BLTC Press Titles

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The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

An introduction to the methods and materials of literary criticism

by Charles Mills Gayley



to-day; but this confines itself to a few insistent problems, as if unaware of their relativity; and it is vague concerning the processes and materials contributory to the inquiry.

Now this book does not advocate or advance a method, nor does it aim to supply the material necessary for exhaustive investigation of any one department of literary criticism. It seeks to place before those interested a conspectus of the problems to be solved, a review of the methods suggested for their solution, an indication of the materials available with reference to their sources and frequently to their quality.

Such an attempt should be justified in the opinion of those who are unconsciously, as well as of those who are consciously, interested in criticism. For the direct purpose of the study is not to train literary analysts, but rational lovers of literature. And to be a rational lover demands effort; for while the process of literary enjoyment, like that of literary creation, may appear to be unforced and natural, there are degrees of enjoyment, the highest of which is criticism; as there are of creation, the highest of which is art. Each of these processes has its reason for existence and its law of development. But the principles which find expression in enjoyment, and ultimately in criticism, have their root in those that underlie the processes of creation. A study of the canons of literary judgment becomes a study of the principles of literature. It is for this reason that lovers of the art are bidden to what may look like a barmecide feast of methods and materials.

But as the principles of literary judgment are akin to all aesthetic principles, are, in fact, only the application in a particular field of the general laws of art, so the methods by which these principles shall be applied in the process of critical appraisement are the adaptation to given conditions, and to a given end, of the critical method that characterizes the larger science of Discrimination. The study, therefore, of the methods , of literary criticism is a discipline cognate with, and contribu

tory to, the pursuit of other sciences, at the same time that it is correlated with the scientific study of every art.

The plan of study here outlined has been arranged for convenience and comprehensiveness. The objects more directly aimed at in this volume, and that which will shortly follow it, are, first, to give the reader his orientation by showing the relation of literature to art, criticism, aesthetics, and the contributory sciences, and by displaying the solidarity and scope of literature; second, to consider the main types or forms which literature has assumed in the course of its development; third, to trace the movement and determine the law of literary waves or fashions; and, last, to deduce from these considerations the principles which should guide us in critically estimating given literary products.

When possible, each topic has been considered in a twofold aspect, theoretical and historical. Generally, it will be found that, under each of these subdivisions, the first section presents an analysis of the subject under discussion, and a statement of the problems involved, with indication of the authorities most necessary to be consulted; the second section consists of a bibliography alphabetically arranged, and frequently accompanied by annotations which aim to give the student or the prospective buyer some idea of the content and value of the work in its bearing upon the subject; and the third section, called, for lack of a better name, General Note, is an omnium gatherum, a receptacle for such references and suggestions as have failed to find lodgment in the preceding sections.

It will not be for an instant imagined that this course of study need be pursued in the order outlined, or that it should be crowded into six months or a year. To each reader and each class are the conditions thereof. Much will depend upon the previous preparation of the reader. The problems presented in the following chapters require for their solution a running application of rhetorical science and psychology, an acquaintance with literary masterpieces and the history

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