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the Collegiate, either in the regular or in the thin paper edition, is thoroughly satisfactory.
The American Book Company publishes the other editions of the Webster books, all bearing the Merriam imprint. These books run from the Academic, down through the High School, Common School, Primary, and Handy editions.
Teachers hold that pupils should own dictionaries not earlier than the fourth grade nor later than the sixth. Which edition should they buy? In most cases, the largest that they can afford. Most people never buy a second dictionary, going through life with the primary book of their childhood! There is such demand that even the small dictionaries contain a large number of words that the publishers are forced to make every sacrifice to effect this end. The definitions are less and less elaborate and helpful until they become hardly more than synonyms. More than this, the first definitions dropped are usually the very ones for which we look, those that are unusual and therefore needed. In smaller editions than the Collegiate no illustrative sentences are given; the Academic is the smallest book that gives synonyms as such and etymology; the Handy does not even syllabicate. Consequently, children should be urged to buy an edition as complete as the Academic, or better still, the Collegiate, which will satisfy almost every want of a lifetime.
READING AND LITERATURE
The material for reading lessons may, as has already been suggested, be either non-literary or literary. The latter kind is, and should 'be, most frequently used in the reading period, chiefly because it is likely to make greater demands on the reader. The distinctions that have been made* regarding the various kinds of reading and the ends to be secured should be had clearly in mind at all times. If the reading of literature differ from the reading of mere informational matter, both pupil and teacher must appreciate the literary basis, must themselves feel the emotion which is to be awakened through literature.
Nothing is literature in or of itself. A poem or a story is merely the medium through which the feeling that possessed an author is transferred to a reader. If the reader get from the masterpiece no emotion, only information, he has found no literature, whatever critics may say is there. Hence it is that not infrequently readers disagree as to the merits of some literary composition: the creation is not complete until the reader bring to it not only the understanding brain but the appreciative heart as well.
* See page 16 f.
An Essential of Literature
What literature is, one can hardly say: it can be illustrated rather than defined. The many attempted definitions are more confusing than helpful: one who does not know that Shelley's "Cloud" is literature and that "Thirty days hath September" is not, can hardly be helped by mere formal definition. There are many elements that enter, in varying proportions, into literature; but only one of them, all critics agree, is absolutely necessary-that is, suggestiveWhatever else a set of verses may possess, they can not claim to rank as literature unless they suggest―or, to use the technical term, connote-to the reader far more than they say.
It is evident, upon the slightest thought, that even a disconnected word does not always mean the same thing to us—rather, that at some times it means infinitely more than at others. A word means-that is, denotes the same thing at all times to all people; but it may suggest, or connote, not only more to one person than it does to another, but also more to the same person at one time than it does at another.
Some words are almost always denotative to everybody. "Triangle," for instance, and "July 1" are likely to mean one and the same thing to everyone at every time. "Home," on the other hand, will have a common basis of meaning, but beyond that it will connote to every one a wealth of ideas dependent upon his experience or his mood. It may bring up to the mind's eye an image of the home in its many
details, it may suggest many tender associations, and hence it may awaken emotions of varying depth. Other words, like "spring" and "July 4," are denotative or connotative according as they awaken in the reader a bare idea or that idea accompanied by a train of memories and emotions. In proportion, then, as words tend to awaken suggested and related thoughts and feelings, we say they are literary.
If words may possess this quality when standing alone, how much more of it they may have when cunningly associated into more expressive groups! Wordsworth chose as the subject of a short poem a girl reaping grain alone and singing, a subject that might or might not be poetic to the passer-by. He suggested some poetry in the situation by his title, "The Solitary Reaper." But when wondering of what she sings he says:
"Will no one tell me what she sings?-
then he contrives to carry over to every reader a suggestion of the mysterious beauty of the song. In like manner Keats appeals connotatively to all who have any poetry in their beings when he writes of the nightingale's song:
"Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
The same that oft-times hath
• Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
It is possible, of course, that one may read these lines without getting from them any emotion what ever; but if he should, however clear the denotative meaning, however, good the articulation, enunciation, and pronunciation, the reading of this as literature is worthless.
The Process of Composition
That we may understand better what is necessary in appreciating literature we should understand somewhat the process by which it is composed. In the first place the author, whether poet or prose writer, must through his genius or through hard work see life in some of its phases more clearly than his fellow men do. Then this phase of life, whether of humanity or of nature, usually relates itself in his mind with his former experience, with his whole conception of life. This naturally fills him with such emotion that he wishes to share his feelings with others. And finally, that he may accomplish his end, he chooses just the form and the words that he judges will not only say what he means but also suggest what he feels.
Reading literature, then, demands first that one understand the bare meaning. This meaning recalls former experiences and associates them in such a way as to excite the imagination and finally to