We have received from the publishers, Roberts Brothers, Boston, "Modern French Literature," edited by Benjamin W. Wells, Ph. D.
This book is not intended for special students nor as an introduction to the study of French literature: Its avowed purpose is that of a companion, and possibly a guide, to the better appreciation and enjoyment of those authors who mark progress in the evolution of literary ideals since the Revolution. The intent is to give some hints and clews to books which are illustrative, whether as the results or the occasion, of altered standards of criticism and aesthetic principles. The author expresses his attitude toward literary criticism as follows: "No one can be more keenly aware than I how parlous a task it is to attempt systematic criticism of the present or near past in literature; but if we are to wait until the world has made up its mind about what it is reading today, it will then be reading something else, and our criticism will always lag superfluous in the development of taste; it will be useful to students, but caviar to the public. It is not, then, worth while to take Grimm's words to heart, and to have the courage to fail rather than leave the task unattempted? If the critic can be more helpful, he may be content to be less profound, original, or mature." The first three chapters of the work sketch the development of French literature till the close of the eighteenth century, that the reader may be reminded of those authors whose influence is still felt. The chapters that follow, however, discuss only those writers who have made material contributions to the field of French literature, or who mark advance or new departure. The language throughout the book is simple, the style clear, and the author is to be congratulated upon the success of his labor.