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A History Of English Prose Fiction (Fiscal Part I)

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User: AR
A History Of English Prose Fiction (Fiscal Part I)
In The Midst Of An Age Of Gloom And Anarchy, When Feudalism Was Slowly
Building Up A New Social Organization On The Ruins Of The Roman Empire,
Arose That Spirit Of Chivalry, Which, In Its Connection With The
Christian Religion, Forms So Sharp A Division Between The Sentiments Of
Ancient And Modern Times. Following Closely On The Growth Of Chivalry
As An Institution, There Came Into Being A Remarkable Species Of
Fiction, Which Reflected With Great Faithfulness The Character Of The
Age, And Having Formed For Three Centuries The Principal Literary
Entertainment Of The Knighthood Of Europe, Left On The New
Civilization, And The New Literature Which Had Outgrown And Discarded
It, Lasting Traces Of Its Natural Beauty. Into The General Fund Of
Chivalric Romance Were Absorbed The Learning And Legend Of Every Land.
From The Gloomy Forests And Bleak Mountains Of The North Came Dark And
Terrible Fancies, Malignant Enchanters, And Death-Dealing Spirits,
Supposed To Haunt The Earth And Sea; From Arabia And The East Came
Gorgeous Pictures Of Palaces Built Of Gold And Precious Stones, Magic
Rings Which Transport The Bearer From Place To Place, Love-Inspiring
Draughts, Dragons And Fairies; From Ancient Greece And Rome Came
Memories Of The Heroes And Mysteries Of Mythology, Like Old Coins Worn
And Disfigured By Passing, Through Ages, From Hand To Hand, But Still
Bearing A Faint Outline Of Their Original Character. All This Mass Of
Fiction Was Floating Idly In The Imaginations Of Men, Or Worked As An
Embellishment Into The Rude Numbers Of The Minstrels, When The Mediaeval
Romancers Gathered It Up, And Interweaving It With The Traditions Of
Arthur And Charlemagne, Produced Those Strange Compositions Which Are
So Entirely The Product And Repository Of The Habits, Superstitions,
And Sympathies Of The Middle Ages That They Serve To

"Hold The Mirror Up To Nature,
To Show Vice Its Own Image, Virtue Its Own Likeness,
And The Very Age And Body Of The Times,
His Form And Pressure."

The Men Who Wrote, And The Men Who Read These Romances, The First
Springs Of Our Modern Fiction, Were Influenced By Two Dominant Ideas:
"One Religious, Which Had Fashioned The Gigantic Cathedrals, And Swept
The Masses From Their Native Soil To Hurl Them Upon The Holy Land; The
Other Secular, Which Had Built Feudal Fortresses, And Set The Man Of
Courage Erect And Armed Within His Own Domain."[1] These Two Ideas Were
Outwardly Expressed In The Roman Church And The Feudal System.

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