BLTC Press Titles

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The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

French civilization

by Albert Léon Guérard



The purpose and method of the present work are similar to those of French Civilization in the XlXth Century, first published on the eve of the War. In both cases, the attempt has been made to sketch, in briefest form, the relations between the different manifestations of human activity, the sum-total of which constitute Civilization and Culture. In both cases, the immediate aim was to provide the proper background for the study of French Literature, whilst the needs of the general reader, who is interested in all aspects of French life, have been kept in mind. In both cases, the books are based on University courses, given at Stanford University from 1907 to 1913, at the Rice Institute after 1913, and repeated in part at the University of Chicago in 1916 and 1920. Strange to say, whilst America had, for many years, a number of Professorships of German Culture, the author was the first to hold a corresponding position with France as his special field. For this pioneering opportunity, his gratitude is due to the late Dr. John E. Matzke, to President E. O. Lovett, and to Professor Wm. A. Nitze.

Among the many problems which are tormenting the author's mind, one, a mere pin-prick, is still a source of constant annoyance : the transcription of proper names. He failed to discover in the practice of his authorities any coherent system, and he was unable to evolve one of his own. It seems that, in general history, the custom is to translate such names in toto, whilst literary historians prefer leaving them hi their original form. Thus we say Joan Of Abc, but John J. Rousseau would, to say the least, " sound strange to the English-speaking ear." When the De before a surname clearly expresses the place of origin of the personage, as in Jehan De Meun (Jehan Clopinel, of Meun-sur-Loire), the logical rendering of has been preferred. This is almost invariably the case with Mediaeval names ; but we have balked at Adam Of The Hall (Adam de la Halle), and in all modern instances the French de has been retained. The same difficulty exists with churches : we say, St. Peter's, St. Mark's, but Notre-Dame. If we have avoided confusion, we shall rest satisfied.

1914—1920 ! These two dates tell their own epic and sombre tale. Needless to say that in the intervening years the author has not been able, even if he had been willing, to immerse himself wholly in the Middle Ages. Few traces of the passions of the day will be found in these pages ; but if any difference can be detected in the spirit of the two companion volumes, it will be found, we trust, in a clearer voicing of the permanent ideal in the name of which the Allies fought and won.

Riob Institute,

Houston, ' Texas.




§ 1. Civilization And Culture.

Man's primary concern is now and was from the beginning his daily fight for existence. All other interests lose their urgency before the necessity of getting food and shelter. Hunger and cold were our first taskmasters, and the blessed desire to ward them off with the minimum of painful exertion remains our greatest teacher. In his struggle for life man made, unconsciously, two tremendous discoveries. The first was that he could work to better effect in collaboration with his fellow-man: he is by nature, and he has grown increasingly sociable. The permanent family, the tribe, the state, have become his necessary environment. The second discovery was that he need not be resigned to the brutish state of automatic adaptation which poets call the Earthly Paradise. He could, by taking thought, add to the gifts of nature. He could, within incredibly elastic limits, select his surroundings and even alter them. He could lengthen his arm with a club, borrow furs from creatures better provided than himself, create at will a small circle of summer warmth with a few sticks of burning wood. From the earliest stone implement to the wireless and the aeroplane, from the first concerted hunt to the elaborate insurance machinery of a modern state, we can trace the progress of this collective and masterful collaboration with nature. Society and useful arts are the essential instruments of civilization.

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