11 NOVEMBER 1932, Page 28


W. Ward and A. R. Waller Originally available only in a large and justifiably expensive edition, The Cambridge History of English Literature can

now be purchased, in portable form, complete (Cambridge University Press, 15 vols., £3 3s. ; or separately 5s. a volume)

for less than the price of a dozen novels. As an enterprise of publishing, this has probably never before been equalled, let alone surpassed. The text is identical with that of the original edition ; the fifteenth volume is taken up by the general index which was brought out a few-years later. The only omission is that of the bibliographies, which are, we understand, to be incorporated in a forthcoming work. Under inexpert guidance, a history of this kind might have become either a conglomera- tion of the assorted opinions of individual writers or a pompous and respectable encyclopaedia, in which all the facts could be found but no information about them. Both fates were avoided. Thanks to the skill of the editors, and the excellence of the writers, we get a continuous picture of English literature from the earliest times down to the end of the nineteenth century in which we are aware of the formation, establish- ment, and progression of a tradition. The work is of a con- sistently high standard. If we may express a personal pre- ference. it is for the Eighth Volume, on " The Age of Dryden " ; in particular for Mr. Whibley's essay on " The Restoration Drama " ; buf the general effect is not that of a collection of chapters, however closely dependent, but of a single book, invaluable alike to scholars, students, and those engaged in the Sisyphean task of finding something of interest to read.