The Later Renaissance

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W. Blackwood and Sons, 1898 - 381 páginas
An excerpt from "Book Reviews," Volume 6:
In this sixth volume in the series upon "Periods of European Literature," edited by Professor Saintsbury, David Hannay traces the influence of the latter renaissance upon the literary genius of Spain, England, France and Italy. That all were stimulated without being essentially changed is clearly proved; that Spain felt the effects least and France most is shown to be due to the peculiar character of the two peoples, the former intensely national and slow to lend itself to other ways, the latter tending ever to form new schools and quick to set up new doctrines; that England came between the two extremes was but another natural outcome of a race spirit containing strong elements, yet not wholly alien to the influences of the time. Spain, never admitting a foreign element into its literature, put forth its own best effort and died; England and France learned their lesson from the Renaissance and gave assurance of far more good work to come.
One-half of this volume is devoted to the Spanish literature in its golden age; one-fourth is set apart for the English; the French are a little more sparingly treated; Italy is considered chiefly under the names of Tasso and Bruno; Portugal is barely touched upon. Since the study of the Spanish genius in its best days is made so lengthy and as exhaustive as the space will allow, it is to be regretted that the writer should in this instance display no sympathy whatever with his subject. We would prefer to have these Spaniards discussed by someone who appreciated their peculiar nature and aims. Only when Cervantes, the least Spanish of these writers, is reached does our author show a genuine approval of anything that was done in Spain; ti at others are accounted great, that they were great for Spain, he admits; but their achievements are of a kind for which he shows no relish. Yet he classifies them otherwise fairly enough, and offers valuable comments upon their works.
The handling of the English and French portions of the subject is in the manner we should expect from one so intimately acquainted with his material. Some excuse is made for passing over the Portuguese so hurriedly; while the almost unbroken silence in Germany and the absence of anything much in the modern Dutch and Scandinavian literatures explains the fact that these have no place in the book. For a writer to undertake to display "intimate and equal acquaintance'' of all the branches of European literature at any given time is to attempt more than is here claimed to be accomplished; that he was thoroughly acquainted with the literature which happened to be of greatest prominence is plain in this brief presentation of so broad a matter....

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