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imagination on the part of the reader. This book aims to supply in some measure the means to the first requisite.
The arrangement is, in the main, the pedagogical one-the easier selections at the beginning, and the more difficult ones towards the end of the book.
Following the body of the book will be found biographical notes, in alphabetical order, of the authors represented, together with brief lists of their works most worthy to be read or studied.
My grateful acknowledgments are hereby made to my colleagues, Professors Robert Allen Armstrong and John Harrington Cox, of the Department of English, and Dr. James Morton Callahan, of the Department of History, for valuable assistance; and to Dr. Charles William Kent, Professor of English Literature in the University of Virginia, for looking over the manuscript.
W. B. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY, : December 1, 1908.
By "learning to read,” as usually understood, is meant coming to know words and their surface meanings, and how to take the obvious import of simple sentènces. But one may have passed into the higher classes, so called, and into the secondary school even, or beyond, and yet be unable to "read” with an understanding or with an enriching content. To read means more than to interpret isolated words, or sentences, or even groups of sentences. It means the ability to take meaning from the printed page—but articulate meaning, the meaning of the whole through thinking together the meanings of the parts. If the parts are not interpreted, or are misinterpreted, the interpretation of the whole suffers. Longfellow's Rainy Day has a meaning as a whole, distinct from but arising from the ideas and pictures of the several stanzas and lines composing it. The first stanza of that poem furnishes a fairly complete picture, as does the second; but the meaning of neither is the meaning of the poem. In the third are summed up or converged the threads of suggestion in the other two. But even this would be incomplete, ineffective, without its setting in the materials of the first and second. To read the Rainy Day implies getting this articulate meaning; finding, beholding the composite picture, seeing and enjoying each part in terms of the whole. Moreover, both the understanding and the appreciation of the whole is enhanced by the content of meaning and beauty one is able to find in the parts; the clearness with which the picture elements and ideas take their places in the finished product; the quality and amount of experience one is able to converge upon the assembled words.
To "read,” therefore, implies, further, somewhat of the dramatic sense, an educated faculty for marshalling details and significant elements, and picturesque situations, and their maneuvering to a common end of meaning. And the integrity of the whole is imperiled by any defect in the understanding of the parts making up the whole. One may take the meanings of all the words and every line in Rainy Day, and yet fail of the picture of the whole; but this is inevitably wanting without those meanings. Their threads make up the warp of the completed fabric. The woof, or filling, must be furnished out of the riches of one's own experience and understanding. To "read,” then, means the construction of mental pictures that shall be true to the materials used.
All this implies, further, an element of joy in both getting and enriching the content of the text; a sense of pleasure in the creative and interpreting act; finding pleasure in the picture given or made, being able to domesticate it among one's own experiences. This is