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Book Reviews
Collected Prefaces
By: Nicholas Haggaer - O-Books, $39.95

Description: Nicholas Hagger’s 55 books include innovatory works on literature, history, philosophy and international politics. In his first published literary work he revived the Preface, which had fallen into disuse after Wordsworth and Shelley.

He went on to write Prefaces (sometimes called Prologues, Introductions or Introductory Notes) for all his subsequent books.

Collected Prefaces, a collection of 55 Prefaces (excluding the Preface to this book), sets out his thinking and the reader can follow the development of his philosophy of Universalism (of which he is the main exponent), his literary approach (particularly his combination of Romanticism and Classicism which he calls neo-Baroque) and his metaphysical thinking.

Verdict: Taking it from the top, so to speak, a Preface, Prologue, and Foreword are all a part of a book’s front matter, the introductory pages of a book before the main text — often numbered with Roman numerals — that include the title page and table of contents.

The introduction also comes before the first chapter, though it is not considered part of the front matter. Despite their close proximity, Prefaces, Prologues, Forewords, and even Introductions serve very different purposes.

Typically found in works of fiction, a Prologue is usually written from a character’s point of view (either the main character or a character who brings a different perspective to the story).

This introductory passage gives the reader additional information that will help their comprehension of the rest of the book. This can include background information on characters, events that took place before the story begins, or information that establishes the setting of the story.

A book’s Introduction is closely related to the content of the book itself. Usually found in nonfiction work, the introduction may summarize the main argument presented in the rest of the book, define any important terms, or fill in background details.

The Introduction is actually considered to be part of the body of the book, so it is represented with Arabic numerals—as opposed to the front matter, which uses Roman page numbers (this is one of the primary differences when it comes to Preface vs. Introduction).

In fiction, the Introduction may not be part of the story itself, but it may instead provide context or deepen the meaning of the main action.

A Foreword is an introductory section of a book written by someone other than the author. The writer of the Foreword is usually a prominent figure like an expert on the subject matter, a New York Times bestselling author, or a prominent critic of literary work.

A Foreword, which appears before chapter one, lends credibility to the book and author by praising the work, the writer, or both. A Foreword can sometimes be a type of literary marketing tool publishers use to increase the profile of a book and attract casual readers, who may decide that a published book is worth reading based on the endorsement of the Foreword’s author.

Forewords may also accompany new editions of previously published works.

And then we get the Preface. Most often found in nonfiction books or academic writing, a Preface is a short introductory essay written from the point of view of the author. The author might use the preface to explain why they are qualified to write about the book’s subject matter.

The author’s Preface may also be used for other specific functions, such as explaining how they became interested in the subject of the book and why they chose to write about it.

But there is usually nothing short about Nicholas Hagger’s Prefaces as they can be read as essays, and as in T.S. Eliot’s Selected Essays there is an interaction between adjacent Prefaces that brings an entirely new perspective to Hagger’s works. These Prefaces cover an enormous range. Hagger is a Renaissance man at home in many disciplines. His Universalism focuses on humankind’s relationship to the whole universe as reflected in seven key disciplines seen as wholes: the whole of literature, history, philosophy and the sciences, mysticism, religion, international politics and statecraft and world culture.

Behind all the Prefaces is Hagger’s fundamental perception of the unity of the universe as the One and of humankind’s position in it. Covering noted topics as The Warm Glow of the Monastery Courtyard, A Smell of Leaves and Summer, Wheeling Bats and a Harvest Moon, The Secret History of the West, The Last Tourist in Iran, The New Philosophy of Universalism and amongst a whole smorgasbord of others, A Spade Fresh with Mud, Life Cycle and Other New Poems, The First Dazzling Chill of Winter and Armageddon.

Furthermore, these Prefaces complement his Selected Letters, a companion volume also published by O-Books, and contain startling insights that illumine and send readers to the works the Prefaces introduce.

About the Author - Nicholas Hagger is the author of more than 50 books that include a substantial literary output and innovatory works within history, philosophy, literature and international politics and statecraft.

As a man of letters he has written over 2,000 poems, two poetic epics, five verse plays, 1,200 short stories, two travelogues and three masques. In 2016 he was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize for Literature, and in 2019 the BRICS silver medal for Vision for Future. He lives in Essex, UK.

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