Readings in English Literature
by Gerald Bullett (9781406748376)

Readings in English Literature
Gerald Bullett
Release Date: 01 March 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Category: Literature & Literary Studies
ISBN: 9781406748376
ISBN-10: 1406748374

READINGS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE READINGS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE from Chaucer to Matthew Arnold chosen and edited by GERALD BULLETT, M. A. sometime Scholar of Jesus College, Cambridge A. C. BLACK LTD 4, 5 6 SOHO SQUARE LONDON W. i PREFACE THOUGH not unsuitable for older students as well, this collection of chosen passages from Chaucer f Matthew Arnold is designed first as a school reader, fof use in senior classes, and second as an introduction oWrfVitation to the larger study of literature. The editorial commentary aims mainly at helping the reader to see his authors in their historical context, and this without burdening him with a mass of indigestible detail. In any such enterprise some degree of over-simplification can hardly be avoided. On the other hand, while excluding many writers of the first order because of the comparative difficulty of their matter, the editor has not scrupled to touch on ideas which may be supposed at first blush to be a little beyond the intellectual compass of the average young reader believing that, as a mans reach should exceed his grasp, so should and normally does that of the maturing human mind. Much, necessarily, is left to the teachers discretion. Only he or she can decide whether, for example, any given group of, boy. or girls is likely to profit by an attempt to read Chaucer aloud in class. Some teachers may prefer to begin at a later stage of the book, and work backwards, so leading their pupils from the comparatively recent and familiar to the earlier and more exacting pieces, few and brief though these are. That done, a straight forward re-reading from beginning to end will provide a con spectus of the whole and a grasp of the chronologicalsequence. This way of proceeding has much to recommend it. For it would be a fatal mistake to give a young student the impression that he must learn to enjoy Chaucer, or Spenser, or even Shakespeare himself, before approaching writers who are nearer our own day. He may begin, if he will, with the Victorians, or with his own contemporaries, so long as he does not end there. He will not, however, find his own contemporaries repre sented here. Literature is a way of sharing imaginative experi VI PREFACE ence. It is a living and broadening stream of communication. It began we know not when, and that it must come to an end, except with time itself, we cannot believe. Certainly it did not end with Arnold, where this book ends. The literature of the twentieth century may well have first claim on twentieth century readers, young or old but the evaluation of recent and living writers is so much a 6 matter either of passing fashion or of unsupported personal opinion that it cannot without impertinence be attempted in summary form and since no one can fully appreciate the work of the best modern writers without some acquaintance with their great predecessors, the present volume, though it stops at yesterday, has something to tell us, by implication, of today as well. One word more. A few textual notes are appended for the convenience of teachers and of any others who want them but in the editors opinion it would be a grave mistake to impose their use on young readers, whose native delight in literature is all too easily chilled by an academic approach to the subject. PRINCIPAL CONTENTS Full details are given in the Index READINGS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE I GEOFFREY CHAUCER i34O-i4Oo was born in thereign of Edward the Third, and lived to see that kings successor, Richard the Second, deposed in favour of Henry of Lancaster. His father was a prosperous wine merchant in the City of London, having premises in Thames Street, where, about 1340, Chaucer first saw the light. The poets childhood was spent in London, a London largely destroyed by fire three centuries later of narrow crowded streets, full of noise and colour, violence and filth...

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