As Shakespere is by far the greatest of all writers, ancient or modern, so he has been the subject of commentorial folly to an extent, which dwarfs the expense of that folly on any other single subject... [T]here is always the danger either that some mischievous notions may be left undisturbed by the neglect to notice them, or that the critic himself may be presumed to be ignorant of the foolishness of his predecessors. These inconveniences, however, must here be risked, and it may perhaps be thought that the necessity of risking them is a salutary one.-from "The Second Dramatic Period-Shakespere"George Saintsbury, one of the finest Victorian thinkers on literature, called the output of British writers in the years between 1560 and 1660 "the greatest period of the greatest literature of the world," and his insight and enthusiasm fills this sweeping survey of that era. The words of the Elizabethan writers alone-Marlowe, Spenser, Shakespeare, Bacon, Raleigh, Milton-would be a grand enough evocation of their brilliance, but Saintsbury's singing of their praises, for all its erudition and knowledge, is a glorious tribute to their genius. Poets, playwrights, and pamphleteers, all get their just due here, in a book that will thrill lovers of magnificent literature.British journalist and critic GEORGE EDWARD BATEMAN SAINTSBURY (1845-1933) was a regular contributor to the Saturday Review. His books include A Primer of French Literature (1880), the two-volume Essays in English Literature, 1780-1860 (1890-1895), and the three-volume A History of Criticism (1900-1904).