The Political Novel: Its Development in England and in America

The Political Novel: Its Development in England and in America

The Political Novel: Its Development in England and in America

The Political Novel: Its Development in England and in America

Excerpt

Men -- so we have been told since the days of Plato -- need not so much to be informed as to be reminded. In times like ours, when public matters have perforce been painted before the national consciousness in huge brush-strokes, it seems as necessary to revalue the significance of any literary type whose raison-d'etre lies altogether in the world of Anglo- Saxon political thought, as it has been essential for political historians to reconsider the status of political institutions both in England and upon the Continent because of the changes imposed by a World War. In the Representation of the People Act of 1918 England marked a great step in the transformation of her domestic government; the new status of Ireland, Egypt, India, and the Near East shows a vital modification of the old imperialistic policies. With this new revaluation has come, furthermore, a fresh curiosity. Orthodox opinions about certain Victorians have been challenged. This is observable in a definitive life of Lord Salisbury; a new emphasis is revealed by Mr. Lytton Strachey in his successful Life of Queen Victoria; reputations of English statesmen of the time of the Pitts, and Burke, and Walpole have been dissected anew; and, finally, a remarkable history of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, has been brought to a conclusion. The "gentleman with a duster" who plied it so vigorously upon the mirrors of Downing Street in behalf of "noble polities and fair estates," must, we feel certain, have borrowed the duster from a Victorian closet. There only, could have come his old-fashioned dignity and morality.

In our own time the average man shows an almost extraordinary interest in matters political. The profound historical . . .

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