The Ghost in Hamlet
by Maurice Francis Egan (9780217296014)

The Ghost in Hamlet
Maurice Francis Egan
Release Date: 10 August 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 54
Category: Shakespeare
ISBN: 9780217296014
ISBN-10: 0217296017

Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: I A DEFINITION OF LITERATURE T is very hard to find even a working definition of literature. Literature is so closely the expression of life ajid the cHanging conditions of life that we can hardly limit it except by life itself. And a working definition must have limi- fatiohsVtlTough it may not entirely cover the thing intended to be defined. To the Greeks of Athens and the Romans of the city of Augustus, it meant the imitation of elegant models; to us it means the expression of the phenomena of life in the form of written words. We can understand the meaning of literature only by studying the effects of ethical, social, political movements upon life; and this is best done through the literatures of peoples, subject to their changes. The body of Hebrew literature, through which God himself has spoken, is the history of the Jewish people. If itwere merely the clear dry annals of the Jewish people, it would be history, not literature. But when we find the minds of David and Job revealed in words, we have essential history, but something more than a mere annal, which is not literature. ' Literature, as far as it can be described to-day, is more than the reflection of life; and it is much more than it seemed to be to the Athenian Greeks, the Augustan Romans, the French of the time of Richelieu, or the Italians of the Renaissance; for, in their eyes, it was a narrow thing, capable of rigid definition. It was not what they imagined it to be, and they ? as the " Poetics " of Aristotle and its imitations show us ? did not really succeed in defining it. It was always elusive, in spite of their fine rhetorical terms. They pursued it, as Apollo pursued Daphne, only to find, when they came near, that the nymph had turned into a bay tree. To them literature was a Galatea, ...

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