Writings by Susan Dickinson

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In criticism proper, I know not what recent book to rank
above Mr. W. C. Brownell's "Victorian Prose Masters,"
which includes critical studies of Thackeray, George Eliot,
Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Ruskin, and Mr. George Meredith.
An American desirous of vindicating the claim of his country-
men to a higher place in this kind of literature may
discreetly invite his English kinsman to read Mr. Brownell's
essay on Matthew Arnold. It is not too much to say of it
that he is inspired by Arnold himself, and has followed
Arnold into the library of Sainte-Beauve, Arnold's master.
He does Arnold the justice to apply to him his own standards
and methods of critical judgment. His examination of
Arnold's various claims to distinction and to permanent
influence on English thought is searching, rational, sympa-
thetic, and of wide range. It is not necessary always to agree
with Mr. Brownell, but it is impossible to read him without
seeing that he understands criticism, applies it intelligently
and boldly, follows his argumnets to their inevitable conclu-
sion, be that what it may, and gives you an illuminating
account of a great writer. And Mr. Brownell is a publisher
-- a very remarkable publisher indeed, in whose mind there is
no confusion between the two departments of business and

S.H.D. Commonplace Book (16:35:1),
Martha Dickinson Bianchi Collection,
John Hay Library, Brown University Libraries

March 12 / 02.

Dear Mrs. Dickinson,

Thank you every so much
for your thoughtfulness in sending me
the enclosed slip -- which I had not seen
and the last sentence of which is the
proudest moment of my life.

The winter has gone by
without my realizing it; the passage
of time has become so drearily mono-
tonous to me that, for lack of incident
to accent it, I hardly remark it.
The cold months and so much enforced
in-doors do not agree with Mrs. Brownell,
but she has been far better this year
than last and her very slow progress
is nevertheless incontestable.

I still entertain the purpose
of dropping in on you "tomorrow", but
my inertia is augmented by a great
pressure of work and cares. It is my
loss, so I feel less apologetic than
discontented -

Sincerely yours
W. C. Brownell.

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Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith,
Laura Elyn Lauth, and Lara Vetter, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on January 25, 2008

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