The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899, May 15, 1891, Page 2, Image 2

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as it lies conveniently near the street car line, and is
one that will require but little work to place in first
class condition. Several members of the faculty have
given the scheme their unqualified approval, but
whether the board of regents will do likewise remains
to be seen.
For some time the director of the gymnasium,
has been complaining of lack of regular and system
atic work in the gymnasium. The importance of
careful training was clearly proven, by the results of
many of the contests, and the lack of it was apparent
only too often. Now that the students realize the
value of gymnasium work, their interest in it is
increasing. This interest should not be allowed to
die out, and the faculty should do their part in keep
ing it alive, by putting the gymnasium work on
'schedule time, and making it to a certain degree
As a mis-representative of the state, and of his
own school, Winters cucceeded admirably.
What Makes a Book Llvo in Literature?
If "literature" is used in its widest sense, including all
written works, there are two classes of books that live in
literature. One class includes all books that arc written
reeardless of beauty of style and expression. They arc the
matter-of-fact, every-day books. They arc merely commod
ities. It is, indeed, impossible to do without them, but there
can be no pleasure in reading them, only so far as they teach
what cannot be learned in any other way. They are only
storehouses of truth. By far the largest part of the histories,
the works on literature, and the books of scientific research
belong to this class. Each one is a very valuable contribution
to knowledge, but a very meagre contribution to art.
But "What Makes a Book Live in Literature" does not
seem to mean this class of books. Here "Literature" is used
in its more narrow sense, and literature means art.
If this is the meaning, theie are still two classes of books
that last through the world's history. The first class is not
large. There have been but few great men of genius in lit
erature. They can be seen like beacon lights, flashing out
here and there, and pointing out the Avay to those who are
only beginning their work in literature. Other writers have
wondered at them, studied them, and tried to find out the
seciet of their success. They have formed the world's lit
erature. In Greece there was Homer and Hato; in English,
Shakespeare and Bible.
Why is it that students study their Homer as zealously and
enthusiastscally as the Greek btudent did over two thousand
years ago? Why is it that Emerson, the Concord Sage, says
of Plato: "It would suffice for the tuition of a race, to test
their understanding and to expreess their reason?" It is
because the Greeks understood that literture is an art. In
style and in grandeur, yet simplicity of expression, they have
never been excelled. It is because they loved truth and made
it the basis of all their investigations. Their works, for this
reason, have been the models of all modern literature. Some
author has said, "But the true use oi Greek literature is per
petually to remind -us wliat a wondrous thing literary art may
be, capable of what range of resources, of what thoroughness
In structure, of what perfection in detail."
The other xilass of authors includes those whoie books have
lived through a generation. If a book has lived this period of
time, it has insured a long lifetime for itself. It is, it seems,
in relation to these that it is necessary to tell why a look lasts
one generation. It is impossible to lay down a fixed rule that
applies to every book that has passed through this preca
rious period of its existence.
There is not one, but many reasons why a book lives in
literature. It is ncccssaay to remember first that there have
been different periods of literature, each with its group of
authors. For instance, it is not right to judge writers of the
Tenth and of the Eleventh century by those of the Eighteenth
or of the Nineteenth; it is not possible to judge modem writers
by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Each writer must be
judged by the age in which he has lived, the conditions in
which he was placed, the people with whom he associated, the
advantages that he had. Chaucer lived in the Fourteenth cen
tury, and yet his "Fairy Queen" and his "Canterbury Talcs"
have a permanent place in English literature, because they
were the best productions of the age in which they were writ
ten. They were not only the best, but wonderful productions
written at a time when English literature could hardly have
been said to ovist So it has been in the world's literature.
Whenever a man has thought and written as no other man of
his own times could think and write, when he has written the
best lwok of his own age, his book has lived in literature.
Perhaps in the Eighteenth and in the Nineteenth centuries,
truth will not have the same force as it docs in the early his
tory of a race. But, at any rate, those books which are unus
ual for the age in which they were written will always live in
the literature of any country.
No writer can expect his books to live in literature, if he
docs not respect ethical truth. Whatever a man demands
from himself, he always demands the truth from others. If
a man demands spoken truth, how much the more will he
demand written truth. If the book is a novel, it must be true
to nature; if a history, true to fact; or it is destined either to
be cast aside, or to gain an unenviable notoriety.
Moreover a book must bear the author's own mark. He
must color the crude facts by his own imagination. It is said
of Addison that he gathered together thret folio volumes of
facts before he attempted to write the Spectator. The notes
that he accumulated would not have gained for him a reputa
tion, if they had not received the impress of his genius. If
George Eliot had published a volume of facts concerning the
life and times of Savonarola, she would not have contributed
to English literature as she has done by her charming
"Romola." Nor could Sir Walter Scott have portrayed the
true Scotch character so well in a learned dissertation, as he
has done in his simple "Rob Roy" and in his "Guy Man
nering." With the possible exception of Shakespeare, authors
impress upon what they write their own personality, and
personality in writing means originality.
"Hence, too, a good book is of rrore value to the world
than a good man for it is the best part of a good man, the
good without the evil." Flohence S. Smith '93.
Since the recent trouble with Italy in regard to the New
Orleans affair thc-e has been much comment in the news
papers about treatment given to foreigners in our various
states and the necessity of an amendment to the constitution
of the United Str.tes providing for the better protection of
strangers. Such talk is idle and useless. Every state in the
union provides the same pioteciion and the &ame penalty for
the violation of laws for foreigners that is accorded to Amer
ican citizens. Nothing more could be asked. Besides It is
very unwise for the general government to interfere with the
state unnecessarily.