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To every person who aims at culture, the literature of France should have a special interest. It is the literature of the world which has had the longest continued existence of vitality and strength. It is the embodiment of the thought and genius of the people in whom the feeling for art in literary expression has had its widest and inost general manifestation. Finally, it is the literature which, in forni and spirit, most profoundly affects our
The present book is intended for popular reading. A number of great writers have been selected, the names as a whole constituting a continuous representation of what is best in the literature of France during the three centuries chosen for study. These have had special treatment, and they are thus made to stand out in the history in their due importance. At the same time, a series of connecting studies is presented, which serves to trace the course of development of the literature of France in general. Although brief, these studies are so written as to lay due stress upon those phases of development which literary historians deem of most significance.
In order to make the book of the largest value to those for whom it is intended there have been included in it a series of selections representative of the best work of the greater writers. It has been difficult to make suitable choices for representation in this way, for, of course, adequately to represent a great writer something more than a short selection is generally necessary. It will be found, however, that the selections here given do, as far as they go, fairly represent what is best in the work of the writers chosen for representation.