The principle of inclusion in this book is the traditional one which assumes that criticism is only safe when it deals with authors who are dead. In proportion as we approach the living or, worse, speak of those still on earth, the proper perspective is lost and the dangers of contemporary judgment incurred. The light-minded might add, that the dead cannot strike back; to pass judgment upon them is not only more critical but safer.Sometimes, however, the distinction between the living and the dead is an invidious one.
Contents: Fiction and the Novel -- Eighteenth Century Beginnings: Richardson -- Eighteenth Century Beginnings: Fielding -- Developments: Smollett, Sterne and Others -- Realism: Jake Austen -- Modern Romanticism: Scott -- French Influence -- Dickens -- Thackeray -- George Eliot -- Trollope and Others -- Hardy and Meredith -- Stevenson -- The American Contribution
e are now ready for a fair working definition of the modern Novel. It means a study of contemporary society with an implied sympathetic interest, and, it may be added, with special reference to love as a motor force, simply because love it is which binds together human beings in their social relations.
This aim sets off the Novel in contrast with past fiction which exhibits a free admixture of myth and marvel, of creatures human, demi-human and supernatural, with all time or no time for the enactment of its events. The modern story puts its note of emphasis upon character that is contemporary and average; and thus makes a democratic appeal against that older appeal which, dealing with exceptional personages--kings, leaders, allegorical abstractions--is naturally aristocratic.
There was something, it would appear, in the English genius which favored a form of literature--or modification of an existing form--allowing for a more truthful representation of society, a criticism (in the Arnoldian sense) of th