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Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, Vol. 1
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The plan of this Work is simple, and yet it is novel. In its distinctive features it differs from any compilation that has yet been made. Its main purpose is to present to American households a mass of good reading. But it goes much beyond this. For in selecting this reading it draws upon all literatures of all time and of every race, and thus becomes a conspectus of the thought and intellectual evolution of man from the beginning. Another and scarcely less important purpose is the interpretation of this literature in essays by scholars and authors competent to speak with authority.
The title, "A Library of the World's Best Literature," is strictly descriptive. It means that what is offered to the reader is taken from the best authors, and is fairly representative of the best literature and of all literatures. It may be important historically, or because at one time it expressed the thought and feeling of a nation, or because it has the character of universality, or because the readers of to-day will find it instructive, entertaining, or amusing. The Work aims to suit a great variety of tastes, and thus to commend itself as a household companion for any mood and any hour. There is no intention of presenting merely a mass of historical material, however important it is in its place, which is commonly of the sort that people recommend others to read and do not read themselves. It is not a library of reference only, but a library to be read. The selections do not represent the partialities and prejudices and cultivation of any one person, or of a group of editors even; but, under the necessary editorial supervision, the sober judgment of almost as many minds as have assisted in the preparation of these volumes. By this method, breadth of appreciation has been sought.
Charles Dudley Warner