Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 324

GREAT AMERICAN AUTHORS
A FORWARD LOOK

a capital letter. The "Short Story of the Day" printed in the newspaper is not necessarily literature just because it is a story that is printed. It might be literature, just as Miss Annie Belle's verses in the poetry corner, might be.
The big thing, he said, was simply this: That we value as literature an account, told in beautiful and simple language, of something that someone has seen for himself and taken the trouble to express in such a way as to bring delight and profit to others. It might be a description of a flower, or of a bird, or of a storm. It might be a story of a noble deed. It might be verse or prose. But it must have truth, being a record of what the author has seen for himself. It, must have beauty, for its purpose is not merely to give you information like the cookbook or the catalogue or the dictionary. And, last of all, it must have vision, that is, it must have the power of opening your eyes to things that you might not see otherwise, the power of appealing to your imagination and your feelings.
Some day, Uncle said, he would tAlk to you more about these three qualities of truth, beauty, and vision, as tests of what is literature. But now there was time for only one thing. You loved to read Jennie's essay because you knew Jennie. Very likely you would love to hear Miss Annie Belle Lee's "Author's Reading" because you knew Miss Annie Belle. So there was this thing that added greatly to your pleasure in reading. If you could 3nly know Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Whittier, and Mr. Holmes, just as you knew Jennie and Miss Annie Belle Lee, how much more thrilling it would be to read their books.
This knowledge you can get. Here are some stories about men whom all Americans love and recognize as their own great authors. Here, also, are some poems and prose selections that they wrote, and which have these qualities of truth and beauty and vision. Take your Magic Wand of Reading and imagine that these great men are here in this quiet room with you. You will not be afraid of them, for they are simple and sincere and kindly. And they will talk with you and tell you of some of the beauty they have found in life.

travel books:
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