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A History of Literary Criticism in the Renaissance

Berwick Smith Norwood Mass


style="text-align: justify;"> A HISTORY

OF

LITERARY CRITICISM

IN THE RENAISSANCE

WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE INFLUENCE OF ITALY IN THE FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN CLASSICISM

BY

JOEL ELIAS SPINGARN

[Illustration]

*New York* PUBLISHED FOR THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.

1899

_All rights reserved_

_COPYRIGHT_, 1899,

BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

*Norwood Press* J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Norwood Mass. U.S.A.

PREFACE

THIS essay undertakes to treat the history of literary criticism in the Renaissance. The three sections into which the essay is divided are devoted, respectively, to Italian criticism from Dante to Tasso, to French criticism from Du Bellay to Boileau, and to English criticism from Ascham to Milton; but the critical

activity of the sixteenth century has been the main theme, and the earlier or later literature has received treatment only in so far as it serves to explain the causes or consequences of the critical development of this central period. It was at this epoch that modern criticism began, and that the ancient ideals of art seemed once more to sway the minds of men; so that the history of sixteenth-century criticism must of necessity include a study of the beginnings of critical activity in modern Europe and of the gradual introduction of the Aristotelian canons into modern literature.

This study has been made subservient, more particularly, to two specific purposes. While the critical activity of the period is important and even interesting in itself, it has been here studied primarily for the purpose of tracing the origin and causes of the classic spirit in modern letters and of discovering the sources of the rules and theories embodied in the neo-classic literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. How did the classic spirit arise? Whence did it come, and how did it develop? What was the origin of the principles and precepts of neo-classicism? These are some of the questions I have attempted to answer in this essay; and, in answering them, I have tried to remember that this is a history, not of critical literature, but of literary criticism. For this reason I have given to individual books and authors less prominence than some of them perhaps deserved, and have confined myself almost exclusively to the origin of principles, theories, and rules, and to the general temper of classicism. For a similar reason I have been obliged to say little or nothing of the methods and results of applied, or concrete, criticism.


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