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A BOOK OF
CHOSEN AND EDITED
CHAUNCEY WETMORE WELLS
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
GINN AND COMPANY
BOSTON - NEW YORK CHICAGO . LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY CHAUNCEY WETMORE WELLS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
The Athen æum Press
A new book of specimens in any of the forms of discourse should be welcome if the matter is fresh and inviting and also of standard worth, and if the principle is sound as well as practical, even more if it be new. These selections are certainly not hackneyedhardly any of them are to be found in a similar book; and readable they as certainly are, some of them as readable as a fairy tale and some as readable as a magazine article. Yet all are standard; here is nothing ephemeral. What then of the principle?
Instructors in English have long wanted a book of narrative specimens for use in freshman classes, both as a guide to writing in the simpler forms and as a literary stimulus. Now the editor of practically every manual in use crowds into one bulky volume examples of every one of the forms. Among the examples of narration he tucks in a stray chapter of history, or of biography or travel. But in general his excerpts are short stories or chapters from novels; the study of narration he takes to mean the study of story-writing and story-reading, the study of one of the finest of the fine arts. All very good, but does it fit the needs of the ordinary freshman?
One great difficulty we all must meet is in teaching our students, especially freshmen, to write plainly and soundly and, at the same time, vitally and agreeably. The stock of most freshman writing is, of course, exposition, with a little description-in rare instances, narration-introduced as a relief and a luxury. In the meantime the humdrum and useful exposition plods along, and but little is done in narration of the plainer kind. Yet every student should be taught to narrate and to describe in this way; he has need of both powers every day. And certainly