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Critical and Historical Essays : Vol. 1

By Macaulay, Thomas Babington, Baron

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Book Id: WPLBN0000032368
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 1.5 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Critical and Historical Essays : Vol. 1  
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babington, Baron
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Literature, Literature & thought, Writing.
Collections: Classic Literature Collection
Historic
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Ebook Library

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Macaulay, T. B. (n.d.). Critical and Historical Essays : Vol. 1. Retrieved from http://www.worldebooklibrary.com/


Excerpt
Depuis deux siecles les Essais forment une branche importante de la litterature anglaise; pour designer un ecrivain de cette classe, nos voisons emploient un mot qui n'a pas d'equivalent en francais; ils disent: un essayist. Qu'est-ce qu'un essayist? L'essayist se distingue du moraliste, de l'historien, du critique litteraire, du biographe, de l'ecrivain politique; et pourtant il emprunte quelque trait a chacun d'eux; il ressemble tour a tour a l'un ou a l'autre ; il est aussi philosophe, il est satirique, humoriste a ses heures; il reunit en sa personne des qualities multiples; il offre dans ses ecrits un specimen de tous les genres. On voit qu'il n'est pas facile de definir l'essayist; mais l'exemple suppleera a la definition. On connaitra exactement le sens du mot quand on aura etudie l'ecrivain qui, d'apres le jugement de ces compatriotes, est l'essayist par excellence, ou, comme on disait dans les anciens cours de litterature, le Prince des essayists. Macaulay is indeed the prince of essayists, and his reign is unchallenged. I still think -- says Professor Saintsbury (Corrected Impressions, p. 89 f.) that on any subject which Macaulay has touched, his survey is unsurpassable for giving a first bird'seye view, and for creating interest in the matter And he certainly has not his equal anywhere for covering his subject in the pointing-stick fashion. You need not -- you had much better not -- pin your faith on his details, but his Pisgah sights are admirable. Hole after hole has been picked in the Clive and the Hastings, the Johnson and the Addison, the Frederick and the Horace Walpole, yet every one of these papers contains sketches, summaries, precis, which have not been made obsolete or valueless by all the work of correction in detail....

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