springing from intimate knowledge, assured that method is of minor moment so long as there is the responsive spirit that evokes response.
For ourselves, we would say that while we have divided the labor of preparing both copy and notes, there has been close coöperation at every stage of the work. We owe thanks for suggestions and encouragement to more friends than we may undertake to name. To Dr. Frederick Klaeber, in particular, of the University of Minnesota, we are indebted for advice upon the rendering of certain passages in Beowulf, and to Professor Lindsay Todd Damon, of Brown University, for a critical vigilance that has worked to the improvement of almost every page. By courtesy of The Macmillan Company the translations which represent Cynewulf have been reprinted from Mr. Stopford A. Brooke's History of Early English Literature; and by a similar courtesy on the part of Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, who hold copyrights in the works of Stevenson, we have been able to include the selections which close the volume.
A. G. N.
A. E. A.