Development of the English Novel

Development of the English Novel

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Development of the English Novel

Development of the English Novel

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Excerpt

This book aims to trace in outline the course of English fiction from Arthurian romance to Stevenson, and to indicate, especially in the earlier chapters, Continental sources and tributaries. I hope that the volume may be of service to the student as a preliminary to detailed investigation in special epochs; and of interest to the general reader, who may wish to follow some of the more important steps whereby a fascinating literary form has become what it is through modifications in structure and content.

The apparent law that has governed these changes is the same as is operative in all literary development: the principle of action and reaction in the ordinary acceptation of the terms. This law has a psychological basis. We are by nature both realists and idealists, delighting in the long run about equally in the representation of life somewhat as it is and as it is dreamed to be. There is accordingly no time in which art does not to some extent minister to both instincts of human nature. But in one period the ideal is in ascendency; in another the real. Why this is so we have not far to seek. Idealism in course of time falls into unendurable exorbitancies; realism likewise offends by its brutality and cynicism. And in either case there is a recoil, often accompanied, as . . .

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