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INTRODUCTION

The selections in the present Anthology have had the test of classroom experience, representing, as they do, the material which the editors have found it necessary to bring before the students in a survey course in French literature. So far as is known, the same material can not now be found in any Anthology published in America covering the three centuries. The purpose of such a work is two-fold: to acquaint the reader with well-known selections of literary value, and to show the evolution of literary theory from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century. No dramatic excerpts are included because of lack of space and because it is felt that such examples of tragedy, comedy and drama should be read in full. It was decided to include a minimum of sixteenth century material in order to give an intelligent appreciation of the reform of Malherbe at the beginning of the seventeenth century. In no sense is this work to be considered as representing comprehensively the sixteenth century.

Wherever possible, the definitive editions have been taken as the standard. Other anthologies have been freely drawn on as, in our opinion, the criterion for a selection is not that it has never been used before but that it is typical of the author and has literary value. The titles given in quotation marks are either supplied by the editors or consecrated by usage. The notes are confined almost exclusively to the explanation of historical personages or facts. The forewords are not meant to replace a history of literature. They are intended simply to orient, more or less, the student as to the essential facts concerning an author or a movement. It is hoped that this anthology may be broad enough in its scope to interest the general reader in French literature.

It remains for us to express our appreciation for the assistance we have received from those who are working in the field

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