Hippolyte Taine, the nineteenth-century French critic, evolved an ecological theory of literature. He looked first and foremost to the national characteristics of western European literatures, and he found the source of these characteristics in the climate and soil of each respective nation. His (5 vols., 1863-1869) is an extensive elaboration of these ideas. It is doubtful that anyone today would agree with the simplistic terms in which Taine states his thesis. It is obvious that Russian literature differs from English or French from German. English books are written by Englishmen, their scenes are commonly laid in England, they are usually about Englishmen and they are designed to be read by Englishmen at least in the first instance. But modern civilization becomes more and more a world civilization, wherein works of all peoples flow into a general fund of literature. It is not unusual to read a novel by a Japanese author one week and one by a black writer from West Africa the next. Writers are themselves affected by this cross-fertilization. Certainly, the work of the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists has had more influence on twentieth-century American writers than has the work of their own literary ancestors. Poetry does not circulate so readily, because catching its true significance in translation is so very difficult to accomplish. Nevertheless, for the past hundred years or so, the influence of French poetry upon all the literatures of the civilized world has not just been important, it has been preeminent. The tendentious elements of literature propaganda for race, nation, or religion have been more and more eroded in this process of wholesale cultural exchange.
One Hundred Great Essays provides that number of the most exemplary and rewarding selections available in the English language. The anthology combines
28 Feb 2007 Available in: Paperback. One Hundred Great Essays provides that number of the most exemplary and rewarding selections available in the.