Portraits and Sketches

Front Cover
Read Books, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
COLLECTED ESSAYS OF EDMUND GO SE PORTRAITS AND SKETCHES OTHER WORKS BY MR. EDMUND GOSSE Northern Studies. 1879. Lift of Gray. 1882. Seventeenth-Century Studies. 1883. Life of Congrevc. 1888. A History of Eighteenth-Century Literature. 1889. Life of Philip Henry Gosse, FM. S. 1890. Gossip in a Library. 1891. The Secret of Narcisse a Romance. 1892. Questions at Issue. 1893. Critical Kit-Kats. 1896. A Short History of Modern English Literature. 1897, Life and Letters of John Donne. 1899. Hypolympia. 1901. Life of Jeremy Taylor. 1904. French Profiles. 1904, Life of Sir Thomas Browne. 1905, Father and Son. 1907. Life of Ibsen. 1908. Two Visits to Denmark. 1911. Collected Poems. 1911. Portraits and Sketches. 1912. Inter Anna. 1916. Lf 0 of Algernon Charles Swinburne. 1917. T ira Fracft Moralists. 1918. Stftfitf Diversions of a Man of Letters, 1920. B00 s on the Table. 1921. Aspects and Impressions. 1922. Mow 00 5 on the Table. 1923. PORTRAITS AND SKETCHES BY K DM UN I GOSSK, C. H. WILLIAM HK1NKMANN LTD. First published Oct. 1912 New Impressions, Nov. 1912, Feb. 1913, Oct. 1924 fKINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY BILLING AND SONS, LTD, GOILDFORD AND ESHER TO H. OF C. THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED PREFACE THESE short studies of authors whom I have known more or less intimately, and have observed with curiosity and admiration, base whatever value they may possess on their independence. They are imperfect, perhaps erroneous, but they are not second-hand. Whether they are the result of a few flashing glimpses, or of the patient scrutiny of many years, in either case they are my own. I hope that some of them, at least, may be found to possess the interest which attaches to even a rude pencil sketch of a famous person, drawn faithfully from the life. The persons dealt with are of widely differing importance, and it is probable that posterity will intensify the distinction between them. Some names are here included which history may neglect altogether here are others which we believe will become more and more luminous with the passage of years. But the men discussed in the following pages had the common characteristic of devotion to literature all were writers, and each had, in his own time and way, a serious and even a passionate con ception of the responsibilities of the art of writing. They were all, in their various capacities, engaged vin Jfretace in keeping bright, and in passing on unquenched, the torch of literary tradition. In the case of such men of letters, there has always seemed to me to be a singular interest in observing how personal character acts upon the work performed. It is less entertaining, for instance, to dwell exclusively on the verses of a poet, or ex clusively on the incidents of his life, than to attempt the more complicated study of these elements in inter-relation to one another, as has been done, but only too rarely, in the best critical biographies. M. Paul Desjardins, in an amusing and illuminating phrase, speaks of la cinematographic dune abeille dans le mystere de la mellification. This, I confess, is what I like best in a literary biography, and it is what I have attempted to produce. To analyse the honey is one thing, and to dissect the bee another but I find a special pleasure in watching him, myself unobserved, in the act of building up and filling the cells. In what I have recorded, I have tried to concentrate attention, not on vague anecdotes and empty tricks of conduct, but on such traits of character as throw light on the mans intellect and imagination, and are calculated to help us in the enjoyment of his work. And while I hope I have never courted sensation by recounting anything scandalous, I have not hesitated to tell what I believe to be the truth, nor glossed over pecu liarities of temperament when they help us to comprehend the published writings. Of all the human beings whom I have known Fretace ix I think that Algernon Swinburne was the most extraordinary...

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