The Making of English Literature. William H. Crawshaw

H. E. Coblentz
1907 The School Review  
Readers of Professor Crawshaw's excellent volumes entitled The Interpretation of Literature and The Literary Interpretation of Life have reason to congratulate themselves that now they can read the same author's vigorous and entertaining history of English literature. Professor Crawshaw in his history has followed the main lines of thought and interpretation set forth in the two volumes he first published. Thought, emotion, imagination, and beauty-the four elements lying at the basis of all
more » ... he basis of all literature-are the fundamentals of the author's thesis for the study of literature and literary history. In addition to these basic principles Professor Crawshaw insists that his book "endeavors to emphasize the fact that literature is an outgrowth of life." But these are not all the vital principles that the author lays down as guides for the reader of his volume. He reverts, in some measure, to Taine's theory of the forces which lie behind the making of a national literature, but unlike Taine he makes no undue allowance for the influence of race, epoch, environment, and personality. He likes, for instance, to hold to the pleasant theory of the combination of the Saxon and Celtic influence working in Shakespeare, but he does not, and very wisely he does not, insist on the whole course of the Anglo-Celtic influence on English literature. No one disputes the modifying power of these separate races on literature-but that that power is palpably apparent is quite another question really beyond the range of a literary historian. Such a view, however, does not preclude an author's putting much intelligent emphasis on the great life-forces which have determined the general character of English literature, and Professor Crawshaw has managed this part of his work exceedingly well. Some readers may think that the author should have made a more telling and vital connection between English life and English literature-a theory that is rapidly gaining advocates. The author explains, however, that the lack of space warrants his holding to the distinctly literary view-point. The chapter headings in the book denote the good old-fashioned and reasonable divisions of "The Age of Chaucer," "The Age of Shakespeare," etc., and the six "books" making up the volume have the soul-satisfying titles of "Paganism and Christianity (449-1066) ;" "Religion and Romance (o166-I500);" "Renaissance and Reformation (I5oo-I66o) ;" "Classicism (166o-178o) ;" "Individualism (178o-i832) ;" "Democracy and Science (1832-1892)." Such divisions,
doi:10.1086/435063 fatcat:nk76ac24obf67bau5fllra7d74