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The Story of Roland (Classic Reprint)

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The fairyland of romance is not far removed from the more sober domains of history. Indeed, the territory of the one sometimes overlaps that of the others and the boundary line between them is often dim and ill-denned. This truth is illustrated in the legends which hare come down to us from the middle ages. In tiiose rude, uncultured times, men did not cu greatly to sift fact from fiction, nor to pry into the likelihood of things. No matter how improbable a story might be, if it were pleasing to them, they never thought of questioning its truth. Most of the earlier legends began in song: they were sung or recited by wandering bards or minstrels long before they were written down. They have in them usually some slender thread- of real history, so covered over with traditions, and mixed up with mysteries and marvels, that it is impossible to know how much is fact, and how much is fable. We read them chiefly to learn how the men of those far-off cloudy days thought and felt, what they believed, and with what kind of literature they were entertained. Yet if we remove the dress and impurities which obscure the fairer and nobler parts of these legends, and adapt them to our own modes of thinking and expression, we shall not fail to find some things that will instruct, and many that will please.

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