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SUGGESTIONS

ON

TEACHING ENGLISH LITERATURE.

I.- METHOD FOR GRAMMAR SCHOOLS.

The following hints on the method of using this book are offered as helps to pupils, and to such teachers as have not a well-defined system of their own.

As the Classic English Reader is designed for use in two grades of schools differing considerably in the degree of preparedness of pupils for the study of these texts, — the Grammar School on the one hand, and the High School on the other, - it will be proper to indicate an elementary method for the former, and a more advanced method for the latter, in which pupils are pursuing simultaneously the study of Rhetoric and the History of English Literature.

I. In grammar school classes, the strictly chronological order of reading may, in the first going over, give place to an order based on the comparative ease of the classic. This principle would dictate that, for example, Longfellow and Whittier should be read before Shakespeare and Milton; Addison and Irving, before Burke and Thackeray.

II. The sketch preceding each author, —“Life and Works,” besides being used as a regular reading lesson, should receive sufficient study to make the pupil familiar with a few leading facts of the author's history,— his birth and death years, names of two or more of his chief works, etc. Then, as an occasional composition exercise, the pupils should be required to make a reproduction (“abstract from memory”) of these sketches; the merit of the exercise to be determined, not by the fidelity with which it reproduces the text, but by the degree in which the scholar has made a pleasing and coherent story expressed in his own language.

x

III. The general character of the selection may be noted : as, whether it is narration, description, exposition, or a mingling of the three; whether the piece is of the nature of the essay, or history, or oration, or romance, etc.; and of the poem, whether it is in rhyme blank verse. Brief elementary oral instruction by the teacher will enable the class to enlarge the scope of inquiry under this head.

IV. A study of selected words may be made, with respect to their derivation (here the Glossary at the end of the book will come into service), their shades of meaning, whether obsolete or living, their synonyms, etc.

V. A study of selected sentences may be made with reference to (a) Their nature grammatically considered: as, simple, complex,

etc.; declarative, interrogative, etc. (6) Their component parts, as shown by simple sentential

analysis. In the case of inverted sentences, the brief indication of their component parts (no minutiæ of analysis should be gone into) will often serve to elucidate what

would otherwise be obscure. (c) Their nature rhetorically considered; as, period or loose sen

tence. (d) The transformation of sentences from the rhetorical to the

direct order of words, and vice versa. (All the knowledge needed for these simple requirements will be found in

the Definitions, pages xiii-xvi). VI. Illustrations of the more common and useful figures of speech (such as are defined on pages xii, xiii) may be given.

VII. Selected passages should be assigned for reproduction, or “translation:” that is, for the expression of the same thought in different words. An admirable statement of the nature of this exercise will be found in the selection from Franklin's Autobiography, given on pages 168 et seq. of this volume. It was by this practice that Franklin acquired his singularly pure, simple, and graceful style.

II. - METHOD FOR HIGH SCHOOLS.1

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I. At the outset, the whole of a poem, sketch, essay, etc., should be read by the pupils, either at home or at school : this, with the view of forming a general conception of the production.

It will frequently be desirable to direct pupils to make a written abstract or brief analysis of the selection to be studied, so as to bring into prominence the framework of its structure. This will serve as an evidence whether the time allotted to preparation has been rightfully employed, thoroughly test the scholars' comprehension of the piece, and furnishi excellent practice in writing.

II. In the class-room exercise, let inquiry first be made : To which of the several kinds of composition ” (as classified in the rhetorical text-book) does this selection belong? then pass to the cardinal question, viz.,

III. What is the main object of the author in the whole poem, play, essay, oration, or other production under consideration? It is most important that the general meaning of every selection should be asked after, even when it seems obvious. When this is well discovered, the meaning of the parts should be inquired into, and their relation to the main idea investigated; that is, the unity of the piece should receive attention.

IV. In connection with the study of the subject matter of The piece, attention should be given to such minor but important details as, (a) The signification of rare, technical, or difficult terms. () The explanation of allusions, suggestions, references to mari

ners and customs, historical and biographical references, and the like.

1 This section is, in part, a condensation and re-arrangement of valuable suggestions contained in Boston School Document No. 29 (1877), and the introduction to Hales' Longer English Poems.

(c) The application of sentential analysis wherever such analy

sis will help elucidate the meaning of the more difficult
and involved passages.

It may be well, too, to show
something of the relations of logic - the grammar of
thought- to technical grammar, which has to do with

words, phrases, clauses, and sentences. (d) The matter of prosody or rhythm (in the case of the poetic

selections) should receive some attention; the amount

proportioned to the pupils' advancement in Rhetoric.
V. The elements of style should now be considered. These
have relation to
(a) The vocabulary, or diction, of the piece: the range and

character of the author's verbal repertory,-- whether pre-
dominantly Latin or Saxon, learned or simple, florid or
plain, etc. At this stage also the words may be examined

with reference to their origin, derivation, and formation.
(6) The structure of the sentence: whether period or loose;

studiously long or short; the balanced sentence; the con

densed sentence. (c) Figures of speech. Here again the extent to which the

study should be carried will of course depend on the

pupils' knowledge of Rhetoric. VI. The qualities of style may next be taken up. These may be viewed as, – (a) Intellectual qualities : simplicity and clearness. (6) Emotional qualities : strength, pathos, the ludicrous, etc. (c) Elegances of style: melody, harmony, taste.

VII. Lastly, a study of the author should be made with reference to (a) His personal history. (6) His times. (c) His character.

(d) His works. The biographical sketches in this work will be of some assistance; but the pupil should be encouraged and helped to go much farther, and every accessible source should be explored for material to be used in a written account of each author.

1

DEFINITIONS IN LANGUAGE STUDY.

I.

DEF. 1. A figure of speech is a deviation from the direct and literal mode of expression.

DEF. 2. A simile, or comparison, is the statement of a likeness between one thing and another; as,

The tear down childhood's cheek that flows

Is like the dewdrop on the rose. DEF. 3. A metaphor is a mode of speaking of one object as if it were another; as,

Virtue is a jewel. Simile and metaphor both express comparison. In the simile, one object is said to resemble another; and some sign of comparison (as, like, etc.) stands between them. In the metaphor, an object is spoken of as if it were another, and no sign of comparison is used. A metaphor is an implied simile. Thus, –

SIMILE. — He is like a lion in the fight.
METAPHOR. — He is a lion in the fight.

DEF. 4. Personification is the figure of speech in which an inanimate being is represented as animated, or endowed with personality; as,

The mountains sing together, the hills rejoice and clap hands. DEF. 5. Antithesis is the statement of a contrast or opposition of thoughts and words; as,

I do not live that I may eat, but I eat that I may live. Def. 6. Climax (meaning literally a ladder) is a series of statements rising in strength or importance until the last; as, –

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