of Spanish literature as to make the literature itself the exponent of the peculiar culture and civilization of the Spanish people.
Whether I have succeeded or no remains to be seen.
But if I have, my book, I think, will be read by my countrymen, whose advance in a taste for reading on grave and thoughtful subjects increases so perceptibly that there is a plain difference since you were here.
To Mr. George T. Curtis
he says the same thing in other words:—
As you read, please to bear in mind that my book is an attempt to make literary history useful, as general reading, to a people like the American, by connecting it with the history of civilization and manners in the country to which it relates.
Whether I have succeeded is another question; but you will not judge me as I wish to be judged, unless you take this for what the Germans call your ‘stand-punct.’
A history of literature necessarily falls far short, in animation and in human interest, of a history of events, and it must consist, in great part, of a catalogue—more or less thematique
, but essentially a chronological list—of books, accompanied by statements of dates and skeletons of contents.
, however, in pursuing his object of giving a living interest to his work, seized every opportunity for a sketch of national character and experience, or of individual lives, into which he infused variety and vivacity, as well as philosophic observation; and he enlivened his pages by translations, and by intelligible and attractive criticism.
The result is, that while it is a work of which one of the English
writers who noticed it1
said, when it appeared, he believed there were not six men in Europe
able to review it, and which, by universal consent, is a thorough and scholarly history, not likely to be superseded for the period it covers, it has actually proved so attractive to general readers, that several thousand copies have been sold in the United States
, and it has been translated into three of the great languages of Europe
Among the reviews and notices of the book, which appeared on both sides of the Atlantic
immediately after its publication, we find, therefore,