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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays 2 0 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Literature as an art. (search)
re planets than we knew what to do with, while we never could have puddings enough. We are now outgrowing this limited view of science, but in regard to literature the delusion still remains; if it is to be anything more than an amusement, it must afford solid information; it is not yet owned that it has value for itself, as an art. Of course, all true instruction, however conveyed, is palatable; to a healthy mind the Mecanique Celeste is good reading; so is Mill's , Political economy, or De Morgan's Formal logic. But words are available for something which is more than knowledge. Words afford a more delicious music than the chords of any instrument; they are susceptible of richer colors than any painter's palette; and that they should be used merely for the transportation of intelligence, as a wheel-barrow carries brick, is not enough. The highest aspect of literature assimilates it to painting and music. Beyond and above all the domain of use lies beauty, and to aim at this mak