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The Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, is a work of
enormous proportions. Setting out with the simple goal of offering "American
households a mass of good reading", the editors drew from literature of all times and
all kinds what they considered the best pieces of human writing, and compiled an
ambitious collection of 45 volumes (with a 46th being an index-guide). Besides the
selection and translation of a huge number of poems, letters, short stories and
sections of books, the collection offers, before each chapter, a short essay about the
author or subject in question. In many cases, chapters contemplate not one author,
but certain groups of works, organized by nationality, subject or period; there is, thus,
a chapter on Accadian-Babylonian literature, one on the Holy Grail, and one on
Chansons, for example. The result is a collection that holds the interest, for the
variety of subjects and forms, but also as a means of first contact with such famous
and important authors that many people have heard of, but never read, such as
Abelard, Dante or Lord Byron. According to the editor Charles Dudley Warner, this
collection "is not a library of reference only, but a library to be read."
This ninth volume contains chapters from "Chamisso" to "Collins".
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Cover image: Vasconcelos public library in Mexico City by Jorge Mendoza on wikimedia commons.
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