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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: I Put down Charles of Orleans here as the first representative of that long glory which it is the business of this little book to recall: but to give him such a place at the threshold requires some apology. The origins of a literary epoch differ according as that epoch is primal or derivative. There are those edifices of letters which start up, not indeed out of nothing, but out of things wholly different. Produced by a shock or a revelation, as two gases lit will, in a sharp explosion, unite to form a liquid wholly unlike either, so after a great conquest, a battle, the sudden preaching of a creed, these primal literatures appear in an epic or a dithyrambic code of awful law. Their first effort is their mightiest. They come mature. They are allied to that element of the catastrophic which the modern world (taking its general philosophy from its social condition) denies, but which is yet at the limits of all things separate and themselves; accompanies every birth, and strikes agony into every transition of death. Those other much commoner epochs in the history of letters, which may be called derivative, have this current and obvious quality, that their beginnings merge into the soil that bred them, also (very often) their decay willlapse imperceptibly into newer things. They are quite definite, but also definitely parented. We know their special stuff and harmony, but we can point out clearly enough the elements which formed that stuff, the tones which unite in that harmony. We can show with dates and citations the parts meeting and blending; our difficulty is not to determine the influences which have mixed to make the general school, but rather to fix the beginning and the end of its effect upon men. In the first of these the leader, sometimes the unique example of the ...
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