English Literature Of The 19th Century:
Richard Doddridge Blackmore
Sir Walter Besant
Robert Louis Stevenson
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
A most pleasant writer of light verse and graceful essays, an able translator of Homer and French lyrics, a judicious exponent of anthropology, and many other important matters is found in the gifted Scotchman, Andrew Lang. He was born at Selkirk in 1844, and was educated at St. Andrews University and Balloil College, Oxford. He soon began to write for periodicals, and in 1872 published "Ballades and Lyrics of Old France." With some friends he began to imitate the forms of old French verse, introducing ballads, rondeaus, and villanelles. His "Ballades in Blue China," "Ballades and Verses Vain," "Rhymes Old and New," indicate by their titles their general light, airy quality, yet sometimes he attempts something of a higher kind, and performs it well. "Helen of Troy" (1882) is his most ambitious poem and should have led to something still grander. In the field of anthropology and comparative mythology he has been an earnest worker, as is shown by his volumes, "Custom and Myth" (1884) and "Myth, Ritual, and Religion" (1887). He proves that many myths, long held to be of Aryan origin, are practically found among savage tribes in various parts of the earth. Lang is a fine classical scholar, as he has shown not only in his excellent prose translations of Theocritus and Homer, but also in numerous lively essays by quotation and allusion. Yet he is by no means so wedded to the ancients as not to have regard for the modern classics. From foreign lands he has brought into English some fine collections of fairy tales, as in the "Blue Fairy Book" and the "Red Fairy Book." His essays on French literature are valuable contributions to that department. "The Mark of Cain" (1886) is a caricature of the sensational story, which was then largely in vogue. But he has also seriously attempted historical romance in "The Maid of Fife" (1895), which has Joan of Arc as the central figure. He has written some excellent biographies, as the lives of Lord Iddesleigh (better known as Sir Strafford Northcote) and of Lockhart. He has also edited many selections of standard literature, writing excellent introductions.