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The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
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The Orange Fairy Book
Edited by Andrew Lang


Preface



The children who read fairy books, or have fairy books read to them, do
not read prefaces, and the parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who
give fairy books to their daughters, nieces, and cousines, leave
prefaces unread. For whom, then, are prefaces written? When an author
publishes a book 'out of his own head,' he writes the preface for his
own pleasure. After reading over his book in print--to make sure that
all the 'u's' are not printed as 'n's,' and all the 'n's' as 'u's' in
the proper names--then the author says, mildly, in his preface, what he
thinks about his own book, and what he means it to prove--if he means
it to prove anything--and why it is not a better book than it is. But,
perhaps, nobody reads prefaces except other authors; and critics, who
hope that they will find enough in the preface to enable them to do
without reading any of the book.

This appears to be the philosophy of prefaces in general, and perhaps
authors might be more daring and candid than they are with advantage,
and write regular criticisms of their own books in their prefaces, for
nobody can be so good a critic of himself as the author--if he has a
sense of humour. If he has not, the less he says in his preface the
better.

These Fairy Books, however, are not written by the Editor, as he has