By Irving Babbitt
"There are legislation discrete
now not reconciled, —
legislations for guy, and legislations for thing;
The final builds city and fleet,
however it runs wild,
And doth the fellow unking."
* * * * *
FROM THE AUTHOR’S PREFACE.
approximately part the problem during this quantity has been revealed in other places. "The Rational learn of the Classics," "Literature and the College," and "On Being unique" are reproduced with immaterial adjustments from the "Atlantic Monthly." papers within the "Nation" are mixed with loads of new fabric within the essay on " Literature and the Doctor's Degree." parts of the essays on "Ancients and Moderns " and "Academic rest" are taken from articles within the "Harvard Graduates' Magazine." I desire to thank the publishers of those periodicals for permission to reprint.
i've got usually been pressured in those essays to tread on burning floor, on the probability of giving offense to a few of my readers. i'll no less than say that my target has been to outline varieties and developments, and never to satirize or perhaps label members. everyone is frequently demanding to label, in particular at a time just like the current. A hugely unified age could supply examples of hugely unified personalities; yet there's prone to exist within the person of to-day an analogous careworn clash of traits that we see within the greater global. What i attempt to exhibit is, now not that our modern students are missing in humanistic qualities, yet that the students in whom those qualities predominate are few (rari nantes in gurgite vasto).
i might additionally remind the reader that my remedy of definite eminent people of the prior and current is restricted by way of my topic, and makes no declare to completeness. It was once, for instance, inevitable in facing collage schooling that I should still speak about the position of President Eliot. It used to be additionally inevitable, in terms of one that has exercised so many-sided a power on his time, that I may still fall very some distance wanting a rounded estimate.
I wish to take this chance of expressing my experience of legal responsibility to Professor Charles Eliot Norton. those that in the past new release have felt the necessity of a extra humane scholarship are indebted to him, many for direct relief and encouragement, and inquisitive about an instance. To Mr. Paul E. extra, literary editor of the recent York "Evening publish" and the "Nation," who learn numerous of those essays in manuscript, acknowledgments are due for numerous criticisms and proposals.
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But fictional letters and the stories they tell are created under circumstances that differ markedly from the reciprocal exchanges that produce authentic letters. The present of authentic letter writing is a condition missing from the composition of epistolary fiction, which requires a synchronic structure in which the open-ended process of ongoing correspondences is imaged but not engaged. A long-time correspondence may indeed generate its own synchronic structuresparadigmatic responses to recurrent situations, anticipations of how the corresponding partner will reply, or how a reply may resonate within the shared experience of epistolary composition.
What a publication like this compels is the examination of reading habits that have become receptive to writings that are unfinished by the standards normally applied to published texts. These writings are preserved in a state of irresolution by editors who not only refuse to smooth phrases and regularize spellings but who, by printing canceled lines and superscribed insertions, represent a literary artifact in a way that encourages readers to construct the narrative of how the text proceeded through its various, if (by virtue of such inclusions) undiscarded, stages of refinement.
Yet electronic publication will doubtless enhance our ability to recover the dialogicity of a letter's occasion, and transform our habits and experience of reading authentic epistolary works. Letters on CD-ROM will not change the fact that we come to these texts as nonreciprocating readers of other people's mail, and there will remain as always the question of whose aesthetic defines this genre: that of the letter writers, insofar as we can reconstruct it, or that of the nonreciprocating readeror, more truly, what combination of the two.