A History of German Literature

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IN writing this volume, it was my task to compress more than a thousand years of literary history into a volume of about four hundred pages. The book was not to be a collection of sheaths garnered here and there in favourite fields, but a real history, dealing with the whole subject coherently and with due regard to the relative importance of periods, writers, and writings. As it was evident that I should be obliged to omit freely and boldly, I decided, first of all, to omit the scholars, philosophers, and men of science, that is, to confine myself pretty closely to literature in the restricted English sense of the word. The broader conception of literature is no doubt the more philosophic, but it is less convenient for a writer who must economise space at every step. The German genius has done much of its best work in scholarship, philosophy, and science, but I was not writing a history of the German genius.

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