ESSAYS IN LITERARY CRITICISM by George Santayana

ESSAYS IN LITERARY CRITICISM

KIRKUS REVIEW

A gathering together of Santayana's widely scattered essays which leads off with his well-known masterpiece, Three Philosophical Poets (Lucretius, Dante and Goethe). There is a sympathetic essay on Shelley, whom Santayana understood deeply. There's a study of the absence of religious themes in Shakespeare, which seems disappointingly obtuse. He treats The Homeric Hymns with enthusiasm and originality:- "Platonic Love in Some Italian Poets", "Hints of Egotism in Goethe", "The Folly of Barbarism", "Emerson", etc. There are extracts from the preface to The Last Puritan and other longer works. This is a useful compendium, interesting but with outstanding shortcomings. Santayana is too important to be excerpted or abridged. One either likes him in toto or rejects him. (This is the opinion of our reader. Frankly, our personal opinion is that many who would never approach Santayana "in toto" would venture on reading such a skillful piece of editing as this- and then, perhaps, go back to the original complete text.)...Santayana's point of view is apparent throughout:- his peculiar mixture of classicism, naturalism and idealism, blended with a modified Catholicism; his intense Platonism; his lack of passion, but his sensitive sympathy to many periods and types; a profusion of ideas and reactions. This will be welcomed by his sympathizers, and emphasize his place in the forefront of literary critics.
Pub Date: June 15th, 1956
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1956




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