The Mirror in the Roadway a Study of the Modern Novel

The Mirror in the Roadway a Study of the Modern Novel

The Mirror in the Roadway a Study of the Modern Novel

The Mirror in the Roadway a Study of the Modern Novel

Excerpt

This book is substantially a series of lectures delivered at Harvard Summer School in 1953 and 1954. I have published them because it seems to me that, whatever their faults, they fill a gap and attempt to cover a great art otherwise covered only in sections, as in the little book which I might describe as my inspiration for attempting the subject at all--Lord David Cecil's Early Victorian Novelists. I should have similarly exploited Walter Allen English Novel if it had been available at the time.

Like the critical judgment, the psychology, I am afraid, is all my own. For some years I have been working on the problem of dream language, not as a psychologist, but as a writer interested in the problem of language. This study seemed to me to support none of the existing psychoanalytical theories. Instead, it seemed to emphasize the classical distinction between judgment and instinct, which in dreams is represented by the metaphor of father and mother.

Naturally, I have no desire to take sides in the eternal dialectic. The purpose of dreams is mainly to keep these two forces in balance, and conflict occurs only when one or the other is threatened. It helps us to understand certain writers in whom the conflict is visible--for instance, Jane Austen and Turgenev --and has no other importance.

As I concluded the book, I found myself listening to a Russian lady complaining indignantly that in her house--in her house!--a German visitor had dared to say that lane Austen was a better novelist than Dostoevsky. I hope I smiled, but it made me realize again the magnitude of the job I had set myself. Literature, I can only repeat, is a very impure art. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it carries such a cargo of com . . .

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