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DES MEILLEURS ÉCRIVAINS FRANÇAIS
(Poètes, Historiens, Orateurs, Naturalistes, Philosophes, Littérateurs, &c.)
DEPUIS 1520 JUSQU'EN 1845,
176 NOTICES BIOGRAPHIQUES, LITTÉRAIRES ET BIBLIOGRAPHIQUES,
DISPOSE DANS L'ORDRE DES DATES ET PRÉSENTANT UN TABLEAU
PAR CASIMIR LADREYT.
Entièrement refondue et enrichie des écrivains contemporains.
WILLIAM E. DEAN, 2 ANN STREET.
According to Act of Congress, in the year 1845,
BY W. E. DEAN,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A WORK of this kind requires no preface for those who are conversant with the French language, they will judge for themselves.
Thus we shall only make a few remarks for the satisfaction of such persons as must necessarily feel interested in a school book, and yet are unable to judge of its merit or demerit for want of a sufficient knowledge of a foreign tongue.
In his well known "Répertoire de Littérature Française," the author had comprised the French writers only of the four last centuries, his object being at that time, as announced in the preface to it, to publish another volume which was to be devoted to the writers of the present age. That second volume was ready for the press about fifteen months ago, but the edition of the first one happening to be nearly all out then, and the demands for it being daily fast increasing, it was deemed necessary to prepare a new edition of the same, with some intended improvements in it, before printing the latter part of the work, in order to publish the whole at the same time. Yet after preparing a sufficient quantity of valuable matter to make two volumes, which were to comprise above four hundred writers, it was suggested that such a work would be by far too extensive for the use of schools, and this was probably true. So that, painful as it was for the author to sacrifice so much labor, a change of plan having become unavoidable, he has come to the conclusion to make a compendium of the whole, to be published in one volume, and such is the work now offered to the public under this new title. This change of title has become necessary to make it correspond with the entirely new character of the work.
We have been compelled to leave out 75 of the authors comprised in the former publication, in order to make room for 86 new ones, but care has been taken not to omit any of the most eminent, either ancient or modern, and especially those whom public judgment has pronounced to be the most perfect models in the language in all respects.
Thus, although reduced to a small compass, this publication
contains both a much more perfect edition of the former one and the full continuation of the same, and exhibits a general and correct view of the history of French literature, from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the present day, together with specimens of the compositions of each writer.
We have endeavored to make not only a profitable school book, but also an interesting and useful family book, and it may well be called a real multum in parvo.
The selection of the pieces given of each writer comprises standards of all kinds of composition both in prose and poetry, and on subjects calculated to offer the same degree of interest to the readers of all nations, there being nothing that can interfere with any religious creed, or national prejudices of any
We have given a good proportion of light literature, as the main object of the work seems to require it, but we have strictly adhered to the principles we have adopted in our former publications. There will not be found anything contrary to good literary taste, nothing vulgar or common, not a single word or idea that can be objected to on any account whatever.
Our biographical and literary notes have been purposely written in a plain, clear, and easy style, that they can be read and understood even by beginners, for it is very natural that they wish to know something of so many men and women whose compositions they study. Here we have also indicated the best editions of the complete works of each author, except in a few cases in which we could not positively ascertain.
In regard to the typographical part of the work, it is believed there will not be found a single error of any material importance.
In concluding these remarks we would state, that no work like this was ever published in this country nor in Europe, although attempts have already been made, it seems, to imitate it under specious pretexts. There are individuals who, being very anxious to show their names with assumed titles, and yet unable to produce anything of their own contrivance, are ever ready and bold enough to appropriate to themselves the works of others, when they can do it with impunity; but they betray their ignorance and want of judgment in supposing that the public will not discover their injustice and pitiful vanity.
We intended also to say a few words about a compilation lately published in this city with the avowed intention of superseding the success of our little enterprise, and we dare suppose that a moderate defence against a premeditated and unprovoked injury to us and others, would not be deemed improper, but the gentleman who undertook it
has shown so little skill to accomplish his design, that we dare scarcely