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THESE readings are intended as the basis for a course in the historical development of English literature. They include representative works of the best writers, although the amount of space given to an author is not necessarily governed by his merit. Some authors-Shakspere, for example-can be studied to advantage only in complete works too long to be included in a volume like this. Then, too, a writer who represents a period or a movement may be relatively more important than another whose absolute importance is greater.
Although this volume is designed to accompany the editor's English Literature, the selections cover the field usually treated in an historical survey, and the book may be used to advantage with any history of English literature. Included, moreover, are enough sonnets, odes, narrative poems, essays, and bits of prose fiction for an introductory study of the types of literature.
A feature of this collection is the opportunity afforded to connect great pieces of criticism with the works criticised. Lycidas, for example, acquires a new interest in the light of Ruskin's interpretation; Carlyle's discussion of Burns, and Carlyle's and Macaulay's discussions of Boswell suggest new approaches to all these writers; and even Shakspere gains from a reading of Ben Jonson's memorial poem and Arnold's sonnet.
The editor wishes to thank the many teachers who have offered helpful suggestions, but to absolve them from responsibility for the final make-up of the book.
ROY BENNETT PACE.