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xviii                    INTRODUCTION
any kind upon the stage. This superlative opinion has been expressed, at one time or another in the last ten years, by nearly all the leading critics of the leading nations. But the very perfectness of her art might allure the public to fall into the heresy of thinking that effects produced with such apparent ease have been arrived at without antecedent effort. This little book will demonstrate, however, that nothing is easy in art, and that the appearance of spontaneity can be acquired only by long years of earnest study and indefatigable practice.
Madame Yvette Guilbert was always a great woman. She told me once that, owing to the ad­vantages of her birth and bringing-up in the bour­geoisie, or working-class, of Paris, she knew nearly as much of human life and understood nearly as much of human character at the early age of fourteen as she knows and understands to-day. She was gifted by nature with the penetrating faculty of observation and the world-embracing faculty of sympathy. But these gifts alone could never have made her the perfect artist that she has become. Dante said of his century of cantos that the labor of them had kept him lean for twenty years; and Madame Yvette Guilbert has devoted even a longer time than that to the tireless task of perfecting the technique of her art.
The author of How to Sing a Song is not accus­tomed to write books, nor does she aspire to any literary laurels. Furthermore, in the present in­stance, she is writing in an unfamiliar language, less fitted than her own to express the many move-

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III