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C. GRONDHOUD AND P. ROORDA,
EDITORS' PREFACE TO THE SERIES.
One of the most fruitful sources from which the learner of a modern language derives his knowledge, is undeniably contemporary prose literature, and more particularly those works in which he is brought in contact with actual life. The importance of reading such works carefully is so obvious that it may be considered unnecessary to dwell upon it here.
Careful reading, however, is attended with considerable difficulties. Every book may be expected to treat of subjects and to contain expressions which are not at all, or but imperfectly, known to the reader, and a knowledge of which is absolutely necessary for a right understanding of the work in hand. If, therefore, the reading of the book is to produce its full share of enjoyment and the wished-for results, it is clear that all possible difficulties ought to be removed in one way or another, a thing which it may not be easy to do for want of access to fit sources of information, for want of time, or for some other reason. It is evident that, if reading is done without any assistance, the number of books that can be effectively got through, must be greatly restricted, especially if the time which can be given to the study of a language, is limited. As the advantage to be derived from careful reading is proportionate to the number of books read, it is of great importance that reading should be facilitated as much as possible.
An attempt to do so is made by the publication of this series of contemporary works, in which the editors will try to explain whatever may be supposed to present serious difficulties to somewhat advanced learners. It will in the first place consist of works which, besides being attractive and colloquial, contain 'subjects that give rise to remarks about English social institutions, customs, and manners.
Besides notes explanatory of the text there will, if necessary, be indications to remove difficulties of pronunciation. In the first number, Mr.
Meeson's Will, which is specially meant as an introduction to the series, also with regard to the notes, the indications are frequent, so that those who have mastered the ‘Key to the Symbols' will have an opportunity to improve, control, or perfect their pronunciation. Gradually, however, as the book advances, the indications become less frequent.
Each number, complete in itself, will contain an alphabetical index to the notes, to which, in order to facilitate research, the reader may be referred in the following numbers.
Any remarks offered in a kindly spirit will be thankfully accepted. It is specially requested that those who make use of the books, will communicate with the editors, if they meet with difficulties which have been left unexplained.
Henry Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham Hall, Norfolk in 1856. He was private secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer at Natal, and was subsequently on the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, H. M. Commissioner to the Transvaal, during the temporary annexation of that territory in 1877. He was afterwards appointed Master of the High Court of the Transvaal. At the commencement of the Zulu war he was adjutant-lieutenant of the Pretoria Horse. He began his career as an author with “Cetawayo and his White Neighbours” (1882), and subsequently wrote “Dawn”, “The Witch's Head”, and “King Solomon's Mines.” This won for him immense popularity, which was further increased by his romantic allegory “She”, “Mr. Meeson's Will”, “Maiwa's Revenge", "Colonel Quaritch, V. C.”, “Allan's Wife”, and “Cleopatra”. Then came “The World's Desire”, in collaboration with Mr. Andrew Lang, “Beatrice”, “Eric Bright-eyes”, “Nada the Lily”, “Montezuma's Daughter”, “The People of the Mist”, “Joan Haste” (1895), and "Heart of the World” (1896). At the general election of 1895 Mr. Haggard stood as a conservative candidate for East Norfolk, in which county he lives, but was not successful.
} April 1897.