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Replace-219208 Much current misunderstanding of the theories about literature held by eighteenth century Englishmen is due to the fact that a large part of the criticism published in their time has been difficult of access. It is the purpose of this volume to lessen the difficulty by putting into the hands of the student a group of representative critical essays. Most of these have not been reprinted since the eighteenth century, and one of them has become really rare. To the less familiar work has been added a selection from the criticism of Steele, Addison, and Pope in order that the survey might be more nearly complete. Essays displaying general theories and tendencies have been chosen rather than those discussing only individual books or plays.

The volume aims to present, therefore, the more significant criticism published between 1700 and 1725. There are, however, two notable omissions. There is no representation either of Shaftesbury's criticism or of the several essays dealing with Shakespeare. The latter have been excluded on the ground that they are already easily accessible in D. Nichol Smith's Eighteenth Century Essays on Shakespeare. Shaftesbury has been excluded for reasons of space. It would have been impossible to represent him adequately without devoting to his work a disproportionate number of pages and consequently excluding other work of perhaps greater importance. This exclusion is the less to be regretted because the Characteristics have already been republished in an excellent modern edition.

In all cases the texts are exact reprints of original editions or of editions revised by the author. In the latter case the facts about the edition chosen have been stated in the notes. The notes also give more exact references to quotations vaguely indicated in the texts, and such necessary facts as might be unfamiliar to the reader of average information. Neither they nor the introduction pretend to be exhaustive. The latter aims merely to suggest certain points of view from which the texts may well be read. In both cases editorial matter has been sacrificed to a greater body of text.

It is intended that this volume shall be followed as soon as possible by a second which will cover the following quarter-century. This may later be supplemented by still another volume. It is also the editor's purpose to offer as a separate study a history of the development of literary criticism and popular taste in the eighteenth century.


March, 1915.

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