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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 179 pages of information about Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works.

By Ernest Rhys

MADE AT THE TEMPLE

PRESS LETCHWORTH IN GREAT BRITAIN

Victor Hugo said a Library was “an act of faith,” and some unknown essayist spoke of one so beautiful, so perfect, so harmonious in all its parts, that he who made it was smitten with a passion.  In that faith the promoters of Everyman’s Library planned it out originally on a large scale; and their idea in so doing was to make it conform as far as possible to a perfect scheme.  However, perfection is a thing to be aimed at and not to be achieved in this difficult world; and since the first volumes appeared, now several years ago, there have been many interruptions.  A great war has come and gone; and even the City of Books has felt something like a world commotion.  Only in recent years is the series getting back into its old stride and looking forward to complete its original scheme of a Thousand Volumes.  One of the practical expedients in that original plan was to divide the volumes into sections, as Biography, Fiction, History, Belles Lettres, Poetry, Romance, and so forth; with a compartment for young people, and last, and not least, one of Reference Books.  Beside the dictionaries and encyclopaedias to be expected in that section, there was a special set of literary and historical atlases.  One of these atlases dealing with Europe, we may recall, was directly affected by the disturbance of frontiers during the war; and the maps had to be completely revised in consequence, so as to chart the New Europe which we hope will now preserve its peace under the auspices of the League of Nations set up at Geneva.  That is only one small item, however, in a library list which runs already to the final centuries of the Thousand.  The largest slice of this huge provision is, as a matter of course, given to the tyrannous demands of fiction.  But in carrying out the scheme, publishers and editors contrived to keep in mind that books, like men and women, have their elective affinities.  The present volume, for instance, will be found to have its companion books, both in the same section and even more significantly in other sections.  With that idea too, novels like Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Fortunes of Nigel, Lytton’s Harold and Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, have been used as pioneers of history and treated as a sort of holiday history books.  For in our day history is tending to grow more documentary and less literary; and “the historian who is a stylist,” as one of our contributors, the late Thomas Seccombe, said, “will soon be regarded as a kind of Phoenix.”  But in this special department of Everyman’s Library we have been eclectic enough to choose our history men from every school in turn.  We have Grote, Gibbon, Finlay, Macaulay, Motley, Frescott.  We have among earlier books the Venerable Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, have completed a Livy in an admirable new

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