Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature
Georg Brandes (1842–1927)
Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature, by Georg Brandes, a series of lectures originally given in Danish at the University of Copenhagen (published 1871–1890 under the title ‘Hovedströmninger i det 19 de aarhundredes litteratur’; translated into German, 1894–1896 under the title ‘Hauptströmungen der Literatur des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’; and into English, 1901–1905). The author’s object was to trace the course of European thought in the first half of the nineteenth century by describing the most important movements in French, German, and English literature. In his view, these exhibit a reaction from the revolutionary principles of the eighteenth century, followed by the gradual emergence of the idea of progress in more vigorous form. Volume I., ‘The Emigrant Literature,’ illustrates the first reactionary movement by essays on Chateaubriand, Goethe’s Werther, Senancour, and others. Volume II. is devoted to ‘The Romantic School in Germany’ with its strong Catholic tendencies, its mysticism and mediævalism. In Volume III., ‘The Reaction in France,’ the triumph of the Catholic Reaction is illustrated by reference to Joseph de Maistre, Lamennais, Lamartine, and Victor Hugo, when they supported the clerical party. Volume IV., ‘Naturalism in England,’ shows how a naturalistic revolt against convention in literature led to a rebellion against religious and political reaction, culminating in Byron, who gave the impetus to a new progressive movement throughout Europe. Volume VI., ‘The Romantic School in France,’ illustrates the effect of this movement in French Literature, from the Revolution of 1830 to that of 1848, discussing such writers as Lamennais, Hugo, and Lamartine in their later phases, Alfred de Musset, and George Sand. In Volume VII., ‘Young Germany,’ a similar return to progressive ideas is traced in the works of men like Heine, Börne, and Feuerbach, who prepared for the German uprising of 1848. Brandes is a critic of the school of Taine, and is fond of tracing the interrelations of literature, politics, philosophy, science, and religion. His style is made eminently readable by his definiteness of opinion, forcefulness of statement, and copiousness of citation and illustration.  1

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