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HISTORY treats chiefly of the deeds of a people; literature records their thoughts and feelings. It is thus intimately connected with the intellectual life of a nation, of which it is the product and expression. No literature is fully intelligible without an acquaintance with the conditions under which it originated. The three leading factors that determine its character are race, epoch, and surroundings. Each race has its fundamental traits, which give it individuality in the world. The Teuton, with his serious, reflective, persistent temper, is quite different from the Celt, with his vivacity, wit, and ready enthusiasm. These differences are naturally reflected in the literature of the two races.
Again, every age has its peculiar interests, culture, and tendencies. Literature cannot divorce itself from the spirit of the time in which it is produced. For instance, the dramas of Shakespeare, which reflect all the intellectual wealth and freedom of the age of Elizabeth, could not have been written in the rude period of the Norman Conquest.
The third great formative principle in literature is environment, or physical and social conditions. The lit