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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1897,
By D. B. SHEPP,
All rights reserved.
GREAT BOOK,” said an ancient Greek philosopher, “is a
great evil.” Never were truer words. They must be properly interpreted, no doubt. Some books must of
necessity be large, and yet are by no means evil. But when a book can be put into smaller compass, and yet is not, but is made bulky and voluminous, the evil is apparent. That which is good in the book is so hidden away that it cannot be found. Men cannot spare time to read so big a book, and thus they altogether fail to get the instruction and the entertainment that are buried within its pages. The light of truth is hidden beneath the bushel of useless verbiage.
The present work is the result of an earnest attempt to correct such ill conditions. How many are there, in these busy days, who can find time to read through the great masterpieces of fiction, the innumerable volumes of poetry, the sublime dramas of Shakespeare, the detailed history of the world? To do so would require that a man forsake all else and give his life up to this one task. Yet how dearly would every appreciative mind love to be stored with such intellectual treasures ! And how desirable it is that such knowledge and entertainment should be placed within the reach of even the busiest man!
It is confidently believed that it is thus placed in “Shepp's Giant Library.” With scholarly and reverential care, the best masterpieces of the world's literature have here been put into such compass as will make them universally accessible. They have not been dwarfed or mutilated. They have merely been freed from the superfluous wrappings that shut in the kernel of essential truth from the reach of the average reader. Of every one the full spirit is preserved in all its vital force, and with it far more of the letter than one man in a thousand is ever able to master and remember from the unabridged work.
Beginning with the Book of Books, the Bible, the complete story of Divine dealings with man is given in a simple, direct and convincing manner, from the creation of the world to the revelation of its end. In like manner, the general history of the world is rehearsed, down to the present day, with such mingled accuracy, conciseness, completeness and charm of narration as may nowhere else be found. A whole library of the masterpieces of fiction, in the literature of many lands, is also given, within the easy compass of a single volume. The tales of Shakespeare's greatest dramas form another volume of surpassing value. Under the head of “Famous Orations” will be found an authentic collection of those flights of oratory that have, in many lands and ages and on innumerable varying occasions, thrilled and convinced the minds of listening multitudes. Yet another volume presents the choicest gems of poetry, epic and lyric, in all the range of universal literature.
Nor are the other achievements of human genius forgotten. The divine art of music is represented in a whole library of selected compositions, for voice and instruments, including everything of assured merit from the best beloved folk-songs to the most sublime symphony. Pictorial art, too, has its place. By the side of the library is the gallery, in which are exhibited the most perfect reproductions ever made of the great paintings which adorn the walls of royal palaces and imperial museums. From Paris, from Dresden, from London, from Berlin, from every art centre in the world these lovely creations have been gathered with artistic discrimination. In addition to these latter, all the books of the Library are profusely and appropriately illustrated in the best manner of which artistic genius is capable.
Let it not be imagined that this is mere vainglorious boasting. The Library is open for actual inspection. It will be found to contain all that has been said, and far more. He who has it may be regardless of many another book. He will have in it all he could hope to get from years of delving in innumerable musty tomes, all he could hear in many seasons of operas and concerts, all he could see in years of wandering amid distant galleries of art. All this he may have at his own fireside, and find time to enjoy amid the busiest moments of the busiest day. It is with pardonable pride that such a work is laid before the public, and with ample confidence that those who look into it will testify that “the half was never told.”
“Of making many books,” said the Preacher, “there is no end, and much study is a weariness to the flesh.” But here are many books combined in one, and here is that which will give all the advantages and benefactions of much study with no weariness to either mind or flesh. Such is “Shepp's Giant Library.” Such only need be its introduction to the public.