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Old and New Masters

Robert Lynd

Book Overview: 

Jane Austen, WB Yeats, Chesterton, Shaw... these are personal and intelligent short essays on a selection of great (and great-ish) writers: some well known, and some a bit more obscure to the average reader today. Robert Lynd is best known as a literary essayist and Irish nationalist. He published many essays, all written in an easy, conversational style. Lynd was an essayist after the manner of Charles Lamb, and deserves to be better known.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .He saw that the nation which is oppressed from within is in a far more hopeful condition than the nation which is oppressed from without. In his Tract he wrote:—

The difference between inbred oppression and that which is from without [i.e. imposed by foreigners] is essential; inasmuch as the former does not exclude, from the minds of the people, the feeling of being self-governed; does not imply (as the latter does, when patiently submitted to) an abandonment of the first duty imposed by the faculty of reason.

And he went on:—

If a country have put on chains of its own forging; in the name of virtue, let it be conscious that to itself it is accountable: let it not have cause to look beyond its own limits for reproof: and—in the name of humanity—if it be self-depressed, let it have its pride and some hope within itself. The poorest peasant, in an unsubdued land, feels this pride. I do not appeal to the example of Britain. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A few fascinating essays, but otherwise not that great.

Read Chapter 3 "Mr. G.K. Chesterton and Mr. Hilaire Belloc". It deals more with GK but after reading both recently this was an interesting comparison of the two. I missed on first reading of this chapter:

“It could truly be said of the English gentleman . . .that his honour stood rooted in dishonor.