Archive for February, 2016

Frederick A. Laing – Elementary History of English Literature
1873
ISBN 978-606-760-038-4
Edited by
George Sandulescu and Lidia Vianu

Langue et civilisation

In this “Shakespeare Year”, Contemporary Literature Press has chosen to revive an old book that revolves around the author of Hamlet in many ways. It was published by Frederick A. Laing in Collins’ School Series almost 150 years ago, in the year 1873.
This book is-as Laing himself describes it-an “elementary” history of literature, in the sense that it is meant to provide “the junior pupil with tasks he will find easy to prepare, and the teacher with lessons he will find easy to examine”.
Since the book appeared quite a while before the end of the 19th century, the necessary distance from Victorianism is absent. The subsequent writers are inevitably absent, too.
During the last 40 years, fewer and fewer histories of literature have been written. One possible cause is the contemporary need to specialize in a particular field. The old approach to a foreign language as langue et civilisation sounds irritatingly old-fashioned to present-day teachers.
Laing uses that approach. Rather than offer detailed information, he prefers to make his pupils read excerpts taken from the English writers themselves. We certainly hope that these writers’ langue will, once again, whet the appetite of young readers for the English civilisation. Read the rest of this entry »