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The Idea of Europe

 | 
Catriona Seth
, 
Rotraud von Kulessa

75. Multiple Influences

Texte intégral

1A true European, with ties to Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Italy, a close friend of Germaine de Staël and other members of the Groupe de Coppet, Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde de Sismondi, when he undertakes to present the literature of southern Europe, recognises the importance of several traditions he regrets not to be able to master completely. His book gives a considerable place to Arab philosophy, poetry and science as motors of cultural development.

2I am ignorant of the Oriental languages, and yet it was the Arabian which, in the middle ages, gave a new impulse to the literature of Europe, and changed the course of the human mind. I am ignorant, likewise, of the Slavonic tongues, and yet the Russian and the Polish boast of literary treasures, a brief account of which I could present to my readers only on the authority of others. Amongst the Teutonic languages I am acquainted with the English and the German alone; and the literature of Holland, Denmark and Sweden, is only accessible to me in an imperfect manner, through the medium of German translations. Still, the languages of which I shall give a summary account, are those in which there exist the greatest number of masterpieces, and which at the same time possess the most original and novel spirit; and, indeed, even with these restrictions, the ground which I intend to traverse is still sufficiently extensive.

3Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde de Sismondi,
Historical View of the Literature of the South of Europe (1813).

Read the free English text online (1871 edition):
https://books.google.co.uk/​books?id=KrJIAQAAMAAJ&dq=sismondieuroperacine&hl=fr&pg=PA26
Read the free text in the original language (1837 edition):
https://books.google.fr/​books?id=LLnJzFIoWcoC&&printsec=frontcover