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1. The authors are limited to twenty, of whom ten are British and ten American. They are arranged chronologically, — the first being Shakespeare; the last, Lowell. Nothing need be said as to why toese twenty are “taken,” and many others “left”: it is sufficient if each shall be deemed a classic, and each valuable for academic study.
II. It is sought to interest pupils in the selections by interesting them first in the author. To this end, an introductory sketch is given of the “Life and Works” of each of the twenty representative writers. These sketches are for the most part original; in the other cases, they are adaptations. It is certainly presumable that some knowledge of the biography of the author — his personal characteristics, chief works, place in literature, and style -- will add interest and animation to the study of the selections.
III. The authors represented being few in number, it has been possible to present what has already been termed “a fairly adequate taste of the quality of each.” Complete pieces have been given save in the few instances of selections from elaborate works, and even in these it may fairly be claimed that the selections are in themselves “ entire and perfect chrysolites.” To present complete pieces of literary workmanship was indeed a prime object of the book, for extracts are at best what Bacon calls “flashy things.”
IV. Each piece is made the subject of careful annotation : first, with the view of explaining such difficulties as it is presumed the pupil would be unable to overcome, unaided; and secondly, to indicate to the teacher a line of rhetorical study in continuation of the language-work that forms so approved a feature of this series of Readers. Additional suggestions are made in the Introduction, and a copious Glossary will furnish material for many interesting etymological inquiries.
The thanks of editor and publishers are due to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., D. Appleton & Co., and James R. Osgood & Co., for liberal permission to draw selections from their copyrighted authors.
4. The Deacon's Masterpiece.
Life and Works .
1. The Vision of Sir Launfal
2. The Courtin'.