Dead Reckonings in Fiction

Dead Reckonings in Fiction

Dead Reckonings in Fiction

Dead Reckonings in Fiction

Excerpt

When I was a youngster I came upon Lord Kames ' Elements of Criticism -- an old and now forgotten book. It opened up all sorts of strange vistas to me, and now I feel, many years after, as if I were fulfilling an obscure prophecy when I am invited to say a word by way of introduction to a volume which carries the tale beyond the point which the Scottish lord reached. He may well be exonerated for missing some considerations on the plea that although he lived to be an old man the new ideas which underlie the book in hand did not begin to emerge for more than a century after his death.

The object of this volume is to enhance one's insight and deepen one's satisfaction as he reads our modern fiction, which has become a chosen vehicle for the penetrating expression and analysis of life. We all of us seem to fit far more neatly into a story than we do into a systematic treatise on political economy, psychology or theology. Mr. Frank Swinnerton Young Felix or Samuel Butler's Way of All Flesh appears to me to strike far more accurately at the heart of the matter . . .

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