Babes in the Darkling Wood: A Novel

Babes in the Darkling Wood: A Novel

Babes in the Darkling Wood: A Novel

Babes in the Darkling Wood: A Novel

Excerpt

It is characteristic of most literary criticism to be carelessly uncritical of the terms it uses and violently partisan and dogmatic in its statements about them. No competent Linnaeus has ever sat down to sort out the orders and classes, genera and varieties, of fiction, and no really sane man ever will. They have no fixed boundaries; all sorts interbreed as shamelessly as dogs, and they pass at last by indefinite gradations into more or less honest fact telling, into "historical reconstruction," the roman à clef, biography, history and autobiography. So the literary critic, confronted with a miscellany of bookish expression far more various than life itself, has an excellent excuse for the looseness of his vocabulary, if not for his exaltations and condemnations. Unhappily he insists on adopting types for his preference and he follows fashions. My early life as a naive, spontaneous writer was much afflicted by the vehement advocacy by Henry James II, Joseph Conrad, Edward Garnett and Ford Madox Hueffer, of something called The Novel, and by George Moore of something called The Short Story. There were all sorts of things forbidden for The Novel; there must be no explanation of the ideas animating the characters, and the author himself had to be as invisible and unheard-of as God; for no conceivable reason. So far as The Short Story went, it gave George Moore the consolation of calling Kipling's stories, and in fact any short stories that provoked his ready jealousy, "anecdotes." Novelists were arranged in order of merit that made the intelligent reader doubt his own intelligence, and the idea of "Progress" was . . .

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