Monday, May 17, 2010

Reason and Fancy

I do not mean to recommend books of an abstracted or grave cast. There are in our language many, in which instruction and amusement are blended; the Adventurer is of this kind. I mention this book on account of its beautiful allegories and affecting tales, and similar ones may easily be selected. Reason strikes most forcibly when illustrated by the brilliancy of fancy. The sentiments which are scattered may be observed, and when they are relished, and the mind set to work, it may be allowed to chuse books for itself, for every thing will then instruct.

Mary Wollstonecraft, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters. I take it that The Adventurer meant here is the periodical put forward by John Hawkesworth, mostly written by Hawkesworth himself, but to which Samuel Johnson was also a contributor -- very Johnsonian in approach, which is no doubt why it is recommended by Wollstonecraft. You can get a taste of its literary mix of essays and stories here. Another work that Wollstonecraft recommends for similar reasons, although for younger children, is Dorothy Kilner's classic children's story, The Perambulations of a Mouse.

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