Ticknor’s Spanish Literature -- By: C. C. Felton
BSac 7:27 (July 1850) p. 569
Ticknor’s Spanish Literature
The appearance of a work like the present is an important event in our literary history. For completeness of plan, depth of learning, and thoroughness of execution, nothing superior has been produced in the English language, in our day. It will take at least an equal rank with either of the works of Hallam, and with the best historical productions of the continent. Mr. Ticknor has had ample time, abundant means, and every opportunity which travel and residence in Europe, and extensive acquaintance with the most eminent men in literature could give him. He has surveyed his subject in all its bearings with unwearied industry and the most conscientious determination to understand it thoroughly. Possessing a comprehensive knowledge of ancient and modern literature, he has been able to illustrate the literature of Spain by just comparisons, and to assign to it its true position in the history of the achievements of the human mind. The breadth of his culture and the catholic spirit with which all his judgments seem to have been formed, have saved* him from giving an undue importance or prominence to the literature for which he evidently has a strong predilection, and which he understands better than any scholar ever understood before. If we compare this work with
BSac 7:27 (July 1850) p. 570
the volumes of Sismondi and Bouterwek the best which had hitherto been published in Europe—we shall be at once aware of the immense superiority of Mr. Ticknor over all his rivals.
In his preface, written with candor and liberality, Mr. Ticknor gives an account of the origin and progress of this work. At an early period of his life, and while still pursuing his studies at the great seats of learning abroad, he was appointed Professor of French and Spanish literature in Harvard College. The lectures he gave after his return were the first form into which the results of his researches were cast. At a later period, Mr. Ticknor made a second visit to Europe, and used the opportunities thus afforded him, to complete the studies of preceding years, consulting the libraries, public and private, which were thrown open to him everywhere. His own collection of printed and manuscript works, connected with or constituting portions of Spanish literature is probably unrivalled in the world. Returning to the United States, he first undertook the preparation of his college lectures for the press, with such additional matter as he had recently collected. Further reflection, however, led him to change his plan entirely. The lectures were thrown aside, and a systematic work was commenced de novo, in which the whole subject is carefully laid out, and all the details wrought up with the most deliberate reference to the whole, and so...
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