Prejudices: First Series

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Page 37 - My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see.
Page 12 - First, we must have made plain to ourselves what the poet's aim really and truly was, how the task he had to do stood before his own eye, and how far, with such means as it afforded him, he has fulfilled it.
Page 164 - the selection of a particular hole to live in, of a particular mate, ... a particular anything, in short, out of a possible multitude . . . carries with it an insensibility to other opportunities and occasions — an insensibility which can only be described physiologically as an inhibition of new impulses by the habit of old ones already formed. The possession of homes and wives of our own makes us strangely insensible to the charms of other people. . . . The original impulse which got us homes,...
Page 67 - In an increasing proportion as time goes on, the anthropomorphic cult, with its code of devout observances, suffers a progressive disintegration through the stress of economic exigencies and the decay of the system of status. As this disintegration proceeds, there come to be associated and blended with the devout attitude certain other motives and impulses that are not always of an anthropomorphic origin, nor traceable to the habit of personal subservience. Not all of these subsidiary...
Page 20 - It is his business to provoke the reaction between the work of art and the spectator. The spectator, untutored, stands unmoved; he sees the work of art, but it fails to make any intelligible impression on him; if he were spontaneously sensitive to it, there would be no need for criticism. But now comes the critic with his catalysis. He makes the work of art live for the spectator; he makes the spectator live for the work of art.
Page 53 - Home Journal, and no more deep and contagious feeling than so many reports of autopsies, and no more glow and gusto than so many tables of bond prices. The profound dread and agony of life, the surge of passion and aspiration, the grand crash and glitter of things, the tragedy that runs eternally under the surface — all this the critic of the future will seek in vain in Dr. Howells
Page 16 - White List of Books"; at its worst, it is comstockery, an idiotic and abominable thing. Genuine criticism is as impossible to such inordinately narrow and cocksure men as music is to a man who is tonedeaf. The critic, to interpret his artist, even to understand his artist, must be able to get into the mind of his artist; he must feel and comprehend the vast pressure of the creative passion; as Major Spingarn says, "aesthetic judgment and artistic creation are instinct with the same vital life.
Page 58 - It seems incredible, indeed, that two men so unlike should have found common denominators for a friendship lasting forty-four years. The one derived from Rabelais, Chaucer, the Elizabethans and Benvenuto— buccaneers of the literary high seas, loud laughers, law-breakers, giants of a lordlier day; the other came down from Jane Austen, Washington Irving and Hannah More.
Page 90 - Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
Page 173 - There is not much in the Atlantic" wrote Charles Eliot Norton to Lowell in 1874, "that is likely to be read twice save by its writers, and this is what the great public likes. . . . You should hear Godkin express himself in private on this topic." Harper's Magazine, in those days, was made up almost wholly of cribbings from England; the North American Review had sunk into stodginess and imbecility; Putnam's was dead, or dying; the Atlantic had yet to discover Mark Twain; it was the era of Godey's...

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