Introduction

‘In the weakening of their interest in European literature, the chief part, in my opinion, was played by that branch of modern writing known by the name of novels.

‘These famous novels of theirs consist mainly, as I have already said, of long descriptions, in various forms, of the course of a malady which has arisen among contemporary people and which, owing to their weakness and will­lessness, lasts rather a long time.

‘The Asiatic people, who are not as yet so far removed from Mother Nature, recognize with their consciousness that this psychic state which arises in both men and women is unworthy of human beings in general, and is particularly degrading for a man —and instinctively, they assume an attitude of contempt toward such people.

‘And as regards the other branches of European literature, such as the scientific, the descriptive, and other forms of instructive exposition, the Asiatic, having lost to a lesser degree the ability to feel, that is to say, standing closer to nature, half­-consciously feels and instinctively senses the writer’s complete lack of any knowledge of reality and of any genuine understanding of the subject he is writing about.

‘And so because of all this the Asiatic people, after first manifesting a great interest in European literature, gradually stopped paying any attention to it, and at the present time disregard it completely; whereas among the European peoples, the shelves of their public and private libraries and bookshops are groaning from the daily increasing number of new books.

‘The question must doubtless arise in many of you as to how what I have just said can be reconciled with the fact that an overwhelming majority of the people of Asia are illiterate in the strict sense of the word.

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