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Flashcards in The Art of Fiction - Henry James Deck (4)
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1

Context

-published in 1884
-its an enquiry into the defence of the novelist craft.
-written as a response to Walter Besant's "laws of fiction" with humble respect.

2

rhetorical strategies

-adopts a voice of timidity: is respectful to besant, giving example of his ideas, whilst also introducing his own aesthetic counter argument
-witty and playful verbal performance: eg. the courtesan etc
- uses interesting and insightful analogies (between novels and paintings) and also interesting metaphors (such as literature being a "huge spider-web of experience").
-engages with the reader by inviting them to reflect on implications of his claims: E.g he states how the "deeper qualities" of a rank of at reflects the "mind of the producer". He then asks the reader to consider when and how one recognises that they have "made contact" with the producer.
-use of double analogy: "as the picture is reality, so the novel is history".
- playfully deconstructs pensant's argument by writing with experience. "impressions are experience"

3

His argument

- a novel should "represent life" and have an "air of reality". E.g admires Anne Thackeray's realistic depiction of a french protestant youth. experience not totally necessary, but more grasp a "personal, direct impression of life".
- says how the novelist should speak with the "tone of the historian" (contrast to earlier critics who deemed it above history, like sidney.)
-"impressions ARE experience"
- he attacks the very foundation of English criticism, focused on moral stories and happy endings, by stating they should only have to be personal and interesting.

4

Objective and subjective

- slightly paradoxical. after saying a novel should be "interesting", he then claims that "a novel is history"
- goes from it being an objective "historical" truth, to being subjective "personal, direct impression of life"
-ultimately conjoined the two by calling for artistic subjectivity with a sense of the novels objective responsibilities.