Showing posts from March, 2012

Folio Society: Anthony Trollope

Folio Society: Anthony Trollope, a photo by dianp on Flickr.

Hawthorne, by Henry James

Chapter 5The Three American Novels.The prospect of official station and emolument which Hawthorne mentions in one of those paragraphs from his Journals which I have just quoted, as having offered itself and then passed away, was at last, in the event, confirmed by his receiving from the administration of President Polk the gift of a place in the Custom-house of his native town. The office was a modest one, and “official station” may perhaps appear a magniloquent formula for the functions sketched in the admirable Introduction to The Scarlet Letter . Hawthorne’s duties were those of Surveyor of the port of Salem, and they had a salary attached, which was the important part; as his biographer tells us that he had received almost nothing for the contributions to the Democratic Review . He bade farewell to his ex-parsonage and went back to Salem in 1846, and the immediate effect of his ameliorated fortune was to make him stop writing. None of his Journals of the period from his going to S…

Thomas Hardy: The Robin

When up aloft I fly and fly, I see in pools The shining sky, And a happy bird Am I, am I!

When I descend Toward the brink I stand and look And stop and drink And bathe my wings, And chink, and prink.

When winter frost Makes earth as steel, I search and search But find no meal, And most unhappy Then I feel.

But when it lasts, And snows still fall, I get to feel No grief at all For I turn to a cold, stiff Feathery ball!
Poets' Graves

Percy Bysshe Shelley: Ode to a Skylark

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!                     Bird thou never wert -                 That from Heaven or near it                       Pourest thy full heartIn profuse strains of unpremeditated art.                Higher still and higher                     From the earth thou springest,                Like a cloud of fire;                     The blue deep thou wingest,And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.                In the golden lightning                    Of the sunken sun,                O'er which clouds are bright'ning,                    Thou dost float and run,Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.                 The pale purple even                     Melts around thy flight;                 Like a star of Heaven,                     In the broad daylightThou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight -                 Keen as are the arrows                     Of that silver sphere                 Whose intense lamp narrows     …

George Eliot - Romola

... It would be absurd to speak without profound respect of a book which represents the application of an exceptionally powerful intellect carrying out a great scheme with so serious and sustained a purpose. The critic may well be unwilling to place himself in the seat of judgment, or to suppose that he can divine with any confidence what will be the opinion of posterity, if that vague and multitudinous body troubles itself to arrive at any definite opinion on the matter. On the other hand, it is not very difficult to say what one thinks oneself, and one may hope to suggest a remark or two which may be worth at least the trouble of refuting. Romola is to me one of the most provoking of books. I am alternately seduced into admiration and repelled by what seems to me a most lamentable misapplication of first-rate powers. I will speak frankly on both topics, without pretending to reach a precise valuation of merits.

The "historical novel " is a literary hybrid which is apt to …

Encyclopedia Britannica

The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published on December 6,1768, in Scotland.

The Sisters Brontë by Mrs. Oliphant

The effect produced upon the general mind by the appearance of Charlotte Brontë in literature, and afterwards by the record of her life when that was over, is one which it is nowadays somewhat difficult to understand. Had the age been deficient in the art of fiction, or had it followed any long level of mediocrity in that art, we could have comprehended this more easily. But Charlotte Brontë appeared in the full flush of a period more richly endowed than any other we know of in that special branch of literature, so richly endowed, indeed, that the novel had taken quite fictitious importance, and the names of Dickens and Thackeray ranked almost higher than those of any living writers except perhaps Tennyson, then young and on his promotion too. Anthony Trollope and Charles Reade who, though in their day extremely popular, have never had justice from a public which now seems almost to have forgotten them, formed a powerful second rank to these two great names. It is a great addition to …

Henry James: Matthew Arnold's Essays

MR. ARNOLD'SEssays in Criticismcome to American readers with a reputation already made,—the reputation of a charming style, a great deal of excellent feeling, and an almost equal amount of questionable reasoning. It is for us either to confirm the verdict passed in the author's own country, or to judge his work afresh. It is often the fortune of English writers to find mitigation of sentence in the United States.
The Essays contained in this volume are on purely literary subjects; which is for us, by itself, a strong recommendation. English literature, especially contemporary literature, is, compared with that of France and Germany, very poor in collections of this sort. A great deal of criticism is written, but little of it is kept; little of it is deemed to contain any permanent application. Mr. Arnold will doubtless find in this fact—if indeed he has not already signalized it—but another proof of the inferiority of the English to the Continental school of criticism, and po…