With a critical introduction by James Fitzmaurice-Kelly.
n may be as tenable as any other. But it may be well to observe at the outset that the creative work of the Goncourts is not to be condemned or praised en bloc, for the simple reason that it is not a spontaneous, uniform product, but the resultant of diverse forces varying in direction and intensity from time to time. They themselves have recorded that there are three distinct stages in their intellectual evolution. Beginning, under the influence of Heine and Poe, with purely imaginative conceptions, they rebounded to the extremest point of realism before determining on the intermediate method of presenting realistic pictures in a poetic light. Pure imagination in the domain of contemporary fiction seemed to them defective, inasmuch as its processes are austerely logical, while life itself is compact of contradictions; and their first reaction from it was entirely natural, on their own principles. It remains to be seen what sense should be attached to the formula--la recherche du vrai en