But, lest the wood should be lost sight of for the trees, notes or interchapters have been inserted between the several books, indicating the general lines of development followed by the great literature which I have attempted to survey. To these I have for the most part confined generalisations as distinct from facts. I have, I believe, given in the notes a sufficient list of authorities which those who desire to follow up the subject may consult. I have not been indiscriminately lavish in indicating editions of authors, though I believe that full information will be found as to those necessary for a scholarly working knowledge of French literature.
I had originally hoped to illustrate the whole book with extracts; but I discovered that such a course would either swell it to an undesirable bulk, or else would provide passages too short and too few to be of much use. I have therefore confined the extracts to the mediaeval period, which can be illustrated by selections of moderate length, and in which such illustration, from the general resemblance between the individuals of each class, and the comparative rarity of the original texts, is specially desirable.
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To avoid the serious drawback of the difference of principle on which old French reprints have been constructed, as many of these extracts as possible have been printed from Herr Karl Bartsch's admirable Chrestomathie. But in cases where extracts were either not to be found there, or were not, in my judgment, sufficiently characteristic, I have departed from this plan.
The illustration, by extracts, of the [Pg ix] later literature, which requires more space, has been reserved for a separate volume. I had also intended to subjoin some tabular views of the chief literary forms, authors, and books of the successive centuries. But when I formed this intention I was not aware that such tables already existed in a book very likely to be in the hands of those who use this work, M. Gustave Masson's French Dictionary.
Although the plan I had formed was not quite identical with his, and though the execution might have differed in detail, it seemed both unnecessary and to a certain extent ungracious to trespass on the same field. With regard to dates the Index will, it is believed, be found to contain the date of the birth and death, or, if these be not obtainable, the floruit of every deceased author of any importance who is mentioned in the book.
It has not seemed necessary invariably to duplicate this information in the text. I have also availed myself of this Index for the compilation of which I owe many thanks to Miss S. Ingham to insert a very few particulars, which seemed to find a better place there than in the body of the volume, as being not strictly literary. In conclusion, I think it well to say that the composition of this book has, owing to the constant pressure of unavoidable occupations, been spread over a considerable period, and has sometimes been interrupted for many weeks or even months. This being the case, I fear that there may be some omissions, perhaps some inconsistencies, not improbably some downright errors.
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I do not ask indulgence for these, because that no author who voluntarily publishes a book has a right to ask, nor, perhaps, have critics a right to give it. But if any critic will point out to me any errors of fact, I can promise repentance, as speedy amendment as may be, and what is more, gratitude. Preface to the Second Edition. All corrections of fact indicated by critics and private correspondents, both English and French among whom I owe especial thanks to M. Beljame , have, after verification, been made.
A considerable number of additional dates of the publication of important books have been inserted in the text, and the Index has undergone a strict examination, resulting in the correction of some faults which were due not to the original compiler but to myself. On the suggestion of several competent authorities a Conclusion, following the lines of the Interchapters, is now added. If less deference is shown to some strictures which have been passed on the plan of the work and the author's literary views, it is due merely to the conviction that a writer must write his own book in his own way if it is to be of any good to anybody.
But in a few places modifications of phrases which seemed to have been misconceived or to be capable of misconception have been made. I have only to add sincere thanks to my critics for the very general and, I fear, scarcely deserved approval with which this Short History of a long subject has been received, and to my readers for the promptness with which a second edition of it has been demanded.
Preface to the Third Edition. I have found some such mistakes, and I make no doubt that I have left some. In the process of examination I have had the assistance of two detailed reviews of parts of the book by two French critics, each [Pg xi] of very high repute in his way. The first of these, by M. The assistance thus given by M.
Paris whose forbearance in using his great learning as a specialist I have most cordially to acknowledge has been supplemented by the appearance, quite recently, of an admirable condensed sketch of his own  , which, compact as it is, is a very storehouse of information on the subject.
If in this book I have not invariably accepted M. Paris' views or embodied his corrections, it is merely because in points of opinion and inference as opposed to ascertained fact, the use of independent judgment seems to me always advisable. The other criticism in this case of the later part of my book , by M. Edmond Scherer, would not seem to have been written in the same spirit. Scherer holds very different views from mine on literature in general and French literature in particular; he seems which is perhaps natural not to be able to forgive me the difference, and to imagine which if not unnatural is perhaps a little unreasonable, a little uncharitable, and even, considering an express statement in my preface, a little impolite that I cannot have read the works on which we differ.
I am however grateful to him for showing that a decidedly hostile examination, conducted with great minuteness and carefully confined to those parts of the subject with which the critic is best acquainted, resulted in nothing but the discovery of about half a dozen or a dozen misprints and slips of fact . Such slips I have corrected with due gratitude.
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But I have not altered passages where M. Scherer mistakes facts or mistakes me. I need hardly say that I have made no alterations in criticism, and that the passage referring to M. Scherer himself with the exception of a superfluous accent stands precisely as it did. Some additions have been made to the latter part of the book, but not very many: for the attempt to 'write up' such a history to date every few years can only lead to confusion and disproportion.
I have had, during the decade which has passed since the book was first planned, rather unusual opportunities of acquainting myself with all new French books of any importance, but a history is not a periodical, and I have thought it best to give rather grudging than free admittance to new-comers. On the other hand, I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to obliterate chronological references which the effluxion of time has rendered, or may render, misleading.
The notes to which it seemed most important to attract attention, as modifying or enlarging some statement in the text, are specially headed 'Notes to Third Edition': but they represent only a small part of the labour which has been expended on the text. I have also again overhauled [Pg xiii] and very considerably enlarged the index; while the amplification of the 'Contents' by subjoining to each chapter-heading a list of the side-headings of the paragraphs it contains, will, I think, be found an advantage.
And so I commend the book once more to readers and to students . Gaston Paris expresses some surprise at my saying 'one of the authors,' and attributes both versions to the Troyes clerk see pp. I can only say that so long as Renart le Contrefait is unpublished, if not longer, such a question is difficult to decide: and that the accepted monograph on the subject that of Wolf left on my mind the impression of plural authorship as probable.
As however M. Scherer, thanks chiefly to the late Mr. Matthew Arnold, enjoys some repute in England, I may give an example of his censure. He accuses me roundly of giving in my thirty dates of Corneille's plays 'une dizaine de fausses,' and he quotes as I do M. As since the beginning, years ago, of my Cornelian studies, I have constantly used that excellent edition, though, now as always, reserving my own judgment on points of opinion, I verified M.
Scherer's appeal with some alarm at first, and more amusement afterwards. The eminent critic of the Temps had apparently contented himself with turning to the half-titles of the plays and noting the dates given, which in ten instances do differ from mine. Had his patience been equal to consulting the learned editor's Notices , he would have found in every case but one the reasons which prevailed and prevail with me given by M.
Marty-Laveaux himself. The one exception I admit. I was guilty of the iniquity of confusing the date of the publication of Othon with the date of its production, and printing instead of So dangerous is it to digest and weigh an editor's arguments, instead of simply copying his dates. Had I done the latter, I had 'scaped M.
Scherer's tooth. Scherer in this preface and I need hardly say still more those which occur in the body of the book with reference to a few others of his criticisms were written long before his fatal illness, and had been sent finally to press some time before the announcement of his death. I had at first thought of endeavouring to suppress those which could be recalled. But it seemed to me on reflection that the best compliment to the memory of a man who was himself nothing if not uncompromising, and towards whom, whether alive or dead, I am not conscious of having entertained any ill-feeling, would be to print them exactly as they stood, with the brief addition that I have not known a critic more acute within his range, or more honest according to what he saw, than M.
Edmond Scherer. March 20, Mediaeval Literature. The Origins 1 Relation of French to Latin. Influence of Latin Literature. Early Monuments. Dialects and Provincial Literatures.
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Beginning of Literature proper. Chansons de Gestes 10 Origin of Chansons de Gestes. Period of Composition. Chanson de Roland. Amis et Amiles.
Other principal Chansons. Social and Literary Characteristics. Style and Language. Later History. Range and characteristics. First Period. Second Period. Forms of Troubadour Poetry. Third Period. Its Origin. Order of French Arthurian Cycle. Chrestien de Troyes. Spirit and Literary value of Arthurian Romances. Romances of Antiquity. Chanson d'Alixandre. Roman de Troie. Other Romances on Classical subjects. The Esprit Gaulois makes its appearance. Definition of Fabliaux.