to MAN & HIS MEASURE
A Thematic Anthology edited by Francis Connolly
AIM of this book is
to offer some representative writings that, taken individually, will provide
genuine enjoyment and, taken together, will direct the reader's attention to the
perennial questions: What is man? What
is his measure? This aim
presupposes that literary achievement consists in good part of an imaginative
realization of what these questions imply.
It presupposes, too, that the surest way to excite interest in literary
technique and scholarship is to exhibit the permanent concern of literature for
man's permanent questions.
design of this anthology is thematic. The
theme is "man and his measure." Part One, 'What Is Man?" shows
how literature, in various forms (drama, essay, short story, and poem) and in
its full range from the classical period to the present, explores the question:
What does it mean to be a man? The
selections in "The Beginning of Awareness," demonstrate that man is
intellectually aware; he sees, feels, thinks, and responds to his experiences.
The selections in "The Heroic Image," show how this awareness
gives rise to aspiration: man hopes to achieve his full human destiny, and thus
he models himself according to various heroic, or anti-heroic, patterns.
Some inevitable consequences of his aspirations are defeat, fear, and
suffering. The tragic experiences
from which he may derive a purer sense of his selfhood and of his common
humanity are described in the selections in "The Tragic Experience."
Part One, then, the reader may trace man's development as it is reflected in and
through literature from an initial awareness of experience and language to an
awareness of his own awareness--that is, to a fuller consciousness of his many
powers of sensation, feeling, thought, and expression.
Man is aware, man hopes and aspires.
Man weeps, he laughs, he reflects upon, and words his experiences. But
this paradigm hardly exhausts the mystery of man.
Nor does it supply the measure according to which we may estimate the
value of his experiences.
Part Two, "What Is Man's Measure?" focuses on literature that embodies
a "morality of aspiration," that searches for measures of intellectual
excellence, moral integrity, and happiness.
'The Measure of Justice," records man's struggle to be just in his
relations with society, with the state, with governments, with his fellow man,
and, above all, with his own conscience.
who use this book will want to stress the relevance of literature to human
needs; still others the importance of understanding that literature as a whole
is a continuous dialogue between past and present.
A central purpose of Man and His
Measure is to challenge the student to think in a personal way about the
most important problems of human existence, to provide a context within which be
can develop his thoughts, and, above all, to encourage him to write, and thus to
enter, however modestly, into that continuous civilized conversation we call
humane literature. The key word here is search. Search implies
that we approach literature with questions like Who am I? Who ought I to become? What
do I know? What ought I to know?
It may be that many readers will find some of the answers they seek.
It is certain, however, that all readers will discover that seeking is
finding, especially when their seeking advances in depth and perspective.
To ask questions is to foreshadow answers.
For we cannot seek, we cannot question without first possessing, however
obscurely, some intuition into the meanings that are both the incentives and the
goals of our study.
[English IV AP]