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This study in the thought of Addison, Johnson, and Burke, is a crystallization of several almost equally absorbing intellectual interests: an interest in pure literature, an interest in philosophy, and an interest in the theory of literary criticism. From an enthusiasm for literature as fine art developed a strong mental protest against the dilettante attitude towards literature, a real reverence for its content, which linked itself very naturally with an interest in philosophic thought, and in the history or evolution of philosophy. These two interests led very naturally to an enlarged conception of criticism,
-a desire to focus upon Addison, Johnson, and Burke all the divergent and disparate tests of literary art. This criticism has thus grown to coherence from a purpose to understand and interpret three writers representative of different stages in the evolution of an interesting century: to understand them in themselves as far as one can separate personality from environment; to estimate their innate powers; and then to estimate the interaction between personality and the age. To understand the Zeitgeist would involve a study not only of historical background in the objective sense of events, institutions, , customs, social life, but of philosophical background both in the academic sense and in the more elusive sense of the general consciousness of eighteenth century England. Adequate criticism would also apply the test of literary principles to the literary product, would relate the concrete literary expression to certain accepted and authoritative literary laws. Genuine criticism must admit some modicum of deductive judgment and recognize, if not an
Absolute, at least a principle of unity in the flux of literary creation.
Criticism is besides impressionistic and interpretative. From an enthusiasm for a liberal conception of criticism which should unify all these points of view and aim at completeness and comprehensiveness of interpretation and from a peculiar interest in the eighteenth century and in three typical eighteenth century thinkers, this study of Addison, Johnson, and Burke is the resultant.
If the design seem over-ambitious, at least the study represents an honest research into thought.
To Professor Will David Howe of Indiana University my acknowledgments are chiefly due for kindly direction of graduate study, for the ideal of sound scholarship and catholic taste, and for generous assistance in reading the proof of this dissertation. I also gratefully acknowledge indebtedness to Professor Charles Jacob Sembower, Professor Frank Aydelotte, Professor Richard Rice, and Professor Warner D. Fite for intellectual stimulus and sympathetic encouragement.
LILIAN BEESON BROWNFIELD. Lake Erie College, February 25, 1918.
His Purpose and Method.
Johnson's Ethical Teaching: A Protest against
Miscellaneous Human Interests.
Burke's Ethical Conceptions.