BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


Lake Geneva and its literary landmarks

by Francis Henry Gribble

Excerpt:

PREFACE

A preface is an author's opportunity of explaining that he does not represent his book to be anything that it obviously is not.

My book, then, does not claim to be what an historian would regard as a complete history of Geneva. Such a book ought to be written, but I have not tried to write it, because the task affords too many opportunities of being dull and tedious.

Nor is my book put forward as a complete history of Genevan literature. Readers who desire such a history can read French; and in French there is M. Philippe Godet's admirable Histoire littfraire de la Suissc Fran$aise which covers the ground more than adequately.

What I have tried to write is an informal, anecdotal history of Geneva, with especial reference to the careers of the many eminent men of letters, natives or strangers, who have lived or sojourned there. Every continental traveller — and we are all continental travellers nowadays — finds his way sooner or later to Geneva; and it occurred to me that such travellers might be glad of a book which would remind them of what was most worth remembering about Bonivard, Calvin, Beza, Voltaire, Rousseau, Madame Necker, Madame de Stael, Horace Benedict de Saussure and other celebrated men and women, whether citizens or resident aliens, whose names are associated with the City and the Lake. So far

as I am aware, nothing of the sort exists in English. That seemed a sound reason for trying to fill the gap.

My acknowledgments to previous writers on the same subject, in the French language, are mostly made in the text or in footnotes. Here I should like to record a special indebtedness to the book of M. Philippe Godet, already mentioned, to the admirable monographs on Madame de Warens by M. Francois Mugnier and M. Albert de Montet, to Marc Mourner's witty and learned Geneve et ses Poetes, and to the various publications of the Genevan Historical Society.

Francis Gribble.

CORRIGENDA

Page 8, line 9, for Aar read Arve.

., 15, „ 6, „ Blanche read Beatrice.

„ 113, „ 21, „ Chamberg read Chambery.

„ 259, „ 3, „ Ligne read Ligne.

„ 269, „ 2, „ Pietet read Pictet.

„ 278, „ 25, „ Charbonniere read Carbonniere.

„ 287, „ 8, „ Germane read Germaine.

CHAPTER I

ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY OF GENEVA RELATIONS WITH SAVOY

THE CONDITION OF THE CITY BEFORE THE REFORMATION

THE LIFE OF THE CITIZENS CULTURE AND THE ARTS

TWO EARLY DRAMATIC PERFORMANCES

The curtain rises, revealing Geneva as a City where true religion and sound learning flourish and abound, towards the middle of the sixteenth century. Before 1535 it is merely a place on the map like another. From 1550 onwards, it is a centre of vigorous intellectual life., rich in illustrious names and memorable literary associations. The transformation was rapid and complete, and needs to be accounted for.

In a measure, no doubt, we may find the explanation in the powerful genius of Calvin—a born schoolmaster if there ever was one—who, at the critical moment, took the town in hand, proceeded to govern it as though he were not quite sure whether he was in charge of a University or a Reformatory. But Calvin's influence, while it explains much, requires a good deal of explanation in its turn. Exceptional conditions were obviously needed to make his very drastic discipline at once salutary and acceptable; for the rule is that a well-ordered community does not need a dictator to supervise its morals, and that an ill-conditioned community will not put up with one. Yet Geneva, in the sixteenth century, not only needed a disciplinarian, but bore :.••.-..•

with him, though his hand was heavy. How did this come about? To answer that question we must look back and try to penetrate the mystery that wraps the early annals of the City. Here, as elsewhere, the dark ages hold the secret of the dawn of civilization.


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