Four Contemporary Novelists

Four Contemporary Novelists

Four Contemporary Novelists

Four Contemporary Novelists

Excerpt

"The Development of the English Novel," which was first published in 1899, closed with Kipling, who in a succession of short stories had spread before the eyes of the Western world the panorama of civil and military India, with the natives in the background, and had brought home to Englishmen the consciousness of Empire. Kipling was yet to write "Kim," where he turned into the Great Road of Hind, which the Lama and his chela were to tramp, all castes and conditions of men. "Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnyas, pilgrims and potters-- all the world going and coming." Here in this "River of Life" was Mother India.

Nor had Samuel Butler "Way of All Flesh," though written many years before, been given to the public yet. With this cold, highly intellectualized novel the new fiction definitely broke wit the Victorian era. Human nature seemed to have suddenly changed. Filial affection for the first time became an illusion. In the 'nineties, Henry James where I left him was in the second stage of his art. He had but recently passed from the clear objectivity of his first manner into impressionism, where the lines of plot and character were more or less blurred so that the reader had to guess at conclusions. He was on the way to his third and last manner, which was, as may be seen in "The Awkward Age," to transfer a dramatic action from outer incident to the minds of his characters. Never before had the psychological novel gone so far.

Not yet had Conrad, Wells, Bennett, and Galsworthy done more than try their hand at fiction in this or that way. Edith Wharton was experimenting with the short story. "The Age of Innocence" was twenty years ahead. Far off, too, were Willa Cather and Sinclair Lewis, with "My Antonía" and "Death Comes for the Archbishop," and "Main Street" and . . .

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