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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
tenth volume contains chapters from "Colman" to "Dalin".
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Cover image: Library of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, courtesy of Michael D. Beckwith.
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