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Title: A Manual of the Art of Fiction
Author: Hamilton, Clayton Meeker, 1881-1946
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Other Books by Clayton Hamilton

ON THE TRAIL OF STEVENSON . . . . $3.50 net

Published by Doubleday, Page & Company

THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE . . . . $1.60 net

STUDIES IN STAGECRAFT . . . . . . $1.60 net


Published by Henry Holt & Company

A Manual of


Prepared for the Use of Schools and Colleges



Member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters;
Extension Lecturer in English, Columbia University

With an Introduction by


Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters;
Professor of Dramatic Literature, Columbia University




Copyright, 1918, by

Doubleday, Page & Company

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian.






  This MANUAL OF THE ART OF FICTION is a revised and amplified
  edition of "Materials and Methods of Fiction," by Clayton
  Hamilton, which was first published in 1908. The earlier work was
  immediately recognized as an important piece of constructive
  criticism and has held its position ever since as one of the
  leading books in its field. On the tenth anniversary of its
  appearance, the publishers have asked the author to prepare this
  annotated and enlarged edition, particularly for the use of
  students and teachers in schools and colleges.

                                  DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY.
                                    _Garden City, New York, 1918._


        FOREWORD                                                   vii

        INTRODUCTION                                              xiii

     I. THE PURPOSE OF FICTION                                       3
            Fiction a Means of Telling Truth--Fact and
            Fiction--Truth and Fact--The Search for Truth--The
            Necessary Triple Process--Different Degrees of
            Emphasis--The Art of Fiction and the Craft of
            Chemistry--Fiction and Reality--Fiction and
            History--Fiction and Biography--Biography,
            History, and Fiction--Fiction Which Is
            True--Fiction Which Is False--Casual Sins against
            the Truth in Fiction--More Serious Sins against the
            Truth--The Futility of the Adventitious--The
            Independence of Created Characters--Fiction More
            True Than a Casual Report of Fact--The Exception
            and the Law--Truthfulness the only Title to
            Immortality--Morality and Immorality in Fiction--The
            Faculty of Wisdom--Wisdom and Technic--General
            and Particular Experience--Extensive and Intensive
            Experience--The Experiencing Nature--Curiosity and

    II. REALISM AND ROMANCE                                         25
            Two Methods of Exhibiting the Truth--Every Mind Either
            Realistic or Romantic--Marion Crawford's Faulty
            Distinction--A Second Unsatisfactory Distinction--A
            Third Unsatisfactory Distinction--Bliss Perry's
            Negative Definition--The True Distinction One of
            Method, Not of Material--Scientific Discovery and
            Artistic Expression--The Testimony of Hawthorne--A
            Philosophic Formula--Induction and Deduction--The
            Inductive Method of the Realist--The Deductive
            Method of the Romantic--Realism, Like Inductive
            Science, a Strictly Modern Product--Advantages of
            Realism--Advantages of Romance--The Confinement of
            Realism--The Freedom of Romance--Neither Method
            Better Than the Other--Abuses of Realism--Abuses of

   III. THE NATURE OF NARRATIVE                                     44
            Transition from Material to Method--The Four Methods
            of Discourse--1. Argumentation; 2. Exposition;
            3. Description; 4. Narration, the Natural Mood
            of Fiction--Series and Succession--Life Is
            Chronological, Art Is Logical--The Narrative
            Sense--The Joy of Telling Tales--The Missing of
            This Joy--Developing the Sense of Narrative--The
            Meaning of the Word "Event"--How to Make Things
            Happen--The Narrative of Action--The Narrative
            of Character--Recapitulation.

    IV. PLOT                                                        60
            Narrative a Simplification of Life--Unity in
            Narrative--A Definite Objective Point--Construction,
            Analytic and Synthetic--The Importance of
            Structure--Elementary Narrative--Positive and
            Negative Events--The Picaresque Pattern--Definition
            of Plot--Complication of the Network--The Major
            Knot--"Beginning, Middle, and End"--The
            Sub-Plot--Discursive and Compacted
            Narratives--Telling Much or Little of a Story--Where
            to Begin a Story--Logical Sequence and Chronological
            Succession--Tying and Untying--Transition to the
            Next Chapter.

     V. CHARACTERS                                                  77
            Characters Should Be Worth Knowing--The Personal
            Equation of the Audience--The Universal Appeal
            of Great Fictitious Characters--Typical
            Traits--Individual Traits--The Defect of
            Allegory--The Defect of Caricature--Static and
            Kinetic Characters--Direct and Indirect
            Delineation--Subdivisions of Both Methods--I.
            Direct Delineation: 1. By Exposition; 2. By
            Description; [Gradual Portrayal]; 3. By
            Psychological Analysis; 4. By Reports from other
            Characters--II. Indirect Delineation: 1. By Speech;
            2. By Action; 3. By Effect on other Characters; 4.
            By Environment.

    VI. SETTING                                                     99
            Evolution of Background in the History of
            Painting--The First Stage--The Second Stage--The
            Third Stage--Similar Evolution of Setting in the History
            of Fiction: The First Stage--The Second Stage--The
            Third Stage: 1. Setting as an Aid to Action--2.
            Setting as an Aid to Characterization--Emotional
            Harmony in Setting--The Pathetic Fallacy--Emotional
            Contrast in Setting--Irony in Setting--Artistic and
            Philosophical Employment--1. Setting as a Motive
            toward Action--2. Setting as an Influence on
            Character--Setting as the Hero of the
            Narrative--Uses of the Weather--Romantic and
            Realistic Settings--A Romantic Setting by Edgar
            Allan Poe--A Realistic Setting by George
            Eliot--The Quality of Atmosphere, or Local

   VII. THE POINT OF VIEW IN NARRATIVE                             120
            The Importance of the Point of View--Two Classes, The
            Internal and the External--I. Subdivisions of the
            First Class: 1. The Point of View of the Leading
            Actor; 2. The Point of View of Some Subsidiary
            Actor; 3. The Points of View of Different Actors; 4.
            The Epistolary Point of View.--II. Subdivisions of
            the Second Class:--1. The Omniscient Point of View;
            2. The Limited Point of View; 3. The Rigidly
            Restricted Point of View--Two Tones of Narrative,
            Impersonal and Personal: 1. The Impersonal Tone; 2.
            The Personal Tone--The Point of View as a Factor in
            Construction--The Point of View as the Hero of the

  VIII. EMPHASIS IN NARRATIVE                                      139
            Essential and Contributory Features--Art Distinguishes
            Between the Two by Emphasis--Many Technical Devices:
            1. Emphasis by Terminal Position; 2. Emphasis by
            Initial Position; 3. Emphasis by Pause [Further
            Discussion of Emphasis by Position]; 4. Emphasis by
            Direct Proportion; 5. Emphasis by Inverse
            Proportion; 6. Emphasis by Iteration; 7. Emphasis by
            Antithesis; 8. Emphasis by Climax; 9. Emphasis by
            Surprise; 10. Emphasis by Suspense; 11. Emphasis by
            Imitative Movement.

    IX. THE EPIC, THE DRAMA, AND THE NOVEL                         157
            Fiction a Generic Term--Narrative in Verse and Narrative
            in Prose--Three Moods of Fiction: I. The Epic
            Mood--II. The Dramatic Mood: 1. Influence of the
            Actor; 2. Influence of the Theatre; 3. Influence of
            the Audience--[Dramatized Novels]--III. The
            Novelistic Mood.

            Novel, Novelette, and Short-Story--The Novel and the
            Novelette--The Short-Story a Distinct Type--The
            Dictum of Poe--The Formula of Brander
            Matthews--Definition of the Short-Story--Explanation
            of This Definition: 1. "Single Narrative Effect"; 2.
            "Greatest Economy of Means"; and 3. "Utmost
            Emphasis"--Brief Tales That Are Not
            Short-Stories--Short-Stories That Are Not
            Brief--Bliss Perry's Annotations--The Novelist and
            the Writer of Short-Stories--The Short-Story More
            Artistic Than the Novel--The Short-Story Almost
            Necessarily Romantic.

    XI. THE STRUCTURE OF THE SHORT-STORY                           189
            Only One Best Way to Construct a Short-Story--Problems
            of Short-Story Construction--The Initial
            Position--The Terminal Position--Poe's Analysis of
            "The Raven"--Analysis of "Ligeia"--Analysis of "The
            Prodigal Son"--Style Essential to the Short-Story.

   XII. THE FACTOR OF STYLE                                        207
            Structure and Style--Style a Matter of Feeling--Style
            an Absolute Quality--The Twofold Appeal of
            Language--Concrete Examples--Onomatopoetic
            Words--Memorable Words--The Patterning of
            Syllables--Stevenson on Style--The Pattern of
            Rhythm--The Pattern of Literation--Style a Fine
            Art--Style an Important Aid to Fiction--The
            Heresy of the Accidental--Style an Intuitive
            Quality--Methods and Materials--Content and
            Form--The Fusion of Both Elements--The Author's

        INDEX                                                      227


In our time, in these early years of the twentieth century, the novel
is the prosperous parvenu of literature, and only a few of those who
acknowledge its vogue and who laud its success take the trouble to
recall its humble beginnings and the miseries of its youth. But like
other parvenus it is still a little uncertain of its position in the
society in which it moves. It is a newcomer in the literary world; and
it has the self-assertiveness and the touchiness natural to the
situation. It brags of its descent, although its origins are obscure.
It has won its way to the front and it has forced its admission into
circles where it was formerly denied access. It likes to forget that
it was once but little better than an outcast, unworthy of recognition
from those in authority. Perhaps it is still uneasily conscious that
not a few of those who were born to good society may look at it with
cold suspicion as though it was still on sufferance.

Story-telling has always been popular, of course; and the desire is
deep-rooted in all of us to hear and to tell some new thing and to
tell again something deserving remembrance. But the novel itself, and
the short-story also, must confess that they have only of late been
able to claim equality with the epic and the lyric, and with comedy
and tragedy, literary forms consecrated by antiquity. There were nine
Muses in Greece of old, and no one of these daughters of Apollo was
expected to inspire the writer of prose-fiction. Whoever had then a
story to tell, which he wished to treat artistically, never dreamed of
expressing it except in the nobler medium of verse, in the epic, in
the idyl, in the drama. Prose seemed to the Greeks, and even to the
Latins who followed in their footsteps, as fit only for pedestrian
purposes. Even oratory and history were almost rhythmic; and mere
prose was too humble an instrument for those whom the Muses cherished.
The Alexandrian vignettes of the gentle Theocritus may be regarded as
anticipations of the modern short-story of urban local color; but this
delicate idyllist used verse for the talk of his Tanagra figurines.

Even when the modern languages entered into the inheritance of Latin
and Greek, verse held to its ancestral privileges, and the brief tale
took the form of the ballad, and the longer narrative called itself a
_chanson de geste_. Boccaccio and Rabelais and Cervantes might win
immediate popularity and invite a host of imitators; but it was long
after their time before a tale in prose, whether short or long,
achieved recognition as worthy of serious critical consideration. In
his study of Balzac, Brunetière recorded the significant fact that no
novelist, who was purely and simply a novelist, was elected to the
French Academy in the first two centuries of its existence. And the
same acute critic, in his "History of Classical French Literature,"
pointed out that French novels were under a cloud of suspicion even so
far back as the days of Erasmus, in 1525. It was many scores of years
thereafter before the self-appointed guardians of French literature
esteemed the novel highly enough to condescend to discuss it.

Perhaps this was not altogether a disadvantage. French tragedy was
discussed only too abundantly; and the theorists laid down rules for
it which were not a little cramping. Another French critic, M. Le
Breton, in his account of the growth of French prose-fiction in the
first half of the nineteenth century, has asserted that this exemption
from criticism really redounded to the benefit of the novel, since the
despised form was allowed to develop naturally, spontaneously, free
from all the many artificial restrictions which the dogmatists
succeeded in imposing on tragedy and on comedy, and which resulted at
last in the sterility of the French drama toward the end of the
eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. While this
advantage is undeniable, one may question whether it was not bought at
too great a price and whether there would not have been a certain
profit for prose-fiction if its practitioners had been kept up to the
mark by a criticism which educated the public to demand greater care
in structure, more logic in the conduct of events, and stricter
veracity in the treatment of characters.

However much it might then be deemed unworthy of serious consideration,
the novel in the eighteenth century began to attract to itself more and
more authors of rich natural endowment. In English literature especially,
prose-fiction tempted men as unlike as Defoe and Swift, Richardson and
Fielding, Smollett and Sterne, Goldsmith and Johnson. And a little
earlier the eighteenth century essayists, with Steele and Addison at the
head of them, had developed the art of character-delineation, a
development out of which the novelists were to make their profit. The
influence of the English eighteenth-century essay on the growth of
prose-fiction, not only in the British Isles, but also on the continent
of Europe, is larger than is generally admitted. Indeed, there is a
sense in which the successive papers depicting the character and the
deeds of Sir Roger de Coverley may be accepted as the earliest of serial

But it was only in the nineteenth century that the novel reached its
full expansion and succeeded in winning recognition as the heir of the
epic and the rival of the drama. This victory was the direct result of
the overwhelming success of the Waverley novels and of the countless
stories written more or less in accordance with Scott's formula, by
Cooper, by Victor Hugo and Dumas, by Manzoni, and by all the others
who followed in their footsteps in every modern language. Not only
born story-tellers but writers who were by natural gift poets or
dramatists, seized upon the novel as a form in which they could
express themselves freely and by which they might hope to gain a
proper reward in money as well as in fame. The economic interpretation
of literary history has not received the attention it deserves; and
the future investigator will find a rich field in his researches for
the causes of the expansion of the novel in the nineteenth century
simultaneous with the decline of the drama in the literature of almost
every modern language except French.

As the nineteenth century drew toward its maturity, the influence of
Balzac reinforced the influence of Scott; and realism began to assert
its right to substitute itself for romance. The adjustment of
character to its appropriate background, the closer connection of
fiction with the actual facts of life, the focussing of attention on
the normal and the usual rather than on the abnormal and the
exceptional--all these steps in advance were more easily taken in the
freer form of the novel than they could be in the more restricted
formula of the drama; and for the first time in its history
prose-fiction found itself a pioneer, achieving a solidity of texture
which the theatre had not yet been able to attain.

The novel revealed itself at last as a fit instrument for applied
psychology, for the use of those delicate artists who are interested
rather in what character is than in what it may chance to do. In
the earliest fictions, whether in prose or verse, the hero had been
merely a type, little more than a lay-figure capable of violent
attitudes, a doer of deeds who, as Professor Gummere has explained,
"answered the desire for poetic expression at a time when an
individual is merged in the clan." And as the realistic writers
perfected their art, the more acute readers began to perceive that
the hero who is a doer of deeds can represent only the earlier stages
of culture which we have long outgrown. This hero came to be
recognized as an anachronism, out of place in a more modern social
organization based on a full appreciation of individuality. He was
too much a type and too little an individual to satisfy the demands
of those who looked to literature as the mirror of life itself and who
had taught themselves to relish what Lowell terms the "punctilious
veracity which gives to a portrait its whole worth."

Thus it was only in the middle years of the nineteenth century, after
Stendhal, Balzac, and Flaubert, after Thackeray and George Eliot, and
Hawthorne, that the novel found out its true field. And yet it was in
the middle years of the seventeenth century that the ideal to which it
was aspiring had been proclaimed frankly by the forgotten Furetière in
the preface to his "Roman Bourgeois." Furetière lacked the skill and
the insight needful for the satisfactory attainment of the standard he
set up--indeed, the attainment of that standard is beyond the power of
most novelists even now. But Furetière's declaration of the principles
which he proposed to follow is as significant now as it was in 1666,
when neither the writer himself nor the reader to whom he had to
appeal was ripe for the advance which he insisted upon. "I shall tell
you," said Furetière, "sincerely and faithfully, several stories or
adventures which happened to persons who are neither heroes nor
heroines, who will raise no armies and overthrow no kingdoms, but who
will be honest folk of mediocre condition, and who will quietly make
their way. Some of them will be good-looking and others ugly. Some of
them will be wise and others foolish; and these last, in fact, seem
likely to prove the larger number."


The novel had a long road to travel before it became possible for
novelists to approach the ideal that Furetière proclaimed and before
they had acquired the skill needed to make their readers accept it.
And there had also to be a slow development of our own ideas
concerning the relation of art to life. For one thing, art had
been expected to emphasize a moral; there was even a demand on the
drama to be overtly didactic. Less than a score of years after
Furetière's preface there was published an English translation of the
Abbé d'Aubignac's "Pratique du Théâtre" which was entitled the
"Whole Art of the Stage" and in which the theory of "poetic justice"
was set forth formally. "One of the chiefest, and indeed the most
indispensable Rule of Drammatick Poems is that in them Virtues always
ought to be rewarded, or at least commended, in spite of all the
Injuries of Fortune; and that likewise Vices be always punished or
at least detested with Horrour, though they triumph upon the Stage for
that time."

Doctor Johnson was so completely a man of his own century that he
found fault with Shakespeare because Shakespeare did not preach,
because in the great tragedies virtue is not always rewarded and
vice is not always punished. Doctor Johnson and the Abbé d'Aubignac
wanted the dramatist to be false to life as we all know it. Beyond all
peradventure the wages of sin is death; and yet we have all seen the
evil-doer dying in the midst of his devoted family and surrounded
by all the external evidences of worldly success. To insist that
virtue shall be outwardly triumphant at the end of a play or of a
novel is to require the dramatist or the novelist to falsify. It
is to introduce an element of unreality into fiction. It is to
require the story-teller and the playmaker to prove a thesis that
common sense must reject.

Any attempt to require the artist to prove anything is necessarily
cramping. A true representation of life does not prove one thing only,
it proves many things. Life is large, unlimited, and incessant; and
the lessons of the finest art are those of life itself; they are not
single but multiple. Who can declare what is the single moral
contained in the "OEdipus" of Sophocles, the "Hamlet" of Shakespeare,
the "Tartufe" of Molière? No two spectators of these masterpieces
would agree on the special morals to be isolated; and yet none of them
would deny that the masterpieces are profoundly moral because of their
essential truth. Morality, a specific moral--this is what the artist
cannot deliberately put into his work without destroying its veracity.
But morality is also what he cannot leave out if he has striven only
to handle his subject sincerely. Hegel is right when he tells us that
art has its moral--but the moral depends on him who draws it. The
didactic drama and the novel-with-a-purpose are necessarily unartistic
and unavoidably unsatisfactory.

This is what the greater artists have always felt; this is what they
have often expressed unhesitatingly. Corneille, for one, though he was
a man of his time, a creature of the seventeenth century, had the
courage to assert that "the utility of a play is seen in the simple
depicting of vices and virtues, which never fails to be effective if
it is well done and if the traits are so recognizable that they cannot
be confounded or mistaken; virtue always gets itself loved, however
unfortunate, and vice gets itself hated, even though triumphant."
Dryden, again, a contemporary of d'Aubignac and a predecessor of
Johnson, had a clearer vision than either of them; and his views are
far in advance of theirs. "Delight," he said, "is the chief if not the
only end of poesy," and by poesy he meant fiction in all its forms;
"instruction can be admitted but in the second place, for poetry only
instructs as it delights." And once more, when we pass from the
seventeenth century of Corneille and Dryden to the nineteenth century
when the novel has asserted its rivalry with the drama, we find the
wise Goethe declaring to Eckermann the doctrine which is now winning
acceptance everywhere. "If there is a moral in the subject it will
appear, and the poet has nothing to consider but the effective and
artistic treatment of his subject; if he has as high a soul as
Sophocles, his influence will always be moral, let him do what he

A high soul is not given to all writers of fiction, and yet there is
an obligation on them all to aspire to the praise bestowed on
Sophocles as one who "saw life steadily and saw it whole." Even the
humblest of story-tellers ought to feel himself bound, not to preach,
not to point a moral ostentatiously, not to warp the march of events
for the sake of so-called "poetic justice," but to report life as he
knows it, making it neither better nor worse, to represent it
honestly, to tell the truth about it and nothing but the truth, even
if he does not tell the whole truth--which is given to no man to know.
This is an obligation that not a few of the foremost writers of
fiction have failed to respect. Dickens, for example, is delighted to
reform a character in the twinkling of an eye, transforming a bad man
into a good man over night, and contradicting all that we know about
the permanence of character.

Other novelists have asked us to admire violent and unexpected acts of
startling self-sacrifice, when a character is made to take on himself
the responsibility for the delinquency of some other character. They
have invited our approbation for a moral suicide, which is quite as
blameworthy as any physical suicide. With his keen insight into ethics
and with his robust common sense, Huxley stated the principle which
these novelists have failed to grasp. A man, he tells us, "may refuse
to commit another, but he ought not to allow himself to be believed
worse than he actually is," since this results in "a loss to the world
of moral force which cannot be afforded." The final test of the
fineness of fiction lies in its veracity. "Romance is the poetry of
circumstance," as Stevenson tells us, and "drama is the poetry of
conduct"; we may be tolerant and easy-going in our acceptance of a
novelist's circumstances, but we ought to be rigorous as regards
conduct. As far as the successive happenings of his story are
concerned, the mere incidents, the author may on occasion ask our
indulgence and tax our credulity a little; but he must not expect us
to forgive him for any violation of the fundamental truths of human

It is this stern veracity, unflinching and inexorable, which makes
"Anna Karénina" one of the noblest works of art that the nineteenth
century devised to the twentieth, just as it is the absence of this
fidelity to the facts of life, the twisting of character to prove a
thesis, which vitiates the "Kreutzer Sonata," and makes it unworthy of
the great artist in fiction who wrote the earlier work. It is not too
much to say that the development of Tolstoi as a militant moralist is
coincident with his decline as an artist. He is no longer content to
picture life as he sees it; he insists on preaching. And when he uses
his art, not as an end in itself, but as an instrument to advocate his
own individual theories, although his great gifts are not taken from
him, the result is that his later novels lack the broad and deep moral
effect which gave his earlier studies of life and character their
abiding value.

Stevenson had in him "something of the shorter catechist"; and the
Scotch artist in letters, enamored of words as he was, seized firmly
the indispensable law. "The most influential books, and the truest in
their influence, are works of fiction," he declared. "They do not pin
their reader to a dogma, which he must afterward discover to be
inexact; they do not teach a lesson, which he must afterward unlearn.
They repeat, they rearrange, they clarify the lessons of life; they
disengage us from ourselves, they constrain us to the acquaintances of
others, and they show us the web of experience not as we can see it
for ourselves, but with a singular change--that monstrous, consuming
ego of ours being, for the nonce, struck out. To be so, they must be
reasonably true to the human comedy; and any work that is so serves
the turn of instruction." This is well thought and well put, although
many of us might demand that novels should be more than "reasonably
true." But even if Stevenson was here a little lax in the requirements
he imposed on others, he was stricter with himself when he wrote
"Markheim" and the "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

Another story-teller, also cut off before he had displayed the best
that was in him, set up the same standards for his fellow-craftsmen in
fiction. In his striking discussion of the responsibility of the
novelist, Frank Norris asserted that the readers of fiction have "a
right to the Truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. It is _not_ right that they be exploited and
deceived with false views of life, false characters, false sentiment,
false morality, false history, false philosophy, false emotions,
false heroism, false notions of self-sacrifice, false views of
religion, of duty, of conduct, and of manners."


Even if there may have been a certain advantage to the novel, as M.
Le Breton maintains, because it was long left alone unfettered by any
critical code, to expand as best it could, to find its own way
unaided and to work out its own salvation, the time has now come when
it may profit by a criticism which shall force it to consider its
responsibilities and to appraise its technical resources, if it is to
claim artistic equality with the drama and the epic. It has won
its way to the front; and there are few who now question its right to
the position it has attained. There is no denying that in English
literature, in the age of Victoria, the novel established itself
as the literary form most alluring to all men of letters and that it
succeeded to the place held by the essay in the days of Anne and by
the play in the days of Elizabeth.

And like the play and the essay in those earlier times, the novel now
attracts writers who have no great natural gift for the form. Just as
Peele and Greene wrote plays because play-writing was popular and
advantageous, in spite of their inadequate dramaturgic equipment, and
just as Johnson wrote essays because essay-writing was popular and
advantageous in spite of his deficiency in the ease and lightness
which the essay demands, so Brougham and Motley and Froude adventured
themselves in fiction. We may even doubt whether George Eliot was a
born story-teller and whether she would not have been more successful
in some other epoch when some other literary form than the novel had
happened to be in fashion. In France the novel tempted Victor Hugo,
who was essentially a lyric poet, and the elder Dumas, who was
essentially a playwright. There are not lacking signs of late that the
drama is likely in the immediate future to assert a sharper rivalry
with prose-fiction; and novelists like Sir James Barrie and the late
Paul Hervieu have relinquished the easier narrative for the more
difficult and more dangerous stage-play. But there is no evidence that
the novel is soon to lose its vogue. It has come to stay; and as the
nineteenth century left it to the twentieth so the twentieth will
probably bequeath it to the twenty-first unimpaired in prosperity.

Perhaps the best evidence of the solidity of its position is to be
found in the critical consideration which it is at last receiving.
Histories of fiction in all literatures and biographies of the
novelists in all languages are multiplying abundantly. We are
beginning to take our fiction seriously and to inquire into its
principles. Long ago Freytag's "Technic of the Drama" was followed
by Spielhagen's "Technic of the Novel," rather Teutonically
philosophic, both of them, and already a little out of date.
Studies of prose-fiction are getting themselves written, none of
them more illuminative than Professor Bliss Perry's. The novelists
themselves are writing about the art of fiction, as Sir Walter Besant
did, and they are asking what the novel is, as the late Marion
Crawford has done. They are beginning to resent the assertion of
the loyal adherents of the drama, that the novel is too loose a form
to call forth the best efforts of the artist, and that a play
demands at least technical skill whereas a novel may be often the
product of unskilled labor.

Questions of all kinds are presenting themselves for discussion. Has
the rise of realism made romance impossible? Is there a valid
distinction between romance and romanticism? Is the short-story a
definite form, differing from the novel in purpose as well as in
length? What is the best way to tell a story--in the third person, as
in the epic--in the first person, as in an autobiography--or in
letters? Which is of most importance, character or incident or
atmosphere? Is the novel-with-a-purpose legitimate? Why is it that
dramatized novels often fail in the theatre? Ought a novelist to take
sides with his characters and against them, or ought he to suppress
his own opinions and remain impassive, as the dramatist must? Does a
prodigality in the invention of incidents reveal a greater imagination
in the novelist than is required for the sincere depicting of simple
characters in every-day life? Why has the old trick of inserting brief
tales inside a long novel--such as we find in "Don Quixote" and "Tom
Jones" and the "Pickwick Papers"--been abandoned of late years? How
far is a novelist justified in taking his characters so closely from
actual life that they are recognizable by his readers? What are the
advantages and disadvantages of local color? How much dialect may a
novelist venture to employ? Is the historical novel really a loftier
type of fiction than the novel of contemporary life? Is it really
possible to write a veracious novel about any other than the
novelist's native land? Why is it that so many of the greater writers
of fiction have brought forth their first novel only after they had
attained to half the allotted three score years and ten? Is the
scientific spirit going to be helpful or harmful to the writer of
fiction? Which is the finer form for fiction, a swift and direct
telling of the story, with the concentration of a Greek tragedy, such
as we find in the "Scarlet Letter" and in "Smoke," or an ampler and
more leisurely movement more like that of the Elizabethan plays, such
as we may see in "Vanity Fair" and in "War and Peace"?

These questions, and many another, we may expect to hear discussed,
even if they cannot all of them be answered, in any consideration of
the materials and the methods of fiction. And the result of these
inquiries cannot fail to be beneficial, both to the writer of fiction
and to the reader of fiction. To the story-teller himself they will
serve as a stimulus and a guide, calling attention to the technic of
his craft and broadening his knowledge of the principles of his art.
To the idle reader even they ought to be helpful, because they will
force him to think about the novels he may read and because they will
lead him to be more exacting, to insist more on veracity in the
portrayal of life, and to demand more care in the method of
presentation. Every art profits by a wider understanding of its
principles, of its possibilities and of its limitations, as well as by
a more diffused knowledge of its technic.

                                             BRANDER MATTHEWS.
                                          COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: 1908.

POSTSCRIPT: It is a good sign for the future of the novel that in the
ten years which have elapsed since this introduction was written, the
professors of literature in our colleges and in our graduate schools
have been paying increased attention to the study of prose fiction.
They had, first of all, to inform themselves more abundantly as to its
past history, and as to the relation it has borne to the epic on the
one hand and to the drama on the other. Then, secondly, they have been
encouraged to pass on to the students they were guiding the results of
their researches and of their reflections. And as a result the
significance of the novel is day by day made more manifest.

                                             BRANDER MATTHEWS.
                                          COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: 1918.




  Fiction a Means of Telling Truth--Fact and Fiction--Truth and
  Fact--The Search for Truth--The Necessary Triple Process--Different
  Degrees of Emphasis--The Art of Fiction and the Craft of
  Chemistry--Fiction and Reality--Fiction and History--Fiction and
  Biography--Biography, History, and Fiction--Fiction Which Is
  True--Fiction Which Is False--Casual Sins against the Truth in
  Fiction--More Serious Sins against the Truth--The Futility of the
  Adventitious--The Independence of Created Characters--Fiction More
  True Than a Casual Report of Fact--The Exception and the
  Law--Truthfulness the only Title to Immortality--Morality and
  Immorality in Fiction--The Faculty of Wisdom--Wisdom and
  Technic--General and Particular Experience--Extensive and
  Intensive Experience--The Experiencing Nature--Curiosity and

=Fiction a Means of Telling Truth.=--Before we set out upon a study of
the materials and methods of fiction, we must be certain that we
appreciate the purpose of the art and understand its relation to the
other arts and sciences. _The purpose of fiction is to embody certain
truths of human life in a series of imagined facts._ The importance of
this purpose is scarcely ever appreciated by the casual careless
reader of the novels of a season. Although it is commonly believed
that such a reader overestimates the weight of works of fiction, the
opposite is true--he underestimates it. Every novelist of genuine
importance seeks not merely to divert but also to instruct--to
instruct, not abstractly, like the essayist, but concretely, by
presenting to the reader characters and actions which are true. For
the best fiction, although it deals with the lives of imaginary
people, is no less true than the best history and biography, which
record actual facts of human life; and it is more true than such
careless reports of actual occurrences as are published in the daily
newspapers. The truth of worthy fiction is evidenced by the honor in
which it has been held in all ages among all races. "You can't fool
all the people all the time"; and if the drama and the epic and the
novel were not true, the human race would have rejected them many
centuries ago. Fiction has survived, and flourishes to-day, because it
is a means of telling truth.

=Fact and Fiction.=--It is only in the vocabulary of very careless
thinkers that the words _truth_ and _fiction_ are regarded as
antithetic. A genuine antithesis subsists between the words _fact_ and
_fiction_; but _fact_ and _truth_ are not synonymous. The novelist
forsakes the realm of fact in order that he may better tell the truth,
and lures the reader away from actualities in order to present him
with realities. It is of prime importance, in our present study,
therefore, that we should understand at the very outset the relation
between fact and truth, the distinction between the actual and the

=Truth and Fact.=--A fact is a specific manifestation of a general
law: this general law is the truth because of which that fact has come
to be. It is a fact that when an apple-tree is shaken by the wind,
such apples as may be loosened from their twigs fall to the ground: it
is a truth that bodies in space attract each other with a force that
varies inversely as the square of the distance between them. Fact is
concrete, and is a matter of physical experience: truth is abstract,
and is a matter of mental theory. Actuality is the realm of fact,
reality the realm of truth. The universe as we apprehend it with our
senses is actual; the laws of the universe as we comprehend them with
our understanding are real.

=The Search for Truth.=--All human science is an endeavor to discover
the truths which underlie the facts that we perceive: all human
philosophy is an endeavor to understand and to appraise those truths
when once they are discovered: and all human art is an endeavor to
utter them clearly and effectively when once they are appraised and
understood. The history of man is the history of a constant and
continuous seeking for the truth. Amazed before a universe of facts,
he has striven earnestly to discover the truth which underlies
them--striven heroically to understand the large reality of which the
actual is but a sensuously perceptible embodiment. In the earliest
centuries of recorded thought the search was unmethodical; truth was
apprehended, if at all, by intuition, and announced as dogma: but in
modern centuries certain regular methods have been devised to guide
the search. The modern scientist begins his work by collecting a large
number of apparently related facts and arranging them in an orderly
manner. He then proceeds to induce from the observation of these facts
an apprehension of the general law that explains their relation. This
hypothesis is then tested in the light of further facts, until it
seems so incontestable that the minds of men accept it as the truth.
The scientist then formulates it in an abstract theoretic statement,
and thus concludes his work.

But it is at just this point that the philosopher begins. Accepting
many truths from many scientists, the philosopher compares,
reconciles, and correlates them, and thus builds out of them a
structure of belief. But this structure of belief remains abstract and
theoretic in the mind of the philosopher. It is now the artist's turn.
Accepting the correlated theoretic truths which the scientist and the
philosopher have given him, he endows them with an imaginative
embodiment perceptible to the senses. He translates them back into
concrete terms; he clothes them in invented facts; he makes them
imaginatively perceptible to a mind native and indued to actuality;
and thus he gives expression to the truth.

=The Necessary Triple Process.=--This triple process of the
scientific discovery, the philosophic understanding, and the artistic
expression of truth has been explained at length, because every
great writer of fiction must pass through the entire mental
process. The fiction-writer differs from other seekers for the truth,
not in the method of his thought, but merely in its subject-matter.
His theme is human life. It is some truth of human life that he
endeavors to discover, to understand, and to announce; and in
order to complete his work, he must apply to human life an attention
of thought which is successively scientific, philosophic, and
artistic. He must first observe carefully certain facts of actual
life, study them in the light of extended experience, and induce from
them the general laws which he deems to be the truths which underlie
them. In doing this, he is a scientist. Next, if he be a great
thinker, he will correlate these truths and build out of them a
structure of belief. In doing this, he is a philosopher. Lastly, he
must create imaginatively such scenes and characters as will
illustrate the truths he has discovered and considered, and will
convey them clearly and effectively to the minds of his readers. In
doing this, he is an artist.

=Different Degrees of Emphasis.=--But although this triple mental
process (of scientific discovery, philosophic understanding, and
artistic expression) is experienced in full by every master of
fiction, we find that certain authors are interested most in the
first, or scientific phase of the process, others in the second, or
philosophic phase, and still others in the third, or artistic
phase. Evidently Emile Zola is interested chiefly in a scientific
investigation of the actual facts of life, George Eliot in a
philosophic contemplation of its underlying truths, and Gabriele
D'Annunzio in an artistic presentation of the dream-world that he
imagines. Washington Irving is mainly an artist, Tolstoi mainly a
philosopher, and Jane Austen mainly a scientifically accurate
observer. Few are the writers, even among the greatest masters of
the art, of whom we feel, as we feel of Hawthorne, that the scientist,
the philosopher, and the artist reign over equal precincts of their
minds. Hawthorne the scientist is so thorough, so accurate, and so
precise in his investigations of provincial life that no less a
critic than James Russell Lowell declared the "House of the Seven
Gables" to be "the most valuable contribution to New England history
that has yet been made." Hawthorne the philosopher is so wise in his
understanding of crime and retribution, so firm in his structure of
belief concerning moral truth, that it seems that he, if any one,
might give an answer to that poignant cry of a despairing murderer,--

           "Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
           Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
           Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
           And with some sweet oblivious antidote
           Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
           Which weighs upon the heart?"[1]

And Hawthorne the artist is so delicate in his sensitive and loving
presentation of the beautiful, so masterly both in structure and in
style, that his work, in artistry alone, is its own excuse for being.
Were it not for the _confinement_ of his fiction--its lack of range
and sweep, both in subject-matter and in attitude of mind--his work on
this account might be regarded as an illustration of all that may be
great in the threefold process of creation.

=The Art of Fiction and the Craft of Chemistry.=--_Fiction_, to borrow
a figure from chemical science, _is life distilled_. In the author's
mind, the actual is first evaporated to the real, and the real is then
condensed to the imagined. The author first transmutes the concrete
actualities of life into abstract realities; and then he transmutes
these abstract realities into concrete imaginings. Necessarily, if he
has pursued this mental process without a fallacy, his imaginings will
be true; because they represent realities, which in turn have been
induced from actualities.

=Fiction and Reality.=--In one of his criticisms of the greatest
modern dramatist, Mr. William Archer has called attention to the fact
that "habitually and instinctively men pay to Ibsen the compliment (so
often paid to Shakespeare) of discussing certain of his female
characters as though they were real women, living lives apart from the
poet's creative intelligence." [It is evident that Mr. Archer, in
saying "real women," means what is more precisely denoted by the words
"actual women."] Such a compliment is also paid instinctively to every
master of the art of fiction; and the reason is not hard to
understand. If the general laws of life which the novelist has thought
out be true laws, and if his imaginative embodiment of them be at all
points thoroughly consistent, his characters will be true men and
women in the highest sense. They will not be actual, but they will be
real. The great characters of fiction--Sir Willoughby Patterne, Tito
Melema, D'Artagnan, Père Grandet, Rosalind, Tartufe, Hamlet,
Ulysses--embody truths of human life that have been arrived at only
after thorough observation of facts and patient induction from them.
Cervantes must have observed a multitude of dreamers before he learned
the truth of the idealist's character which he has expressed in Don
Quixote. The great people of fiction are typical of large classes of
mankind. They live more truly than do you and I, because they are made
of us and of many men besides. They have the large reality of general
ideas, which is a truer thing than the actuality of facts. This is why
we know them and think of them as real people--old acquaintances whom
we knew (perhaps) before we were born, when (as is conceivable) we
lived with them in Plato's Realm of Ideas. In France, instead of
calling a man a miser, they call him an Harpagon. We know Rosalind as
we know our sweetest summer love; Hamlet is our elder brother, and
understands our own wavering and faltering.

=Fiction and History.=--Instinctively also we regard the great people
of fiction as more real than many of the actual people of a bygone age
whose deeds are chronicled in dusty histories. To a modern mind, if
you conjure with the name of Marcus Brutus, you will start the spirit
of Shakespeare's fictitious patriot, not of the actual Brutus, of a
very different nature, whose doings are dimly reported by the
chroniclers of Rome. The Richelieu of Dumas père may bear but slight
resemblance to the actual founder of the French Academy; but he lives
for us more really than the Richelieu of many histories. We know
Hamlet even better than we know Henri-Frédéric Amiel, who in many ways
was like him; even though Amiel has reported himself more thoroughly
than almost any other actual man. We may go a step further and declare
that the actual people of any age can live in the memory of after ages
only when the facts of their characters and their careers have been
transmuted into a sort of fiction by the minds of creative historians.
Actually, in 1815, there was but one Napoleon; now there are as many
Napoleons as there are biographies and histories of him. He has been
recreated in one way by one author, in another by another; and you may
take your choice. You may accept the Julius Cæsar of Mr. Bernard Shaw,
or the Julius Cæsar of Thomas De Quincey. The first is frankly
fiction; and the second, not so frankly, is fiction also--just as far
from actuality as Shakespeare's adaptation of Plutarch's portraiture.

=Fiction and Biography.=--One of the most vivid illustrations of how a
great creative mind, honestly seeking to discover, to understand, and
to express the truth concerning actual characters of the past,
necessarily makes fiction of those characters, is given by Thomas
Carlyle in his "Heroes and Hero-Worship." Here, in Carlyle's method of
procedure, it is easy to discern that threefold process of creation
which is undergone by the fiction-making mind. An examination of
recorded facts concerning Mohammed, Dante, Luther, or Burns leads him
to a discovery and a formulation of certain abstract truths concerning
the Hero as Prophet, as Poet, as Priest, or as Man of Letters; and
thereafter, in composing his historical studies, he sets forth only
such actual facts as conform with his philosophic understanding of the
truth and will therefore represent this understanding with the utmost
emphasis. He makes fiction of his heroes, in order most emphatically
to tell the truth about them.

=Biography, History, and Fiction.=--In this way biography and history
at their best are doomed to employ the methods of the art of fiction;
and we can therefore understand without surprise why the average
reader always says of the histories of Francis Parkman that they read
like novels, even though the most German-minded scientists of history
assure us that Parkman is always faithful to his facts. Facts, to the
mind of this model of historians, were indicative of truths; and
those truths he endeavored to express with faultless art. Like the
best of novelists, he was at once a scientist, a philosopher, and an
artist; and this is not the least of reasons why his histories will
endure. They are as true as fiction.

=Fiction Which Is True.=--Not only do the great characters of fiction
convince us of reality: in the mere events themselves of worthy
fiction we feel a fitness that makes us know them real. Sentimental
Tommy really did lose that literary competition because he wasted a
full hour searching vainly for the one right word; Hetty Sorrel really
killed her child; and Mr. Henry must have won that midnight duel with
the Master of Ballantrae, though the latter was the better swordsman.
These incidents conform to truths we recognize. And not only in the
fiction that clings close to actuality do we feel a sense of truth. We
feel it just as keenly in fairy tales like those of Hans Christian
Andersen, or in the worthiest wonder-legends of an earlier age. We are
told of The Steadfast Tin Soldier that, after he was melted in the
fire, the maid who took away the ashes next morning found him in the
shape of a small tin heart; and remembering the spangly little
ballet-dancer who fluttered to him like a sylph and was burned up in
the fire with him, we feel a fitness in this little fancy which opens
vistas upon human truth. Mr. Kipling's fable of "How the Elephant Got
His Trunk" is just as true as his reports of Mrs. Hauksbee. His theory
may not conform with the actual facts of zoological science; but at
any rate it represents a truth which is perhaps more important for
those who have become again like little children.

=Fiction Which Is False.=--Just as we feel by instinct the reality of
fiction at its best, so also with a kindred instinct equally keen we
feel the falsity of fiction when the author lapses from the truth.
Unless his characters act and think at all points consistently with
the laws of their imagined existence, and unless these laws are in
harmony with the laws of actual life, no amount of sophistication on
the part of the author can make us finally believe his story; and
unless we believe his story, his purpose in writing it will have
failed. The novelist, who has so many means of telling truth, has also
many means of telling lies. He may be untruthful in his very theme, if
he is lacking in sanity of outlook upon the things that are. He may be
untruthful in his characterization, if he interferes with his people
after they are once created and attempts to coerce them to his
purposes instead of allowing them to work out their own destinies. He
may be untruthful in his plotting, if he devises situations
arbitrarily for the sake of mere immediate effect. He may be
untruthful in his dialogue, if he puts into the mouths of his people
sentences that their nature does not demand that they shall speak. He
may be untruthful in his comments on his characters, if the characters
belie the comments in their actions and their words.

=Casual Sins Against the Truth in Fiction.=--With the sort of fiction
that is a tissue of lies, the present study does not concern itself;
but even in the best fiction we come upon passages of falsity. There
is little likelihood, however, of our being led astray by these: we
revolt instinctively against them with a feeling that may best be
expressed in that famous sentence of Ibsen's Assessor Brack, "People
don't do such things." When Shakespeare tells us, toward the end of
"As You Like It," that the wicked Oliver suddenly changed his nature
and won the love of Celia, we know that he is lying. The scene is not
true to the great laws of human life. When George Eliot, at a loss for
a conclusion to "The Mill on the Floss," tells us that Tom and Maggie
Tulliver were drowned together in a flood, we disbelieve her; just as
we disbelieve Sir James Barrie when he invents that absurd accident of
Tommy's death. These three instances of falsity have been selected
from authors who know the truth and almost always tell it; and all
three have a certain palliation. They come at or near the very end of
lengthy stories. In actual life, of course, there are no very ends:
life exhibits a continuous sequence of causation stretching on: and
since a story has to have an end, its conclusion must in any case
belie a law of nature. Probably the truth is that Tommy didn't die at
all: he is living still, and always will be living. And since Sir
James Barrie couldn't write forever, he may be pardoned a makeshift
ending that he himself apparently did not believe in. So also we may
forgive that lie of Shakespeare's, since it contributes to a general
truthfulness of good-will at the conclusion of his story; and as for
George Eliot--well, she had been telling the truth stolidly for many
hundred pages.

=More Serious Sins Against the Truth.=--But when Charlotte Brontë, in
"Jane Eyre," tells us that Mr. Rochester first said and then repeated
the following sentence, "I am disposed to be gregarious and
communicative to-night," we find it more difficult to pardon the
apparent falsity. In the same chapter, the author states that Mr.
Rochester emitted the following remark:--"Then, in the first place, do
you agree with me that I have a right to be a little masterful,
abrupt, perhaps exacting, sometimes, on the grounds I stated, namely,
that I am old enough to be your father, and that I have battled
through a varied experience with many men of many nations, and roamed
over half the globe, while you have lived quietly with one set of
people in one house?"

Such writing is inexcusably untrue. We cannot believe that any human
being ever asked a direct question so elaborately lengthy. People do
not talk like that. As a contrast, let us notice for a moment the
poignant truthfulness of speech in Mr. Rudyard Kipling's story, "Only
a Subaltern." A fever-stricken private says to Bobby Wick, "Beg y'
pardon, sir, disturbin' of you now, but would you min' 'oldin' my
'and, sir"?--and later, when the private becomes convalescent and
Bobby in his turn is stricken down, the private suddenly stares in
horror at his bed, and cries, "Oh, my Gawd! It can't be _'im!_" People
talk like that.

=The Futility of the Adventitious.=--Arbitrary plotting, as a rule, is
of no avail in fiction: almost always, we know when a story is true
and when it is not. We seldom believe in the long-lost will that is
discovered at last on the back of a decaying picture-canvas; or in the
chance meeting and mutual discovery of long-separated relatives; or in
such accidental circumstances as the one, for instance, because of
which Romeo fails to receive the message from Friar Laurence. The
incidents of fiction at its best are not only probable but inevitable:
they happen because in the nature of things they have to happen, and
not because the author wants them to. Similarly, the truest characters
of fiction are so real that even their creator has no power to make
them do what they will not. It has been told of Thackeray that he grew
so to love Colonel Newcome that he wished ardently that the good man
might live happily until the end. Yet, knowing the circumstances in
which the Colonel was enmeshed, and knowing also the nature of the
people who formed the little circle round about him, Thackeray
realized that his last days would of necessity be miserable; and
realizing this, the author told the bitter truth, though it cost him
many tears.

=The Independence of Created Characters.=--The careless reader of
fiction usually supposes that, since the novelist invents his
characters and incidents, he can order them always to suit his own
desires: but any honest artist will tell you that his characters often
grow intractable and stubbornly refuse at certain points to accept the
incidents which he has foreordained for them, and that at other times
they take matters into their own hands and run away with the story.
Stevenson has recorded this latter experience. He said, apropos of
"Kidnapped," "In one of my books, and in one only, the characters took
the bit in their teeth; all at once, they became detached from the
flat paper, they turned their backs on me and walked off bodily; and
from that time my task was stenographic--it was they who spoke, it was
they who wrote the remainder of the story."

The laws of life, and not the author's will, must finally decide the
destinies of heroes and of heroines. On the evening of February 3,
1850, just after he had written the last scene of "The Scarlet
Letter," Hawthorne read it to his wife--"tried to read it, rather," he
wrote the next day in a letter to his friend, Horatio Bridge, "for my
voice swelled and heaved, as if I were tossed up and down on an ocean
as it subsides after a storm. But I was in a very nervous state then,
having gone through a great diversity of emotion while writing it for
many months." Is it not conceivable that, in the "great diversity of
emotion" which the author experienced while bringing his story to a
close, he was tempted more than once to state that Hester and
Dimmesdale escaped upon the Bristol ship and thereafter expiated their
offense in holy and serviceable lives? But if such a thought occurred
to him, he put it by, knowing that the revelation of the scarlet
letter was inexorably demanded by the highest moral law.

=Fiction More True Than a Casual Report of Fact.=--We are now ready to
understand the statement that fiction at its best is much more true
than such careless reports of actual occurrences as are published in
the daily newspapers. Water that has been distilled is much more
really H_{2}O than the muddied natural liquid in the bulb of the retort;
and life that has been clarified in the threefold alembic of the
fiction-writer's mind is much more really life than the clouded and
unrealized events that are reported in daily chronicles of fact. The
newspaper may tell us that a man who left his office in an apparently
normal state of mind went home and shot his wife; but people don't do
such things; and though the story states an actual occurrence, it does
not tell the truth. The only way in which the reporter could make this
story true would be for him to trace out all the antecedent causes
which led inevitably to the culminating incident. The incident itself
can become true for us only when we are made to understand it.

Robert Louis Stevenson once remarked that whenever, in a story by
a friend of his, he came upon a passage that was notably untrue, he
always suspected that it had been transcribed directly from actual
life. The author had been too sure of the facts to ask himself in what
way they were representative of the general laws of life. But facts
are important to the careful thinker only as they are significant
of truth. Doubtless an omniscient mind would realize a reason for
every accidental and apparently insignificant occurrence of actual
life. Doubtless, for example, the Universal Mind must understand why
the great musical-director, Anton Seidl, died suddenly of ptomaine
poisoning. But to a finite mind such occurrences seem unsignificant of
truth; they do not seem to be indicative of a necessary law. And
since the fiction-writer has a finite mind, the laws of life which he
can understand are more restrictedly logical than those undiscovered
laws of actual life which pass his understanding. Many a casual
occurrence of the actual world would therefore be inadmissible in the
intellectually-ordered world of fiction. A novelist has no right to
set forth a sequence of events which, in its causes and effects, he
cannot make the reader understand.

=The Exception and the Law.=--We are now touching on a principle which
is seldom appreciated by beginners in the art of fiction. Every
college professor of literary composition who has accused a student of
falsity in some passage of a story that the student has submitted has
been met with the triumphant but unreasonable answer, "Oh, no, it's
true! It happened to a friend of mine!" And it has then become
necessary for the professor to explain as best he could that an actual
occurrence is not necessarily true for the purposes of fiction. The
imagined facts of a genuinely worthy story are exhibited merely
because they are representative of some general law of life held
securely in the writer's consciousness. A transcription, therefore, of
actual facts fails of the purposes of fiction unless the facts in
themselves are evidently representative of such a law. And many things
may happen to a friend of ours without evidencing to a considerate
mind any logical reason why they had to happen.

=Truthfulness the only Title to Immortality.=--It is necessary that
the student should appreciate the importance of this principle at the
very outset of his apprenticeship to the art. For it is only by
adhering rigorously to the truth that fiction can survive. In every
period of literature, many clever authors have appeared who have
diverted their contemporaries with ingenious invention, brilliant
incident, unexpected novelty of character, or alluring eloquence of
style, but who have been discarded and forgotten by succeeding
generations merely because they failed to tell the truth. Probably in
the whole range of English fiction there is no more skilful weaver of
enthralling plots, no more clever master of invention or manipulator
of suspense, than Wilkie Collins; but Collins is already discarded and
well-nigh forgotten, because the reading world has found that he
exhibited no truths of genuine importance, but rather sacrificed the
eternal realities of life for mere momentary plausibilities. Probably,
also, there is no artist in French prose more seductive in his
eloquence than René de Chateaubriand; but his fiction is no longer
read, because the world has found that his sentimentalism was to this
extent a sham--it was false to the nature of normal human beings.
"Alice in Wonderland" will survive the works of both these able
authors, because of the many and momentous human truths that look upon
us through its drift of dreams.

=Morality and Immorality in Fiction.=--The whole question of the
morality or immorality of a work of fiction is a question merely of
its truth or falsity. To appreciate this point, we must first be
careful to distinguish immorality from coarseness. The morality of a
fiction-writer is not dependent on the decency of his expression. In
fact, the history of literature shows that authors frankly coarse,
like Rabelais or Swift for instance, have rarely or never been
immoral; and that the most immoral books have been written in the most
delicate language. Swift and Rabelais are moral, because they tell the
truth with sanity and vigor; we may object to certain passages in
their writings on esthetic, but not on ethical, grounds. They may
offend our taste; but they are not likely to lead astray our
judgment--far less likely than D'Annunzio, for instance, who, although
he never offends the most delicate esthetic taste, sicklies o'er with
the pale cast of his poetry a sad unsanity of outlook upon the
ultimate deep truths of human life. In the second place, we must
bravely realize that the morality of a work of fiction has little or
no dependence on the subject that it treats. It is utterly unjust to
the novelist to decide, as many unreasonable readers do, that such a
book as Daudet's "Sapho" must be of necessity immoral because it
exhibits immoral characters in a series of immoral acts. There is no
such thing as an immoral subject for a novel: in the treatment of the
subject, and only in the treatment, lies the basis for ethical
judgment of the work. The one thing needful in order that a novel may
be moral is that the author shall maintain throughout his work a sane
and healthy insight into the soundness or unsoundness of the relations
between his characters. He must know when they are right and know when
they are wrong, and must make clear to us the reasons for his
judgment. He cannot be immoral unless he is untrue. To make us pity
his characters when they are vile, or love them when they are noxious,
to invent excuses for them in situations where they cannot be excused,
to leave us satisfied when their baseness has been unbetrayed, to make
us wonder if after all the exception is not greater than the rule--in
a single word, to lie about his characters--this is, for the
fiction-writer, the one unpardonable sin.

=The Faculty of Wisdom.=--But it is not an easy thing to tell the
truth of human life, and nothing but the truth. The best of
fiction-writers fall to falsehood now and then; and it is only by
honest labor and sincere strife for the ideal that they contrive in
the main to fulfil the purpose of their art. But the writer of fiction
must be not only honest and sincere; he must be wise as well. _Wisdom
is the faculty of seeing through and all around an object of
contemplation, and understanding totally and at once its relations to
all other objects._ This faculty cannot be acquired; it has to be
developed: and it is developed by experience only. Experience
ordinarily requires time; and though, for special reasons which will
be noted later on, most of the great short-story writers have been
young, we are not surprised to notice that most of the great novelists
have been men mature in years. They have ripened slowly to a
realization of those truths which later they have labored to impart.
Richardson, the father of the modern English novel, was fifty-one
years old when "Pamela" was published; Scott was forty-three when
"Waverley" appeared; Hawthorne was forty-six when he wrote "The
Scarlet Letter"; Thackeray and George Eliot were well on their way to
the forties when they completed "Vanity Fair" and "Adam Bede"; and
these are the first novels of each writer.

=Wisdom and Technic.=--The young author who aspires to write novels
must not only labor to acquire the technic of his art: it is even more
important that he should so order his life as to grow cunning in the
basic truths of human nature. His first problem--the problem of
acquiring technic--is comparatively easy. Technic may be learned from
books--the master-works of art in fiction. It may be studied
empirically. The student may observe what the masters have, and have
not, done; and he may puzzle out the reasons why. And he may perhaps
be helped by constructive critics of fiction in his endeavor to
understand these reasons. But his second problem--the problem of
developing wisdom--is more difficult; and he must grapple with it
without any aid from books. What he learns of human life, he must
learn in his own way, without extraneous assistance.

It is easy enough for the student to learn, for instance, how the
great short-stories have been constructed. It is easy enough for the
critic, on the basis of such knowledge, to formulate empirically the
principles of this special art of narrative. But it is not easy for
the student to discover, or for the critic to suggest, how a man in
his early twenties may develop such a wise insight into human life as
is displayed, for example, in Mr. Kipling's "Without Benefit of
Clergy." A few suggestions may, perhaps, be offered; but they must be
considered merely as suggestions, and must not be overvalued.

=General and Particular Experience.=--At the outset, it may be
noted that the writer of fiction needs two different endowments of
experience:--first, a broad and general experience of life at
large; and second, a deep and specific experience of that particular
phase of life which he wishes to depict. A general and broad
experience is common to all masters of the art of fiction: it is in
the particular nature of their specific and deep experience that
they differ one from another. Although in range and sweep of general
knowledge Sir Walter Scott was far more vast than Jane Austen, he
confessed amazement at the depth of her specific knowledge of every-day
English middle-class society. Most of the great novelists have
made, like Jane Austen, a special study of some particular field.
Hawthorne is an authority on Puritan New England, Thackeray on
London high society, Henry James on cosmopolitan super-civilization.
It would seem, therefore, that a young author, while keeping his
observation fresh for all experience, should devote especial notice
to experience of some particular phase of life. But along comes Mr.
Rudyard Kipling, with his world-engirdling knowledge, to jostle us
out of faith in too narrow a focus of attention.

=Extensive and Intensive Experience.=--Experience is of two sorts,
extensive and intensive. A mere glance at the range of Mr. Kipling's
subjects would show us the breadth of his extensive experience:
evidently he has lived in many lands and looked with sympathy upon the
lives of many sorts of people. But in certain stories, like his "They"
for instance, we are arrested rather by the depth of his intensive
experience. "They" reveals to us an author who not necessarily has
roamed about the world, but who necessarily has felt all phases of the
mother-longing in a woman. The things that Mr. Kipling knows in "They"
could never have been learned except through sympathy.

Intensive experience is immeasurably more valuable to the fiction-writer
than extensive experience: but the difficulty is that, although the
latter may be gained through the obvious expedients of travel and
voluntary association with many and various types of people, the
former can never be gained through any amount of deliberate and
conscious seeking. The great intensive experiences of life, like love
and friendship, must come unsought if they are to come at all; and no
man can gain a genuine experience of any joy or sorrow by experimenting
purposely with life. The deep experiences must be watched and waited
for. The author must be ever ready to realize them when they come: when
they knock upon his door, he must not make the mistake of answering
that he is not at home. But he must not make the contrary mistake of
going out into the highways and hedges to compel them to come within
his gates.

=The Experiencing Nature.=--Undoubtedly, very few people are always at
home for every real experience that knocks upon their doors; very few
people, to say the thing more simply, have an experiencing nature. But
great fiction may be written only by men of an experiencing nature;
and here is a basis for confession that, after all, fiction-writers
are born, not made. The experiencing nature is difficult to define;
but two of its most evident qualities, at any rate, are a lively
curiosity and a ready sympathy. A combination of these two qualities
gives a man that intensity of interest in human life which is a
condition precedent to his ever growing to understand it. Curiosity,
for instance, is the most obvious asset in Mr. Kipling's equipment. We
did not need his playful confession in the "Just So Stories"--

                "I keep six honest serving-men
                (They taught me all I knew):--
                Their names are What and Why and When
                And How and Where and Who"--

to convince us that from his very early youth he has been an
indefatigable asker of questions. It was only through a healthy
curiosity that he could have acquired the enormous stores of specific
knowledge concerning almost every walk of life that he has displayed
in his successive volumes. On the other hand, it was obviously through
his vast endowment of sympathy that Dickens was able to learn so
thoroughly all phases of the life of the lowly in London.

=Curiosity and Sympathy.=--Experience gravitates to the man who is
both curious and sympathetic. The kingdom of adventure is within
us. Just as we create beauty in an object when we look upon it
beautifully, so we create adventure all around us when we walk the
world inwardly aglow with love of life. Things of interest happened
to Robert Louis Stevenson every day of his existence, because he
incorporated the faculty of being interested in things. In one of
his most glowing essays, "The Lantern-Bearers," he declared that
never an hour of his life had gone dully yet; if it had been spent
waiting at a railway junction, he had had some scattering thoughts,
he had counted some grains of memory, compared to which the whole
of many romances seemed but dross. The author who aspires to write
fiction should cultivate the faculty of caring for all things that
come to pass; he should train himself rigorously never to be bored;
he should look upon all life that swims into his ken with curious
and sympathetic eyes, remembering always that sympathy is a deeper
faculty than curiosity: and because of the profound joy of his
interest in life, he should endeavor humbly to earn that heritage of
interest by developing a thorough understanding of its source. In
this way, perhaps, he may grow aware of certain truths of life
which are materials for fiction. If so, he will have accomplished the
better half of his work: he will have found something to say.

   [1] Macbeth: Act V; Scene 3.


1. What is the logical relation (1) between fact and truth, (2)
  between fact and fiction, and (3) between truth and fiction?

2. Define the spheres of the respective contributions of art,
  philosophy, and science to the search for truth.

3. In what way is a well-imagined work of fiction more true to life
  than a newspaper report of actual occurrences?

4. Explain the logical basis for distinguishing between morality and
  immorality in a work of art.


FRANK NORRIS:--"A Problem in Fiction," in "The Responsibilities of the

CLAYTON HAMILTON:--"On Telling the Truth," in "The Art World" for
September, 1917.



  Two Methods of Exhibiting the Truth--Every Mind Either Realistic
  or Romantic--Marion Crawford's Faulty Distinction--A Second
  Unsatisfactory Distinction--A Third Unsatisfactory Distinction--Bliss
  Perry's Negative Definition--The True Distinction One of Method, Not
  of Material--Scientific Discovery and Artistic Expression--The
  Testimony of Hawthorne--A Philosophic Formula--Induction and
  Deduction--The Inductive Method of the Realist--The Deductive Method
  of the Romantic--Realism, Like Inductive Science, a Strictly Modern
  Product--Advantages of Realism--Advantages of Romance--The Confinement
  of Realism--The Freedom of Romance--Neither Method Better Than the
  Other--Abuses of Realism--Abuses of Romance.

=Two Methods of Exhibiting the Truth.=--Although all writers of
fiction who take their work seriously and do it honestly are at one in
their purpose--namely, to embody certain truths of human life in a
series of imagined facts--they diverge into two contrasted groups
according to their manner of accomplishing this purpose,--their method
of exhibiting the truth. Consequently we find in practice two
contrasted schools of novelists, which we distinguish by the titles
Realistic and Romantic.

=Every Mind Either Realistic or Romantic.=--The distinction between
realism and romance is fundamental and deep-seated; for every man,
whether consciously or not, is either a romantic or a realist in the
dominant habit of his thought. The reader who is a realist by nature
will prefer George Eliot to Scott; the reader who is romantic will
rather read Victor Hugo than Flaubert; and neither taste is better
than the other. Each reader's preference is born with his brain, and
has its origin in his customary processes of thinking. In view of this
fact, it seems strange that no adequate definition has ever yet been
made of the difference between realism and romance.[2] Various
superficial explanations have been offered, it is true; but none of
them has been scientific and satisfactory.

=Marion Crawford's Faulty Distinction.=--One of the most common of
these superficial explanations is the one which has been phrased by
the late F. Marion Crawford in his little book upon "The Novel: What
It Is":--"The realist proposes to show men what they are; the
romantist (_sic_) tries to show men what they should be." The trouble
with this distinction is that it utterly fails to distinguish. Surely
all novelists, whether realistic or romantic, try to show men what
they are--what else can be their reason for embodying in imagined
facts the truths of human life? Victor Hugo, the romantic, in "Les
Misérables," endeavors just as honestly and earnestly to show men what
they are as does Flaubert, the realist, in "Madame Bovary." And on the
other hand, Thackeray, the realist, in characters like Henry Esmond
and Colonel Newcome, shows men what they should be just as thoroughly
as the romantic Scott. Indeed, it is hardly possible to conceive how
any novelist, whether romantic or realistic, could devise a means of
showing the one thing without at the same time showing the other also.
Every important fiction-writer, no matter to which of the two schools
he happens to belong, strives to accomplish, in a single effort of
creation, _both_ of the purposes noted by Marion Crawford. He may be
realistic or romantic in his way of showing men what they are;
realistic or romantic in his way of showing them what they should be:
the difference lies, not in which of the two he tries to show, but in
the way he tries to show it.

=A Second Unsatisfactory Distinction.=--Again, we have been told that,
in their stories, the romantics dwell mainly upon the element of
action, while the realists are interested chiefly in the element of
character. But this explanation fails many times to fit the facts: for
the great romantic characters, like Leather-Stocking, Don Quixote,
Monte Cristo, Claude Frollo, are just as vividly drawn as the great
characters of realism; and the great events of realistic novels, like
Rawdon Crawley's discovery of his wife with Lord Steyne, or Adam
Bede's fight with Arthur Donnithorne, are just as thrilling as the
resounding actions of romance. Furthermore, if we should accept this
explanation, we should find ourselves unable to classify as either
realistic or romantic the very large body of novels in which neither
element--of action or of character--shows any marked preponderance
over the other. Henry James, in his genial essay on "The Art of
Fiction," has cast a vivid light on this objection. "There is an
old-fashioned distinction," he says, "between the novel of character
and the novel of incident which must have cost many a smile to the
intending fabulist who was keen about his work.... What is character
but the determination of incident? What is incident but the
illustration of character?... It is an incident for a woman to stand
up with her hand resting on a table and look out at you in a certain
way; or if it be not an incident I think it will be hard to say what
it is. At the same time it is an expression of character."

=A Third Unsatisfactory Distinction.=--We have been told also that the
realists paint the manners of their own place and time, while the
romantics deal with more remote materials. But this distinction,
likewise, often fails to hold. No stories were ever more essentially
romantic than Stevenson's "New Arabian Nights," which depict details
of London and Parisian life at the time when the author wrote them;
and no novel is more essentially realistic than "Romola," which
carries us back through many centuries to a medieval city far away.
Thackeray, the realist, in "Henry Esmond," and its sequel "The
Virginians," departed further from his own time and place than
Hawthorne, the romantic, in "The House of the Seven Gables"; and while
the realistic Meredith frequently fares abroad in his stories,
especially to Italy, the romantic Barrie looks upon life almost always
from his own little window in Thrums.

=Bliss Perry's Negative Definition.=--In his interesting and
suggestive "Study of Prose Fiction," Professor Bliss Perry has devoted
a chapter to realism and another to romance; but he has not succeeded
in defining either term. He has, to be sure, essayed a negative
definition of realism:--"Realistic fiction is that which does not
shrink from the commonplace or from the unpleasant in its effort to
depict things as they are, life as it is." But we have seen that the
effort of all fiction, whether realistic or romantic, is to depict
life as it _really_ (though not necessarily as it _actually_) is. Does
not "The Brushwood Boy," although it suggests the super-actual, set
forth a common truth of the most intimate human relationship, which
every lover recognizes as real? Every great writer of fiction tries,
in his own romantic or realistic way, to "draw the Thing as he sees It
for the God of Things as They Are." We must therefore focus our
attention mainly on the earlier phrases of Professor Perry's
definition. He states that realistic fiction does not shrink from the
commonplace. That depends. The realism of Jules and Edmond de Goncourt
does not, to be sure; but most assuredly the realism of George
Meredith does. You will find far less shrinking from the commonplace
in many passages of the romantic Fenimore Cooper than in the pages of
George Meredith. Whether or not realistic fiction shrinks from the
unpleasant depends also on the particular nature of the realist.
Zola's realism certainly does not; Jane Austen's decidedly does. You
will find far less shrinking from the unpleasant, of one sort, in Poe,
of another sort, in Catulle Mendès--both of them romantics--than in
the novels of Jane Austen. What is the use, then, of Professor Perry's
definition of realism, since it remains open to so many exceptions?
And in his chapter on romance the critic does not even attempt to
formulate a definition.

=The True Distinction One of Method, Not of Material.=--We have now
examined several of the current explanations of the difference
between romance and realism and have found that each is wanting. The
trouble with all of them seems to be that they attempt to find a
basis for distinguishing between the two schools of fiction in the
subject-matter, or materials, of the novelist. Does not the real
distinction lie rather in the novelist's attitude of mind toward his
materials, whatever those materials may be? Surely there is no such
thing inherently as a realistic subject or a romantic subject. The
very same subject may be treated realistically by one novelist and
romantically by another. George Eliot would have built a realistic
novel on the theme of "The Scarlet Letter"; and Hawthorne would have
made a romance out of the materials of "Silas Marner." The whole
of human life, or any part of it, offers materials for romantic
and realist alike. Therefore no distinction between the schools is
possible upon the basis of subject-matter: the real distinction must
be one of method in setting subject-matter forth. The distinction is
not external, but internal; it dwells in the mind of the novelist;
it is a matter for philosophic, not for literary, investigation.

=Scientific Discovery and Artistic Expression.=--If we seek within the
mental habits of the novelist for a philosophic distinction between
realism and romance, we shall have to return to a consideration of that
threefold process of the fiction-making mind which was expounded in the
preceding chapter of this book. Scientific discovery, philosophic
understanding, and artistic expression of the truths of human life
are phases of creation common to romantics and realists alike; but
though the writers of both schools meet equally upon the central
ground of philosophic understanding, is it not evident that the
realists are most interested in looking backward over the antecedent
ground of scientific discovery, and the romantics are most interested in
looking forward over the subsequent ground of artistic expression?
Suppose, for the purpose of illustration, that two novelists of equal
ability--the one a realist, the other a romantic--have observed and
studied carefully the same events and characters of actual life; and
suppose further that they agree in their conception of the truth behind
the facts. Suppose now that each of them writes a novel to embody this
conception of the truth, in which they are agreed. Will not the realist
regard as most important the scientific process of discovery by means
of which he arrived at his conception; and will he not therefore strive
to make that process clear to the reader by turning back to the point at
which he began his observations and then leading the reader forward
through a similar scientific study of imagined facts until the reader
joins him on the ground of philosophic understanding? And, on the
other hand, will not the romantic regard as most important the
artistic process of embodying his conception; and will he not therefore
be satisfied with any means of embodying it clearly and effectively,
without caring whether or not the imagined facts which he selects for
this purpose are similar to the actual facts from which he first induced
his philosophic understanding?

=The Testimony of Hawthorne.=--This thought was apparently in
Hawthorne's mind when, in the preface to "The House of the Seven
Gables," he wrote his well-known distinction between the Romance and
the (realistic) Novel:--"When a writer calls his work a Romance, it
need hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude,
both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt
himself entitled to assume had he professed to be writing a Novel. The
latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute
fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary
course of man's experience. The former--while, as a work of art, it
must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably so
far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart--has
fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great
extent, of the writer's own choosing or creation."

=A Philosophic Formula.=--But Hawthorne's statement, although it
covers the ground, is not succinct and definitive; and if we are to
examine the thesis thoroughly, we had better first state it in
philosophic terms and then elucidate the statement by explanation and
by illustration. So stated, the distinction is as follows: _In setting
forth his view of life, the realist follows the inductive method of
presentment, and the romantic follows the deductive method._

=Induction and Deduction.=--The distinction between inductive and
deductive processes of thinking is very simple and is known to all: it
is based upon the _direction_ of the train of thought. When we think
inductively, we reason from the particular to the general; and when we
think deductively, the process proceeds in the reverse direction and
we reason from the general to the particular. In our ordinary
conversation, we speak inductively when we first mention a number of
specific facts and then draw from them some general inference; and we
speak deductively when we first express a general opinion and then
elucidate it by adducing specific illustrations. That old dichotomy of
the psychologists which divides all men, according to their habits of
thought, into Platonists and Aristotelians (or, to substitute a modern
nomenclature, into Cartesians and Baconians) is merely an assertion
that every man, in the prevailing direction of his thinking, is either
deductive or inductive. Most of the great ethical philosophers have
had inductive minds; from the basis of admitted facts of experience
they have reasoned out their laws of conduct. Most of the great
religious teachers have had deductive minds: from the basis of certain
sublime assumptions they have asserted their commandments. Most of the
great scientists have thought inductively: they have reasoned from
specific facts to general truths, as Newton reasoned from the fall of
an apple to the law of gravitation. Most of the great poets have
thought deductively: they have reasoned from general truths to
specific facts, as Dante reasoned from a general moral conception of
cosmogony to the particular appropriate details of every circle in
hell and purgatory and paradise. Now is not the thesis tenable that it
is in just this way that realism differs from romance? In their
endeavor to exhibit certain truths of human life, do not the realists
work inductively and the romantics deductively?

=The Inductive Method of the Realist.=--In order to bring to our
knowledge the law of life which he wishes to make clear, the realist
first leads us through a series of imagined facts as similar as
possible to the details of actual life which he studied in order to
arrive at his general conception. He elaborately imitates the facts of
actual life, so that he may say to us finally, "This is the sort of
thing that I have seen in the world, and from this I have learned the
truth I have to tell you." He leads us step by step from the
particular to the general, until we gradually grow aware of the truths
he wishes to express. And in the end, we have not only grown
acquainted with these truths, but have also been made familiar with
every step in the process of thought by which the author himself
became aware of them. "Adam Bede" tells us not only what George Eliot
knew of life, but also how she came to learn it.

=The Deductive Method of the Romantic.=--But the romantic novelist
leads us in the contrary direction--namely, from the general to the
particular. He does not attempt to show us how he arrived at his
general conception. His only care is to convey his general idea
effectively by giving it a specific illustrative embodiment. He
feels no obligation to make the imagined facts of his story resemble
closely the details of actual life; he is anxious only that they
shall represent his idea adequately and consistently. Stevenson
knew that man has a dual nature, and that the evil in him, when
pampered, will gradually gain the upper hand over the good. In his
story of the "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," he did not
attempt to set forth this truth inductively, showing us the kind of
facts from the observation of which he had drawn this conclusion. He
merely gave his thought an illustrative embodiment, by conceiving
a dual character in which a man's uglier self should have a separate
incarnation. He constructed his tale deductively: beginning with a
general conception, he reduced it to particular terms. "Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde" is, of course, a thoroughly true story, even though its
incidents are contrary to the actual facts of life. It is just as real
as a realistic novel; but in order to make it so, its author, because
he was working deductively, was not obliged to imitate the details
of actual life which he had studied. "I have learned something in the
world," he says to us: "Here is a fable that will make it clear to

=Realism, Like Inductive Science, a Strictly Modern Product.=--This
philosophic distinction between the methods of romance and realism
shows two manifest advantages over all the other attempts at a
distinction which have been examined in this chapter: first, it
really does distinguish; and secondly, it will be found in every
case to fit the facts. Furthermore, it is supported in an overwhelming
manner by the history of human thought. Every student of philosophy
will tell you that the world's thought was prevailingly deductive
till the days of Francis Bacon. Bacon was the first philosopher to
insist that induction, rather than deduction, was the most effective
method of searching for the truth. Science, which is based upon
induction, was in its infancy when Bacon taught; since then it has
matured, largely because he and his successors in philosophy
pointed out the only method through which it might develop.
Deduction has of course survived as a method of conducting thought;
but it has lost the undisputed empery which it held over the ancient
and the medieval mind. Now, if we turn to the history of fiction, we
shall notice the significant fact that realism is a strictly modern
product. All fiction was romantic till the days of Bacon. Realism is
contemporaneous with modern science and the other applications of
inductive thought. Romance survives, of course; but it has lost the
undisputed empery of fiction which it held in ancient and in
medieval times. If Bacon had written fiction, he would have been a
realist--the first realist in the history of literature; and this is
the only reply that is necessary to those who still maintain (if
any do) that he was capable of writing the romantic plays of

If it be granted now that the realist, by induction, leads his reader
up from a consideration of imagined facts to a comprehension of truth,
and that the romantic, by deduction, leads his reader down from an
apprehension of truth to a consideration of imagined facts, we may
next examine certain advantages and disadvantages of each method in
comparison with the other.

=Advantages of Realism.=--In the first place, we notice, that, while
the imagined facts of the romantic are selected merely to illustrate
the truth he wishes to convey, the imagined facts of the realist are
selected not only to illustrate, but also to support, the truth that
lies inherent in them. The realist, then, has this advantage, over the
romantic in his method of expressing truth: he has the opportunity to
prove his case by presenting the evidence on which his truth is based.
It is therefore less difficult for him to conquer credence from a
skeptical and wary reader: and we must remember always that even
though a story tells the truth, it is still a failure unless it gets
that truth believed. The romantic necessarily demands a deeper faith
in his wisdom than the realist need ask for; and he can evoke deep
faith only by absolute sincerity and utter clearness in the
presentation of his fable. Unless the reader of "The Brushwood Boy"
and "They" has absolute faith that Mr. Kipling knows the truth of his
themes, the stories are reduced to nonsense; for they present no
evidence (through running parallel to actuality) which proves that the
author _does_ know the truth. Unless the reader has faith that
Stevenson deeply understands the nature of remorse, the conversation
between Markheim and his ghostly visitant becomes incredible and vain.
The author gives himself no opportunity to prove (through analogy with
actual experience) that such a colloquy consistently presents the
inner truth of conscience.

=Advantages of Romance.=--But this great advantage of the realist--that
he supports his theme with evidence--carries with it an attendant
disadvantage. Since he lays his evidence bare before the reader, he
makes it simpler for the reader to detect him in a lie. The romantic
says, "These things are so, because I know they are"; and unless we
reject him at once and in entirety as a colossal liar, we are almost
doomed to take his word in the big moments of his story. But the
realist says, "These things are so, because they are supported by
actual facts similar to the imagined facts in which I clothe them"; and
we may answer at any point in the story, "Not at all! On the very
basis of the facts you show us, we know better than to take your
word." In other words, when the reader disbelieves a romance, he does
so by instinct, without necessarily knowing why; but when he
disbelieves a realistic novel, he does so by logic, with the evidence
before him.

A great romantic, therefore, must have the wisdom that convinces by
its very presence and conquers credence through the reader's
intuition. Who could disbelieve the author of "The Scarlet Letter"? We
do not need to see his evidence in order to know that he knows. A
great realist, on the other hand, while he need not have the
triumphant and engaging mental personality necessary to a great
romantic, must have a thorough and complete equipment of evidence
discerned from observation of the actual. He must have eyes and ears,
though he need not have a soul.

=The Confinement of Realism.=--A novelist of realistic vent is,
therefore, almost doomed to confine his fiction to his own place and
time. In no other period or nation can he be so certain of his
evidence. We know the enormous labor with which George Eliot amassed
the materials for "Romola," a realistic study of Florence during
the Renaissance; but though we recognize the work as that of a
thorough student, the details still fail to convince us as do the
details of her studies of contemporary Warwickshire. The young
aspirant to the art of fiction who knows himself to be an incipient
realist had therefore best confine his efforts to attempted
reproduction of the life he sees about him. He had better accept the
common-sensible advice which the late Sir Walter Besant gave in his
lecture on "The Art of Fiction": "A young lady brought up in a quiet
country village should avoid descriptions of garrison life; a writer
whose friends and personal experiences belong to what we call the
lower middle class should carefully avoid introducing his characters
into society; a South-countryman would hesitate before attempting to
reproduce the North-country accent. This is a very simple rule, but
one to which there should be no exception--never to go beyond your own

=The Freedom of Romance.=--The incipient realist is almost obliged to
accept this advice; but the incipient romantic need not necessarily do
so. That final injunction of Besant's--"never to go beyond your own
experience"--seems somewhat stultifying to the imagination; and there
is a great deal of very wise suggestion in Henry James' reply to it:
"What kind of experience is intended, and where does it begin and
end?... The young lady living in a village has only to be a damsel
upon whom nothing is lost to make it quite unfair (as it seems to me)
to declare to her that she shall have nothing to say about the
military. Greater miracles have been seen than that, imagination
assisting, she should speak the truth about some of these gentlemen."
The romantic "upon whom nothing is lost," may, "imagination
assisting," project his truth into some other region of experience
than those which he has actually observed. Edgar Allan Poe is
indubitably one of the great masters of the art of fiction; but there
is nothing in any of his stories to indicate that he was born in
Boston, lived in Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York, and died in
Baltimore. "The Assignation" indicates that he had lived in
Venice--where, in fact, he had never been; others of his stories have
the atmosphere of other times and lands; and most of them pass in a
dream-world of his own creation, "out of space, out of time."

So long as the romantic is sure of his truth and certain of his
power to convince the reader, he need not support his truth by an
accumulation of evidence imitated from the actual life he has
observed. But on the other hand, there is nothing to prevent his
doing so; and unless he be very headstrong--so headstrong as to be
almost unreliable--he will be extremely chary of his freedom. He
will not subvert the actual unless there is no other equally
effective means of conveying the truth he has to tell. Many times
a close adherence to actuality is as advisable for the deductive
author as it is for the inductive; many times the romantic writer
gains as much as the realist by confining his fiction to his own
environment of time and place. Scott, after all, was less successful
with his medieval kings and knights than with his homely and simple
Scottish characters. Hawthorne, in "The Marble Faun," lost a
certain completeness of effect by stepping off his own New England
shadow. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," with its subversion of the actual,
is the sort of story that might be set out of space, out of time;
but Stevenson enhanced the effect of its imaginative plausibility
by setting it in contemporary London. More and more, in recent
years, the romantics have followed the lead of the realists in
embodying their truth in scenes and characters imitated from
actuality. The early stories of the thoroughly romantic Mr. Kipling
were set in his own country, India, and in his own time; and it was
not until his actual experience had broadened to other lands, that,
to any great extent, his subjects broadened geographically. In his
stories of his own people, Mr. Kipling just as faithfully portrays the
every-day existence he has actually observed as any realist. His
method is romantic always: he deduces his details from his theme,
instead of inducing his theme from his details. He is entirely
romantic in the direction of his thought; but it is very suggestive
of the tenor of contemporary romance, to notice that he has taken the
advice of the realists and seldom gone beyond his own experience.

The range of romance is therefore far wider than the range of
realism; for all that may be treated realistically may be treated
romantically also, and much else that may be treated romantically is
hardly susceptible of realistic treatment. Granted that a romantic
have truths enough in his head, there is scarcely any limit to the
stories he may deduce from them; while, on the other hand, the work
of the inductive novelist is limited by the limits of his premises.
But the greater freedom of romance is attended by a more difficult
responsibility. If it be easier for the romantic to tell the truth,
because he has more ways of telling it, it is surely harder for him
to tell nothing but the truth. More often than the realist he is
tempted to assert uncertainties--tempted to say with vividness and
charm things of which he cannot quite be sure.

=Neither Method Better Than the Other.=--But whatever may be the
comparative advantages and disadvantages of each method of exhibiting
the truth, it is absolutely certain that either method of presentment
is natural and logical; and hence all criticism that aims to exalt
romance above realism, or realism above romance, must be forever
futile. Guy de Maupassant, in his valuable preface to "Pierre et
Jean," has spoken very wisely on this point. The ideal critic, he
says, should demand of the artist merely to "create something
beautiful, in the form most convenient to him, according to his
temperament." And he states further:--"The critic should appraise the
result only according to the nature of the effort.... He should admit
with an equal interest the contrasted theories of art, and judge the
works resultant from them only from the standpoint of their artistic
worth, accepting _a priori_ the general ideas from which they owe
their origin. To contest the right of an author to make a romantic or
a realistic work is to wish to force him to modify his temperament,
refuse to recognize his originality, and not permit him to employ the
eye and the intellect which nature has given him. Let us allow him the
liberty to understand, to observe, and to conceive in whatever way he
wishes, provided that he be an artist."

Surely this is the only sane view of the situation. Therefore, when
Mr. W. D. Howells, in his dexterous little book on "Criticism and
Fiction," pleads engagingly for realism as the only valid method for
the modern novelist, and when Stevenson, in many an alluring essay,
blows blasts upon the trumpet of romance, and challenges the realists
to show excuse for their existence, each is fighting an unnecessary
battle, since each is at the same time right and wrong. Each is right
in asserting the value of his own method, and wrong in denying the
value of the other's. The minds of men have always moved in two
directions, and always will; and as long as men shall write, we shall
have, and ought to have, both inductive and deductive fiction.

=Abuses of Realism.=--Neither of the two methods is truer than the
other; and both are great when they are well employed. Each, however,
lends itself to certain abuses which it will be well for us to notice
briefly. The realist, on the one hand, in his careful imitation of
actual life, may grow near-sighted and come to value facts for their
own sake, forgetting that his primary purpose in setting them
forth should be to lead us to understand the truths which underlie
them. More and more, as the realist advances in technic and gains in
ability to represent the actual, he is tempted to make photographs of
life instead of pictures. A picture differs from a photograph
mainly in its artistic repression of the unsignificant; it exhibits
life more truly because it focusses attention on essentials. But any
novel that dwells sedulously upon non-essentials and exalts the
unsignificant obscures the truth. This is the fallacy of the
photographic method; and from this fallacy arise the tedious
minuteness of George Eliot in her more pedestrian moments, the
interminable tea-cups of Anthony Trollope, and the mire of the
imitators of Zola. Realism latterly, especially in France, has
shown a tendency to degenerate into so-called "naturalism," a
method of art which casts the unnatural emphasis of photographic
reproduction upon phases of actual life which are base in themselves
and unsignificant of the eternal instinct which leads men more
naturally to look upward at the stars than downward at the mud. The
"naturalistic" writers are deceived in thinking that they represent
life as it really is. If their thesis were true, the human race
would have dwindled to extinction long ago. Surely a photograph of a
slattern in the gutter is no more natural than a picture of Rosalind
in the Forest of Arden; and no accuracy of imitated actuality can make
it more significant of truth.

=Abuses of Romance.=--The romantic, on the other hand, because he
works with greater freedom than the realist, may overleap himself and
express in a loose fashion general conceptions which are hasty and
devoid of truth. To this defect is owing the vast deal of rubbish
which has been foisted on us recently by feeble imitators of Scott and
Dumas père--imitators who have assumed the trappings and the suits of
the accredited masters of romance, but have not inherited their
clarity of vision into the inner truth of things that are. To such
degenerate romance, Professor Brander Matthews has applied the term
"romanticism"; and though his use of the term itself may be considered
a little too special for general currency, no exception can be taken
to the distinction which he enforces in the following paragraph: "The
Romantic calls up the idea of something primary, spontaneous, and
perhaps medieval, while the Romanticist suggests something secondary,
conscious, and of recent fabrication. Romance, like many another thing
of beauty, is very rare; but Romanticism is common enough nowadays.
The truly Romantic is difficult to achieve; but the artificial
Romanticist is so easy as to be scarce worth the attempting. The
Romantic is ever young, ever fresh, ever delightful; but the
Romanticist is stale and second-hand and unendurable. Romance is never
in danger of growing old, for it deals with the spirit of man without
regard to times and seasons; but Romanticism gets out of date with
every twist of the kaleidoscope of literary fashion. The Romantic is
eternally and essentially true, but the Romanticist is inevitably
false. Romance is sterling, but Romanticism is shoddy."

But the Scylla and the Charybdis of fiction-writing may both be
avoided. The realists gain nothing by hooting at the abuses of
romance; and the romantics gain as little by yawning over realism at
its worst. "The conditions"--to use a phase of Emerson's--"are hard
but equal": and at their best, the realist, working inductively, and
the romantic, working deductively, are equally able to present the
truth of fiction.

   [2] The theory which follows in this chapter was first announced by
       the present writer in _The Dial_ for November 16, 1904.


1. Define the difference between realism and romance.

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the realistic method?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the romantic method?

4. Which method is more natural to your own mind?

5. Upon what evidence have you based your answer to the foregoing


BLISS PERRY: "A Study of Prose Fiction"--Chapter IX, on "Realism," and
Chapter X, on "Romanticism."

F. MARION CRAWFORD: "The Novel: What It Is."

HENRY JAMES: "The Art of Fiction."

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE: Preface to "The House of the Seven Gables."

SIR WALTER BESANT: "The Art of Fiction."

GUY DE MAUPASSANT: Preface to "Pierre et Jean."

WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS: "Criticism and Fiction."

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON: "The Lantern-Bearers."

BRANDER MATTHEWS: "Romance Against Romanticism," in "The Historical



  Transition from Material to Method--The Four Methods of Discourse--1.
  Argumentation; 2. Exposition; 3. Description; 4. Narration, the
  Natural Mood of Fiction--Series and Succession--Life Is Chronological,
  Art Is Logical--The Narrative Sense--The Joy of Telling Tales--The
  Missing of This Joy--Developing the Sense of Narrative--The
  Meaning of the Word "Event"--How to Make Things Happen--The
  Narrative of Action--The Narrative of Character--Recapitulation.

=Transition from Material to Method.=--We have now considered the
subject-matter of fiction and also the contrasted attitudes of mind of
the two great schools of fiction-writers toward setting forth that
subject-matter. We must next turn our attention to the technical
methods of presenting the materials of fiction, and notice in detail
the most important devices employed by all fiction-writers in order to
fulfil the purpose of their art.

=The Four Methods of Discourse=--=1. Argumentation.=--Rhetoricians, as
everybody knows, arbitrarily but conveniently distinguish four forms,
or moods, or methods, of discourse: namely, narration, description,
exposition, and argumentation. It may be stated without fear of
well-founded contradiction that the natural mood, or method, of
fiction is the first of these,--narration. Argumentation, for its own
sake, has no place in a work of fiction. There is, to be sure, a type
of novel, which is generally called in English "the novel with a
purpose," the aim of which is to persuade the reader to accept some
special thesis that the author holds concerning politics, religion,
social ethics, or some other of the phases of life that are readily
open to discussion. But such a novel usually fails of its purpose if
it attempts to accomplish it by employing the technical devices of
argument. It can best fulfil its purpose by exhibiting indisputable
truths of life, without persuasive comment, _ex cathedra_, on the part
of the novelist. In vain he argues, denounces, or defends, appeals to
us or coaxes us, unless his story in the first place convinces by its
very truthfulness. If his thesis be as incontestable as the author
thinks it is, it can prove itself by narrative alone.

=2. Exposition.=--Exposition, for its own sake, is also out of place
in fiction. The aim of exposition is to explain,--an aim necessarily
abstract; but the purpose of fiction is to represent life,--a purpose
necessarily concrete. To discourse of life in abstract terms is to
subvert the natural mood of art; and the novelist may make his meaning
just as clear by representing life concretely, without a running
commentary of analysis and explanation. Life truly represented will
explain itself. There are, to be sure, a number of great novelists, of
whom George Eliot may be taken as the type, who frequently halt their
story to write an essay about it. These essays are often instructive
in themselves, but they are not fiction, because they do not embody
their truths in imagined facts of human life. George Eliot is at one
moment properly a novelist, and at the next moment a discursive
expositor. She would be still greater as a novelist, and a novelist
merely, if she could make her meaning clear without digressing to
another art.

=3. Description.=--Description also, in the most artistic fiction, is
used only as subsidiary and contributive to narration. The aim of
description--which is to suggest the look of things at a certain
characteristic moment--is an aim necessarily static. But life--which
the novelist purposes to represent--is not static but dynamic. The
aim of description is pictorial: but life does not hold its pictures;
it melts and merges them one into another with headlong hurrying
progression. A novelist who devotes two successive pages to the
description of a landscape or a person, necessarily makes his story
stand still while he is doing it, and thereby belies an obvious law of
life. Therefore, as writers of fiction have progressed in art, they
have more and more eliminated description for its own sake.

=4. Narration, the Natural Mood of Fiction.=--Since, then, the natural
mood, or method, of fiction is narration, it is necessary that we
should devote especial study to the nature of narrative. And in a
study frankly technical we may be aided at the outset by a definition,
which may subsequently be explained in all its bearings.

_A narrative is a representation of a series of events._ This is a
very simple definition; and only two words of it can possibly demand
elucidation. These words are _series_ and _event_. The word _event_
will be explained fully in a later section of this chapter: meanwhile
it may be understood loosely as synonymous with _happening_. Let us
first examine the exact meaning of the word _series_.

=Series and Succession.=--The word _series_ implies much more than the
word _succession_: it implies a relation not merely chronological but
also logical; and the logical relation it implies is that of cause and
effect. In any section of actual life which we examine, the events are
likely to appear merely in succession and not in series. One event
follows another immediately in time, but does not seem linked to it
immediately by the law of causation. What you do this morning does not
often necessitate as a logical consequence what you do this afternoon;
and what you do this evening is not often a logical result of what you
have done during the day. Any transcript from actual life that is not
deliberately arranged and logically patterned is therefore likely not
to be a narrative. A passage from a diary, for instance, which states
events in the order of their happening but makes no attempt to present
them as links in a chain of causation, is not, technically speaking,
narrative in method. To illustrate this point, let us open at random
the diary of Samuel Pepys. Here is his entry for April 29, 1666:--

"To Church, where Mr. Mills, a lazy sermon upon the Devil's having no
right to anything in this world. To Mr. Evelyn's, where I walked in
his garden till he come from Church, with great pleasure reading
Ridley's discourse, all my way going and coming, upon the Civil and
Ecclesiastical Law. He being come home, he and I walked together in
the garden with mighty pleasure, he being a very ingenious man; and,
the more I know him, the the more I love him. Weary to bed, after
having my hair of my head cut shorter, even close to my skull, for
coolness, it being mighty hot weather."

There is no logical continuity in the worthy diarist's faithful
chronicle of actuality. What occasioned the weariness with which he
went to bed? It could not have been the company of Mr. Evelyn, whom he
loved; it could hardly have been the volume on the civil and
ecclesiastical law, though its title does suggest the soporific. Was
his strength, like Samson's, shorn away with the hair of his head; or
can it be that that lazy sermon of Mr. Mills' got in its deadening
effects at bedtime? We notice, at any rate, that the diarist's remarks
need considerable re-arrangement to make them really narrative.

=Life Is Chronological, Art Is Logical.=--Yet it is just in this way
that commonly event succeeds event in the daily life of every one. It
is only in the great passionate crises of existence that event treads
upon event in uninterrupted sequence of causation. And here is the
main formal difference between life as it actually happens and life as
it is artistically represented in history, biography, and fiction. _In
every art there are two steps; first, the selection of essentials, and
secondly, the arrangement of these essentials according to a pattern._
In the art of narration, events are first selected because they
suggest an essential logical relation to each other; and they are then
arranged along the lines of a pattern of causation. Let us compare
with the haphazard passage from Pepys a bit of narrative that is
artistically patterned. Here is the conclusion to Stevenson's story of
"Markheim." The hero, having slain a dealer in his shop on Christmas
day, spends a long time alone, ransacking the dealer's effects and
listening to the voice of conscience. He is interrupted by a ringing
of the door-bell. The dealer's maid has returned from holidaying.--

"He opened the door and went downstairs very slowly, thinking to
himself. His past went soberly before him; he beheld it as it was,
ugly and strenuous like a dream, random as a chance-medley--a scene of
defeat. Life, as he thus reviewed it, tempted him no longer; but on
the further side he perceived a quiet haven for his bark. He paused in
the passage, and looked into the shop, where the candle still burned
by the dead body. It was strangely silent. Thoughts of the dealer
swarmed into his mind as he stood gazing. And then the bell once more
broke out into impatient clamor.

"He confronted the maid upon the threshold with something like a

"'You had better go for the police,' said he: 'I have killed your

The last sentence of this passage is an effect which is logically led
up to by many causes that are rapidly reviewed in the preceding
sentences. Stevenson has here patterned a passage of life along lines
of causation; he has employed the logical method of narration: but
Pepys, in the selection quoted, looked upon events with no narrative
sense whatever.

=The Narrative Sense.=--The narrative sense is, primarily, an ability
to trace an event back to its logical causes and to look forward to
its logical effects. It is the sense through which we realize, for
instance, that what happened at two o'clock to-day, although it may
not have resulted necessarily from what happened an hour before, was
the logical outcome of something else that happened at noon on the
preceding Thursday, let us say, and that this in turn was the result
of causes stretching back through many months. A well-developed
narrative sense in looking on at life is very rare. Every one, of
course, is able to refer the headache of the morning after to the
hilarity if the night before; and even, after some experience, to
foresee the headache at the time of the hilarity: but life, to the
casual eye of the average man, hides in the main the secrets of its
series, and betrays only an illogical succession of events. Minds
cruder than the average see only a jumble of happenings in the life
they look upon, and group them, if at all, by propinquity in time,
rather than by any deeper law of relation. Such a mind had Dame
Quickly, the loquacious Hostess in Shakespeare's "Henry IV." Consider
the famous speech in which she accuses Falstaff of breach of promise
to marry her:--

"Thou didst swear to me upon a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my
Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, upon
Wednesday in Wheeson week, when the prince broke thy head for liking
his father to a singing man of Windsor, thou didst swear to me then,
as I was washing thy wound, to marry me and make me my lady thy wife.
Canst thou deny it? Did not goodwife Keech, the butcher's wife, come
in then and call me gossip Quickly? coming in to borrow a mess of
vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns; whereby thou didst
desire to eat some; whereby I told thee they were ill for a green
wound? And didst thou not, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to
be no more so familiarity with such poor people; saying that ere long
they should call me madam? And didst thou not kiss me and bid me fetch
thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy book-oath: deny it, if
thou canst."

There are, of course, many deficiencies in Dame Quickly's mental
make-up; but the one for us to notice here is her utter lack of the
narrative sense. She would never be able to tell a story: because, in
the first place, she could not select from a muddle of events those
which bore an intelligible relation to one another, and in the
second place, she could not arrange them logically instead of
chronologically. She has no sense of series. And although Dame
Quickly's mind is an exaggeration of the type it represents, the
type, in less exaggerated form, is very common; and everybody will
agree that the average man, who has never taken pains to train
himself in narrative, is not able in his ordinary conversation to
tell with ease a logically connected story.

=The Joy of Telling Tales.=--The better sort of narrative sense is
not merely an abstract intellectual understanding of the relation
of cause and effect subsisting between events often disparate in
time; it is, rather, a concrete feeling of the relation. It is an
intuitive feeling; and, being such, it is possessed instinctively
by certain minds. There are people in the world who are natural
born story-tellers; all of us have met with them in actual life:
and to this class belong the story-telling giants, like Sir Walter
Scott, Victor Hugo, Dumas père, Stevenson, and Mr. Kipling.
Narrative is natural to their minds. They sense events in series;
and a series once started in their imagination propels itself with
hurrying progression. Some novelists, like Wilkie Collins, have
nothing else to recommend them but this native sense of narrative;
but it is a gift that is not to be despised. Authors with something
important to say about life have need of it, in order that the
process of reading their fiction may be, in Stevenson's phrase,
"absorbing and voluptuous." In the great story-tellers, there is a
sort of self-enjoyment in the exercise of the sense of narrative;
and this, by sheer contagion, communicates enjoyment to the reader.
Perhaps it may be called (by analogy with the familiar phrase, "the
joy of living") the joy of telling tales. The joy of telling tales
which shines through "Treasure Island" is perhaps the main reason for
the continued popularity of the story. The author is having such a
good time in telling his tale that he gives us necessarily a good
time in reading it.

=The Missing of This Joy.=--But many of the novelists who have had
great things to say about human life have been singularly deficient in
this native sense of narrative. George Eliot and Anthony Trollope, for
example, almost never evidence the joy of telling tales. George
Eliot's natural habit of mind was abstract rather than concrete; she
was born an essayist. But, largely through the influence of George
Henry Lewes, she deliberately decided that fiction was the most
effective medium for expressing her philosophy of life. Thereafter she
strove earnestly to develop that sense of narrative which, at the
outset, was largely lacking in her mind. To many readers who are not
without appreciation of the importance and profundity of her
understanding of human nature, her stories are wearisome and
unalluring, because she told them with labor, not with ease. She does
not seem to have had a good time with them, as Stevenson had with
"Treasure Island," a story in other ways of comparative unimportance.
And surely it is not frivolous to state that the most profound and
serious of thoughts are communicated best when they are communicated
with the greatest interest.

=Developing the Sense of Narrative.=--It could hardly be hoped that a
person entirely devoid of the narrative sense should acquire it by any
amount of labor; but nearly every one possesses it in at least a
rudimentary degree, and any one possessing it at all may develop it by
exercise. A simple and common-sensible exercise is to seize hold of
some event that happens in our daily lives, and then think back over
all the antecedent events we can remember, until we discern which ones
among them stand in a causal relation to the event we are considering.
Next, it will be well to look forward and imagine the sort of events
which will logically carry on the series. The great generals of
history have won their most signal victories by an exercise of the
narrative sense. Holding at the moment of planning a campaign the past
and present terms of a logical series of events, they have imagined
forward and foreseen the probable progression of the series. This may
perhaps explain why the great commanders, like Cæsar and Grant, have
written such able narrative when they have turned to literature.

The young author who is trying to develop his narrative sense may find
unending exercise in the endeavor to ferret out the various series of
events which lie entangled in the confused and apparently unrelated
successions of incidents which pass before his observation. When he
sees something happen in the street, he will not be satisfied, like
the casual looker-on, merely with that solitary happening; he will try
to find out what other happenings led up to it, and again what other
happenings must logically follow from it. When he sees an interesting
person in a street-car, he will wonder where that person has come from
and whither he is going, what he has just done and what he is about to
do; he will look before and after, and pine for what is not. This
exercise is in itself interesting; and if the result of it be written
down, the young author will gain experience in expression at the same
time that he is developing his sense of narrative.

=The Meaning of the Word "Event."=--It remains for us now to consider
philosophically the significance of the word _event_. Every event has
three elements: the thing that is done, the agents that do it, and the
circumstances of time and place under which it is done; or, to say the
matter in three words,--action, actors, and setting. Only when all
three elements conspire can something happen. Life suggests to the
mind of a contemplative observer many possible events which remain
unrealized because only one or two of the necessary three elements are
present,--events that are waiting, like unborn children on the other
side of Lethe, until the necessary conditions shall call them into
being. We observe a man who could do a great thing of a certain sort
if only that sort of thing were demanded to be done at the time and in
the place in which he loiters wasted. We grow aware of a great thing
longing to be done, when there is no one present who is capable of
doing it. We behold conditions of place and time entirely fitted for a
certain sort of happening; but nothing happens, because the necessary
people are away. "Never the time and the place and the loved one all
together!" sang Robert Browning; and then he dreamed upon an event
which was waiting to be born,--waiting for the imagined meeting and
marriage of its elements.

=How to Make Things Happen.=--It is the function of the master of
creative narrative to call events into being. He does this by
assembling and marrying the elements without which events cannot
occur. Granted the conception of a character who is capable of doing
certain things, he finds things of that sort for the character to do;
granted a sense of certain things longing to be done, he finds people
who will do them; or granted the time and the place that seem
expectant of a certain sort of happening, he finds the agents proper
to the setting. There is a conversation of Stevenson's, covering this
point, which has been often quoted. His biographer, Mr. Graham
Balfour, tells us: "Either on that day or about that time I remember
very distinctly his saying to me: 'There are, so far as I know, three
ways, and three ways only, of writing a story. You may take a plot and
fit characters to it, or you may take a character and choose incidents
and situations to develop it, or lastly--you must bear with me while I
try to make this clear'--(here he made a gesture with his hand as if
he were trying to shape something and give it outline and form)--'you
may take a certain atmosphere and get action and persons to express it
and realize it. I'll give you an example--"The Merry Men." There I
began with the feeling of one of those islands on the west coast of
Scotland, and I gradually developed the story to express the sentiment
with which the coast affected me.'"

In other words, starting with any one of the three elements--action,
actors, or setting--the writer of narrative may create events by
imagining the other two. Comparatively speaking, there have been very
few stories, like "The Merry Men," in which the author has started out
from a sense of setting; and nearly all of them have been written
recently. The feeling for setting as the initial element in narrative
hardly dates back further than the nineteenth century. We may
therefore best consider it in a later and more special chapter, and
devote our attention for the present to the two methods of creating
narrative that have been most often used--that in which the author has
started with the element of action, and that in which he has started
with the element of character.

Very few of the great masters of narrative have, like Honoré de
Balzac, employed both one and the other method with equal success:
nearly all of them have shown an habitual mental predilection for the
one or for the other. The elder Dumas, for example, habitually devised
a scheme of action and then selected characters to fit into his plot;
and George Meredith habitually created characters and then devised the
elements of action necessary to exhibit and develop them. Readers,
like the novelists themselves, usually feel a predilection for one
method rather than the other; but surely each method is natural and
reasonable, and it would be injudicious for the critic to exalt either
of them at the expense of the other. There is plenty of material in
life to allure a mind of either habit. Certain things that are done
are in themselves so interesting that it matters comparatively little
who is doing them; and certain characters are in themselves so
interesting that it matters comparatively little what they do. To
conceive a potent train of action and thereby foreordain the nature of
such characters as will accomplish it, or to conceive characters
pregnant with potentiality for certain sorts of deeds and thereby
foreordain a train of action,--either is a legitimate method for
planning out a narrative. That method is best for any author which is
most natural for him; he will succeed best working in his own way; and
that critic is not catholic who states that either the narrative of
action or the narrative of character is a better type of work than the
other. The truth of human life may be told equally well by those who
sense primarily its element of action and by those who sense
primarily its element of character; for both elements must finally
appear commingled in any story that is real.

The critic may, however, make a philosophical distinction between the
two methods, in order to lead to a better understanding of them both.
Those writers who sense life primarily as action may be said to work
from the outside in; and those who sense it primarily as character may
be said to work from the inside out. The first method requires the
more objective, and the second the more subjective, consciousness of
life. Of the two, the objective consciousness of life is (at its
weakest) more elementary and (at its strongest) more elemental than
the subjective.

=The Narrative of Action.=--Stevenson, in his "Gossip on Romance," has
eloquently voiced the potency of an objective sense of action as the
initial factor in the development of a narrative. He is speaking of
the spell cast over him by certain books he read in boyhood. "For my
part," he says, "I liked a story to begin with an old wayside inn
where, 'towards the close of the year 17--,' several gentlemen in
three-cocked hats were playing bowls. A friend of mine preferred the
Malabar coast in a storm, with a ship beating to windward, and a
scowling fellow of Herculean proportions striding along the beach; he,
to be sure, was a pirate. This was further afield than my home-keeping
fancy loved to travel, and designed altogether for a larger canvas
than the tales that I affected. Give me a highwayman and I was full to
the brim; a Jacobite would do, but the highwayman was my favourite
dish. I can still hear that merry clatter of the hoofs along the
moonlit lane; night and the coming of day are still related in my mind
with the doings of John Rann or Jerry Abershaw; and the words
'post-chaise,' the 'great north road,' 'ostler,' and 'nag' still sound
in my ears like poetry. One and all, at least, and each with his
particular fancy, we read story-books in childhood, not for eloquence
or character or thought, but for some quality of the brute incident."
For the writer who works from the outside in, it is entirely possible
to develop from "some quality of the brute incident" a narrative that
shall be not only stirring in its propulsion of events but also
profound in its significance of elemental truth.

=The Narrative of Character.=--The method of working from the inside
out--of using a subjective sense of character as the initial factor in
the development of a narrative--is wonderfully exemplified in the work
of Ivan Turgénieff; and the method is very clearly explained in Henry
James' intimate essay on the great Russian master. Henry James
remarks: "The germ of a story, with him, was never an affair of
plot--that was the last thing he thought of: it was the representation
of certain persons. The first form in which a tale appeared to him was
as the figure of an individual, or a combination of individuals, whom
he wished to see in action, being sure that such people must do
something very special and interesting. They stood before him
definite, vivid, and he wished to know, and to show, as much as
possible of their nature. The first thing was to make clear to himself
what he did know, to begin with; and to this end he wrote out a sort
of biography of each of his characters, and everything that they had
done and that had happened to them up to the opening of the story. He
had their _dossier_, as the French say, and as the police has of that
of every conspicuous criminal. With this material in his hand he was
able to proceed; the story all lay in the question, What shall I make
them do? He always made them do things that showed them completely;
but, as he said, the defect of his manner and the reproach that was
made him was his want of 'architecture'--in other words, of
composition. The great thing, of course, is to have architecture as
well as precious material, as Walter Scott had them, as Balzac had
them. If one reads Turgénieff's stories with the knowledge that they
were composed--or rather that they came into being--in this way, one
can trace the process in every line. Story, in the conventional sense
of the word--a fable constructed, like Wordsworth's phantom, 'to
startle and waylay'--there is as little as possible. The thing
consists of the motions of a group of selected creatures, which are
not the result of a preconceived action, but a consequence of the
qualities of the actors."--And yet, for the writer who, like
Turgénieff, works from the inside out, it is entirely possible to
develop from "the qualities of the actors" a train of action that
shall be as stirring as it is significant.

=Recapitulation.=--The main principle of narrative to bear in mind
is that action alone, or character alone, is not its proper
subject-matter. The purpose of narrative is to represent events; and
an event occurs only when both character and action, with contributory
setting, are assembled and commingled. Indeed, in the greatest and
most significant events, it is impossible to decide whether the actor
or the action has the upper hand; it is impossible, in regarding
such events, for the imagination to conceive what is done and who
is doing it as elements divorced. A novelist who has started out
with either element and has afterward evoked the other may arrive
by imagination at this final complete sense of an event. The best
narratives of action and of character are indistinguishable, one from
another, in their ultimate result: they differ only in their origin:
and the author who aspires to a mastery of narrative should
remember that, in narrative at its best, character and action and
even setting are one and inseparable.

For the conveniences of study, however, it is well to examine the
elements of narrative one by one; and we shall therefore devote three
separate chapters to a technical consideration of plot, and
characters, and setting.


1. What is a narrative?

2. Distinguish between a succession and a series of events.

3. What are the two steps in any art?

4. What are the three component elements of every event?

5. Is life itself narrative in pattern?

6. Can the foregoing question be answered without qualification?

7. Discuss the comparative advantages of the narrative of action and
  the narrative of character.


WILLIAM TENNEY BREWSTER: Introduction to "Specimens of Prose

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON: "A Gossip on Romance."

HENRY JAMES: Essay on Turgénieff, in "Partial Portraits."



  Narrative a Simplification of Life--Unity in Narrative--A Definite
  Objective Point--Construction, Analytic and Synthetic--The
  Importance of Structure--Elementary Narrative--Positive and Negative
  Events--The Picaresque Pattern--Definition of Plot--Complication
  of the Network--The Major Knot--"Beginning, Middle, and End"--The
  Sub-Plot--Discursive and Compacted Narratives--Telling Much or
  Little of a Story--Where to Begin a Story--Logical Sequence and
  Chronological Succession--Tying and Untying--Transition to the
  Next Chapter.

=Narrative a Simplification of Life.=--Robert Louis Stevenson, in his
spirited essay entitled "A Humble Remonstrance," has given very
valuable advice to the writer of narrative. In concluding his remarks
he says, "And as the root of the whole matter, let him bear in mind
that his novel is not a transcript of life, to be judged by its
exactitude; but a simplification of some side or point of life, to
stand or fall by its significant simplicity. For although, in great
men, working upon great motives, what we observe and admire is often
their complexity, yet underneath appearances the truth remains
unchanged: that simplification was their method, and that simplicity
is their excellence." Indeed, as we have already noted in passing,
simplification is the method of every art. Every artist, in his own
way, simplifies life: first by selecting essentials from the
helter-skelter of details that life presents to him, and then by
arranging these essentials in accordance with a pattern. And we have
noted also that the method of the artist in narrative is to select
events which bear an essential logical relation to each other and
then to arrange them along the lines of a pattern of causation.

=Unity in Narrative.=--Of course the prime structural necessity in
narrative, as indeed in every method of discourse, is unity. Unity in
any work of art can be attained only by a definite decision of the
artist as to what he is trying to accomplish, and by a rigorous focus
of attention on his purpose to accomplish it,--a focus of attention so
rigorous as to exclude consideration of any matter which does not
contribute, directly or indirectly, to the furtherance of his aim. The
purpose of the artist in narrative is to represent a series of
events,--wherein each event stands in a causal relation, direct or
indirect, to its logical predecessor and its logical successor in the
series. Obviously the only way to attain unity of narrative is to
exclude consideration of any event which does not, directly or
indirectly, contribute to the progress of the series. For this reason,
Stevenson states in his advice to the young writer, from which we have
already quoted: "Let him choose a motive, whether of character or
passion: carefully construct his plot so that every incident is an
illustration of the motive, and every property employed shall bear to
it a near relation of congruity or contrast; ... and allow neither
himself in the narrative, nor any character in the course of the
dialogue, to utter one sentence that is not part and parcel of the
business of the story or the discussion of the problem involved. Let
him not regret if this shortens his book; it will be better so; for to
add irrelevant matter is not to lengthen but to bury. Let him not mind
if he miss a thousand qualities, so that he keeps unflaggingly in
pursuit of the one he has chosen." And earlier in the same essay, he
says of the novel: "For the welter of impressions, all forcible but
all discreet, which life presents, it substitutes a certain artificial
series of impressions, all indeed most feebly represented, but all
aiming at the same effect, all eloquent of the same idea, all chiming
together like consonant notes in music or like the graduated tints in
a good picture. From all its chapters, from all its pages, from all
its sentences, the well-written novel echoes and re-echoes its one
creative and controlling thought; to this must every incident and
character contribute; the style must have been pitched in unison with
this; and if there is anywhere a word that looks another way, the book
would be stronger, clearer, and (I had almost said) fuller without

=A Definite Objective Point.=--The only way in which the writer of
narrative may attain the unity that Stevenson has so eloquently
pleaded for is to decide upon a definite objective point, to bear in
mind constantly the culmination of his series of events, and to value
the successive details of his material only in so far as they
contribute, directly or indirectly, to the progress of the series
toward that culmination. To say the thing more simply, he must see the
end of his story from the beginning and must give the reader always a
sense of rigorous movement toward that end. His narrative, as a matter
of construction, must be finished, before, as a matter of writing, it
is begun. He must know as definitely as possible all that is to happen
and all that is not to happen in his story before he ventures to
represent in words the very first of his events. He must not, as some
beginners try to do, attempt to make his story up as he goes along;
for unless he holds the culmination of his series constantly in mind,
he will not be able to decide whether any event that suggests itself
during the progress of his composition does or does not form a logical
factor in the series.

=Construction, Analytic and Synthetic.=--The preliminary process of
construction may be accomplished in either of two ways. Authors with
synthetic minds will more naturally reason from causes to effects;
and authors with analytic minds will more naturally reason from
effects to causes. The former will construct forward through time, the
latter backward. Standing at the outset of a narrative, it is possible
to imagine forward along a series of events until the logical
culmination is divined; or standing at the culmination, it is possible
to imagine backward along the series to its far-away beginnings.
Thackeray apparently constructed in the former manner; Guy de
Maupassant apparently constructed in the latter. The latter
method--the method of building backward from the culmination--is
perhaps more efficacious toward the conservation of the strictest
unity. It seems on the whole a little easier to exclude the extraneous
in thinking from effects to causes than in thinking from causes to
effects, because analysis is a stricter and more focussed mood of mind
than synthesis.

=The Importance of Structure.=--But in whichever way the process of
construction be accomplished, the best stories are always built before
they are written; and that is the reason why, in reading them, we feel
at every point that we are getting somewhere, and that the author is
leading us step by step toward a definite culmination. Although, as is
usually the case, we cannot, even midway through the story, foresee
what the culmination is to be, we feel a certain reassurance in the
knowledge that the author has foreseen it from the start. This feeling
is one of the main sources of interest in reading narrative. In
looking on at life itself, we are baffled by a muddle of events
leading every whither; their succession is chaotic and lacking in
design; they are not marshaled and processional; and we have an
uncomfortable feeling that no mind but that of God can foresee their
veiled and hidden culminations. But in reading a narrative arrangement
of life, we have a comfortable sense of order, which comes of our
knowledge that the author knows beforehand whither the events are
tending and can make us understand the sequence of causation through
which they are moving to their ultimate result. He makes life more
interesting by making it more intelligible; and he does this mainly by
his power of construction.

=Elementary Narrative.=--The simplest of all structures for a
narrative is a straightway arrangement of events along a single strand
of causation. In such a narrative, the first event is the direct cause
of the second, the second of the third, the third of the fourth, and
so on to the culmination of the series. This very simple structure is
exhibited in many of the tales which have come down to us from early
centuries. It is frequently employed in the "Gesta Romanorum," and
scarcely less frequently in the "Decameron" of Boccaccio. It has the
advantage of being completely logical and entirely direct. But we
feel, in reading stories so constructed, that the method of
simplification has been carried too far, and that simplicity has
therefore ceased to be an excellence. Such a story is in this way
misrepresentative of life:--it fails utterly to suggest "the welter of
impressions which life presents," the sudden kaleidoscopic shifts of
actual life from one series of events to another, and the consequent
intricacy and apparent chaos of life's successive happenings. The
structure is too straightforward, too direct, too unwavering and

=Positive and Negative Events.=--The simplest way to introduce the
element of hesitance and wavering, and thereby make the story more
truly suggestive of the intricate variety of life, is to interrupt the
series by the introduction of events whose apparent tendency is to
hinder its progress, and in this way emphasize the ultimate triumph of
the series in attaining its predestined culmination. Such events are
not extraneous; because, although they tend directly to dispute the
progress of the series, they tend also indirectly to further it
through their failure to arrest it. The events in any skilfully
selected narrative may, therefore, be divided into two classes: events
direct or positive, and events indirect or negative. By a direct, or
positive, event is meant one whose immediate tendency is to aid the
progress of the series toward its predetermined objective point; and
by an indirect, or negative, event is meant one whose immediate
tendency is to thwart this predetermined outcome. It would be an easy
matter, for example, in examining "Pilgrim's Progress," to class as
positive those events which directly further the advance of Christian
toward the Celestial City, and to class as negative those events whose
immediate tendency is to turn him aside from the straight and narrow
path. And yet both classes of events, positive and negative, make up
really only a single series; because the negative events are conquered
one by one by the preponderant power of the positive events, and
contribute therefore indirectly, through their failure, to the
ultimate attainment of the culmination.

When a straightway arrangement of positive events along a single
strand of causation is varied and emphasized in this way by the
admission of negative events, whose tendency is to thwart the progress
of the series, the structure may be made very suggestive of that
conflict of forces which we feel to be ever present in actual life.
This structure is exhibited, for example, in Hawthorne's little tale
of "David Swan." The point of the story is that nothing happens to
David; the interest of the story lies in the events that almost happen
to him. The young man falls asleep at noon-time under the shade of a
clump of maples which cluster around a spring beside the highroad.
Three people, or sets of people, observe him in his sleep. The first
would confer upon him Wealth, the second Love, the third Death, if he
should waken at the moment. But David Swan sleeps deeply; the people
pass on; and all that almost happened to him subsides forever to the
region of the might-have-been.

=The Picaresque Pattern.=--A simple series of this sort, wherein the
events proceed, now directly, now indirectly, along a single logical
line, may be succeeded by another simple series of the same sort,
which in turn may be succeeded by a third, and so on indefinitely. In
this way is constructed the type of story known as picaresque, because
in Spain, where the type was first developed, the hero was usually a
_picaro_, or rogue. The narrative expedient in such stories is merely
to select a hero capable of adventure, to fling him loose into the
roaring and tremendous world, and to let things happen to him one
after another. The most widely known example of the type is not a
Spanish story, but a French,--the "Gil Blas" of Alain René Le Sage. As
soon as Gil Blas arrives at the culmination of one series of
adventures, the author starts him on another. Each series is complete
in itself and distinct from all the rest; and the structure of the
whole book may be likened, in a homely figure, to a string of
sausages. The relation between the different sections of the story is
not organic; they are merely tied together by the continuance of the
same central character from one to another. Any one of the sections
might be discarded without detriment to the others; and the order of
them might be rearranged. Plays, as well as novels, have been
constructed in this inorganic way,--for example, Molière's "L'Etourdi"
and "Les Facheux." If the actors, in performing either of these plays,
should omit one or two units of the sausage-string of incidents, the
audience would not become aware of any gap in structure. Yet a story
built in this straightforward and successive way may give a vast
impression of the shifting maze of life. Mr. Kipling's "Kim," which is
picaresque in structure, shows us nearly every aspect of the
labyrinthine life of India. He selects a healthy and normal, but not a
clever, boy, and allows all India to happen to him. The book is
without beginning and without end; but its very lack of neatness and
compactness of plan contributes to the general impression it gives of
India's immensity.

=Definition of Plot.=--But a simple series of events arranged along a
single strand of causation, or a succession of several series of this
kind strung along one after the other, may not properly be called a
plot. The word _plot_ signifies a weaving together; and a weaving
together presupposes the coexistence of more than one strand. The
simplest form of plot, properly so called, is a weaving together of
two distinct series of events; and the simplest way of weaving them
together is by so devising them that, though they may be widely
separate at their beginnings, they progress, each in its own way,
toward a common culmination,--a single momentous event which stands
therefore at the apex of each series. This event is the knot which
ties together the two strands of causation. Thus, in "Silas Marner,"
the culminating event, which is the redemption of Marner from a
misanthropic aloofness from life, through the influence of Eppie, a
child in need of love, is led up to by two distinct series of events,
of which it forms the knot. The one series, which concerns itself with
Marner, may be traced back to the unmerited wrong which he suffered in
his youth; and the other series, which concerns itself with Eppie, may
be traced back to the clandestine marriage of Eppie's father, Godfrey
Cass. The initial event of one series has no immediate logical
relation to the initial event of the other; but each series, as it
progresses, approaches nearer and nearer to the other, until they meet
and blend.

=Complication of the Network.=--A type of plot more elaborate than
this may be devised by leading up to the culmination along three or
more distinct lines of causation, instead of merely two. In the "Tale
of Two Cities," Sydney Carton's voluntary death upon the scaffold
stands at the apex of several series of events. And a plot may be
still further complicated by tying the strands together at other
points beside the culmination. In "The Merchant of Venice," the two
chief series of events are firmly knotted in the trial scene, when
Shylock is circumvented by Portia; but they are also tied together,
though less firmly, at the very outset of the play, when Antonio
borrows from Shylock the money which makes it possible for Bassanio to
woo and win the Lady of Belmont. Furthermore, any event in one of the
main strands of causation may stand at the culmination of a minor
strand, and thus may form a little knot in the general network of the
plot. In the same play, the minor strand of the elopement of Lorenzo
and Jessica attains its culmination in a scene which stands only
midway along the progress of the two main strands, that of the bond
and that of the caskets, toward their common result in the defeat of

=The Major Knot.=--But however intricately woven a plot may be, and
however many minor knots may tie together the various strands which
enter into it, there is almost always one point of greatest
complication, one big knot which ties together all the strands at
once, and stands as the common culmination of all the series, major
and minor. The story concerns itself chiefly with telling the reader
how the major knot came to be tied; but in a plot of any complexity,
the reader naturally desires to be told how the knot became untied
again. Therefore this point of greatest complication, this culmination
of all the strands of causation which are woven in the plot, this
objective point of the entire narrative, is seldom set at the very end
of a story, but usually at a point about three quarters of the way
from the beginning to the end. The first three quarters of the story,
speaking roughly, exhibit the antecedent causes of the major knot; and
the last quarter of the story exhibits its subsequent effects. A plot,
therefore, in its general aspects, may be figured as a complication
followed by an explication, a tying followed by an untying, or (to say
the same thing in French words which are perhaps more connotative) a
_nouement_ followed by a _dénouement_. The events in the _dénouement_
bear a closer logical relation to each other than the events in the
_nouement_, because all of them have a common cause in the major knot,
whereas the major knot is the ultimate effect of several distinct
series of causes which were quite separate one from another at the
time when the _nouement_ was begun. For this reason the _dénouement_
shows usually a more hurried movement than the _nouement_--one event
treading on another's heels.

="Beginning, Middle, and End."=--Undoubtedly it was this threefold
aspect of a plot--1. _The Complication_; 2. _The Major Knot_; 3. _The
Explication_--which Aristotle had in mind when he stated that every
story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. These words were
not intended to connote a quantitative equality. What Aristotle called
the "middle" may, in a modern novel, be stated in a single page, and
is much more likely to stand near the close of the book than at the
centre. But everything that comes after it, in what Aristotle called
the "end," should be an effect of which it is the cause; and
everything that comes before it, in what Aristotle called the
"beginning," should be, directly or indirectly, a cause of which it is
the effect. Only under these conditions will the plot be, as Aristotle
said it should be, an organic whole. Only in this way can it conform
to the principle of unity, which is the first principle of all
artistic endeavor.

=The Sub-Plot.=--Bearing the principle of unity ever in his mind,
Stevenson, in a phrase omitted for the moment in one of the quotations
from "A Humble Remonstrance" set forth at the beginning of this
chapter, advised the fiction-writer to "avoid a sub-plot, unless, as
sometimes in Shakespeare, the sub-plot be a reversion or complement of
the main intrigue." It seems safe to state that a sub-plot is of use
in a novel only for the purpose of tying minor knots in the leading
strands of causation, and should be discarded unless it serves that
purpose. There is no reason, however, why a novel should not tell at
once several stories of equal importance, provided that these stories
be deftly interlinked, as in that masterpiece of plotting, "Our Mutual
Friend." In this novel, the chief expedient which Dickens has employed
to bind his different stories together is to make the same person an
actor in more than one of them, so that a particular event that
happens to him may be at the same time a factor in both one and the
other series of events. Through the skilful use of this expedient,
Dickens has contrived to give his novel unity of plot, in spite of the
diversity of its narrative elements. But on the other hand, in
"Middlemarch," George Eliot has told three stories instead of one. She
has failed to make her plot an organic whole by deftly interweaving
the three strands which she has spun. And therefore this monumental
novel, so great in other ways, is faulty in structure, because it
violates the principle of unity.

=Discursive and Compacted Narratives.=--According to the extent of
complication in the plot, novels may be grouped into two classes,--the
discursive and the compacted. Thackeray wrote novels of the former
type, Hawthorne of the latter. In "Vanity Fair" there are over half a
hundred characters; in "The Scarlet Letter" there are three, or
possibly four. The discursive novel gives a more extensive, and the
compacted novel a more intensive, view of life. English authors for
the most part have tended toward the discursive type, and Continental
authors toward the compacted. The latter type demands a finer and a
firmer art, the former a broader and more catholic outlook on the

=Telling Much or Little of a Story.=--The distinction between the two
types depends chiefly upon how much or how little of his entire story
the author chooses to tell. In actual life, as was stated in a former
chapter, there are no very ends; and it may now be added that also
there are no absolute beginnings. Any event that happens is, in
Whitman's words, "an acme of things accomplished" and "an encloser of
things to be"; and in thinking back along its causes or forward along
its effects, we may continue the series until our thought loses itself
in an eternity. In any narrative, therefore, we are doomed to begin
and end in mid-career; and the question is merely how extended a
section of the entire imaginable and unimaginable series we shall
choose to represent to the reader. For instance, it would be a very
simple matter to trace the composition of Rossetti's "House of Life"
back along a causal series to the birth of a boy in Arezzo in 1304;
for it is hardly likely that Rossetti would have written a cycle of
love sonnets if many other poets, such as Shakespeare and Ronsard, had
not done so before him; and Shakespeare and Ronsard, as Sir Sidney Lee
has proved, were literary legatees of Petrarch, the aforesaid native
of Arezzo. And yet, if we were to tell the story of how Rossetti's
sonnets came to be composed, it is doubtful if we should go further
back in time than the occasion when his friend Deverell introduced him
to the beautiful daughter of a Sheffield cutler who became the
immediate inspiration of his poetry of love.

Dickens, in many novels, of which "David Copperfield" may be taken
as an example, has chosen to tell the entire life-story of his hero
from birth up to maturity. But other novelists, like George
Meredith in "The Egoist," have chosen to represent events that
pass, for the most part, in one place, and in an exceedingly short
stretch of time. It is by no means certain that Meredith does not know
as much about the boyhood and youth of Sir Willoughby Patterne as
Dickens knew about the early years of David Copperfield; but he has
chosen to compact his novel by presenting only a brief series of
events which exhibit his hero at maturity. Surely Turgénieff, after
writing out that _dossier_ of each of his characters to which Henry
James referred, must have known a great many events in their lives
which he chose to omit from his finished novel. It is interesting to
imagine the sort of plot that George Eliot would have built out of
the materials of "The Scarlet Letter." Probably she would have begun
the narrative in England at the time when Hester was a young girl.
She would have set forth the meeting of Hester and Chillingworth
and would have analyzed the causes culminating in their marriage.
Then she would have taken the couple overseas to the colony of
Massachusetts. Here Hester would have met Arthur Dimmesdale; and
George Eliot would have expended all her powers as an analyst of
life in tracing the sweet thoughts and imperious desires that led the
lovers to the dolorous pass. The fall of Hester would have been the
major knot in George Eliot's entire narrative. It would have stood at
the culmination of the _nouement_ of her plot: the subsequent
events would have been merely steps in the _dénouement_. Yet the
fall of Hester was already a thing of the past at the outset of
the story that Hawthorne chose to represent. He was interested only in
the after-effects of Hester's sin upon herself and her lover and
her husband. The major knot, or culmination, of his plot was therefore
the revelation of the scarlet letter,--a scene which would have been
only an incident in George Eliot's _dénouement_. It will be seen from
this that any story which is extended in its implications may offer a
novelist materials for any one of several plot-structures, according
to whichever section of the entire story happens most to interest his

It will be seen, also, that much of the entire story must, in any
case, remain unwritten. A plot is not only, as Stevenson stated, a
simplification of life; it is also a further simplification of the
train of events which, in simplifying life, the novelist has first
imagined. The entire story, with all its implications, is selected
from life; and the plot is then selected from the entire story. Often
a novelist may suggest as much through deliberately omitting from his
plot certain events in his imagined story as he could suggest by
representing them. Perhaps the most powerful character in George
Meredith's "Evan Harrington" is the great Mel, whose death is
announced in the very first sentence of the novel. Hawthorne, in "The
Marble Faun," never clears away the mystery of Miriam's shadowy
pursuer, nor tells us what became of Hilda when she disappeared for a
time from the sight and knowledge of her friends.

=Where to Begin a Story.=--After the novelist has selected from his
entire story the materials he means to represent, and has patterned
these materials into a plot, he enjoys considerable liberty in regard
to the point at which he may commence his narrative. He may begin at
the beginning of one or another of his main strands of causation, as
Scott usually does; or he may adopt the Homeric device, commended by
Horace, of plunging into the midst of his plot and working his way
back only afterward to its beginning. In the first chapter of
"Pendennis," the hero is seventeen years old; the second chapter
narrates the marriage of his father and mother, and his own birth and
boyhood; and at the outset of the third chapter he is only sixteen
years of age.

=Logical Sequence and Chronological Succession.=--It is obvious that,
so long as the novelist represents his events in logical sequence, it
is not at all necessary that he should present them in chronological
succession. Stories may be told backward through time as well as
forward. Thackeray often begins a chapter with an event that happened
one day, and ends it with an event that happened several days before;
he works his way backward from effects to causes, instead of forward
from causes to effects. In carrying on a plot which is woven out of
several strands, it is hardly ever possible to represent events in
uninterrupted chronological succession, even when the author
consistently works forward from causes to effects; for after he has
pursued one strand of his plot to a certain point in time, he is
obliged to turn backward several days or weeks, or possibly a longer
period, to pick up another strand and carry it forward to the same
point in time at which he left the first. Retrogression in time,
therefore, is frequently not only permissible but necessary. But it is
only common-sensible to state that chronological sequence should be
sacrificed merely for the sake of making clear the logical relation of
events; and whenever juggling with chronology tends to obscure instead
of clarify that logical relation, it is evidence of an error of
judgment on the part of the narrator. Turgénieff is often guilty of
this error of judgment. He has a disconcerting habit of bringing a new
character into the scene which stands for the moment before the eye of
the reader, and then turning the narrative backward several years in
order to recount the past life of the newcomer. Frequently, before
this parenthetic recital is completed, the reader has forgotten the
scene from which the author turned to the digression.

=Tying and Untying.=--In most plots, as has been stated, the
_nouement_ is more significant than the _dénouement_, and the causes
leading to the tying of the major knot are more interesting than the
effects traced during the process of untying it. This is the reason
why the culmination is usually set well along toward the conclusion of
the story. Sometimes even, when the major knot has been tied with a
Gordian intricacy, the author sets it at the very end of his
narrative, and suddenly cuts it instead of carefully untying it. But
there is no absolutely necessary reason why it should stand at the
end, or, as is more frequently the case, at a point about three
quarters through the story. It may even be set at the very beginning;
and the narrative may concern itself entirely with an elaborate
_dénouement_. This is the case, for example, in the detective story,
where a very intricate knot is assumed at the outset, and the
narrative proceeds to exhibit the prowess of the detective-hero in
untying it.

=Transition to the Next Chapter.=--A well-constructed plot, like any
other sort of well-articulated pattern, is interesting in itself; and
certain novels and short-stories, like Wilkie Collins' "Moonstone" and
Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue," maintain their interest almost
through the element of plot alone. But since the purpose of fiction is
to represent reality, a story will fail of the highest effect unless
the people acting in its pattern of events produce upon the reader the
illusion of living human beings. We must therefore turn our attention
next to a study of the element of character.


1. How may unity be best attained in narrative?

2. Distinguish between the analytic and synthetic methods of

3. Distinguish between positive and negative events.

4. Explain the pattern of picaresque romance.

5. What are the essential phases of a plot?

6. Explain the meaning of _nouement_ and _dénouement_.

7. Must a story always follow the order of chronology?

8. At what point in the exposition of a plot is the major knot most
  usually found? What is the logical reason for this usual position?


ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON: "A Humble Remonstrance."

BLISS PERRY: "A Study of Prose Fiction"--Chapter VI, on "The Plot."

O. HENRY: "Roads of Destiny."--The plotting of this story illustrates
in practice most of the important points expounded in this chapter.



  Characters Should Be Worth Knowing--The Personal Equation of the
  Audience--The Universal Appeal of Great Fictitious Characters--Typical
  Traits--Individual Traits--The Defect of Allegory--The Defect of
  Caricature--Static and Kinetic Characters--Direct and Indirect
  Delineation--Subdivisions of Both Methods--I. Direct Delineation: 1.
  By Exposition; 2. By Description; [Gradual Portrayal]; 3. By
  Psychological Analysis; 4. By Reports from other Characters--II.
  Indirect Delineation: 1. By Speech; 2. By Action; 3. By Effect on
  other Characters; 4. By Environment.

=Characters Should Be Worth Knowing.=--Before we proceed to study the
technical methods of delineating characters, we must ask ourselves
what constitutes a character worth delineating. A novelist is, to
speak figuratively, the social sponsor for his own fictitious
characters; and he is guilty of a social indiscretion, as it were, if
he asks his readers to meet fictitious people whom it is neither of
value nor of interest to know. Since he aims to make his readers
intimate with his characters, he must first of all be careful that his
characters are worth knowing intimately. Most of us, in actual life,
are accustomed to distinguish people who are worth our while from
people who are not; and those of us who live advisedly are accustomed
to shield ourselves from people who cannot, by the mere fact of what
they are, repay us for the expenditure of time and energy we should
have to make to get to know them. And whenever a friend of ours asks
us deliberately to meet another friend of his, we take it for granted
that our friend has reasons for believing that the acquaintanceship
will be of benefit or of interest to both. Now the novelist stands in
the position of a friend who asks us to meet certain people whom he
knows; and he runs the risk of our losing faith in his judgment unless
we find his people worth our while. By the mere fact that we bother to
read a novel, thus expending time which might otherwise be passed in
company with actual people, we are going out of our way to meet the
characters to whom the novelist wishes to introduce us. He therefore
owes us an assurance that they shall be even more worth our while than
the average actual person. This is not to say that they should
necessarily be better; they may, of course, be worse: but they should
be more clearly significant of certain interesting elements of human
nature, more thoroughly representative of certain phases of human life
which it is well for us to learn and know.

=The Personal Equation of the Audience.=--In deciding on the sort of
characters that will be worth his readers' while, the novelist must
of course be influenced by the nature of the audience he is writing
for. The characters of "Little Women" may be worth the while of
children; and it is not an adverse criticism of Louisa M. Alcott to
say that they are not worth the while of mature men and women.
Similarly, it is not an adverse criticism of certain Continental
novelists to say that their characters are decidedly unfit companions
for adolescent girls. Our judgment of the characters in a novel
should be conditioned always by our sense of the sort of readers to
whom the novel is addressed. Henry James, in his later years, wrote
usually for the super-civilized; and his characters should be judged
by different standards than the pirates of "Treasure Island,"--a story
which was written for boys, both young and old. One reader may be
bored by pirates, another by super-subtle cosmopolitans; and each
reader has the privilege of avoiding the society of the characters
that weary him.

=The Universal Appeal of Great Fictitious Characters.=--But the very
greatest characters of fiction are worth everybody's while; and surely
the masters need have felt no hesitancy in asking any one to meet
Sancho Panza, Robinson Crusoe, Henry Esmond, Jean Valjean, or Terence
Mulvaney. In fact, the most amazing thing about a great fictitious
figure is the multitude of very different people that the character is
capable of interesting. Many times we willingly absent ourselves from
actual society to pass an evening in the company of a fictitious
personage of a class with which we never associate in actual life.
Perhaps in the actual world we would never bother to converse with
illiterate provincial people; and yet we may not feel it a waste of
time and energy to meet them in the pages of "Middlemarch." For my own
part, I have always, in actual life, avoided meeting the sort of
people that appear in Thackeray's "Vanity Fair"; and yet I find it not
only interesting but profitable to associate with them through the
entire extent of a rather lengthy novel. Why is it that a reader, who,
although he has crossed the ocean many times, has never cared to enter
the engine-room of a liner, is yet willing enough to meet on intimate
terms Mr. Kipling's engineer, Mac Andrew? And why is it that ladies
who, in actual society, are fastidious of their acquaintanceship,
should yet associate throughout a novel with the Sapho of Daudet? What
is the reason why these fictitious characters should seem, for nearly
every reader, more worth while than the very same sort of people in
actual life?

=Typical Traits.=--The reason is that great fictitious characters are
typical of their class, to an extent rarely to be noticed in any
actual member of the class they typify. They "contain multitudes," to
borrow Whitman's phrase. All idealistic visionaries are typified in
Don Quixote, all misers in Harpagon, all hypocrites in Tartufe, all
egoists in Sir Willoughby Patterne, all clever, tricksy women in Becky
Sharp, all sentimentalists in Barrie's Tommy. But the average actual
man is not of sufficient magnitude to contain a multitude of others;
he is comparatively lacking in typical traits; he is not, to such a
great extent, illustrative of life, because only in a small measure is
he representative of his class. There are, of course, in actual life,
certain people of unusual magnitude who justify Emerson's title of
"Representative Men." Benjamin Franklin, for example, is such a man.
He is the only actual person entirely typical of eighteenth-century
America; and that is the main reason why, as an exhibition of
character, his autobiography is just as profitable a book as the
master-works of fiction. But men so representative are rare in actual
life; and the chief business of fiction is therefore to supply them.

=Individual Traits.=--It is mainly by supplying this need for
representative men and women that the novelist can make his characters
worth the while of every reader. But after he has made them
quintessential of a class, he must be careful also to individualize
them. Unless he endows them with certain personal traits that
distinguish them from all other representatives or members of their
class, whether actual or fictitious, he will fail to invest them with
the illusion of reality. Every great character of fiction must
exhibit, therefore, an intimate combination of typical and individual
traits. It is through being typical that the character is true; it is
through being individual that the character is convincing.

=The Defect of Allegory.=--The reason why most allegorical figures
are ineffective is that, although they are typical, they are not at
the same time individual. They are abstractly representative of a
class; but they are not concretely distinguishable from other
representatives or members of the class. We know them, therefore,
not as persons but merely as ideas. We feel very little human
interest nowadays in reading over the old morality plays, whose
characters are merely allegorical abstractions. But in criticising
them we must remember that they were designed not so much to be read
as to be performed upon the stage; and that the actors who represented
their abstract and merely typical characters must necessarily have
endowed them with concreteness and with individuality. Though a
character in one of these allegorical plays might be called
"Everyman," it was one particular man who walked and talked upon the
boards; and he evoked sympathy not so much for the type as for the
individual. But allegory written to be read is less likely to
produce the illusion of reality; and it is only when allegorical
characters are virtually conceived as individuals, instead of mere
abstractions, that they touch the heart. Christian, in Bunyan's
"Pilgrim's Progress," is so conceived. He is entirely representative
of seventeenth-century Christianity; in a sense he is all men of
Bunyan's time and Bunyan's religion; but he is also one man and one
only, and we could never in our thought confuse him with any other
character in or out of fiction.

=The Defect of Caricature.=--But just as a character may be
ineffective through being merely typical, so also a character may be
unsignificant through being merely individual. The minor figures in
Ben Jonson's Comedies of Humours are mere personifications of
exaggerated individual traits. They are caricatures rather than
characters. Dickens frequently commits the error of exhibiting
figures devoid of representative traits. Tommy Traddles is sharply
individualized by the fact that his hair is always standing on end;
but he exhibits no essential truth of human nature. Barkis, who is
always willin', and Micawber, who is always waiting for something to
turn up, are emphatically distinguished from everybody else in or out
of fiction; but they lack the large reality of representative
characters. They are individualities instead of individuals. They
do not exhibit an agglomeration of many different but consistent
traits rendered unified and single by a dominant and informing
characteristic, such as ambition in Macbeth, senility in Lear, or
irresoluteness in Hamlet. A great fictitious character must be at
once generic and specific; it must give concrete expression to an
abstract idea; it must be an individualized representation of the
typical qualities of a class. It is only figures of this sort that
are finally worth while in fiction,--more worth the reader's while
than the average actual man.

=Static and Kinetic Characters.=--But there is yet another reason why
it is often more valuable for the reader to meet fictitious characters
than to meet people of the same class in actual life; and this reason
is that during the day or two it takes to read a novel he may review
the most significant events of many years, and thus get to know a
fictitious character more completely in a brief space of time than he
could get to know him, if the character were actual, in several years
of continuous acquaintanceship. We meet two sorts of characters in the
pages of the novelists,--characters which may be called static, and
characters which may be called kinetic. The first remain unchanged
throughout the course of the story: the second grow up or down, as the
case may be, through the influence of circumstances, of their own
wills, or of the wills of other people. The recurrent characters of
Mr. Kipling's early tales, such as Mrs. Hauksbee, Strickland,
Mulvaney, Ortheris, and Learoyd, are static figures. Although they do
different things in different stories, their characters remain always
the same. But Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are kinetic figures; they
grow and change throughout the novel; they are, each in his own way,
bigger and wiser people when we leave them than they were when first
we met them. To show a character developing under stress or ripening
easily beneath beneficent influences is one of the greatest
possibilities of fiction. And to exhibit the gradual disintegration of
a character, as George Eliot does in the case of Tito Melema, is to
teach us more of the tragedy of life than we might learn in many years
of actual experience.

=Direct and Indirect Delineation.=--Only after the process of creation
is completed, and a character stands living in the mind of the
novelist, need he consider the various technical expedients which may
be employed to make the reader conscious of the character as a
personal presence. These technical expedients are many; but they may
all be grouped as phases of one or the other of two contrasted methods
of delineating character, which may be called, for convenience, direct
and indirect. According to the first method, traits of character are
conveyed directly to the reader through some sort of statement by the
writer of the story: according to the second method, characteristics
are conveyed indirectly to the reader through a necessary inference,
on his part, from the narrative itself. In employing the first, or
direct, method, the author (either in his own person or in that of
some character which he assumes) stands between the reader and the
character he is portraying, in the attitude, more or less frankly
confessed, of showman or expositor. In employing the second, or
indirect, method, the author seeks to obliterate himself as much as
possible from the reader's consciousness; and having brought the
reader face to face with the character he desires to portray, leaves
the reader to make his own acquaintance with the character. The
indirect method is of course more difficult, and, when successfully
employed, is more artistic, than the direct method. But seldom is
either used to the exclusion of the other; and it would be possible to
illustrate by successive quotations from any first-rate novel, like
"The Egoist" for example, how the same characteristics are portrayed
first by the one and then by the other method.

=Subdivisions of Both Methods.=--Each of the two methods shows itself
in many different phases. There are several distinct ways of
delineating character directly, and also several distinct means of
indirect delineation. It is perhaps serviceable for the purposes of
study to distinguish them somewhat sharply one from another; but it
must always be remembered that the masters of fiction usually employ a
commingling of them all, without conscious awareness of any critical
distinction between them. Bearing this ever in mind, let us venture on
a critical examination of some of the most frequently recurrent
phases, first, of the direct, and secondly, of the indirect, method.

=I. Direct Delineation: 1. By Exposition.=--The most obvious, and at
the same time the most elementary, means of direct portrayal is by a
deliberate expository statement of the leading traits of the character
to be portrayed. Thus, at the outset of "The Vicar of Wakefield," the
author, writing in the person of the Vicar, thus expounds the traits
of Mrs. Primrose:--

"I was ever of opinion, that the honest man who married and brought up
a large family, did more service than he who continued single, and
only talked of population. From this motive, I had scarce taken orders
a year before I began to think seriously of matrimony, and chose my
wife as she did her wedding-gown, not for a fine glossy surface, but
such qualities as would wear well. To do her justice, she was a
good-natured notable woman; and as for breeding, there were few
country ladies who could show more. She could read any English book
without much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, and cookery, none
could excel her. She prided herself also upon being an excellent
contriver in housekeeping; though I could never find that we grew
richer with all her contrivances."

This elementary means of portrayal has the obvious advantage of
succinctness. The reader is told at once, and with a fair measure of
completeness, what he is to think about the character in question. For
this reason the expedient is highly serviceable at the outset of a
story. So excellent an artist as Stevenson, in the "New Arabian
Nights," began each tale in the collection with a paragraph in which
he expounded the main traits of the leading character. But the
expedient has also several disadvantages. In the first place, being
expository, it is not narrative in mood; it savors of the essay rather
than the story; and if it be used not at the outset but during the
course of a narrative, it halts the progress of the action. In the
second place, it is abstract rather than concrete; it does not bring
the reader into the presence of a character, but merely into the
presence of an explanation; and it leaves the reader in an attitude
exactly like that which he holds toward certain actual people,
concerning whom he has been told a great deal by their friends, but
whom he has never met himself. The whole first chapter of "The Vicar
of Wakefield" is a series of little essays on the various members of
the Primrose family. Nothing happens in the chapter; the characters
never step bodily into view; and we feel at the end that we have heard
a great deal of talk about people whom we should like to meet but whom
as yet we have not seen.

=2. By Description.=--It is therefore in certain ways more
satisfactory to portray character directly through a descriptive,
rather than an expository, statement. Thus, in the second chapter of
"Martin Chuzzlewit," we are told of Mr. Pecksniff:--

"His very throat was moral. You saw a good deal of it. You looked over
a very low fence of white cravat (whereof no man had ever beheld the
tie, for he fastened it behind), and there it lay, a valley between
two jutting heights of collar, serene and whiskerless before you. It
seemed to say, on the part of Mr. Pecksniff, 'There is no deception,
ladies and gentlemen, all is peace, a holy calm pervades me.' So did
his hair, just grizzled with an iron-gray, which was all brushed off
his forehead, and stood bolt upright, or slightly drooped in kindred
action with his heavy eyelids. So did his person, which was sleek
though free from corpulency. So did his manner, which was soft and
oily. In a word, even his plain black suit, and state of widower, and
dangling double eye-glass, all tended to the same purpose, and cried
aloud, 'Behold the moral Pecksniff!'"

This statement, being in the main concretely descriptive rather than
abstractly expository, brings us face to face with the character at
the same time that it tells us what to think of him. And whereas we
feel that we have merely heard about Mrs. Primrose, we feel that we
have really seen Mr. Pecksniff.

=[Gradual Portrayal.]=--It was the custom of Sir Walter Scott, at the
introduction of a character, to furnish the reader with an elaborate
set portrayal, partly expository and partly descriptive, of the traits
and features of the character; and to allow this initial direct
statement to do duty through the remainder of the novel. The trouble
with this off-hand expedient is that the reader inevitably forgets the
set statement of the author before the narrative has very far
progressed. It is therefore more effective to make a direct portrayal
of character, whether expository or descriptive, little by little
rather than all in a lump; and to present at any one time to the
reader only such traits or features as he needs to be reminded of in
order to appreciate the scene before him. Thus, in Mr. Kipling's
masterpiece, called "They," we catch this initial glimpse of Miss

"The garden door--heavy oak sunk deep in the thickness of the
wall--opened further: a woman in a big garden hat set her foot slowly
on the time-hollowed stone step and as slowly walked across the turf.
I was forming some apology when she lifted up her head and I saw that
she was blind.

"'I heard you,' she said. 'Isn't that a motor car?'"

And it is only after five pages of narrative that the writer deems it
the proper time to add:--

"She stood looking at me with open blue eyes in which no sight lay,
and I saw for the first time that she was beautiful."

=3. By Psychological Analysis.=--The point that a direct statement of
characteristics should preferably be delivered to the reader little by
little rather than all in a lump is particularly patent when the
statement is not external and objective like those already quoted, but
internal and subjective. In a certain type of fiction, which is
commonly called "the psychological novel," the usual expedient for
delineating character is a statement partly narrative and partly
expository of what is taking place within the mind of the fictitious
person, based upon an analysis of his thoughts and his emotions, at
important moments of the story. This expedient of portraying character
by mental analysis is George Eliot's favorite technical device. Here
is a typical passage, from "The Mill on the Floss," Chapter V:--

"Maggie soon thought she had been hours in the attic, and it must be
tea-time, and they were all having their tea, and not thinking of her.
Well, then, she would stay up there and starve herself--hide herself
behind the tub, and stay there all night; and then they would all be
frightened, and Tom would be sorry. Thus Maggie thought in the pride
of her heart, as she crept behind the tub; but presently she began to
cry again at the idea that they didn't mind her being there. If she
went down again to Tom now--would he forgive her?--perhaps her father
would be there, and he would take her part. But then she wanted Tom to
forgive her because he loved her, not because his father told him. No,
she would never go down if Tom didn't come to fetch her. This
resolution lasted in great intensity for five dark minutes behind the
tub; but then the need of being loved, the strongest need in poor
Maggie's nature, began to wrestle with her pride, and soon threw it.
She crept from behind her tub into the twilight of the long attic, but
just then she heard a quick footstep on the stairs.

"Tom had been too much interested in his talk with Luke, in going the
round of the premises, walking in and out where he pleased, and
whittling sticks without any particular reason, except that he didn't
whittle sticks at school, to think of Maggie, and the effect his anger
had produced on her. He meant to punish her, and that business having
been performed, he occupied himself with other matters, like a
practical person."--

And so on. It is only after four hundred words more of this sort of
analysis that the author tells us: "It was Tom's step, then, that
Maggie heard on the stairs." This is George Eliot's way of portraying
the characters of two children who have quarreled.

Much is to be said in favor of this expedient of depicting character
by analysis. It is the only means by which the reader may be informed
directly of those thoughts and emotions of a character which are the
mainsprings of his acts. And since we cannot feel that we know a
person intimately unless we understand the workings of his mind at
characteristic moments, we derive a great advantage from this
immediate presentation of his mental processes. On the other hand, the
use of the expedient destroys the very desirable illusion that the
reader is an observer actually looking at the action, since the
details depicted do not happen to the eye but rather to the analytic
understanding. The expedient has the disadvantages of being
exceedingly abstract, and of halting happenings while the author tells
us why they happened. It is certainly unfortunate, for instance, that
it should take Tom a whole long page to get to Maggie after she has
heard his "_quick_ footstep on the stairs." Furthermore, this
expedient tends to destroy the illusion of reality by forcing the
reader into a mental attitude which he seldom assumes in looking on at
actual life. During actual occurrences people almost never pause to
analyze each other and seldom even analyze themselves. They act, and
watch other people act, without a microscopic insight into motives.
And surely the purpose of narrative should be to represent events as
they seem to occur in actuality, rather than to present a dissertation
on their causes in the manner of an essay.

An important point, however, remains to be considered. Events are of
two kinds, external and internal; things happen subjectively as well
as objectively: and in representing the sort of occurrence which takes
place only inside a person's mind, the expedient of analysis is by far
the most serviceable means of making clear the elements of character
that contribute to it. But if the same expedient be employed
habitually in the depiction of external events as well, it is likely
to give the impression of unwarrantable vivisection. There is a
certain falsity of mood in giving an objective event a subjective

=4. By Reports from Other Characters.=--When, therefore, it is desired
to depict a character by direct comment on his actions or his
personality, there is a great advantage in allowing the comment to be
made by one of the other characters in the story, instead of by the
author himself in an attitude of assumed omniscience. Jane Austen
deftly exhibits this subtler phase of the expedient in many admirable
passages. For instance, in Chapter XXXIII of "Emma," Mrs. Elton thus
chatters to Emma Woodhouse:--

"'Jane Fairfax is absolutely charming, Miss Woodhouse. I quite rave
about Jane Fairfax--a sweet, interesting creature. So mild and
lady-like--and with such talents! I assure you I think she has very
extraordinary talents. I do not scruple to say that she plays
extremely well. I know enough of music to speak decidedly on that
point. Oh! she is absolutely charming! You will laugh at my
warmth--but upon my word, I talk of nothing but Jane Fairfax.'"

In Chapter XXI the same character has been thus commented on by Emma
Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley. Emma speaks first:--

"'Miss Fairfax is reserved.'

"'I always told you she was--a little; but you will soon overcome all
that part of her reserve which ought to be overcome, all that has its
foundation in diffidence. What arises from discretion must be

"'You think her diffident. I do not see it.'"

These passages not only serve to portray, more or less directly, the
personality of Jane Fairfax, but serve also at the same time to
portray indirectly the personalities of the people who are talking
about her. Mrs. Elton, in particular, is very clearly exhibited. And
this point leads us to an examination of one of the most effective
means of indirect delineation.

=II. Indirect Delineation: 1. By Speech.=--If the mere speech of a
fictitious figure be reported with sufficient fidelity to truth, it is
possible to convey through this expedient alone a very vivid sense of
character. Consider the following bits of talk:--

"'You're not a gun-sharp? I am sorry. I could have surprised you.
Apart from my gun, my tale don't amount to much of anything. I thank
you, but I don't use any tobacco you'd be likely to carry.... Bull
Durham? _Bull Durham!_ I take it all back--every last word. Bull
Durham--here! If ever you strike Akron, Ohio, when this fool-war's
over, remember you've Laughton O. Zigler in your vest pocket.
Including the city of Akron. We've a little club there.... Hell!
What's the sense of talking Akron with no pants?'

"'Did I talk? I despise exaggeration--tain't American or scientific--but
as true as I'm sitting here like a blue-ended baboon in a kloof, Teddy
Roosevelt's Western tour was a maiden's sigh compared to my
advertising work.'

"'But the general was the peach. I presume you're acquainted with the
average run of British generals, but this was my first. I sat on his
left hand, and he talked like--like the _Ladies' Home Journal_. J'ever
read that paper? It's refined, Sir--and innocuous, and full of
nickel-plated sentiments guaranteed to improve the mind. He was it. He
began by a Lydia Pinkham heart-to-heart talk about my health, and
hoped the boys had done me well, and that I was enjoying my stay in
their midst.'"

These passages are taken from Mr. Kipling's story called "The
Captive." The action is laid during the South-African war. Is it
necessary to add that the speaker is an American gun-inventor who has
fought upon the Boer side and has been captured by the British?

One point must be considered carefully. The art of these passages lies
mainly in the fact that we learn more about Zigler indirectly, from
his manner of talking, than directly, from the things which he tells
us of himself. His statement that he comes from Akron, Ohio, is less
suggestive than his fondness for Bull Durham. Any direct statement
made by a character concerning himself is of no more artistic value
than if it were made about him by the author, unless his manner of
making it gives at the same time an indirect evidence of his nature.

The subtlest phase of indirect delineation through speech is a
conveyance to the reader, through a character's remarks about himself,
of a sense of him different from that which his statement literally
expresses. Sir Willoughby Patterne, in "The Egoist," talks about
himself frequently and in detail; but the reader soon learns from the
tone and manner of his utterance to discount the high esteem in which
he holds himself. By saying one thing directly, the egoist conveys
another and a different thing indirectly to the reader.

=2. By Action.=--But in fiction, as in life, actions speak louder than
words: and the most convincing way of delineating character indirectly
is by exhibiting a person in the performance of a characteristic
action. If the action be visualized with sufficient clearness and if
its dominant details be presented to the reader with adequate
emphasis, a more vivid impression of character will be conveyed than
through any sort of direct statement by the author. As an instance of
characterization through action only, without comment or direct
portrayal, let us consider the following passage from the duel scene
of "The Master of Ballantrae." Two brothers, Mr. Henry and the Master,
hate each other; they fall to altercation over a game of cards; and
the scene is narrated by Mackellar, a servant of Mr. Henry's:--

"Mr. Henry laid down his cards. He rose to his feet very softly, and
seemed all the while like a person in deep thought. 'You coward!' he
said gently, as if to himself. And then, with neither hurry nor any
particular violence, he struck the Master in the mouth.

"The Master sprang to his feet like one transfigured; I had never seen
the man so beautiful. 'A blow!' he cried. 'I would not take a blow
from God Almighty.'

"'Lower your voice,' said Mr. Henry. 'Do you wish my father to
interfere for you again?'

"'Gentlemen, gentlemen.' I cried, and sought to come between them.

"The Master caught me by the shoulder, held me at arm's length, and
still addressing his brother: 'Do you know what this means?' said he.

"'It was the most deliberate act of my life,' says Mr. Henry.

"'I must have blood, I must have blood for this,' says the Master.

"'Please God it shall be yours,' said Mr. Henry; and he went to the
wall and took down a pair of swords that hung there with others,
naked. These he presented to the Master by the points. 'Mackellar
shall see us play fair,' said Mr. Henry. 'I think it very needful.'

"'You need insult me no more,' said the Master, taking one of the
swords at random. 'I have hated you all my life.'

"'My father is but newly gone to bed,' said Mr. Henry. 'We must go
somewhere forth of the house.'

"'There is an excellent place in the long shrubbery,' said the

"'Gentlemen,' said I, 'shame upon you both! Sons of the same mother,
would you turn against the life she gave you?'

"'Even so, Mackellar,' said Mr. Henry, with the same perfect quietude
of manner he had shown throughout."

It is not necessary for Mackellar to tell us that, whereas Mr. Henry
is phlegmatic and deliberate, the Master is impulsive and mercurial.
It is not necessary for him to attempt analysis of the emotions and
thoughts of the leading characters, since these are sufficiently
evident from what they do and say. The action happens to the eye and
ear, without the interpretation of an analytic intellect; but the
reader is made actually present at the scene, and can see and judge it
for himself. The method is absolutely narrative and not at all
expository,--entirely objective and concrete. Surely this is the most
artistic means of portraying those elements of character which
contribute to external, or objective, events: and even what happens
inside the mind of a character may often be more poignantly suggested
by a concrete account of how he looks and what he does than by an
abstract analytic statement of the movements of his mind. When
Hepzibah Pyncheon opens her shop in the House of the Seven Gables, her
state of feeling is indicated indirectly, by what she does and how she
does it.

=3. By Effect on Other Characters.=--Perhaps the most delicate means
of indirect delineation is to suggest the personality of one character
by exhibiting his effect upon certain other people in the story. In
the third book of the "Iliad," there is a temporary truce upon the
plains of Troy; and certain elders of the city look forth from the
tower of the Scæan gates and meditate upon the ten long years of
conflict and of carnage during which so many of their sons have died.
Toward them walks the white-armed Helen, robed and veiled in white;
and when they mark her approach, they say to each other (old and wise
and weary with sorrows though they be):--

         "'Small blame is theirs, if both the Trojan knights
         And brazen-mailed Achaians have endured
         So long so many evils for the sake
         Of that one woman.'"
                                       --(Bryant's Version.)

Perhaps the most remarkable instance in modern literature of the use
of this expedient is Mr. Kipling's tale of "Mrs. Bathurst." The story
is all about the woman from whom it takes its title; but she never for
a moment appears upon the scene of action, and is portrayed entirely
through her effect upon several different men. Here is a bit of
conversation concerning her. Note her effect upon the humorous and not
especially sensitive Pyecroft.--

"Said Pyecroft suddenly:--

"'How many women have you been intimate with all over the world,

"Pritchard blushed plum color to the short hairs of his seventeen-inch

"''Undreds,' said Pyecroft. 'So've I. How many of 'em can you remember
in your own mind, settin' aside the first--an' per'aps the last--_and
one more_?'

"'Few, wonderful few, now I tax myself,' said Sergeant Pritchard,

"'An' how many times might you 'ave been at Aukland?'

"'One--two,' he began. 'Why, I can't make it more than three times in
ten years. But I can remember every time that I ever saw Mrs. B.'

"'So can I--an' I've only been to Aukland twice--how she stood an'
what she was sayin' an' what she looked like. That's the secret.
'Tisn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just It.
Some women'll stay in a man's memory if they once walked down a
street, but most of 'em you can live with a month on end, an' next
commission you'd be put to it to certify whether they talked in their
sleep or not, as one might say.'"

=4. By Environment.=--Another very delicate expedient is to suggest a
character through a careful presentation of his habitual environment.
We learn a great deal about Roderick Usher from the melancholy aspect
of his House. It is possible to describe a living-room in such a way
as to convey a very definite sense of its occupant before he enters
it. Notice, for example, how much we learn about Mr. and Mrs. Boffin
(especially the latter) from this descriptive passage of Chapter V of
"Our Mutual Friend." Silas Wegg has come to fulfill his engagement to
read aloud to them the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:"--

"It was the queerest of rooms, fitted and furnished more like a
luxurious amateur tap-room than anything else within the ken of Silas
Wegg. There were two wooden settles by the fire, one on either side of
it, with a corresponding table before each. On one of these tables the
eight volumes were ranged flat, in a row like a galvanic battery; on
the other, certain squat case-bottles of inviting appearance seemed to
stand on tiptoe to exchange glances with Mr. Wegg over a front row of
tumblers and a basin of white sugar. On the hob, a kettle steamed; on,
the hearth, a cat reposed. Facing the fire between the settles, a
sofa, a footstool, and a little table formed a centrepiece devoted to
Mrs. Boffin. They were garish in taste and color, but were expensive
articles of drawing-room furniture that had a very odd look beside the
settles and the flaring gaslight pendant from the ceiling. There was a
flowery carpet on the floor; but, instead of reaching to the
fireside, its glowing vegetation stopped short at Mrs. Boffin's
footstool, and gave place to a region of sand and sawdust. Mr. Wegg
also noticed, with admiring eyes, that, while the flowery land
displayed such hollow ornamentation as stuffed birds, and waxen fruits
under glass shades, there were, in the territory where vegetation
ceased, compensatory shelves on which the best part of a large pie and
likewise of a cold joint were plainly discernible among other solids.
The room itself was large, though low; and the heavy frames of its
old-fashioned windows, and the heavy beams in its crooked ceiling,
seemed to indicate that it had once been a house of some mark standing
alone in the country."

Neither Boffin nor Mrs. Boffin appears in this descriptive paragraph;
yet many of the idiosyncrasies of each are suggested by the
conglomeration of queer belongings that they have gathered round

The student of the art of fiction may find profitable exercise in
practising separately the various means of portraying character which
have been illustrated in this chapter; but, as was stated at the
outset, he should always remember that these means are seldom used by
the great artists singly, but are generally employed to complement
each other in contributing to a central impression. The character of
Becky Sharp, for instance, is delineated indirectly through her
speech, her actions, her environment, and her effect on other people,
and at the same time is delineated directly through comments made upon
her by the author and by other figures in the story, through analysis
of her thoughts and her emotions, through expository statements of her
traits, and through occasional descriptions of her. In all of these
ways does Thackeray exert himself to give the world assurance of a

It would, however, be extremely difficult to imagine Becky Sharp
divorced from her environment of London high society. She is a part of
her setting, and her setting is a part of her. We have just noticed,
in the case of that queer room of the Boffins', how the mere
representation of setting may contribute to the delineation of
character. But setting is important in many other ways; and it is to a
special consideration of that element of narrative that we must next
turn our attention.


1. What combination of traits makes a character worth knowing?

2. Distinguish between the method of allegory and the method of

3. Imagine a fictitious person; and, after you have become
  sufficiently acquainted with this imaginary character, write eight
  distinct themes, in each of which the selfsame figure is projected
  in accordance with a different method of delineation:--1. By
  Exposition, 2. By Description, 3. By Psychological Analysis, 4. By
  Reports from Other Characters, 5. By Speech, 6. By Action, 7. By
  Effect on Other Characters, and 8. By Environment.


BLISS PERRY: "A Study of Prose Fiction"--Chapter V, on "The

Read at greater length those passages of famous fiction from which
have been selected the illustrative quotations cited in this chapter.



  Evolution of Background in the History of Painting--The First
  Stage--The Second Stage--The Third Stage--Similar Evolution of
  Setting in the History of Fiction: The First Stage--The Second
  Stage--The Third Stage: 1. Setting as an Aid to Action--2. Setting as
  an Aid to Characterization--Emotional Harmony in Setting--The
  Pathetic Fallacy--Emotional Contrast in Setting--Irony in
  Setting--Artistic and Philosophical Employment--1. Setting as a Motive
  toward Action--2. Setting as an Influence on Character--Setting as
  the Hero of the Narrative--Uses of the Weather--Romantic and
  Realistic Settings--A Romantic Setting by Edgar Allan Poe--A
  Realistic Setting by George Eliot--The Quality of Atmosphere, or
  Local Color--Recapitulation.

=Evolution of Background in the History of Painting: The First
Stage.=--In the history of figure painting it is interesting to study
the evolution of the element of background. This element is
non-existent in the earliest examples of pictorial art. The figures in
Pompeiian frescoes are limned upon a blank bright wall, most
frequently deep red in color. The father of Italian painting, Cimabue,
following the custom of the Byzantine mosaïcists, whose work he had
doubtless studied at Ravenna, drew his figures against a background
devoid of distance and perspective and detail; and even in the work of
his greater and more natural pupil, Giotto, the element of background
remains comparatively insignificant. What interests us in Giotto's
work at Padua and Assisi is first of all the story that he has to
tell, and secondly the human quality of the characters that he
exhibits. His sense of setting is extremely slight; and the homely
details that he presents for the purpose of suggesting the time and
place and circumstances of his action are very crudely depicted. His
frescoes are all foreground. It is the figures in the forefront of his
pictures that arrest our eye. His buildings and his landscapes are
conventionalized out of any real reference to his people. These are
examples of the first stage of evolution--the stage in which the
element of background bears no significant relation to the main
business of the picture.

=The Second Stage.=--In the second stage, the background is brought
into an artistic, or decorative, relation with the figures in the
foreground. This phase is exhibited by Italian painting at its period
of maturity. The great Florentines drew their figures against a
background of decorative line, the great Venetians against a
background of decorative color. But even in the work of the greatest
of them the background exists usually to fulfil a purpose merely
decorative, a purpose with immediate reference to art but without
immediate reference to life. There is no real reason, with reference
to life itself, why the "Mona Lisa" of Leonardo should smile
inscrutably upon us before a background of jagged rocks and cloudy
sky; and the curtains in Raphael's "Sistine Madonna" are introduced
merely as a detail of composition, and are not intended as a literal
statement that curtains hung upon a rod exist in heaven.

=The Third Stage.=--In the third stage, which is exhibited by later
painting, the background is brought into living relation with the
figures of the foreground,--a relation suggested not merely by the
exigencies of art but rather by the conditions of life itself. Thus
the great Dutch _genre_ painters, like the younger Teniers, show their
characters in immediate human relation to a carefully detailed
interior; or if, like Adrian van Ostade, they take them out of doors,
it is to show them entirely at home in an accustomed landscape.

This stage, in its modern development, exhibits an absolutely
essential relation between the foreground and the background--the
figures and the setting--so that neither could be imagined exactly as
it is without the presence of the other. Such an essential harmony is
shown in the "Angelus" of Jean-François Millet. The people exist for
the sake of giving meaning to the landscape; and the landscape exists
for the sake of giving meaning to the people. The "Angelus" is neither
figure painting nor landscape painting merely; it is both.

=Similar Evolution of Setting in the History of Fiction: The First
Stage.=--In the history of fiction we may note a similar evolution in
the element of setting. The earliest folk-tales of every nation happen
"once upon a time," and without any definite localization. In the
"Gesta Romanorum," that medieval repository of accumulated narratives,
the element of setting is nearly as non-existent as the element of
background in the frescoes of Pompeii. Even in the "Decameron" of
Boccaccio the stories are seldom localized: they happen almost
anywhere at almost any time. The interest in Boccaccio's narrative,
like the interest in Giotto's painting, is centred first of all in the
element of action, and secondly in the element of character. But his
stories are all foreground. When the scene is out of doors, it is set
vaguely in a conventional landscape: when it is indoors, it is set
vaguely in a conventional palace. Because of this, his narrative is
lacking in visual appeal. Most of his _novelle_ read like summaries of
novels,--setting forth an abstract synopsis of the action rather than
a concrete representation of it. He _tells_ you what happens, instead
of _making_ it happen before the eye of your imagination. His
characters are drawn in outline merely, instead of being livingly
projected in relation to a definite environment. The defect of his
narrative, like the defect of Giotto's painting, is mainly lack of

=The Second Stage.=--Somewhat later in the history of fiction, as in
the history of figure painting, we find instances in which the element
of setting is used for a decorative purpose, and is brought into an
artistic relation with the elements of action and character. Such a
use is made of landscape, for example, in the "Orlando Furioso" of
Ariosto and the "Faerie Queene" of Spenser. The settings depicted by
these narrative poets are essentially pictorial, and are used as a
decorative background to the action rather than as part and parcel of
it. If we seek an example in prose rather than in poetry, we need only
turn to the "Arcadia" of Sir Philip Sidney. In this again the setting
is beautifully fashioned, but is employed merely for a decorative
purpose. The background of pastoral landscape bears no necessary
relation to the figures in the foreground. It exists for the sake of
art rather than for the sake of life. This employment of the element
of setting for a purpose essentially pictorial subsists in many later
works of fiction, like the "Paul and Virginia" of Bernardin de
Saint-Pierre. In this the setting is composed and painted for the sake
of its own sentimental beauty, and is obtruded even at the expense of
the more vital elements of character and action. The story is, as it
were, merely a motive for decorative composition.

=The Third Stage: 1. Setting as an Aid to Action.=--It is only in
fiction of a more modern spirit that the element of setting has been
brought into living relation with the action and the characters; and
it is only in the last century that the most intimate possibilities
of such a relation have been appreciated and applied. Of course the
most elementary means of making the setting "part and parcel of the
business of the story" is to employ it as a utilitarian adjunct to
the action. Granted certain incidents that are to happen, certain
scenery and properties are useful, in the novel just as in the
theatre; and if these are supplied advisedly, the setting will, as
it were, become a part of what is happening instead of remaining
merely a decorative background to the incidents. The first English
author to establish firmly this utilitarian relation between the
setting and the action was Daniel Defoe. Defoe was by profession a
journalist; and the most characteristic quality of his mind was an
habitual matter-of-factness. Plausibility was what he most desired
in his fictions; and he discerned instinctively that the readiest
means of making a story plausible was by representing with entire
concreteness and great wealth of specific detail the physical
adjuncts to the action. The multitudinous particulars of Crusoe's
island are therefore exhibited concretely to the reader one by one,
as Crusoe makes use of them successively in what he does.

=2. Setting as an Aid to Characterization.=--But though in Defoe the
element of setting is merged with the element of action, it is not
brought into intimate relation with the element of character. The
island is a part of what Crusoe does, rather than a part of what he
is. But the dwelling-room of the Boffins, which was described in the
paragraph from "Our Mutual Friend" quoted toward the end of the
preceding chapter, is a part of what the Boffins are, rather than of
what they do. The setting in the latter case is used as an adjunct to
the element of character instead of to the element of action. Fielding
and his contemporaries were the first English novelists to make the
setting in this way representative of personality as well as useful to
the plot; but the finer possibilities of the relation between setting
and character were not fully realized until the nineteenth century.
The eighteenth-century authors, in so far as they elaborated the
element of setting, seem to have done so mainly for the sake of
greater vividness. The appeal of setting being visual, the element was
employed to illustrate the action and to make the characters clearly
evident to the eye. By rendering a story more concrete, a definite
setting rendered it more credible. This the eighteenth-century
novelists discerned; but only with the rise of the romantic movement
was the element applied to subtler uses.

=Emotional Harmony in Setting.=--A new and very interesting
attitude toward landscape setting was disclosed by Rousseau in the
"Nouvelle Héloise" and developed by his numerous followers in early
nineteenth-century romance. The writers who advocated a "return to
nature" spelled nature with a capital N and considered it usually
as an anthropomorphic presence. As a result of this, when they
developed a natural background for their stories, they established a
sympathetic interchange of mood between the characters and the
landscape, and imagined (to use the famous phrase of Leibnitz) a
"pre-established harmony" between the shifting moods of nature and
of man. Thus the setting was employed no longer merely to subserve
the needs of action or to give a greater vividness of visual appeal,
but was used rather to symbolize and represent the human emotions
evoked in the characters at significant moments of the plot. When
the hero was suffering with sadness, the sky was hung with heavy
clouds; and when his mind grew illumined with a glimmering of hope,
the sun broke through a cloud-rift, casting light over the land.

Dickens is especially fond of imagining an emotional harmony between
his settings and his incidents. Consider for a moment the following
well-known passage from the funeral of Little Nell ("The Old Curiosity
Shop," Chapter LXXII):--

"Along the crowded path they bore her now; pure as the newly-fallen
snow that covered it; whose day on earth had been as fleeting. Under
the porch, where she had sat when Heaven in its mercy brought her to
that peaceful spot, she passed again; and the old church received her
in its quiet shade.

"They carried her to one old nook, where she had many and many a time
sat musing, and laid their burden softly on the pavement. The light
streamed on it through the coloured window--a window where the boughs
of trees were ever rustling in the summer, and where the birds sang
sweetly all day long. With every breath of air that stirred among
those branches in the sunshine, some trembling, changing light would
fall upon her grave....

"They saw the vault covered, and the stone fixed down. Then, when the
dusk of evening had come on, and not a sound disturbed the sacred
stillness of the place--when the bright moon poured in her light on
tomb and monument, on pillar, wall, and arch, and most of all (it
seemed to them) upon her quiet grave--in that calm time, when outward
things and inward thoughts teem with assurances of immortality, and
worldly hopes and fears are humbled in the dust before them--then,
with tranquil and submissive hearts, they turned away, and left the
child to God."

Here the mood of the scene is expressed almost entirely through the
element of setting; and the human emotion of the mourners is realized
and represented by the aspect of the churchyard.

=The Pathetic Fallacy.=--The excessive use of this expedient is
deplored by John Ruskin in a chapter of "Modern Painters" entitled
"The Pathetic Fallacy." His point is that, since concrete objects do
not actually experience human emotions, it is a violation of
artistic truth to ascribe such emotions to them. But, on the other
hand, it is indubitably true that human beings habitually translate
their own abstract feelings into the concrete terms of their
surroundings; and therefore, in a subjective sense at least, an
emotional harmony frequently does exist between the mood of a man
and the aspect of his environment. The same place may at the same
time look gloomy to a melancholy man and cheerful to a merry one;
and there is therefore a certain human fitness in describing it as
gloomy or as cheerful, according to the feeling of the character
observing it. Doubtless to a man tremendously bereaved the very rain
may seem a weeping of high heaven; and surely there are times when
it is deeply true, subjectively, to say that the morning stars all
sing together. What we may call emotional similarity of setting is
therefore not necessarily a fallacy. Even when it subverts the
actual, as in the fable of the morning stars, it may yet be
representative of reality. In its commoner and less exaggerative
phases it is very useful for purposes of suggestion; and only when
it becomes blatant through abuse may it be said to belie the laws of

=Emotional Contrast in Setting.=--Frequently, however, emotional
similarity between the setting and the characters is less serviceable,
for the sake of emphasis, than emotional contrast. In the following
passage from Mr. Kipling's "Without Benefit of Clergy," the serene and
perfect happiness of Holden and Ameera is emphasized by contrast with
the night-aspect of the plague-infested city:--

"'My lord and my love, let there be no more foolish talk of going
away. Where thou art, I am. It is enough.' She put an arm round his
neck and a hand on his mouth.

"There are not many happinesses so complete as those that are snatched
under the shadow of the sword. They sat together and laughed, calling
each other openly by every pet name that could move the wrath of the
gods. The city below them was locked up in its own torments. Sulphur
fires blazed in the streets; the conches in the Hindu temples screamed
and bellowed, for the gods were inattentive in those days. There was a
service in the great Mahomedan shrine, and the call to prayer from the
minarets was almost unceasing. They heard the wailing in the houses of
the dead, and once the shriek of a mother who had lost a child and was
calling for its return. In the gray dawn they saw the dead borne out
through the city gates, each litter with its own little knot of
mourners. Wherefore they kissed each other and shivered."

=Irony in Setting.=--An emotional contrast of this nature between the
mood of the characters and the mood of the setting may be pushed to
the point of irony. In a story by Alphonse Daudet, entitled "The
Elixir of the Reverend Father Gaucher," a certain monastery is saved
from financial ruin by the sale of a cordial which Father Gaucher has
invented and distilled. But the necessity of sampling the cordial
frequently during the process of manufacturing it leads the reverend
father eventually to become an habitual drunkard. And toward the end
of the story an ironic contrast is drawn between the solemn monastery,
murmurous with chants and prayers, and Father Gaucher in his
distillery hilariously singing a ribald drinking-song.

=Artistic and Philosophical Employment.=--The uses of setting that
have been thus far considered have been artistic rather than
philosophical in nature; but very recent writers have grown to use the
element not only for the sake of illustrating character and action but
also for the sake of determining them. The sociologists of the
nineteenth century have come to regard circumstance as a prime motive
for action, and environment as a prime influence on character; and
recent writers have applied this philosophic thesis in their
employment of the element of setting.

=1. Setting as a Motive Toward Action.=--The way in which the setting
may suggest the action is thus discoursed upon by Stevenson in his
"Gossip on Romance":--

"Drama is the poetry of conduct, romance the poetry of circumstance.
The pleasure that we take in life is of two sorts--the active and the
passive. Now we are conscious of a great command over our destiny;
anon we are lifted up by circumstance, as by a breaking wave, and
dashed we know not how into the future. Now we are pleased by our
conduct, anon merely pleased by our surroundings. It would be hard to
say which of these modes of satisfaction is the more effective, but
the latter is surely the more constant....

"One thing in life calls for another; there is a fitness in events and
places. The sight of a pleasant arbour puts it in our mind to sit
there. One place suggests work, another idleness, a third early rising
and long rambles in the dew. The effect of night, of any flowing
water, of lighted cities, of the peep of day, of ships, of the open
ocean, calls up in the mind an army of anonymous desires and
pleasures. Something, we feel, should happen; we know not what, yet we
proceed in quest of it. And many of the happiest hours of life fleet
by us in this vain attendance on the genius of the place and moment.
It is thus that tracts of young fir, and low rocks that reach into
deep soundings, particularly torture and delight me. Something must
have happened in such places, and perhaps ages back, to members of my
race; and when I was a child I tried in vain to invent appropriate
games for them, as I still try, just as vainly, to fit them with the
proper story. Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens cry
aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain
coasts are set apart for shipwreck. Other spots again seem to abide
their destiny, suggestive and impenetrable, 'miching mallecho.' The
inn at Burford Bridge, with its arbours and green garden and silent,
eddying river--though it is known already as the place where Keats
wrote some of his "Endymion" and Nelson parted from his Emma--still
seems to wait the coming of the appropriate legend. Within these ivied
walls, behind these old green shutters, some further business
smoulders, waiting for its hour. The old Hawes Inn at the Queen's
Ferry makes a similar call upon my fancy. There it stands, apart from
the town, beside the pier, in a climate of its own, half inland, half
marine--in front, the ferry bubbling with the tide and the guardship
swinging to her anchor; behind, the old garden with the trees.
Americans seek it already for the sake of Lovel and Oldbuck, who dined
there at the beginning of the "Antiquary." But you need not tell
me--that is not all; there is some story, unrecorded or not yet
complete, which must express the meaning of that inn more fully.... I
have lived both at the Hawes and Burford in a perpetual flutter, on
the heels, as it seemed, of some adventure that should justify the
place; but though the feeling had me to bed at night and called me
again at morning in one unbroken round of pleasure and suspense,
nothing befell me in either worth remark. The man or the hour had not
yet come; but some day, I think, a boat shall put off from the Queen's
Ferry, fraught with a dear cargo, and some frosty night a horseman, on
a tragic errand, rattle with his whip upon the green shutters of the
inn at Burford."

In this way, the setting may, in many cases, exist as the initial
element of the narrative, and suggest an action appropriate to itself.
But it may do more than that. In certain special instances the setting
may not only suggest, but may even cause, the action, and remain the
deciding factor in determining its course. This is the case, for
example, in Mr. Kipling's story, "At the End of the Passage," which
opens thus:--

"Four men, each entitled to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness,' sat at a table playing whist. The thermometer marked--for
them--one hundred and one degrees of heat. The room was darkened till
it was only just possible to distinguish the pips of the cards and the
very white faces of the players. A tattered, rotten punkah of
whitewashed calico was puddling the hot air and whining dolefully at
each stroke. Outside lay gloom of a November day in London. There was
neither sky, sun, nor horizon--nothing but a brown purple haze of
heat. It was as though the earth were dying of apoplexy.

"From time to time clouds of tawny dust rose from the ground without
wind or warning, flung themselves tablecloth-wise among the tops of
the parched trees, and came down again. Then a whirling dust-devil
would scutter across the plain for a couple of miles, break, and fall
outward, though there was nothing to check its flight save a long low
line of piled railway-sleepers white with the dust, a cluster of huts
made of mud, condemned rails, and canvas, and the one squat
four-roomed bungalow that belonged to the assistant engineer in charge
of a section of the Gaudhari State Line then under construction."

The terrible tale that follows could happen only as a result of the
fearful loneliness and, more especially, the maddening heat of such a
place as is described in these opening paragraphs. The setting in this
story causes and determines the action.

=2. Setting as an Influence on Character.=--But in many other tales by
recent writers the setting is used not so much to determine the action
as to influence and mold the characters; and when employed for this
purpose, it becomes expressive of one of the most momentous truths of
human life. For what a man _is_ at any period of his existence is
largely the result of the interaction of two forces,--namely, the
innate tendencies of his nature and the shaping power of his
environment. George Meredith, and more especially Mr. Thomas Hardy,
therefore devote a great deal of attention to setting as an influence
on character. Consider, for example, the following brief passage from
Mr. Hardy's "Tess of the D'Ubervilles":--

"Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of Froom Vale, at a season
when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of
fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should
not grow passionate. The ready hearts existing there were impregnated
by their surroundings."

Zola, in his essay on "The Experimental Novel," states that the proper
function of setting is to exhibit "the environment which determines
and completes the man"; and the philosophic study of environment
reacting upon character is one of the main features of his own
monumental series of novels devoted to the Rougon-Macquart family. His
example has been followed by a host of recent writers; and a new
school of fiction has grown up, the main purpose of which is to
exhibit the influence of certain carefully studied social, natural,
business, or professional conditions on the sort of people who live
and work among them.

This incentive has been developed to manifest advantage in America by
such novelists as Mrs. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Mr. George W. Cable,
Mr. Hamlin Garland, Mrs. Edith Wharton, Frank Norris, Jack London, Mr.
Booth Tarkington, and Mr. Stewart Edward White. Each of these
authors--and many others might be mentioned--has attained a special
sort of eminence by studying minutely the effect upon impressionable
characters of a particular environment. The manifold diversity of life
in the many different districts of the United States affords our
fiction-writers a predestined opportunity to endeavor to make the
nation acquainted with itself.

=Setting as the Hero of the Narrative.=--If the setting be used both
to determine the action and to mold the characters, it may stand forth
as the most important of the three elements of narrative. In Victor
Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris," the cathedral is the leading factor of
the story. Claude Frollo would be a very different person if it were
not for the church; and many of the main events, such as the ultimate
tragic scene when Quasimodo hurls Frollo from the tower-top, could not
happen in any other place. In Mr. Kipling's very subtle story entitled
"An Habitation Enforced," which is included in his "Actions and
Reactions," the setting is really the hero of the narrative. An
American millionaire and his wife, whose ancestors were English,
settle for a brief vacation in the county of England from which the
wife's family originally came. Gradually the old house and the English
landscape take hold of them; ancestral feelings rise to dominate them;
and they remain forever after in enforced habitation on the ancient

=Uses of the Weather.=--All that has been said thus far of setting in
general applies of course to one of the most interesting of its
elements,--the weather. In simple stories like the usual nursery tale,
the weather may be non-existent. Or it may exist mainly for a
decorative purpose, like the frequent golden oriental dawns of
Spenser's poem or the superb and colorful symphonies of sky and sea in
Pierre Loti's "Iceland Fisherman." It may be used as a utilitarian
adjunct to the action: at the end of "The Mill on the Floss," as we
have already noted, the rains descend and the flood comes merely for
the purpose of drowning Tom and Maggie. Or it may be employed to
illustrate a character: we are told of Clara Middleton, in "The
Egoist," that she possesses the "art of dressing to suit the season
and the sky"; and therefore the look of the atmosphere at any hour
helps to convey to us a sense of her appearance. Somewhat more
artistically, the weather may be planned in pre-established harmony
with the mood of the characters: this expedient is wonderfully used in
the wild and wind-swept tales of Fiona MacLeod. On the other hand, the
weather may stand in emotional contrast with the characters: the
Master of Ballantrae and Mr. Henry fight their duel on a night of
absolute stillness and stifling cold. Again, the weather may be used
to determine the action: in Mr. Kipling's early story called "False
Dawn," the blinding sandstorm causes Saumarez to propose to the wrong
girl. Or it may be employed as a controlling influence over character:
the tremendous storm toward the end of "Richard Feverel," in the
chapter entitled "Nature Speaks," determines the return of the hero to
his wife. In some cases, even, the weather itself may be the real hero
of the narrative: the great eruption of Vesuvius in "The Last Days of
Pompeii" dominates the termination of the story.

Although the weather is a subject upon everybody's tongue, there are
very few people who are capable of talking about it with intelligence
and art. Very few writers of fiction--and nearly all of them are
recent--have exhibited a mastery of the weather,--a mastery based at
once upon a detailed and accurate observation of natural phenomena and
a philosophic sense of the relation between these phenomena and the
concerns of human beings. Perhaps in no other detail of craftsmanship
does Robert Louis Stevenson so clearly prove his mastery as in his
marshalling of the weather, always vividly and truthfully described,
to serve a purpose always fitting to his fictions.

=Romantic and Realistic Settings.=--Let us next consider the main
difference between the merits of a good romantic and a good realistic
setting. Since the realist leads us to a comprehension of his truth
through a careful imitation of the actual, the thing most to be
desired in a realistic setting is fidelity to fact; and this can be
attained only by accurate observation. But since the romantic is not
bound to imitate the actual, and fabricates his investiture merely for
the sake of embodying his truth clearly and consistently, the thing
most to be desired in a romantic setting is imaginative fitness to the
action and the characters; and this can sometimes be attained by
artistic inventiveness alone, without display of observation of the
actual. Verisimilitude is of course the highest merit of either sort
of setting; but whereas verisimilitude with the realist lies in
resemblance to actuality, verisimilitude with the romantic lies rather
in artistic fitness. The distinction may perhaps be best observed in
the historical novels produced by the one and by the other school. In
the setting of realistic historical novels, like George Eliot's
"Romola" and Flaubert's "Salammbô," what the authors have mainly
striven for has been accuracy of detail; but in romantic historical
novels, like those of Scott and Dumas père, the authors have sought
rather for imaginative fitness of setting. The realists have followed
the letter, and the romantics the spirit, of other times and lands.

=A Romantic Setting by Edgar Allan Poe.=--As an example of a pure
romantic setting, far removed from actuality and yet thoroughly
truthful in artistic fitness to the action and the characters, we can
do no better than examine the often-quoted opening of Poe's "Fall of
the House of Usher":--

"During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of
the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had
been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of
country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew
on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it
was--but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of
insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the
feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because
poetic, sentiment with which the mind usually receives even the
sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the
scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape
features of the domain, upon the bleak walls, upon the vacant eye-like
windows, upon a few rank sedges, and upon a few white trunks of
decayed trees--with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to
no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the
reveler upon opium: the bitter lapse into every-day life, the hideous
dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening
of the heart, an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of
the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.... It was
possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the
particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be
sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate, its capacity for
sorrowful impression; and acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to
the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled
lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down--but with a shudder even more
thrilling than before--upon the remodelled and inverted images of the
gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like

Certainly this setting bears very little resemblance to the actual;
but just as certainly its artistic fitness to the tale of terror
which it preludes gives it an imaginative verisimilitude.

=A Realistic Setting by George Eliot.=--As an example of a realistic
setting, closely copying the actual, let us examine the following
passage from "Adam Bede" (Chapter XVIII):--

"You might have known it was Sunday if you had only waked up in the
farmyard. The cocks and hens seemed to know it, and made only crooning
subdued noises; the very bull-dog looked less savage, as if he would
have been satisfied with a smaller bite than usual. The sunshine
seemed to call all things to rest and not to labor; it was asleep
itself on the moss-grown cow-shed; on the group of white ducks
nestling together with their bills tucked under their wings; on the
old black sow stretched languidly on the straw, while her largest
young one found an excellent spring-bed on his mother's fat ribs; on
Alick, the shepherd, in his new smock-frock, taking an uneasy siesta,
half-sitting, half-standing on the granary steps."

There is no obvious imaginative fitness in this passage, since in the
chapter where it occurs the chief characters are going to a funeral;
but it has an extraordinary verisimilitude, owing to the author's
accurate observation of the details of life in rural England.

=The Quality of Atmosphere, or Local Color.=--These two passages
differ very widely from each other. In one thing, and one only, are
they alike. Each of them exhibits the subtle quality called
"atmosphere." This quality is very difficult to define, though its
presence may be recognized instinctively in any work of graphic art,
like a painting or a description. Without attempting to define it, we
may discover the technical basis for its presence if we seek out the
sole deliberate device in which these two passages, different as they
are in every other feature, are at one. It will be noticed that in
each of them the details selected for presentation have been chosen
solely for the sake of a common quality inherent in them--the quality
of sombreness and gloom in the one case, and the quality of Sabbath
quietude in the other--and that they have been marshalled to convey a
complete sense of this central and pervading quality. It is commonly
supposed that what is called "atmosphere" in a description is
dependent upon the setting forth of a multiplicity of details; but
this popular conception is a fallacy. "Atmosphere" is dependent rather
upon a strict selection of details pervaded by a common quality, a
rigorous rejection of all others that are dissonant in mood, and an
arrangement of those selected with a view to exhibiting their common
quality as the pervading spirit of the scene.

This is obviously the technical basis for the "atmosphere" of a purely
imaginary setting like that of the melancholy House of Usher. The
effect is undeniably produced by the suppression of all details that
do not contribute to the central sense of gloom. But the same device
underlies (less obviously, to be sure) all such descriptions of actual
places as are rich in "atmosphere." What is called "local color"--the
very look and tone of a definite locality--is produced not by
photographic multiplicity of details, but by a marshalling of
materials carefully selected to suggest the central spirit of the
place to be depicted. The camera frequently defeats itself by flinging
into emphasis details that are dissonant with the informing spirit of
the scene it seeks to reproduce: so also does the author who
overcrowds his picture with multifarious details, however faithful
they may be to fact. The true triumphs of "local coloring" have been
made by men who have struck at the heart and spirit of a place--have
caught its tone and timbre as George Du Maurier did with the
_Quartier Latin_--and have set forth only such details as tingled with
this spiritual tone.

=Recapitulation.=--We have studied the many uses of the element of
setting, and have seen that in the best-developed fiction it has grown
to be entirely coördinate with the elements of character and action.
Novelists have come to consider that any given story can happen only
in a given set of circumstances, and that if the setting be changed
the action must be altered and the characters be differently drawn. It
is therefore impossible, in the best fiction of the present day, to
consider the setting as divorced from the other elements of the
narrative. There was a time, to be sure, when description for its own
sake existed in the novel, and the action was halted to permit the
introduction of pictorial passages bearing no necessary relation to
the business of the story,--"blocks" of setting, as it were, which
might be removed without detriment to the progression of the
narrative. But the practice of the best contemporary novelists is
summed up and expressed by Henry James in this emphatic sentence from
his essay on "The Art of Fiction":--"I cannot imagine composition
existing in a series of blocks, nor conceive, in any novel worth
discussing at all, of a passage of description that is not in its
intention narrative."


1. Explain and illustrate the three historic stages in the evolution
  of the element of setting.

2. What did Ruskin mean by "the pathetic fallacy"?

3. What are the modern uses of the element of setting?

4. Explain the process of attaining atmosphere, or local color.

5. Adduce original instances of emotional harmony, emotional contrast,
  and irony in setting.


ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON: "A Gossip on Romance."

BLISS PERRY: "A Study of Prose Fiction"--Chapter VII, on "The

Read at greater length those passages of famous fiction from which
have been selected the illustrative quotations cited in this chapter.



  The Importance of the Point of View--Two Classes, The Internal and
  the External--I. Subdivisions of the First Class: 1. The Point of
  View of the Leading Actor; 2. The Point of View of Some Subsidiary
  Actor; 3. The Points of View of Different Actors; 4. The
  Epistolary Point of View.--II. Subdivisions of the Second
  Class:--1. The Omniscient Point of View; 2. The Limited Point of
  View; 3. The Rigidly Restricted Point of View--Two Tones of
  Narrative, Impersonal and Personal: 1. The Impersonal Tone; 2. The
  Personal Tone--The Point of View as a Factor in Construction--The
  Point of View as the Hero of the Narrative.

=The Importance of the Point of View.=--We have now examined in detail
the elements of narrative, and must next consider the various points
of view from which they may be seen and, in consequence, be
represented. Granted a given series of events to be set forth, the
structure of the plot, the means of character delineation, the use of
setting, the entire tone and tenor of the narrative, are all dependent
directly on the answer to the question, Who shall tell the story?

For a given train of incidents is differently seen and judged,
according to the standpoint from which it is observed. The evidence in
most important murder trials consists mainly of successive narratives
told by different witnesses; and it is very interesting to notice, in
comparing them, how very different a tone and tenor is given to the
same event by each of the observers who recounts it. It remains for
the jury to determine, if possible, from a comparison of the various
views of the various witnesses, what it was that actually happened.
But this, in many cases, is extremely difficult. One witness saw
the action in one way, another in another; one formed a certain
judgment of the character of the accused, another formed a judgment
diametrically different; each has his separate sense of the train of
causation that culminated in the act; the accused himself would
disagree with all the witnesses, if indeed he were capable of looking
on the facts without conscious or unconscious self-deception; and we
may be certain that an infallible omniscient mind, cognizant of
all the hidden motives, would see the matter differently still. The
task of the jury is, in the main, to induce from all these tragic
inconsistencies an absolute outlook upon the real truth that
underlies the facts so differently seen and so variously judged.

Such an absolute outlook is hardly possible to the finite mind of man;
and though it is often assumed by the writer of fiction in the telling
of his tale, it can seldom be consistently maintained. It is therefore
safer to acknowledge that the absolute truth of a story, whether
actual or fictitious, can never be entirely told; that the same train
of incidents looks different from different points of view; and that
therefore the various points of view from which any story may be
looked upon should be studied carefully for the purpose of determining
from which of them it is possible, in a given case, to approach most
nearly a clear vision of the truth.

=Two Classes, The Internal and the External.=--The points of view from
which a story may be seen and told are many and various; but they may
all be grouped into two classes, the internal and the external. A
story seen internally is narrated in the first person by one of its
participants; a story seen externally is narrated in the third person
by a mind aloof from the events depicted. There are, of course, many
variations, both of the internal and of the external point of view.
These in turn must be examined, for the purpose of determining the
special advantages and disadvantages of each.

=I. Subdivisions of the First Class: 1. The Point of View of the
Leading Actor.=--First of all, a story may be told by the leading
actor in its series of events,--the hero, as in "Henry Esmond," or the
heroine, as in "Jane Eyre." This point of view is of especial value in
narratives in which the element of action is predominant. The
multifarious adventures of Gil Blas sound at once more vivid and more
plausible narrated in the first person than they would sound narrated
in the third. When what is done is either strange or striking, we
prefer to be told about it by the very man who did it. "Treasure
Island" is narrated by Jim Hawkins, "Kidnapped" by David Balfour; and
much of the vividness of these exciting tales depends upon the fact
that they are told in each case by a boy who stood ever in the
forefront of the action. The plausibility of "Robinson Crusoe" is
increased by the convention that the hero is narrating his own
personal experience: in fact Defoe, in all his fictions, preferred to
write in the first person, because what he sought primarily was
plausibility of tone.

This point of view is also of supreme advantage in recounting personal
emotion. Consider for a moment the following paragraph from
"Kidnapped" (Chapter X):--

"I do not know if I was what you call afraid; but my heart beat like a
bird's, both quick and little; and there was a dimness came before my
eyes which I continually rubbed away, and which continually returned.
As for hope, I had none; but only a darkness of despair and a sort of
anger against all the world that made me long to sell my life as dear
as I was able. I tried to pray, I remember, but that same hurry of my
mind, like a man running, would not suffer me to think upon the
words; and my chief wish was to have the thing begin and be done with

Now, for the sake of experiment, let us go through the passage,
substituting the pronoun "he" for the pronoun "I." Thus:--

"He was hardly what is called afraid; but his heart beat like a
bird's, both quick and little; and there was a dimness came before his
eyes which he continually rubbed away, and which continually returned.
As for hope, he had none...." and so forth. Notice how much vividness
is lost,--how much immediacy of emotion. The zest and tang of the
experience is sacrificed, because the reader is forced to stand aloof
and observe it from afar.

The point of view of the leading actor makes for vividness in still
another way. It necessitates an absolute concreteness and objectivity
in the delineation of the subsidiary characters. On the other hand, it
precludes analysis of their emotions and their thoughts. The hero can
tell us only what they said and did, how they looked in action and in
speech, and what they seemed to him to think and feel. But he cannot
enter their minds and delve among their motives. Furthermore, he
cannot, without sacrificing naturalness of mood, analyze to any great
extent his own mental processes. Consequently it is almost impossible
to tell from the hero's point of view a story in which the main events
are mental or subjective. We can hardly imagine George Eliot writing
in the first person: the "psychological novel" demands the third.

But the chief difficulty in telling a story from the leading actor's
point of view is the difficulty of characterizing the narrator. All
means of direct delineation are taken from him. He cannot write essays
on his merits or his faults; he can neither describe nor analyze
himself; he cannot see himself as others see him. We must derive our
sense of who and what he is, solely from the things he does and says,
and from his manner of telling us about them. And although it is not
especially difficult, within a brief compass, to delineate a character
through his way of telling things [Notice Laughton O. Zigler, in Mr.
Kipling's "The Captive," whose speech has been examined in a former
chapter], it is extremely difficult to maintain this expedient
consistently throughout a lengthy novel.

Furthermore, an extended story can be told only by a person with a
well-trained sense of narrative; and it is often hard to concede to
the hero the narrative ability that he displays. How is it, we may
ask, that Jim Hawkins is capable of such masterly description as that
of "the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut," in the second paragraph
of "Treasure Island"? How is it that David Balfour, an untutored boy,
is capable of writing the rhythmic prose of Robert Louis Stevenson,
master of style? And in many cases it is also difficult to concede to
the hero an adequate motive for telling his own story. Why is it that,
in the sequel to "Kidnapped," David Balfour should write out all the
intimate details of his love for Catriona? And how is it conceivable
that Jane Eyre should tell to any one, and least of all to the general
public, the profound privacies of emotion evoked by her relation with
Mr. Rochester?

The answer is, of course, that such violations of the hard terms of
actuality are justified by literary convention; and that if the gain
in vividness be great enough, the reader will be willing to concede,
first, that the story shall be told by the leading actor, regardless
of motive, and second, that he shall be granted the requisite mastery
of narrative. But the fact remains that it is very hard for the hero
to draw his own character except in outline; and therefore if the
emphasis is to lie less on what he does than on the sort of person
that he is, the expedient will be ineffectual.

The main structural advantage of telling the story through the person
of the hero is that his presence as the central figure in every event
narrated makes for coherence and gives the story unity. But attendant
disadvantages are that it is often difficult to account for the hero's
presence in every scene, that he cannot be an eye-witness to events
happening at the same time in different places, and that it is hard to
account for his possession of knowledge regarding those details of the
plot which have no immediate bearing on himself. It seems always
somewhat lame to state, as heroes telling their own stories are
frequently obliged to do, "These things I did not know at the time,
and found out only afterward; but I insert them here, because it is at
this point in the plot that they belong."

=2. The Point of View of Some Subsidiary Actor.=--Many of these
disadvantages may be overcome by telling the tale from the point of
view, not of the leading actor, but of some minor personage in the
story. In this case again, analysis of character is precluded; but the
narrator may delineate the leading actor directly, through descriptive
and expository comment. In stories where the hero is an extraordinary
person, and could not without immodesty descant upon his own unusual
capabilities, it is of obvious advantage to represent him from the
point of view of an admiring friend. Thus when Poe invented the
detective story, he wisely decided to exhibit the extraordinary
analytic power of Dupin through a narrative told not by the detective
himself but by a man who knew him well; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
following in his footsteps, has invented Dr. Watson to tell the tales
of Sherlock Holmes.

The actual instance of Boswell and Johnson substantiates the
possibility of a minor actor's knowing intimately all phases of a
hero's life and character. And since the point of view of the
secondary personage is just as internal to the events themselves as
that of the leading actor, the story may be told with an immediacy, a
vividness, and a plausibility approximating closely the effect derived
from a narrative told by the hero. And there is now less difficulty in
accounting for the narrator's knowledge of all the details of the
plot. He can witness minor necessary scenes at which the hero is not
present; he can know things (and tell them to the reader) which at the
time the hero did not know; and if his presence be withheld from an
important incident, the hero can narrate it to him afterward.

Nevertheless, it is often very difficult to maintain throughout a long
story the point of view of a minor actor in the plot. Thackeray breaks
down completely in his attempt to tell "The Newcomes" from the point
of view of Arthur Pendennis, the hero of a former novel. Stevenson
assigns to Mackellar the task of narrating "The Master of Ballantrae":
but when the Master disappears and Mackellar remains at home with Mr.
Henry, it is necessary for the author to invent a second personage,
the Chevalier de Burke, to tell the story of the Master's wanderings.

=3. The Points of View of Different Actors.=--This last instance leads
us to consider the possibility of telling different sections of the
story from the points of view of different characters, assigning to
each the particular phase of the narrative that he is especially
fitted to recount. Three quarters of the "Strange Case of Doctor
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is narrated in the third person, externally; but
the final intimate vividness of horror is gained by shifting to an
internal point of view for the two concluding chapters,--the first
written by Dr. Lanyon, and the last by Jekyll himself. Mr. Kipling
has developed to very subtle uses the expedient of opening a story
from the point of view of a narrator who is named simply "I" and who
is not characterized in any way at all, and then letting the story
proper be told to this impersonal narrator by several characters who
are clearly delineated through their speech and through the parts that
they have played in the tale that they are telling. This device is
used in nearly all the stories of the "Soldiers Three." The narrator
meets Mulvaney, Ortheris, and Learoyd under certain circumstances, and
gathers from them bit by bit the various features of the story,--one
detail being contributed by one of the actors, another by another,
until out of the successive fragments the story is built up. It is in
this way also, as we have already noted, that the tale of Mrs.
Bathurst is set before the reader.

=4. The Epistolary Point of View.=--A convenient means of shifting the
burden of the narrative at any point to a certain special character is
to introduce a letter written by that character to one of the other
people in the plot. This expedient is employed with extraordinary
cleverness by George Meredith in "Evan Harrington." Most of the tale
is told externally; but every now and then the clever and witty
Countess de Saldar writes a letter in which a leading incident is
illuminated from her personal point of view.

Ever since the days of Richardson the device has frequently been used
of telling an entire story through a series of letters exchanged among
the characters. The main advantage of this method is the constant
shifting of the point of view, which makes it possible for the reader
to see every important incident through the eyes of each of the
characters in turn. Furthermore, it is comparatively easy to
characterize in the first person when the thing that is written is so
intimate and personal as a letter. But the disadvantage of the device
lies in the fact that it tends toward incoherence in the structure of
the narrative. It is hard for the author to stick to the point at
every moment without violating the casual and discursive tone that the
epistolary style demands.

Of course a certain unity may be gained if the letters used are all
written by a single character. The chief advantage of this method over
a direct narrative written by one of the actors is the added motive
for the revelation of intimate matters which is furnished by the fact
that the narrator is writing, not for the public at large, but only
for the friend, or friends, to whom the letters are addressed. But a
series of letters written by one person only is very likely to become
monotonous; and more is usually gained than lost by assigning the
epistolary rôle successively to different characters.

=II. Subdivisions of the Second Class.=--We have seen that, although
the employment of an internal point of view gives a narrative
vividness of action, objectivity of observation, immediacy of emotion,
and plausibility of tone, it is attended by several difficulties in
the delineation of the characters and the construction of the plot. It
is therefore in many cases more advisable for the author to look upon
the narrative externally and to write it in the third person. But
there are several different ways of doing this; for though a story
viewed externally is told in every case by a mind distinct from that
of any of the characters, there are many different stations in which
that mind may set itself, and many different moods in which it may
recount the story.

=1. The Omniscient Point of View.=--First of all (to start with a
phase that contrasts most widely with the internal point of view) the
external mind may set itself equidistant from all the characters and
may assume toward them an attitude of absolute omniscience. The
story, in such a case, is told by a sort of god, who is cognizant of
the past and future of the action while he is looking at the present,
and who sees into the minds and hearts of all the characters at once
and understands them better than they do themselves.

The main practical advantage in assuming the god-like point of view is
that the narrator is never obliged to account for his possession of
intimate information. He can observe events which happen at the same
time in places widely separated. Darkness cannot dim his eyes; locked
doors cannot shut him out. He can be with a character when that
character is most alone. He can make clear to us the thoughts that do
not tremble into speech, the emotions that falter and subside into
inaction. He can know, and can convey to us, how much of a person's
real thought is expressed, and how much is concealed, by the language
that he uses. And the reader seeks no motive to account for the
narrator's revelation of the personal secrets of the characters.

The omniscient point of view is the only one that permits upon a large
scale the depiction of character through mental analysis. It is
therefore usually used in the "psychological novel." It was employed
always by George Eliot, and was selected almost always by George
Meredith. It is, of course, invaluable for telling the sort of story
whose main events are mental, or subjective. A spiritual experience
which does not translate itself into concrete action can be viewed
adequately only from the god-like point of view. But when it is
employed in the narration of objective events, the writer runs the
danger of undue abstractness. A certain vividness--a certain immediacy
of observation--are likely to be lost, because of the aloofness from
the characters of the mind that sees them.

This point of view is at once the most easy and the most difficult
that the author may assume. Technically it is the easiest, because the
writer is absolutely free in the selection and the patterning of his
narrative materials; but humanly it is the most difficult, because it
is hard for any man consistently to play the god, even toward his own
fictitious creatures. Although George Eliot assumes omniscience of
Daniel Deronda, the consensus of opinion among men of sound judgment
is that she does not really know her hero. Deronda is in truth a
lesser person than she thinks him; and her assumption of omniscience
breaks down. In fact, unless an author is gifted with the god-like
wisdom of George Meredith, he is almost sure to break down in the
effort to sustain the omniscient attitude consistently throughout a
complicated novel.

=2. The Limited Point of View.=--Therefore, in assuming a point of
view external to the characters, it is usually wiser for the author to
accept a compromise and to impose certain definite limits upon his own
omniscience. Thus, while maintaining the prerogative to enter at any
moment the minds of one or more of his characters, he may limit his
observation of the others to what was actually seen and heard of them
by those of whose minds he is omniscient. In such a case, although the
author tells the story in the third person, he virtually sees the
story from the point of view of a certain actor, or of certain actors,
in it. The only phase of this device which we need to examine is that
wherein the novelist's omniscience is limited to a single character.

This special point of view is employed with consummate art by Jane
Austen. In "Emma," for example, she portrays every intimate detail of
the heroine's thoughts and feelings, entering Emma's mind at will, or
looking at her from the outside with omniscient eyes. But in dealing
with the other characters, the author limits her own knowledge to what
Emma knew about them, and sees them consistently through the eyes of
the heroine. Hence the story, although written by Jane Austen in the
third person, is really seen by Emma Woodhouse and thought of in the
first. Similarly, in "Pride and Prejudice," Elizabeth Bennet is the
only character that the author permits herself to analyze at any
length: the others are seen objectively, merely as Elizabeth saw them.
The reader is made acquainted with every step in the heroine's gradual
change of feeling toward Mr. Darcy; but of the change in Darcy's
thoughts and feelings toward Elizabeth the reader is told nothing
until she herself discovers it.

Of course, in applying this device, it is possible for the author, at
certain points in the narrative, to shift his limited omniscience from
one of the characters to another. In such a case, although the story
is told throughout consistently in the third person, one scene may be
viewed from the standpoint of one of the characters, another from that
of another character, and so on.

Imagine for a moment two adjacent rooms with a single door between
them which is locked; and suppose a character alone in each of the
rooms,--each person thinking of the other. Now an author assuming
absolute omniscience could tell us what each of them was thinking at
the selfsame moment: the locked door would not be a bar to him. But an
author telling the story from the attitude of limited omniscience
could tell us only what one of them was thinking, and would not be
able to see beyond the door. Whether or not he would find himself at
liberty to choose which room he should be cognizant of, would depend
of course on whether he was maintaining the same point of view
throughout his story or was selecting it anew for every scene. In the
first case, the one character whom he could see would be determined in
advance: in the other, he should have to decide from the point of view
of which of them that special scene could be the more effectively set

The attitude of limited omniscience is more easy to maintain than that
of a god-like mind intimately cognizant of all the characters at once;
and furthermore, the employment of the more restricted point of view
is more likely to produce the illusion of life. In actual experience,
we see only one mind internally,--our own; all other people we look
upon externally: and a story, therefore, which lays bare to us one
mind and only one is more in tune with life itself than a story in
which many minds are searched by an all-seeing eye. Also, a story told
in the third person from the point of view which has been illustrated
from Jane Austen's novels enjoys nearly every advantage of a narrative
told in the first person by the leading actor, without being
encumbered by certain of the most noticeable disadvantages.

=3. The Rigidly Restricted Point of View.=--For the sake of
concreteness, however, it is often advisable for the author writing in
the third person to restrict his point of view still further, and,
foregoing absolutely the prerogative of omniscience, to limit himself
to an attitude merely observant and entirely external to all the
characters. In such a case the author wears, as it were, an invisible
cap like that of Fortunatus, which permits him to move unnoticed among
his characters; and he reports to us externally their looks, their
actions, and their speech, without ever assuming an ability to delve
into their minds. This rigidly external point of view is employed
frequently by Guy de Maupassant in his briefer fictions; but although
it is especially valuable in the short-story, it is extremely
difficult to maintain through the extensive compass of a novel. The
main advantage of this point of view is that it necessitates upon the
part of the author an attitude toward his story which is at all
moments visual rather than intellectual. He does not give a ready-made
interpretation of his incidents, but merely projects them before the
eyes of his readers and allows to each the privilege of interpreting
them for himself. But, on the other hand, the reader loses the
advantage of the novelist's superior knowledge of his creatures: and,
except in dramatic moments when the motives are self-evident from the
action, may miss the human purport of the scene.

=Two Tones of Narrative, Impersonal and Personal: 1. The Impersonal
Tone.=--In employing every phase of the external point of view except
the one which has been last discussed, the author is free to choose
between two very different tones of narrative,--the impersonal and the
personal. He may either obliterate or emphasize his own personality as
a factor in the story. The great epics and folk-tales have all been
told impersonally. Whatever sort of person Homer may have been, he
never obtrudes himself into his narrative; and we may read both the
"Iliad" and the "Odyssey" without deriving any more definite sense of
his personality than may be drawn from the hints which are given us by
the things he knows about. No one knows the author of "Beowulf" or of
the "Nibelungen Lied." These stories seem to tell themselves. They are
seen from nobody's point of view, or from anybody's--whichever way we
choose to say it. Many modern authors, like Sir Walter Scott,
instinctively assume the epic attitude toward their characters and
incidents: they look upon them with a large unconsciousness of self
and depict them just as any one would see them. Other authors, like
Mr. William Dean Howells, strive deliberately to keep the personal
note out of their stories: self-consciously they triumph over self in
the endeavor to leave their characters alone.

=2. The Personal Tone.=--But novelists of another class prefer to
admit frankly to the reader that the narrator who stands apart from
all the characters and writes about them in the third person is the
author himself. They give a personal tone to the narrative; they
assert their own peculiarities of taste and judgment, and never let
you forget that they, and they alone, are telling the story. The
reader has to see it through their eyes. It is in this way, for
example, that Thackeray displays his stories,--pitying his characters,
admiring them, making fun of them, or loving them, and never letting
slip an opportunity to chat about the matter with his readers.

Mr. Howells, in Section XV of his "Criticism and Fiction," comments
adversely on Thackeray's tendency "to stand about in his scene,
talking it over with his hands in his pockets, interrupting the
action, and spoiling the illusion in which alone the truth of art
resides"; and in a further sentence he condemns him as "a writer who
had so little artistic sensibility, that he never hesitated on any
occasion, great or small, to make a foray among his characters, and
catch them up to show them to the reader and tell him how beautiful or
ugly they were; and cry out over their amazing properties." This
sweeping condemnation of the narrative attitude of one of the
best-beloved of the great masters sounds just a little bigoted. It is
true, of course, that the strictest artists in fiction, like Guy de
Maupassant, prefer to tell their tales impersonally: they leave their
characters rigidly alone, and allow the reader to see them without
looking through the author's personality. But there is a type of
literature wherein the chief charm for the reader lies in the fact
that he is permitted to see things through the author's mind. When we
read Charles Lamb's essay on "The South Sea House," we read it not so
much to look at the deserted and memorable building as to look at Elia
looking at it. Similarly many readers return again and again to "The
Newcomes" not so much for the pleasure of seeing London high society
as for the pleasure of seeing Thackeray see it. The merit, or the
defect, of the method in any case is a question not of rules and
regulations but of the tone and quality of the author's mind. Whether
or not he may safely obtrude himself into his fictions depends
entirely on who he is. This is a matter more of personality than of
art: and what might be insufferable with one author may stand as the
main merit of another. For instance, the greatest charm of Sir James
Barrie's novels emanates from the author's habit of emphasizing the
personal relation between himself and his characters. The author's
many-mooded attitude toward Sentimental Tommy is a matter of human
interest just as much as anything that Tommy feels himself.

Let us admit, then, in spite of Mr. Howells, that the author of
fiction has a right to assert himself as the narrator, provided that
he be a person of interest and charm. It remains for us to consider
the various moods in which, in such a case, the writer may look upon
his story. The self-obliterating author endeavors to hide his own
opinion of the characters, in order not to interfere with the reader's
independence of judgment concerning them; but the author who writes
personally does not hesitate to reveal, nor even to express directly,
his admiration of a character's merits or his deprecation of a
character's defects. You will seek in vain, in studying the
fictitious people of Guy de Maupassant, for any indication of the
author's approval or disapproval of them; and there is something very
admirable in this absolute impassiveness of art. But on the other
hand, there is a certain salutary humanness about an author who loves
or hates his characters just as he would love or hate the same sort of
people in actual life, and writes about them with the glow of personal
emotion. Sir James Barrie often disapproves of Tommy; sometimes he
feels forced to scold him; but he loves him for a' that: and we feel
instinctively that the hero is the more truthfully delineated for
being represented by a friend.

=The Point of View as a Factor in Construction.=--It will be gathered
from the foregoing discussion of the various points of view in
narrative that no one of them may be pronounced absolutely better than
the others. But this much may be said dogmatically: there is always
one best point of view from which to tell any given short-story; and
although in planning a novel the author works with far less technical
restriction, there is almost always one best point of view from which
to tell a given novel. Therefore, it is advisable for the author to
determine as early as possible, from a studious consideration of his
materials, what is the best point of view from which to tell the story
he is planning, and thereafter to contemplate his narrative from that
standpoint and that only. Furthermore, the interest of art demands
that the point of view selected shall, if possible, be maintained
consistently throughout the telling of the story. This, however, is a
very difficult matter; and only in very recent years have even the
best writers grown to master it. The novels which have been told
without a single violation of this principle are very few in number.
But the fact remains that any unwarrantable breakdown in the point of
view selected diseconomizes the attention of the reader. It is
unfortunate, for instance, that Thomas Bailey Aldrich, in "Marjorie
Daw," should have found it necessary, after telling almost the entire
tale in letters, to shift suddenly to the external point of view and
end the story with a few pages of direct narrative. Such an unexpected
variation of method startles and to some extent disrupts the attention
of the reader, and thereby detracts from the effect of the thing to be

Henry James and Mr. Kipling exhibit, in their several ways,
extraordinary mastery of point of view; and their works may very
profitably be studied for examples of this special phase of artistry
in narrative. The very title of "What Maisie Knew", by Henry James,
proclaims the rigidly restricted standpoint from which the narrative
material is seen. In Mr. Kipling's tale, "A Deal in Cotton," which is
included in "Actions and Reactions," the interest is derived chiefly
from the trick of telling the story twice,--first from the point of
view of Adam Strickland, and the second time from the point of view of
Adam's native body-servant, who knew many matters that were hidden
from his master.

=The Point of View as the Hero of the Narrative.=--In certain special
cases the point of view has been made, so to speak, the real hero of
the story. Some years ago Mr. Brander Matthews, in collaboration with
the late H. C. Bunner, devised a very clever narrative entitled "The
Documents in the Case." It consisted merely of a series of numbered
documents, widely different in nature, presented with neither
introduction nor comment by the authors. The series contained
clippings from various newspapers, personal letters, I. O. U's,
race-track reports, pawn-tickets, letter-heads, telegrams, theatre
programmes, advertisements, receipted bills, envelopes, etc. In spite
of the diversity of these materials, the authors succeeded in
fabricating a narrative which was entirely coherent and at all points
clear. The main interest, however, lay in the novelty and cleverness
of the point of view; and though such an exaggerated technical
expedient may be serviceable now and then for a special sort of story,
it is not of any general value. A point of view that attracts
attention to itself necessarily distracts attention from the story
that is being represented; and in a narrative of serious import, the
main emphasis should be thrown upon the thing that is told rather than
upon the way of telling it.


1. In what ways is the impression of a narrative dependent on the
  point of view selected by the author?

2. Imagine a fictitious event; and after you have become sufficiently
  acquainted with this imaginary incident, write seven distinct
  themes, in each of which this incident is projected from a different
  point of view:--1. As seen by the leading actor; 2. As seen by a
  minor actor; 3. As seen by different actors; 4. As told in letters;
  5. From an omniscient point of view; 6. From a limited point of
  view; and 7. From a rigidly restricted point of view.

3. Imagine a fictitious event; and write two distinct themes, in one
  of which this event is recounted personally, and in the other


Read the most important works of fiction that have been mentioned in
this chapter.



  Essential and Contributory Features--Art Distinguishes Between the
  Two by Emphasis--Many Technical Devices: 1. Emphasis by Terminal
  Position; 2. Emphasis by Initial Position; 3. Emphasis by Pause
  [Further Discussion of Emphasis by Position]; 4. Emphasis by
  Direct Proportion; 5. Emphasis by Inverse Proportion; 6. Emphasis
  by Iteration; 7. Emphasis by Antithesis; 8. Emphasis by Climax; 9.
  Emphasis by Surprise; 10. Emphasis by Suspense; 11. Emphasis by
  Imitative Movement.

=Essential and Contributory Features.=--The features of any object
that we contemplate may with intelligent judgment be divided into two
classes, according as they are inherently essential, or else merely
contributory, to the existence of that object as an individual entity.
If any one of its inherently essential features should be altered,
that object would cease to be itself and would become another object;
but if any or all of its merely contributory features should be
changed, the object would still retain its individuality, however much
its aspect might be altered. And in general it may be said that we do
not understand an object until we are able to set intelligently in one
group or the other every feature it presents to our attention.

=Art Distinguishes Between the Two by Emphasis.=--In contemplating
natural objects, it is often difficult to distinguish those features
which are merely contributory from those which are inherently
essential; but it ought not to be difficult to do so in contemplating
a work of art. For it is possible for the artist--in fact it is
incumbent upon him--to help the observer to distinguish clearly
between the essential and the contributory details of the object he
has fabricated. By employing certain technical expedients in
exhibiting his work, the artist is able to communicate to the observer
his own intelligent distinction between its more important, and its
less important, features. He does this by casting emphasis upon the
necessary details and gathering out of emphasis the subsidiary ones.

The importance of the principle of emphasis is recognized in all the
arts; for it is only by an application of this principle that the
artist can gather and group in the background the subsidiary elements
of his work, while he flings into vivid relief those elements that
embody the essence of the thing he has to say. The halo with which the
Byzantine mosaïcists surrounded the faces of their saints, the glory
of golden light that gleams about the figure of Christ in heaven in
Tintoretto's decorations, the blank bright walls of the Doge's palace
undermined by darkling and shadowy arcades, the refrain of a Provençal
song, the sharp shadow under the visor of Verrocchio's equestrian
statue, the thought-provoking chiaroscuro of Rembrandt's figure
paintings--these expedients are all designed to attract attention to
the essential elements of a whole of many parts. By technical devices
such as these, emphasis must be given to the central truth of a work
of art in order that the observer may not look instead at the mere
accidents of its investiture. Where many elements are gathered
together for the purpose of representing an idea, some of them must be
more important than the others because they are to a greater extent
imbued with it inherently; and the artist will fail of his purpose
unless he indicates clearly which elements are essential and which are
merely subsidiary.

=Many Technical Devices.=--Scarcely any other work of art, excepting
a Gothic cathedral or a theatrical performance, is made of elements
more multifarious than those of a fictitious narrative. The details of
a novel are so many and so various that the author needs at all times
a nice understanding and a careful application of the principle of
emphasis. It is therefore advisable that the present chapter should be
devoted to the enumeration and illustration of the different technical
devices which are employed by artists in narrative to cast the needed
emphasis on the essential features of their stories.

=1. Emphasis by Terminal Position.=--First of all, it is obviously
easy to emphasize by position. In any narrative, or section of a
narrative, that is designed to be read in a single sitting, the last
moments are of necessity emphatic because they are the last. When the
reader lays the narrative aside, he remembers most vividly the last
thing that has been presented to his attention; and if he thinks back
to the earlier portions of the story, he must do so by thinking
through the concluding passage. Therefore, it is necessary in the
short-story, and advisable in the chapters of a novel, to reserve for
the ultimate position one of the most inherently important features of
the narrative; for surely it is bad art to waste the natural emphasis
of position by casting it upon a subsidiary feature.

The importance of this simple expedient will readily be recognized if
the student will gather together a hundred short-stories written by
acknowledged masters and examine the last paragraph of each. Consider
for a moment the final sentences of "Markheim," which we have already
quoted in another connection:--

"He confronted the maid upon the threshold with something like a

"'You had better go for the police,' said he: 'I have killed your

The entire story is summed up in the concluding phrase; and the final
sentence rings ever after in the reader's memory.

Here, to cite a new example, is the conclusion of Poe's "The Masque of
the Red Death":--

"And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come
like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the
blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing
posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with
that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired.
And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion
over all."

The sense of absolute ruin which we derive from this impressive
paragraph is, to a considerable extent, due to the emphasis it gains
from its finality. The effect would unquestionably be subtracted from,
if another paragraph should be appended and should steal away its
importance of position.

In order to derive the utmost emphasis from the terminal position, the
great artist Guy de Maupassant, in his short-stories, developed a
periodicity of structure by means of which he reserved the solution of
the narrative, whenever possible, until the final sentences. This
periodic structure is employed, for example, in his well-known story
of "The Necklace" ("_La Parure_"). It deals with a poor woman who
loses a diamond necklace that she has borrowed from a rich friend in
order to wear at a ball. She buys another exactly like it and returns
this in its place. For ten years she and her husband labor day and
night to pay off the debts they have incurred to purchase the
substituted jewels. After the debts are all paid, the woman tells her
friend of what had happened. Then follows this last sentence of the

"'Oh, my poor Mathilde. But mine were false. At most they were worth
five hundred francs!'"

The periodic pattern of Guy de Maupassant was sedulously copied by O.
Henry; but this popular contributor to the American magazines went
even further than his master and developed a double surprise to be
delivered suddenly at the conclusion of the narrative. A typical
example of his work is "The Gift of the Magi," wherein an unexpected
outcome is immediately capped by a second outcome still more
unexpected. The success of O. Henry with the reading public may be
attributed mainly to his cleverness in taking full advantage of the
powerful expedient of emphasis by terminal position. His technical
adroitness may be studied best by reading rapidly the final paragraphs
of any hundred of his stories. He had the happy faculty of saying last
the best and brightest thing he had to say.

=2. Emphasis by Initial Position.=--Next to the last position, the
most emphatic place in a brief narrative, or section of a narrative,
is of course the first. The mind of the reader receives with an
especial vividness whatever is presented to it at the outset. For this
reason it is necessary in the short-story, and advisable in the
chapters of a novel, to begin with material that not only is
inherently essential, but also strikes the key-note of the narrative
that is to follow. Edgar Allan Poe is especially artistic in applying
this principle of emphasis by initial position. We have already
quoted, in another connection, the solemn opening of "The Fall of the
House of Usher," with its suggestion of immitigable gloom of setting
as the dominant note of the narrative. In "The Cask of Amontillado,"
wherein the thing to be emphasized is the element of action, Poe
begins with this sentence: "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had
borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed
revenge": and we know already that the story is to set forth a signal
act of vengeance. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," which is a study of
murderous madness, and deals primarily with the element of character,
the author opens thus:--

"True!--nervous--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but
why _will_ you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my
senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of
hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I
heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe
how healthily--how calmly I can tell you the whole story."

=3. Emphasis by Pause.=--In general it may be said that any pause in a
narrative emphasizes by position whatever immediately precedes it, and
also (though to a considerably less extent) whatever immediately
follows it. For this reason many masters of the short-story, like
Daudet and de Maupassant, construct their narratives in sections, in
order to multiply the number of terminal and initial positions.
Asterisks strung across the page not only make the reader aware of the
completion of an integral portion of the story, but also focus his
attention emphatically on the last thing that has been said before the
interruption. The employment of _points de suspension_--a mark of
punctuation consisting of a series of successive dots ...--which is so
frequent with French authors, is a device which is used to interrupt a
sentence solely for the sake of emphasis by pause.

=Further Discussion of Emphasis by Position.=--The instances which we
have selected to illustrate the expedient of emphasizing by position
have been chosen for convenience from short-stories; but the same
principle may be applied with similar success in constructing the
chapters of a novel. Certain great but inartistic novelists, like Sir
Walter Scott, show themselves to be singularly obtuse to the advantage
of placing emphatic material in an emphatic position. Scott is almost
always careless of his chapter endings: he allows the sections of his
narrative to drift and straggle, instead of rounding them to an
emphatic close. But more artistic novelists, like Victor Hugo for
example, never fail to take advantage of the terminal position.
Consider the close of Book XI, Chapter II, of "Notre Dame de Paris."
The gypsy-girl, Esmeralda, has been hanged in the Place de Grève. The
hunchback, Quasimodo, has flung the archdeacon, Claude Frollo, from
the tower-top of Notre Dame. This paragraph then brings the chapter to
an end:--

"Quasimodo then raised his eye to the gypsy, whose body he saw,
depending from the gibbet, shudder afar under her white robe with the
last tremblings of death-agony; then he lowered it to the archdeacon,
stretched out at the foot of the tower and no longer having human
form; and he said with a sob that made his deep chest heave: 'Oh! all
that I have loved!'"

A chapter ending may be artistically planned either (as in the
foregoing instance) to sum up with absolute finality the narrative
accomplishment of the chapter, or else, by vaguely foreshadowing the
subsequent progress of the story, to lure the reader to proceed. The
elder Dumas possessed in a remarkable degree the faculty of so
terminating one chapter as to allure the reader to an immediate
commencement of the next. He did this most frequently by introducing a
new thread of narrative in a phrase of the concluding sentence, and
thereby exciting the reader's curiosity to follow up the thread.

The expedient of emphasis by terminal and by initial position cannot,
of course, be applied without reservation to an entire novel. The last
chapter of a novel with a complicated plot is often of necessity
devoted to tying or untying minor knots in the straggling threads of
the general network. Therefore, the most emphatic place in an extended
narrative is not at the very end, but rather at the close of the
chapter which sets forth the culmination. Also, although many great
novels, like "The Scarlet Letter," have begun at an emphatic moment in
the plot, many others have opened slowly and have presented no
important material until the narrative was well under way. "The
Talisman" of Scott, "The Spy" of Fenimore Cooper, and many another
early nineteenth-century romance, began with a solitary horseman whom
the reader was forced to follow for several pages before anything
whatever happened. Latterly, however, novelists have learned from
writers of short-stories the art of opening emphatically with material
important to the plot.

=4. Emphasis by Direct Proportion.=--Another means of emphasis in
narrative is by proportion. More time and more attention should be
given to essential scenes than to matters of subsidiary interest. The
most important characters should be given most to say and do; and the
amount of attention devoted to the others should be proportioned to
their importance in the action. Becky Sharp stands out sharply from
the half a hundred other characters in "Vanity Fair," because more
time is devoted to her than to any of the others. Similarly, in "Emma"
and in "Pride and Prejudice," as we have noted in the preceding
chapter, the heroine is in each case emphasized by the fact that she
is set forth from a more intimate point of view than the minor people
in the story. It is wise, for the sake of emphasis by proportion, to
draw the major characters more completely and more carefully than the
minor; and much may therefore be said, on this ground, in defence of
Dickens's habit of drawing humanly only the leading characters in his
novels and merely sketching in caricature the subsidiary actors.

=5. Emphasis by Inverse Proportion.=--It is sometimes possible, in
special cases, to emphasize ironically by inverse proportion. An
author may deliberately devote several successive pages to dwelling on
subsidiary matters, only to emphasize sharply a sudden paragraph or
sentence in which he turns to the one thing that really counts. But
this ironical expedient is, of course, less frequently serviceable
than that of emphasis by direct proportion.

=6. Emphasis by Iteration.=--Undoubtedly the easiest means of
inculcating a detail of narrative is to repeat it again and again.
Emphasis by iteration is a favorite device of Dickens. The reader is
never allowed to forget the catch-phrase of Micawber or the moral look
of Pecksniff. In many cases, to be sure, the reader wishes that he
might escape the constantly recurrent repetition; but Dickens
occasionally applies the expedient with subtle emotional effect. In "A
Tale of Two Cities," for example, the repeated references to echoing
footsteps and to the knitting of Madame Defarge contribute a great
deal to the sense of imminent catastrophe.

Certain modern authors have developed a phase of emphasis by iteration
which is similar to the employment of the _leit-motiv_ in the
music-dramas of Richard Wagner. In the Wagnerian operas a certain
musical theme is devoted to each of the characters, and is woven into
the score whenever the character appears. Similarly, in the later
plays of Henrik Ibsen, certain phrases are repeated frequently, to
indicate the recurrence of certain dramatic moods. Thus, in
"Rosmersholm," reference is made to the weird symbol of "white
horses," whenever the mood of the momentary scene foreshadows the
double suicide which is to terminate the play. Students of "Hedda
Gabler" need not be reminded of the emphasis flung by iteration on the
phrases, "Vine-leaves in his hair," "Fancy that, Hedda!", "Wavy-haired
Thea," "The one cock on the fowl-roost," and "People don't do such
things!" The same device may be employed just as effectively in the
short-story and the novel. A single instance will suffice for
illustration. Notice, in examining the impressive talk of the old lama
in Mr. Kipling's "Kim," how much emphasis is derived from the
continual recurrence of certain phrases, like the "Search for the
River," "the justice of the Wheel," "to acquire merit," and so forth.

A narrative expedient scarcely distinguishable in effect from simple
iteration is the device of parallelism of structure. For example, in
Hawthorne's story of "The White Old Maid," the first scene and the
last, although they are separated in time by many, many years, take
place in the same spacious chamber, with the moonbeams falling in the
same way through two deep and narrow windows, while waving curtains
produce the same ghostly semblance of expression on a face that is

=7. Emphasis by Antithesis.=--Emphasis in narrative is also
attained by antithesis,--an expedient employed in every art. In most
stories it is well so to select the characters that they will set
each other off by contrast. In the great duel scene of the "Master
of Ballantrae," from which a selection has been quoted in a previous
chapter, the phlegmatic calm of Mr. Henry is contrasted sharply
with the mercurial hot-headedness of the Master; and each character
stands forth more vividly because of its opposition to the other.
Of the two women who are loved by Tito Melema, the one, Tessa, is
simple and childish, the other, Romola, complex and intellectual.
The most interesting stories present a constant contrast of
mutually foiling personalities; and whenever characters of varied
views and opposing aims come nobly to the grapple in a struggle that
vitally concerns them, the tensity of the situation will be augmented
if the difference between the characters is marked. This expedient
is therefore of especial importance in the drama. Othello seems more
poignantly emotional in the presence of the coldly intellectual
Iago. In "The School for Scandal," Charles and Joseph Surface are
much more effective together than either of them would be alone. The
wholehearted and happy-go-lucky recklessness of the one sets off
the smooth and smug dissimulation of the other; the first gives light
to the play, and the second shade. Hamlet's wit is sharpened by the
garrulous obtuseness of Polonius; the sad world-wisdom of Paula
Tanqueray is accentuated by the innocence of Ellean. Similarly, to
return to the novel for examples, we need only instance the contrast
in mind between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the contrast in mood
between Claude Frollo and Phoebus de Châteaupers, the contrast in
ideals between Daniel Deronda and Gwendolen Grandcourt.

The expedient of antithesis is also employed effectively in the
balance of scene against scene. The absolute desolation which
terminates "The Masque of the Red Death" is preceded by "a masked ball
of the most unusual magnificence." In Scott's "Kenilworth," we pass
from the superb festivities which Leicester institutes in honor of
Queen Elizabeth, to the lonely prison where Amy Robsart, his discarded
wife, is languishing. Victor Hugo is, in modern fiction, the greatest
master of antithesis of mood between scene and scene. His most
emphatic effects are attained, like those of Gothic architecture, by a
juxtaposition of the grotesque and the sublime. Often, to be sure, he
overworks the antithetic; and entire sections of his narrative move
like the walking-beam of a ferry-boat, tilting now to this side, now
to that. But in spite of his excess in employing this device, his
practice should be studied carefully; for at his best he illustrates
more convincingly than any other author the effectiveness of emphasis
by contrast.

The subtlest way of employing this expedient is to present an
antithesis of mood within a single scene. Dame Quickly's account of
Falstaff's death touches at once the heights of humor and the depths
of pathos. At the close of "Mrs. Bathurst," the tragic narrative is
interrupted by the passage of a picnic-party singing a light
love-song. Shylock, in his great dialogue with Tubal, is at the same
moment plunged in melancholy over the defection of his daughter and
flushed with triumph because he has Antonio at last within his
clutches. Each emotion seems more potent because it is contrasted with
the other. In Mr. Kipling's "Love-o'-Women," the tragic effect is
enhanced by the fact that the tale is told by the humorous Mulvaney.

"'An' now?' she sez, lookin' at him; an' the red paint stud lone on
the white av her face like a bull's-eye on a target.

"He lifted up his eyes, slow an' very slow, an' he looked at her long
an' very long, an' he tuk his spache betune his teeth wid a wrench
that shuk him.

"'I'm dyin', Aigypt--dyin',' he says; ay, those were his words, for I
remimber the name he called her. He was turnin' the death-color, but
his eyes niver rowled. They were set--set on her. Widout word or
warnin' she opened her arms full stretch, an' 'Here!' she sez. (Oh,
fwhat a golden mericle av a voice ut was.) 'Die here,' she sez; an'
Love-o'-Women dhropped forward, an' she hild him up, for she was a
fine big woman."

=8. Emphasis by Climax.=--Another rhetorical expedient from
which emphasis may be derived is, of course, the use of climax.
The materials of a short-story, or of a chapter of narrative,
should in nearly every case be assembled in an ascending order of
importance,--each incident carrying the interest to a higher
level than that of the preceding. The same is true of the structure
of a novel from the outset to the moment of the culmination; but
of course it is rarely possible in the _dénouement_ to carry the
interest any higher than the level it attained at the point of
greatest complication. Climacteric progressiveness of structure
is effectively exhibited in Henry James' tale of mystery and
terror, "The Turn of the Screw." The author on horror's head
horrors accumulates, in a steadily ascending scale. But, on the
other hand, many stories have been marred by the introduction of
a very striking scene too early in the structure, after which
there has succeeded of necessity an appreciable diminution in the
interest. The reason why sequels to great novels have rarely been
successful is that it has been impossible for the author in the
second volume to sustain a climacteric rise of interest from the
level where he left off in the first.

=9. Emphasis by Surprise.=--A means of emphasis less technical and
more psychological than those which have been hitherto discussed is
that which owes its origin to surprise. Whatever hits the reader
unexpectedly will hit him hard. He will be most impressed by that for
which he has been least prepared. Chapter XXXII of "Vanity Fair"
passes in Brussels during the battle of Waterloo. The reader is kept
in the city with the women of the story while the men are fighting on
the field a dozen miles away. All day a distant cannonading rumbles on
the ear. At nightfall the noise stops suddenly. Then, at the end of
the chapter, the reader is told:--

"No more firing was heard at Brussels--the pursuit rolled miles away.
Darkness came down on the field and city: and Amelia was praying for
George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his

This statement of George Osborne's death is emphasized in several ways
at once. It is made emphatic by position, since it is placed at the
very end of a long chapter; by inverse proportion, since it is set
forth in a single phrase after many pages that have been devoted to
less important matters; but most of all by the startle of surprise
with which it strikes the reader. Likewise, the last sentence of de
Maupassant's "The Necklace," quoted earlier in this chapter, is
emphatic by surprise as well as by position; and the same is true of
the clever and unexpected close of H. C. Bunner's "A Sisterly Scheme,"
in many ways a little masterpiece of art.

In tales of mystery, the interest is maintained chiefly by the deft
manipulation of surprise; but even in novels wherein the aim to
mystify is very far from being the primary purpose of the author, it
is often wise to keep a secret from the reader for the sake of the
emphasis by surprise which may be derived at the moment of revelation.
In "Our Mutual Friend" the reader is led for a long time to suppose
that the character of Mr. Boffin is changing for the worse; and his
interest is stimulated keenly when he discovers ultimately that the
apparent degeneration has been only a pretense.

In the drama this expedient must be used with great delicacy, because
a sudden and startling shock of surprise is likely to scatter the
attention of the spectators and flurry them out of a true conception
of the scene. The reader of a novel, when he discovers with surprise
that he has been skilfully deceived through several pages, may pause
to reconstruct his conception of the narrative, and may even re-read
the entire passage through which the secret has been withheld from
him. But in the theatre, the spectators cannot stop the play while
they reconstruct in retrospect their judgment of a situation; and
therefore, in the drama, a moment of surprise should be carefully led
up to by anticipatory suggestion. Before Lady Macbeth is disclosed
walking in her sleep, her doctor and her waiting-gentlewoman are sent
on to tell the audience of her "slumbery agitation." This is excellent
art in the theatre; but it would be bad art in the pages of a novel.
In a story written to be read, surprise is most effective when it is

=10. Emphasis by Suspense.=--An even more interesting form of emphasis
in narrative is emphasis by suspense. Wilkie Collins is accredited
with having said that the secret of holding the attention of one's
readers lay in the ability to do three things: "Make 'em laugh; make
'em weep; make 'em wait." Still abide these three; and the greatest is
the last. The ability to make the reader wait, through many pages and
at times through many chapters, is a very valuable asset of the writer
of fiction; but this ability is applied to best advantage when it is
exercised within certain limitations. In the first place, there is no
use in making the reader wait unless he is first given an inkling of
what he is to wait for. The reader should be tantalized; he should be
made to long for the fruit that is just beyond his grasp; and he
should not be left in ignorance as to the nature of the fruit, lest he
should long for it half-heartedly. A vague sense of "something
evermore about to be" is not so interesting to the reader as a vivid
sense of the imminence of some particular occurrence that he wishes
ardently to witness. The expedient of suspense is most effective when
either of two things and only two, both of which the reader has
imagined in advance, is just about to happen, and the reader, desirous
of the one and apprehensive of the other, is kept waiting while the
balance trembles. In the second place, there is seldom any use in
making the reader wait unless he is given in the end the thing he has
been waiting for. A short-story may occasionally set forth a suspense
which is never to be satisfied. Frank R. Stockton's famous tale, "The
Lady or the Tiger?", ends with a question which neither the reader nor
the author is able to answer; and Bayard Taylor's fascinating
short-story, "Who Was She?", never reveals the alluring secret of the
heroine's identity. But in an extended story an unsatisfied suspense
is often less emphatic than no suspense at all, because the reader in
the end feels cheated by the author who has made him wait for nothing.
There are, of course, exceptions to this statement. In "The Marble
Faun," Hawthorne is undoubtedly right in never revealing the shape of
Donatello's ears, even though the reader continually expects the
revelation; but, in the same novel, it is difficult to see what, if
anything, is gained by making the reader wait in vain for the truth
about the shadowy past of Miriam.

=11. Emphasis by Imitative Movement.=--Emphasis in narrative may also
be attained by imitative movement. Whatever is imagined to have
happened quickly should be narrated quickly, in few words and in rapid
rhythm; and whatever is imagined to have happened slowly should be
narrated in a more leisurely manner,--sometimes in a greater number of
words than are absolutely necessitated by the sense alone,--the words
being arranged, furthermore, in a rhythm of appreciable sluggishness.
In "Markheim," the dealer is murdered in a single sudden sentence:
"The long, skewerlike dagger flashed and fell." But, later on in the
story, it takes the hero a whole paragraph, containing no less than
three hundred words, to mount the four-and-twenty steps to the first
floor of the house. In the following passage from "The Masque of the
Red Death," notice how much of the effect is due to imitative movement
in the narrative:--

"But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the
mummer had inspired the whole party there were found none who put
forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard
of the Prince's person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one
impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made
his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step
which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber
to the purple--through the purple to the green--through the green to
the orange--through this again to the white--and even thence to the
violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was
then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the
shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six
chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that
had seized upon all." The spectre and the Prince pass successively
through the same series of rooms; but it takes the former fifty-one
words to cover the distance, whereas it takes the latter only six.

In every story that is artistically fashioned, the methods of emphasis
enumerated in this chapter will be found to be continually applied.
Its essential features will be rendered prominent by position
(terminal or initial), by pause, by proportion (direct or inverse), by
iteration or parallelism, by antithesis, by climax, by surprise, by
suspense, by imitative movement, or by a combination of any or all of
these. The necessity of emphasis is ever present; the means of
emphasis are simple; and any writer of narrative who knows his art
will endeavor to employ them always to the best advantage.


1. What reasons account for the importance of the principle of
  emphasis in art?

2. Imagine a fictitious event of sufficient complexity; select the one
  detail that seems to be the most essential; and then write eleven
  distinct themes, narrating this same incident, and emphasizing this
  detail successively, 1. By Terminal Position; 2. By Initial
  Position; 3. By Pause; 4. By Direct Proportion; 5. By Inverse
  Proportion; 6. By Iteration; 7. By Antithesis; 8. By Climax; 9. By
  Surprise; 10. By Suspense, and 11. By Imitative Movement.


VICTOR HUGO: "Notre Dame de Paris."--This is one of the great novels
of the world; and it illustrates, at many moments, every technical
device of emphasis that has been expounded in this chapter.



  Fiction a Generic Term--Narrative in Verse and Narrative in
  Prose--Three Moods of Fiction: I. The Epic Mood--II. The Dramatic
  Mood: 1. Influence of the Actor; 2. Influence of the Theatre; 3.
  Influence of the Audience--[Dramatized Novels]--III. The
  Novelistic Mood.

=Fiction a Generic Term.=--Throughout the present volume, the word
_fiction_ has been used with a very broad significance, to include
every type of literary composition whose purpose is to embody certain
truths of human life in a series of imagined facts. The reason for
this has been that the same general artistic methods, with very slight
and obvious modifications, are applicable to every sort of narrative
which sets forth imagined people in a series of imagined acts. Nearly
all of the technical principles which have been outlined in the six
preceding chapters apply not only to the novel and the short-story,
but likewise to the epic and the lesser narrative in verse, and also
(though with certain evident limitations) to the drama. The materials
and methods of fiction may be studied in the works of Homer,
Shakespeare, and even Browning, as well as in the works of Balzac,
Turgénieff, and Mr. Kipling. The nature of narrative is necessarily
the same, whatever be its mood or its medium. The methods of
constructing plots, of delineating characters, of employing settings,
do not differ appreciably whether a narrative be written in verse or
in prose; and in either case the same selection of point of view and
variety of emphasis are possible. Therefore, in this volume, no
attempt has hitherto been made to distinguish one type of fictitious
narrative from another.

=Narrative in Verse and Narrative in Prose.=--Such a distinction, if it
be attempted at all, should be made only on the broadest and most
general lines. First of all, it should be admitted that, in an inquiry
concerned solely with the methods of fiction, no technical distinction
is possible between the narrative that is written in verse and the
narrative that is written in prose. The two differ in the mood of
their materials and the medium through which they are expressed; but
they do not differ distinctly in methods of construction. As far as
plot and characters and setting are concerned, Sir Walter Scott went
to work in the Waverley Novels, which are written in prose, just as he
had gone to work in "Marmion" and "The Lady of the Lake," which are
written in verse. In his verse he said things with the better art, in
his prose he had more things to say; but in each case his central
purpose was the same: and nothing can be gained from a critical dictum
that "Ivanhoe" is fiction and that "Marmion" is not. In the history of
every nation, fiction has been written earliest in verse and only
afterwards in prose. What we loosely call the novel was developed
late in literature, at a time after prose had supplanted verse as the
natural medium for narrative. Therefore, and therefore only, have we
come to regard the novel as a type of prose literature. For there is
no inherent reason why a novel may not be written in verse. There is a
sense in which Mrs. Browning's "Aurora Leigh," Owen Meredith's
"Lucile," and Coventry Patmore's "The Angel in the House," to mention
works of very different quality and calibre, may be regarded more
properly as novels than as poems. The story of "Maud" inspired
Tennyson to poetic utterance, and he told the tale in a series of
exquisite lyrics; but the same story might have been used by a
different author as the basis for a novel in prose. The subject of
"Evangeline" was suggested to Longfellow by Hawthorne; and if the
great prose poet had written the story himself, it would not have
differed essentially in material or in structural method from the
narrative as we know it through the medium of the verse romancer.
François Coppée has composed admirable short-stories in verse as
well as in prose. "The Strike of the Iron-Workers" ("_La Gréve des
Forgerons_"), which is written in rhymed Alexandrines, does not
differ markedly in narrative method from "The Substitute" ("_Le
Remplaçant_"), which is written in prose. To be sure, the former is a
poem and the latter is not; but only a very narrow-minded critic would
call the latter a short-story without applying the same term also to
the former. Therefore, the question whether a certain fictitious tale
should be told in verse or in prose has no place in a general
discussion of the materials and methods of fiction. It is a matter
of expression merely, and must be decided in each case by the
temperamental attitude of the author toward his subject-matter.

=Three Moods of Fiction.=--Eliminating, therefore, as unprofitable any
attempt at a critical distinction between fiction that is written in
verse and fiction that is written in prose, we may yet derive a
certain profit from a distinction along broad and general lines
between three leading moods of fiction,--the epic, the dramatic, and
what (lacking a more precise term) we may call the novelistic. Certain
materials of fiction are inherently epic, or dramatic, or novelistic,
as the case may be. Also, an author, according to his mental attitude
toward life and toward the subject-matter of his fictions, may cast
his stories either in the epic, the dramatic, or the novelistic mood.
In order to understand this distinction, we must examine the nature of
the epic and the drama, and then study the novel in comparison with
these two elder types of fiction.

=I. The Epic Mood.=--The great epics of the world, whether, as in the
case of the Norse sagas and possibly of the Homeric poems, they have
been a gradual and undeliberate aggregation of traditional ballads, or
else, as in the case of the "Æneid" and "Paradise Lost," they have
been the deliberate production of a single conscious artist, have
attained their chief significance from the fact that they have summed
up within themselves the entire contribution to human progress of a
certain race, a certain nation, a certain organized religion. The
glory that was Greece is epitomized and sung forever in the
"Iliad,"--the grandeur that was Rome, in the "Æneid." All that the
Middle Ages gave the world is gathered and expressed in the "Divine
Comedy" of Dante: all of medieval history, science, philosophy,
scholarship, poetry, religion may be reconstructed from a right
reading and entire understanding of this single monumental poem. If
you would know Portugal in her great age of discovery and conquest and
national expansion, read the "Lusiads" of Camoëns. If you would know
Christianity militant against the embattled legions of the Saracens,
read the "Jerusalem Liberated" of Tasso. If you would know what the
Puritan religion once meant to the greatest minds of England, read the
"Paradise Lost" of Milton.

The great epics have attained this resumptive and historical
significance only by exhibiting as subject-matter a vast and communal
struggle, in which an entire race, an entire nation, an entire
organized religion has been concerned,--a struggle imagined as so vast
that it has shaken heaven as well as earth and called to conflict not
only men but also gods. The epic has dealt always with a struggle, at
once human and divine, to establish a great communal cause. This
cause, in the "Æneid," is the founding of Rome; in the "Jerusalem
Liberated" it is the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre; in the "Faerie
Queene" it is the triumph of the virtues over the vices; in the
"Lusiads" it is the discovery and conquest of the Indies; in the
"Divine Comedy" it is the salvation of the human soul. Whatever
nations, whatever races, whatever gods oppose the founding of Rome or
the liberation of Jerusalem must be conquered, because in either case
the epic cause is righteous and predestined to prevail.

As a result of this, the characters in the great epics are memorable
mainly because of the part that they play in advancing or retarding
the victory of the vast and social cause which is the subject of the
story. Their virtues and their faults are communal and representative:
they are not adjudged as individuals, apart from the conflict in which
they figure: and, as a consequence, they are rarely interesting in
their individual traits. It is in rendering the more intimate and
personal phases of human character that epic literature shows itself,
when compared with the modern novel, inefficient. The epic author
exhibits little sympathy for any individual who struggles against the
cause that is to be established. Æneas dallying with Dido and
subsequent desertion of her is of little interest to Virgil on the
ground of individual personality: what interests him mainly is that so
long as Æneas lingers with the Carthaginian queen, the founding of
Rome is being retarded, and that when at last Æneas leaves her, he
does so to advance the epic cause. Therefore Virgil regards the
desertion of Dido as an act of heroic virtue on the part of the man
who sails away to found a nation. A modern novelist, however (and this
is the main point to be considered in this connection), would conceive
the whole matter more personally. He would be far less interested at
the moment in the ultimate founding of Rome than he would be in the
misery of the deserted woman; and instead of considering Æneas as a
model of heroic virtue, would adjudge him as personally base. From
this we see that the novelistic attitude toward character is much more
intimate than the epic attitude. The wrath of Achilles is significant
to Homer, not so much because it is an exhibition of individual
personality as because it is a factor in jeopardizing the victory of
the Greeks. Considered as types of individual character, most of
Homer's heroes are mere boys. It is the cause for which they fight
that gives them dignity: embattled Greece must repossess the beauty
which a lesser race has reft away from it. Even Helen herself is
merely an idea to be fought for; she is not, as a woman, interesting
humanly. It is only in infrequent passages, such as the scene of
parting between Andromache and Hector, that the ancient epics reveal
the intimate attitude toward character to which we have grown
accustomed in the modern novel.

Because the epic authors have been interested always in communal
conflict rather than in individual personality, they have seldom made
any use of the element of love,--the most intimate and personal of all
emotions. There is no love in Homer, and scarcely any love in Virgil
and in Milton. Tasso, to be sure, uses a love motive as the basis for
each of the three leading strands of his story; but because of this,
his epic, though gaining in modernity and charm, loses something of
the communal immensity--the impersonal dignity--of the "Iliad" and the
"Æneid." On the other hand, novelistic authors, since they have been
interested mainly in the revelation of intimate phases of individual
personality, have seized upon the element of love as the leading
motive of their stories. And this is one of the main differences, on
the side of content, between epic and novelistic fiction.

Certain great works of fiction stand upon the borderland between the
epic and the novel. "Don Quixote" is, for instance, such a work. It
is epic in that it sums up and expresses the entire contribution of
Spain to the progress of humanity. It is resumptive of the nation that
produced it: all phases of Spanish life and character, ideals and
temperament, are epitomized within it. But, on the other hand, it is
novelistic in the emphasis it casts on individual personality,--the
intimacy with which it focusses the interest not so much upon a nation
as upon a man.

The epic, in the ancient sense, is dead to-day. Facility of
intercommunication between the nations has made us all citizens of the
world; and an increased sense of the relativity of national and
religious ideals has made us catholic of other systems than our own.
Consequently we have lost belief in a communal conflict so absolutely
just and necessary as to call to battle powers not only human but
divine. Also, since the French Revolution, we have grown to set the
one above the many, and to believe that, of right, society exists for
the sake of the individual rather than the individual for the sake of
society. Therefore the novel, which deals with individual personality
in and for itself, is more attuned to modern life than the epic, which
presents the individual mainly in relation to a communal cause which
he strives to advance or to retard.

The epic note, however, survives in certain momentous modern novels.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin," for example, is less important merely as a novel
than as the epic of the great cause of abolition. Underlying many of
the works of Erckmann-Chatrian is an epic purpose to advance the cause
of universal peace by a depiction of the horrors of war. Balzac had in
mind the resumptive phase of epic composition when he planned his
"Human Comedy" (choosing his title in evident imitation of that of
Dante's poem), and started out to sum up all phases of human life in
a single monumental series of narratives. So also the late Frank
Norris had an epic idea in his imagination when he planned a trilogy
of novels (which unhappily he died before completing) to exhibit what
the great wheat industry means to the modern world.

In the broad and social sense, the epic is undeniably a greater type
of fiction than the novel, because it is more resumptive of life in
the large, and looks upon humanity with a vaster sweep of vision; but
in the deep and personal sense, the novel is the greater, because it
is more capable of an intimate study of individual emotion. And it is
possible, as we have seen, that modern fiction should be at once epic
and novelistic in content and in mood,--epic in resuming all aspects
of a certain phase of life and in exhibiting a social struggle, and
novelistic in casting emphasis upon personal details of character and
in depicting intimate emotions. Probably no other author has succeeded
better than Emile Zola in combining the epic and the novelistic moods
of fiction; and the novels in the Rougon-Macquart series are at once
communal and personal in their significance.

=II. The Dramatic Mood.=--It is somewhat simpler to trace a
distinction both in content and in method between novelistic and
dramatic fiction, because the latter is produced under special
conditions which impose definite limitations upon the author. A
drama is, in essence, a story devised to be presented by actors on a
stage before an audience. The dramatist, therefore, works ever
under the sway of three influences to which the novelist is not
submitted:--namely, the temperament of the actors by whom his plays
are to be performed, the physical conditions of the theatre in which
they are to be produced, and the psychologic nature of the audience
before which they are to be presented. The combined force of these
three external influences upon the dramatist accounts for all of
the essential differences between the drama and the novel.

=1. Influence of the Actor.=--First of all, because of the influence
of his actors, the dramatist is obliged to draw character through
action, and to eliminate from his work almost every other means of
characterization. He must therefore select from life such moments as
are active rather than passive. His characters must constantly be
doing something; they may not pause for careful contemplation.
Consequently the novelist has a wider range of subject than the
dramatist, because he is able to consider life more calmly, and to
concern himself, if need be, with thoughts and feelings that do not
translate themselves into action. In depicting objective events in
which the element of action is paramount, the drama is more
immediate and vivid; but the novel may depict subjective events
which are quite beyond the presentation of actors in a theatre.
Furthermore, since he is not obliged to think of actors, the
novelist has a greater freedom in creating characters than the
dramatist. The great characters of the drama have been devised by
playwrights who have already attained command of the theatre of
their place and time, and who therefore have fashioned their parts to
fit the individual actors they have found ready to perform them.
Consequently they have endowed their characters with the physical, and
even to some extent the mental, characteristics of certain actual
actors. M. Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac is not merely Cyrano, but
also Constant Coquelin; Sardou's La Tosca is not merely La Tosca, but
also Mme. Sarah Bernhardt; Molière's Célimène is not merely Célimène,
but also Mlle. Molière; Shakespeare's Hamlet is not merely Hamlet,
but also Richard Burbage. In working thus with one eye upon the
actual, the dramatist is extremely likely to be betrayed into
untruthfulness. In the last scene of "Hamlet," the Queen says of
the Prince, "He's fat and scant of breath." This line was of course
occasioned by the fact that Richard Burbage was corpulent during the
season of 1602. But the eternal truth is that Prince Hamlet is a
slender man; and Shakespeare has here been forced to belie the
truth in order to subserve the fact. On the other hand, the
dramatist is undoubtedly aided in his great aim of creating
characters by holding in mind certain actual people who have been
selected to represent them; and what the novelist gains in range and
freedom of characterization, he is likely to lose in concreteness
of delineation.

=2. Influence of the Theatre.=--Secondly, the form and structure of
the drama in any age is imposed upon the dramatist by the size and
shape and physical appointments of the theatre he is writing for.
Plays must be built in one way to fit the theatre of Dionysus, in
another way to fit the Globe upon the Bankside, in still another way
to fit the modern electric-lighted stage behind a picture-frame
proscenium. The dramatist in constructing his story is hedged in by a
multitude of physical restrictions, of which he must make a special
study in order to force them to contribute to the presentation of his
truth instead of detracting from it. In this regard, again, the
novelist works with greater freedom. Seldom is his labor subjected to
merely physical restrictions from without. Sometimes, to be sure,
certain arbitrary conditions of the trade of publishing have exercised
an influence over the structure of the novel. In England, early in the
nineteenth century, it was easier to sell a three-volume novel than a
tale of lesser compass; and many a story of the time had to be pieced
out beyond its natural and truthful length in order to meet the
demands of the public and the publishers. But such a case, in the
history of the novel, is exceptional. In general, the novelist may
build as he chooses. He may tell a tale, long or short, happening in
few places or in many; and is not, like the modern dramatist, confined
in place to no more than four or five different settings, and in time
to the two hours' traffic of the stage. The novel, therefore, is far
more serviceable than the drama as a medium for exhibiting the gradual
growth of character,--the development of personality under influences
extending over long periods of time and exerted in many different

=3. Influence of the Audience.=--Thirdly, the very content of the
drama is determined by the fact that a play must be devised to
interest a multitude rather than an individual. The novelist writes
for a reader sitting alone in his library: whether ten such readers or
a hundred thousand ultimately read a book, the author speaks to each
of them apart from all the others. But the dramatist must plan his
story to interest simultaneously a multitude of heterogeneous
observers. The drama, therefore, must be richer in popular appeal; but
the novel may be subtler in appealing to the one instead of to the
many. Since the novelist addresses himself to a single person only, or
to a limitless succession of single persons, he may choose the sort of
reader he will write for; but the dramatist must please the many, and
is therefore at the mercy of the multitude. He writes less freely than
the novelist, since he cannot pick his auditors. His themes, his
thoughts, and his emotions are restricted by the limits of popular

This important condition is potent in determining the proper content
of dramatic fiction. For it has been found in practice that the one
thing most likely to interest a crowd is a struggle between character
and character. Speaking empirically, the late Ferdinand Brunetière, in
his preface to "_Annales du Théâtre et de la Musique_" for 1893,
stated that the drama has dealt always with a struggle between human
wills; and his statement, formulated in the catch-phrase, "No
struggle, no drama," has since become a commonplace of dramatic
criticism. The reason for this is simply that characters are
interesting to a crowd mainly in those crises of emotion that bring
them to the grapple. A single individual, like the reader of a novel,
may be interested intellectually in those gentle influences beneath
which a character unfolds itself as mildly as a blowing rose; but to
the gathered multitude a character does not appeal except in moments
of contention. Hence the drama, to interest an audience, must present
its characters in some struggle of the wills,--whether it be merely
flippant, as in the case of Benedick and Beatrice, or gentle, as in
that of Viola and Orsino, or terrible, with Macbeth, or piteous, with
Lear. The drama, therefore, is akin to the epic, in that it must
represent a struggle; but it is more akin to the novel, in that it
deals with human character in its individual, rather than its
communal, aspects. But in range of representing characters, the drama
is more restricted than the novel; for though the novelist is at
liberty to exhibit a struggle of individual human wills whenever he
may choose to do so, he is not, like the dramatist, prohibited from
representing anything else. In covering this special province, the
drama is undeniably more vivid and emphatic; but many momentous phases
of human experience are not contentious but contemplative; and these
the novel may reveal serenely, without employment of the sound and
fury of the drama.

Since the mind of the multitude is more emotional than intellectual,
the dramatist, for his most effective moments, is obliged to set forth
action with emotion for its motive. But the novelist, in motivating
action, may be more considerate and intellectual, since his appeal is
made to the individual mind. In its psychologic processes, the crowd
is more commonplace and more traditional than is the individual. The
drama, therefore, is less serviceable than the novel as a vehicle for
conveying unaccustomed and advanced ideas of life. The crowd has no
speculation in its eyes: it is impatient of original thought, and of
any but inherited emotion: it evinces little favor for the original,
the questioning, the new. Therefore if an author holds ideas of
religion, or of politics, or of social law that are in advance of his
time, he will do better to embody them in a novel than in a drama;
because the former makes its appeal to the individual mind, which has
more patience for intellectual consideration.

Furthermore, the novelist need not, like the dramatist, subserve the
immediate necessity for popular appeal. The dramatic author, since he
plans his story for a heterogeneous multitude of people, must
incorporate in the same single work of art elements that will interest
all classes of mankind. But the novelistic author, since he is at
liberty to pick his auditors at will, may, if he choose, write only
for the best-developed minds. It is an element of Shakespeare's
greatness that his most momentous plays, like "Hamlet" and "Othello,"
are of interest to people who can neither read nor write, as well as
to people of educated sensibilities. But it is an evidence of
Meredith's greatness that his novels are caviare to the general. Mr.
Kipling's "They" is the greater story because it defends itself from
being understood by those it is not really for. In exhibiting the
subtler and more delicate phases of human experience, the novel far
transcends the drama. The drama, at its deepest, is more poignant; but
the novel, at its highest, is more exquisite.

=Dramatized Novels.=--The proper material for the drama is, as we
have seen, a struggle between individual human wills, motivated by
emotion rather than by intellect, and expressed in terms of
objective action. In representing such material, the drama is supreme.
But the novel is wider in range; for besides exhibiting (though
less emphatically) this special aspect of human life, it may embody
many other and scarcely less important phases of individual
experience. Of late, an effort has been made to break down the
barrier between the novel and the drama: many stories, which have
been told first in the novelistic mood, have afterward been
reconstructed and retold for presentation in the theatre. This
attempt has succeeded sometimes, but has more often failed. Yet it
ought to be very easy to distinguish a novel that may be dramatized
from a novel that may not. Certain scenes in novelistic literature,
like the duel in "The Master of Ballantrae," are essentially dramatic
both in content and in mood. Such scenes may be adapted with very
little labor to the uses of the theatre. Certain novels, like "Jane
Eyre," which exhibit an emphatic struggle between individual human
wills, are inherently capable of theatric representment. But any novel
in which the main source of interest is not the clash of character
on character, in which the element of action is subordinate, or in
which the chief appeal is made to the individual (instead of the
collective) mind, is not capable of being dramatized successfully.

=III. The Novelistic Mood.=--It is impossible to determine whether, at
the present day, the novel or the drama is the more effective medium
for embodying the truths of human life in a series of imagined facts.
Dramatic fiction has the greater depth, and novelistic fiction has the
greater breadth. The latter is more extensive, the former more
intensive, in its artistry. This much, however, may be decided
definitely. The novel, at its greatest, may require a vaster sweep of
wisdom on the part of the author; but the drama is technically more
difficult, since the dramatist, besides mastering all of the general
methods of fiction which he necessarily employs in common with the
novelist, must labor in conformity with a special set of conditions to
which the novelist is not submitted. George Meredith may be a greater
author than Sir Arthur Wing Pinero; but Pinero is of necessity more
rigid in his mastery of structure.


1. Define the three moods of fiction,--epic, dramatic, and

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the epic mood?

3. Explain the three influences under which the dramatist must always
  do his work,--that of the actor, that of the theatre, and that of
  the audience.

4. What sort of novel can be dramatized successfully?


Study, comparatively, the character of Æneas in Virgil's epic, the
character of Macbeth in Shakespeare's drama, and the character of
Sentimental Tommy in Sir James Barrie's novels.

Students who desire to pursue a special study of the materials and
methods of the drama will find a full discussion of these topics in
three books by Clayton Hamilton, entitled "The Theory of the Theatre,"
"Studies in Stagecraft," and "Problems of the Playwright."



  Novel, Novelette, and Short-Story--The Novel and the Novelette--The
  Short-Story a Distinct Type--The Dictum of Poe--The Formula of
  Brander Matthews--Definition of the Short-Story--Explanation of
  This Definition: 1. "Single Narrative Effect"; 2. "Greatest Economy
  of Means"; and 3. "Utmost Emphasis"--Brief Tales That Are Not
  Short-Stories--Short-Stories That Are Not Brief--Bliss Perry's
  Annotations--The Novelist and the Writer of Short-Stories--The
  Short-Story More Artistic Than the Novel--The Short-Story Almost
  Necessarily Romantic.

=Novel, Novelette, and Short-Story.=--Turning our attention from the
epic and the drama, and confining it to the general type of fiction
which in the last chapter was loosely named novelistic, we shall find
it possible to distinguish somewhat sharply, on the basis of both
material and method, between three several forms,--the novel, the
novelette, and the short-story. The French, who are more precise than
we in their use of denotative terms, are accustomed to divide their
novelistic fiction into what they call the _roman_, the _nouvelle_,
and the _conte_. "Novel" and "novelette" are just as serviceable terms
as _roman_ and _nouvelle_; in fact, since "novelette" is the
diminutive of "novel," they express even more clearly than their
French equivalents the relation between the two forms they designate.
But it is greatly to be regretted that we do not have in English a
distinctive word that is the equivalent of _conte_. Edgar Allan Poe
used the word "tale" with similar meaning; but this term is so
indefinite and vague that it has been discarded by later critics. It
is customary at the present day to use the word "short-story," which
Professor Brander Matthews has suggested spelling with a hyphen to
indicate that it has a special and technical significance.

The French apply the term _roman_ to extensive works like "Notre Dame
de Paris" and "Eugénie Grandet"; and they apply the term _nouvelle_ to
works of briefer compass but similar method, like the "Colomba" and
the "Carmen" of Prosper Mérimée. In English we may class as novels
works like "Kenilworth," "The Newcomes," "The Last of the Mohicans,"
"The Rise of Silas Lapham"; and we may class as novelettes works like
"Daisy Miller," "The Treasure of Franchard," "The Light That Failed."
The difference is merely that the novelette (or _nouvelle_) is a work
of less extent, and covers a smaller canvas, than the novel (or
_roman_). The distinction is quantitative but not qualitative. The
novelette deals with fewer characters and incidents than the novel; it
usually limits itself to a stricter economy of time and place; it
presents a less extensive view of life, with (most frequently) a more
intensive art. But these differences are not definite enough to
warrant its being considered a species distinct from the novel. Except
for the restrictions imposed by brevity of compass, the writer of
novelettes employs the same methods as the writer of novels; and,
furthermore, he sets forth similar materials.

=The Novel and the Novelette.=--More and more in recent years, the
novel has tended to shorten to the novelette. A stricter sense of art
has led to the exclusion of digressive and discursive passages; and
the hurry and preoccupation of contemporary readers has militated
against the leisurely and rambling habit of the authors of an earlier
time. The lesson of excision and condensation has been taught by
writers as different in tone as Mérimée, Turgénieff, and Stevenson.
"The three-volume novel is extinct," as Mr. Kipling stated in the
motto prefixed to the poem called "The Three-Decker," in which, with a
commingling of satire and sentiment, he chanted its requiem. It was
nearly always, in the matter of structure, a slovenly form; and there
is therefore little cause for regret that the novelette seems destined
to supplant it. For the novelette accomplishes the same purpose as the
novel, with necessarily a more intensive emphasis of art, and with a
tax considerably less upon the time and attention of the reader.

=The Short-Story a Distinct Type.=--But the _conte_, or short-story,
differs from the novel and the novelette not only quantitatively, but
also qualitatively, not only in length, but also in kind. In such
_contes_ as "The Necklace" of de Maupassant and "The Last Class" of
Daudet, in such short-stories as "Ligeia," "The Ambitious Guest,"
"Markheim," and "Without Benefit of Clergy," the aim of the author is
quite distinct from that of the writer of novels and of novelettes. In
material and in method, as well as in extent, these stories represent
a type that is noticeably different.

The short-story, as well as the novel and the novelette, has always
existed. The parable of "The Prodigal Son," in the fifteenth chapter
of the Gospel according to Luke, is just as surely a short-story in
material and method as the books of "Ruth" and "Esther" are novelettes
in form. But the critical consciousness of the short-story as a
species of fiction distinct in purpose and in method from the novel
dates only from the nineteenth century. It was Edgar Allan Poe who
first designated and realized the short-story as a distinct form of
literary art. In the scholarly and thorough introduction to his
collection of "American Short Stories,"[3] Professor Charles Sears
Baldwin points out that Poe, more than any of his predecessors in the
art of fiction, felt narrative as structure. It was he who first
rejected from the tale everything that was, from the standpoint of
narrative form, extraneous, and made the narrative progress more
direct. The essential features of his structure were (to use Professor
Baldwin's words) harmonization, simplification, and gradation. He
stripped his stories of every least incongruity. What he taught by his
example was reduction to a straight predetermined course; and he made
clear to succeeding writers the necessity of striving for unity of
impression through strict unity of form.

=The Dictum of Poe.=--Poe was a critic as well as a teller of tales;
and what he inculcated by example he also stated by precept. In his
now famous review of Hawthorne's "Tales," published originally in
_Graham's Magazine_ for May, 1842, he thus outlined his theory of the

"The ordinary novel is objectionable, from its length, for reasons
already stated in substance. As it cannot be read at one sitting, it
deprives itself, of course, of the immense force derivable from
_totality_. Worldly interests intervening during the pauses of
perusal, modify, annul, or counteract, in a greater or less degree,
the impressions of the book. But simple cessation in reading would, of
itself, be sufficient to destroy the true unity. In the brief tale,
however, the author is enabled to carry out the fulness of his
intention, be it what it may. During the hour of perusal the soul of
the reader is at the writer's control. There are no external or
extrinsic influences--resulting from weariness or interruption.

"A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not
fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having
conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single _effect_
to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents--he then combines
such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived
effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the outbringing of
this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole
composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency,
direct or indirect, is not to the one preëstablished design. And by
such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted
which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred
art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has
been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end
unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here
as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided."

=The Formula of Brander Matthews.=--From the very outset, the currency
of Poe's short-stories was international; and his concrete example in
striving for totality of impression exerted an immediate influence not
only in America but even more in France. But his abstract theory,
which (for obvious reasons) did not become so widely known, was not
received into the general body of critical thought until much later in
the century. It remained for Professor Brander Matthews, in his
well-known essay on "The Philosophy of the Short-story," printed
originally in _Lippincott's Magazine_ for October, 1885,[4] to state
explicitly what had lain implicit in the passage of Poe's criticism
already quoted, and to give a general currency to the theory that the
short-story differs from the novel essentially,--and not merely in the
matter of length. In the second section of his essay, Professor
Matthews stated:--

"A true short-story is something other and something more than a mere
story which is short. A true short-story differs from the novel
chiefly in its essential unity of impression. In a far more exact and
precise use of the word, a short-story has unity as a novel cannot
have it. Often, it may be noted by the way, the short-story fulfills
the three false unities of the French classic drama: it shows one
action, in one place, on one day. A short-story deals with a single
character, a single event, a single emotion, or the series of emotions
called forth by a single situation. Poe's paradox that a poem cannot
greatly exceed a hundred lines in length under penalty of ceasing to
be one poem and breaking into a string of poems, may serve to suggest
the precise difference between the short-story and the novel. The
short-story is the single effect, complete and self-contained, while
the novel is of necessity broken into a series of episodes. Thus the
short-story has, what the novel cannot have, the effect of 'totality,'
as Poe called it, the unity of impression.

"Of a truth, the short-story is not only not a chapter out of a novel,
or an incident or an episode extracted from a longer tale, but at its
best it impresses the reader with the belief that it would be spoiled
if it were made larger, or if it were incorporated into a more
elaborate work....

"In fact, it may be said that no one has ever succeeded as a writer of
short-stories who had not ingenuity, originality, and compression; and
that most of those who have succeeded in this line had also the touch
of fantasy."

=Definition of the Short-Story.=--On the basis of these theories, the
present writer essayed a few years ago to formulate within a single
sentence a definition of the short-story. Thus: _The aim of a
short-story is to produce a single narrative effect with the greatest
economy of means that is consistent with the utmost emphasis._[5]

=Explanation of This Definition: 1. "Single Narrative Effect."=--Because
of its succinctness, this sentence needs a little explanation. A narrative
effect necessarily involves the three elements of action, characters,
and setting. In aiming to produce a narrative effect, the short-story,
therefore, differs from the sketch, which may concern itself with only
one of these elements, without involving the other two. The sketch most
often deals with character or setting divested of the element of action;
but in the short-story something has to happen. In this regard, the
short-story is related more closely to the novel than to the sketch. But
although in the novel any two, or all three, of the narrative elements
may be so intimately interrelated that no one of them stands out clearly
from the others, it is almost always customary in the short-story to
cast a marked preponderance of emphasis on one of the elements, to the
subversion of the other two. Short-stories, therefore, may be divided
into three classes, according as the effect which they purpose to
produce is primarily an effect of action, or of character, or of setting.
"The Masque of the Red Death" produces an effect of setting, "The
Tell-Tale Heart" an effect of character, and "The Cask of Amontillado" an
effect of action. For the sake of economy it is incumbent on the
author to suggest at the outset which of the three sorts of narrative
effect the story is intended to produce. The way in which Poe
accomplished this in the three stories just mentioned may be seen at once
upon examination of the opening paragraph of each. Having selected his
effect the author of a short-story should confine his attention to
producing that, and that alone. He should stop at the very moment when his
preëstablished design has been attained; and never during the progress
of his composition should he turn aside for the sake of a lesser effect
not absolutely inherent in his single narrative purpose. Stevenson
insisted on this focus of attention in a passage of a personal letter
addressed to Sir Sidney Colvin:--

"Make another end to it? Ah, yes, but that's not the way I write; the
whole tale is implied; I never use an effect when I can help it,
unless it prepares the effects that are to follow; that's what a story
consists in. To make another end, that is to make the beginning all
wrong. The _dénouement_ of a long story is nothing, it is just 'a full
close,' which you may approach and accomplish as you please--it is a
coda, not an essential member in the rhythm; but the body and end of a
short-story is bone of the bone and blood of the blood of the

=2. "Greatest Economy of Means"; and 3. "Utmost Emphasis."=--The
phrase "single narrative effect," with all its implications, should
now be clear. The phrase "with the greatest economy of means"
implies that the writer of a short-story should tell his tale with
the fewest necessary number of characters and incidents, and should
project it in the narrowest possible range of place and time. If he
can get along with two characters, he should not use three. If a
single event will suffice for his effect, he should confine himself
to that. If his story can pass in one place at one time, he must
not disperse it over several times and places. But in striving
always for the greatest possible conciseness, he must not neglect
the equally important need of producing his effect "with the utmost
emphasis." If he can gain markedly in emphasis by violating the
strictest possible economy, he should do so; for, as Poe stated,
undue brevity is exceptionable, as well as undue length. Thus the
parable of "The Prodigal Son," which might be told with only two
characters--the father and the prodigal--gains sufficiently in
emphasis by the introduction of a third--the good son--to warrant
this violation of economy. The greatest structural problem of the
writer of short-stories is to strike just the proper balance between
the effort for economy of means--which tends to conciseness--and
the effort for the utmost emphasis--which tends to amplitude of

=Brief Tales That Are Not Short-Stories.=--There can be no doubt that
the short-story, thus rigidly defined, exists as a distinct form of
fiction,--a definite literary species obeying laws of its own. Now and
again before the nineteenth century, it appeared unconsciously. Since
Poe, it has grown conscious of itself, and has been deliberately
developed to perfection by later masters, like Guy de Maupassant. But
it must be admitted frankly that brief tales have always existed, and
still continue to exist, which stand entirely outside the scope of
this rigid and rather narrow definition. Professor Baldwin, after a
careful examination of the hundred tales in Boccaccio's "Decameron,"
concluded that only two of them were short-stories in the modern
critical sense,[6] and that only three others approached the totality
of impression that depends on conscious unity of form. If we should
select at random a hundred brief tales from the best contemporary
magazines, we should find, of course, that a larger proportion of them
would fulfill the definition; but it is almost certain that the
majority of them would still be stories that merely happen to be
short, instead of true short-stories in the modern critical sense. Yet
these brief fictions, which are not short-stories, and for which we
have no name, are none the less estimable in content, and sometimes
present a wider view of life than could be encompassed within the
rigid limits of a technical short-story. Hawthorne's tales stand
higher in the history of literature than Poe's, because they reveal a
deeper insight into life, even though the great New England dreamer
often violates the principle of economy of means, and constructs less
firmly than the mathematically-minded Poe. Washington Irving's brief
tales, such as "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,"
which are not short-stories in the technical sense of the term, are
far more valuable as representations of humanity than many a
structural masterpiece of Guy de Maupassant. "For my part," Irving
wrote to one of his friends, "I consider a story merely as a frame on
which to stretch the materials; it is the play of thought, and
sentiment, and language, the weaving in of characters, lightly yet
expressively delineated; the familiar and faithful exhibition of
scenes in common life; and the half-concealed vein of humor that is
often playing through the whole,--these are among what I aim at, and
upon which I felicitate myself in proportion as I think I succeed."
There is much to be said in favor of this meandering and leisurely
method; and authors too intent upon a merely technical accomplishment
may lose the genial breadth of outlook upon life which men like Irving
have so charmingly displayed. Let us admit, therefore, that the
story-which-is-merely-short is just as worthy of cultivation as the
technical short-story.

=Short-Stories That Are Not Brief.=--But if there exist many brief
tales which are not short-stories, so also there exist certain
short-stories which are not brief. "The Turn of the Screw," by Henry
James, is a short-story, in the technical sense of the term, although
it contains between two and three hundred pages. Assuredly it is not a
novelette. It aims to produce one narrative effect, and only one; and
it is difficult to imagine how the full force of its cumulative
mystery and terror could have been created with greater economy of
means. It is a long short-story. Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde," which is conceived, and for the most part executed, as a
short-story, is longer than the same author's "The Beach of Falesá,"
which is conceived and executed as a novelette. Edward Everett Hale's
famous short-story, "The Man Without a Country," is long enough to be
printed in a little volume by itself. The point to be remembered,
therefore, is that the two different types of brief fiction are to be
distinguished one from the other not by comparative length but by
structural method. The critic may formulate the technical laws of the
stricter type; but it must not be forgotten that these laws do not
apply (and there is no reason whatever that they should) to those
other estimable narratives which, though brief, stand outside the
definition of the short-story.

=Bliss Perry's Annotations.=--Bearing in mind this limitation of
the subject, we may proceed to a further study of the strict
short-story type. In an admirable essay on "The Short Story,"[7]
Professor Bliss Perry had discussed at length its requirements and
restrictions. Admitting that writers of short-stories usually cast a
marked preponderance of emphasis on one of the three elements of
narrative, to the subversion of the other two, Professor Perry
calls attention to the fact that in the short-story of character,
"the characters must be unique, original enough to catch the eye at
once." The writer does not have sufficient time at his disposal to
reveal the full human significance of the commonplace. "If his
theme is character-development, then that development must be
hastened by striking experiences." Hence this class of short-story,
as compared with the novel, must set forth characters more unusual
and unexpected. But in the short-story of action, on the other
hand, the plot may be sufficient unto itself, and the characters
may be the merest lay figures. The heroine of "The Lady or the
Tiger," for example, is simply _a_ woman--not any woman in particular;
and the hero of "The Pit and the Pendulum" is simply _a_ man--not
any man in particular. The situation itself is sufficient to hold
the reader's interest for the brief space of the story. Hence,
although, in the short-story of character, the leading actor is
likely to be strikingly individualized, the short-story of action
may content itself with entirely colorless characters, devoid of any
personal traits whatever. Professor Perry adds that in the class of
short-story which casts the main emphasis on setting, "both
characters and action may be almost without significance"; and he
continues,--"If the author can discover to us a new corner of the
world, or sketch the familiar scene to our heart's desire, or
illumine one of the great human occupations, as war, or commerce, or
industry, he has it in his power, through this means alone, to give
us the fullest satisfaction."

From the fact that the short-story does not keep the powers of the
reader long upon the stretch, Professor Perry deduces certain
opportunities afforded to short-story writers but denied to
novelists,--opportunities, namely, "for innocent didacticism, for
posing problems without answering them, for stating arbitrary
premises, for omitting unlovely details and, conversely, for making
beauty out of the horrible, and finally for poetic symbolism." Passing
on to a consideration of the demands which the short-story makes upon
the writer, he asserts that, at its best, "it calls for visual
imagination of a high order: the power to see the object; to penetrate
to its essential nature; to select the one characteristic trait by
which it may be represented." Furthermore, it demands a mastery of
style, "the verbal magic that recreates for us what the imagination
has seen." But, on the other hand, "to write a short-story requires no
sustained power of imagination"; "nor does the short-story demand of
its author essential sanity, breadth, and tolerance of view." Since he
deals only with fleeting phases of existence--"not with wholes, but
with fragments"--the writer of the short-story "need not be
consistent; he need not think things through." Hence, in spite of the
technical difficulties which beset the author of short-stories, his
work is, on human grounds, more easy than that of the novelist, who
must be sane and consistent, and must be able to sustain a prolonged
effort of interpretive imagination.

=The Novelist and the Writer of Short-Stories.=--These points have
been so fully covered and so admirably illustrated by Professor Perry
that they do not call for any further discussion in this place. But
perhaps something may be added concerning the different equipments
that are required by authors of novels and authors of short-stories.
Matthew Arnold, in a well-known sonnet, spoke of Sophocles as a man
"who saw life steadily and saw it whole"; and if we judge the novelist
and the writer of short-stories by their attitudes toward life, we may
say that they divide this verse between them. Balzac, George Eliot,
and Meredith look at life in the large; they try to "see it whole" and
to reproduce the chaos of its intricate relations: but Poe, de
Maupassant, and Mr. Kipling aim rather to "see steadily" a limited
phase of life, to focus their minds upon a single point of experience,
and then to depict this point briefly and strikingly. It follows that
the novelist requires an experience of life far more extensive than
that which is required by the writer of short-stories. The great
novelists have all been men of mature years and accumulated wisdom.
But if an author knows one little point of life profoundly, he may
fashion a great short-story, even though that one thing be the only
thing he knows. Of life as it is actually lived, of genuine humanity
of character, of moral responsibility in human intercourse, Edgar
Allan Poe knew nothing; and yet he was fully equipped to produce what
remain until this day the most perfect examples of the short-story in
our language. It is therefore not surprising that, although the great
novels of the world have been written for the most part by men over
forty years of age, the great short-stories have been written by men
in their twenties and their thirties. Mr. Kipling wrote two or three
short-stories which are almost great when he was only seventeen.
Steadiness of vision is a quality of mind quite distinct from the
ability to see things whole. "Plain Tales from the Hills" are in many
ways the better stories for being the work of a lad of twenty:
whatever Mr. Kipling saw at that very early age he envisaged steadily
and expressed with the glorious triumphant strength of youth. But if
at the same period he had attempted a novel, the world undoubtedly
would have found out how very young he was. He would have been
incapable of slicing a cross-section clean through the vastitude of
human life, of seeing it whole, and of representing the appalling
intricacy of its interrelations. On the other hand, most of the mature
men who have been wise enough to do the latter, have shown themselves
incapable of focussing their minds steadily upon a single point of
experience. Wholeness and steadiness of vision--few are the men who,
like Sophocles, have possessed them both. The same author, therefore,
has almost never been able to write great short-stories and great
novels. Scott wrote only one short-story,--"Wandering Willie's Tale"
in "Redgauntlet"; Dickens also wrote only one that is worthy of being
considered a masterpiece of art,--"A Child's Dream of a Star"; and
Thackeray, Cooper, George Eliot, and Meredith have written none at
all. On the other hand, Poe could not possibly have written a novel;
Guy de Maupassant shows himself less masterly in his more extended
works; and Mr. Kipling has yet to prove that the novel is within his
powers. Hawthorne is the one most notable example of the man who,
beginning as a writer of short-stories, has developed in maturer years
a mastery of the novel.

=The Short-Story More Artistic Than the Novel.=--Unlike the
short-story, the novel aims to produce a series of effects,--a
cumulative combination of the elements of narrative,--and acknowledges
no restriction to economy of means. It follows that the novel, as a
literary form, requires far less attention than the short-story to
minute details of art. Great novels may be written by authors as
careless as Scott, as lazy as Thackeray, or as cumbersome as George
Eliot; for if a novelist gives us a criticism of life which is new and
true, we forgive him if he fails in the nicer points of structure and
style. But without these nicer points, the short-story is impossible.
The economy of means that it demands can be conserved only by rigid
restriction of structure; and the necessary emphasis can be produced
only by perfection of style. The great masters of the short-story,
like Poe and Hawthorne, Daudet and de Maupassant, have all been
careful artists: they have not, like Thackeray, been slovenly in
structure; they have not, like Scott, been regardless of style. The
artistic instinct shows itself almost always at a very early age. If a
man is destined to be an artist, he usually exhibits a surprising
precocity of expression at a period when as yet he has very little to
express. This is another reason why the short-story, as opposed to the
novel, belongs to youth rather than to age. Though a young writer may
be obliged to acknowledge inferiority to his elders in maturity of
message, he may not infrequently transcend them in fineness of
technical accomplishment.

=The Short-Story Almost Necessarily Romantic.=--Another point that
remains to be considered, before we relinquish this general discussion
in order to devote our attention more particularly to a technical
study of the structure of the short-story, is that, although the novel
may be either realistic or romantic in general method, the short-story
is almost of necessity obliged to be romantic. In the brief space
allotted to him, it is practically impossible for the writer of
short-stories to induce a general truth from particular imagined facts
imitated from actuality: it is far simpler to deduce the imagined
details of the story from a central thesis, held securely in the
author's mind and suggested to the reader at the outset. It is a
quicker process to think from the truth to facts than to think from
facts to the truth. Daudet and de Maupassant, who worked realistically
in their novels, worked romantically in their _contes_; and the great
short-stories of our own language have nearly all been written by
romantic authors, like Poe, Hawthorne, Stevenson, and Mr. Kipling.

   [3] A contribution to "The Wampum Library"; Longmans, Green & Co.,

   [4] This paper, later included in _Pen and Ink_, 1888, has since been
       published by itself in a little volume: Longmans, Green & Co.,

   [5] This definition was printed first in the _Bookman_ for February,
       1904, and later in the _Reader_ for February, 1906. It has
       subsequently been repeated in nearly every book that deals with
       this special aspect of the art of fiction.

   [6] The second story of the second day, and the sixth story of the
       ninth day. See "American Short Stories," p. 28.

   [7] Published first in _The Atlantic Monthly_ for August, 1902, and
       since included, as Chapter XII. in "A Study of Prose Fiction":
       Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1904.


1. Distinguish between the novel, the novelette, and the short-story.

2. Define the short-story.

3. Explain the contributions made by Edgar Allan Poe and Brander
  Matthews to the consciousness of the short-story as a special form
  of art.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the short-story as
  compared with the novel?

5. Is realism possible in the short-story? If not, why not?


EDGAR ALLAN POE: Review of Hawthorne's "Tales."

BRANDER MATTHEWS: "The Philosophy of the Short-Story."

BLISS PERRY: "A Study of Prose Fiction"--Chapter XII, on "The Short

CHARLES SEARS BALDWIN: Introduction to "American Short Stories."

HENRY SEIDEL CANBY: "The Short Story in English."


BRANDER MATTHEWS: Introduction to "The Short-Story: Specimens
Illustrating Its Development."



  Only One Best Way to Construct a Short-Story--Problems of Short-Story
  Construction--The Initial Position--The Terminal Position--Poe's
  Analysis of "The Raven"--Analysis of "Ligeia"--Analysis of "The
  Prodigal Son"--Style Essential to the Short-Story.

=Only One Best Way to Construct a Short-Story.=--Since the aim of a
short-story is to produce a single narrative effect with the greatest
economy of means that is consistent with the utmost emphasis, it
follows that, given any single narrative effect--any theme, in other
words, for a short-story--there can be only one best way to construct
the story based upon it. A novel may be built in any of a multitude of
ways; and the selection of method depends more upon the temperament
and taste of the author than upon inherent logical necessity. But in a
short-story the problem of the author is primarily structural; and
structure is a matter of intellect instead of a matter of temperament
and taste. Now, the intellect differs from the taste in being an
absolute and general, rather than an individual and personal, quality
of mind. There is no disputing matters of taste, as the Latin proverb
justly says; but matters of intellect may be disputed logically until
a definite decision is arrived at. Hence, although the planning of a
novel must be left to the individual author, the structure of a
short-story may be considered as a matter impersonal and absolute,
like the working out of a geometrical proposition.

=Problems of Short-Story Construction.=--The initial problem of the
writer of short-stories is to find out by intellectual means the one
best way of constructing the story that he has to tell; and, in order
to solve this problem, there are many questions he must take up and
decide. First of all, he must conserve the need for economy of means
by considering how many, or rather, _how few_, characters are
necessary to the narrative, how few distinct events he can get along
with, and how narrow is the compass of time and place within which he
may compact his material. He must next consider all the available
points of view from which to tell the given story, and must decide
which of them will best subserve his purpose. Next, in deciding on his
means of delineating characters, of representing action, of employing
setting, he must be guided always by the endeavor to strike a just
balance between (on the one hand) the greatest economy of means and
(on the other) the utmost emphasis. And finally, to conserve the
latter need, he must, in planning the narrative step by step, be
guided by the principle of emphasis in all its phases.

=The Initial Position.=--The natural emphasis of the initial and the
terminal position is, in the short-story, a matter of prime
importance. The opening of a perfectly constructed tale fulfills two
purposes, one of which is intellectual and the other emotional.
Intellectually, it indicates clearly to the reader whether, in the
narrative that follows, the element of action, or of character, or of
setting is to be predominant,--in other words, which of the three
sorts of narrative effect the story is intended to produce.
Emotionally, it strikes the key-note and suggests the tone of the
entire story. Edgar Allan Poe, in his greatest tales, planned his
openings infallibly to fulfill these purposes. He began a story of
setting with description; a story of character with a remark made by,
or made about, the leading actor; and a story of action with a
sentence pregnant with potential incident. Furthermore, he conveyed in
his very first sentence a subtle sense of the emotional tone of the
entire narrative.

In opening his short-stories, Hawthorne showed himself far inferior to
his great contemporary. Only unawares did he occasionally hit upon the
inevitable first sentence. Often he wasted time at the beginning by
writing an unnecessary introduction; and frequently he began upon the
wrong track, by suggesting character at the outset of a story of
action, or suggesting setting at the outset of a story of character.
The tale of "The Gentle Boy," for instance, which was one of the first
to attract attention to his genius, begins unnecessarily with an
historical essay of three pages; and it is not until the narrative is
well on its way that the reader is able to sense the one thing that it
is all about.

Mr. Rudyard Kipling, in his earlier stories, employed a method of
opening which is worthy of careful critical consideration. In "Plain
Tales from the Hills" and the several volumes that followed it within
the next few years, his habit was to begin with an expository essay,
filling the space of a paragraph or two, in which he stated the theme
of the story he was about to tell. "This is what the story is to deal
with," he would say succinctly: "Now listen to the tale itself." This
method is extremely advantageous on the score of economy. It gives the
reader at the outset an intellectual possession of the theme; and
knowing from the very beginning the effect designed to be produced, he
can follow with the greater economy of attention the narrative that
produces it. But, on the other hand, the method is inartistic, in that
it presents explicitly what might with greater subtlety be conveyed
implicitly, and subverts the mood of narrative by obtruding
exposition. In his later stories, Mr. Kipling has discarded for the
most part this convenient but too obvious expedient, and has revealed
his theme implicitly through the narrative tenor and emotional tone of
his initial sentences. That the latter method of opening is the more
artistic will be seen at once from a comparison of examples. This is
the beginning of "Thrown Away," an early story:--

"To rear a boy under what parents call the 'sheltered life system' is,
if the boy must go into the world and fend for himself, not wise.
Unless he be one in a thousand he has certainly to pass through many
unnecessary troubles; and may, possibly, come to extreme grief simply
from ignorance of the proper proportions of things.

"Let a puppy eat the soap in the bath-room or chew a newly blacked
boot. He chews and chuckles until, by and by, he finds out that
blacking and Old Brown Windsor made him very sick; so he argues that
soap and boots are not wholesome. Any old dog about the house will
soon show him the unwisdom of biting big dogs' ears. Being young, he
remembers and goes abroad, at six months, a well-mannered little beast
with a chastened appetite. If he had been kept away from boots, and
soap, and big dogs till he came to the trinity full-grown and with
developed teeth, consider how fearfully sick and thrashed he would be!
Apply that notion to the 'sheltered life,' and see how it works. It
does not sound pretty, but it is the better of two evils.

"There was a Boy once who had been brought up under the 'sheltered
life' theory; and the theory killed him dead...."

And so on. At this point, after the expository introduction, the
narrative proper begins. Consider now the opening of a later story,
"Without Benefit of Clergy." This is the first sentence:--"But if it
be a girl?" Notice how much has already been said and suggested in
this little question of six words. Surely the beginning of this story
is conducted with the better art.

The expository opening was copied from Mr. Kipling by O. Henry and
established by this writer as a fashion which is still continued by
contributors to American magazines. But a popular expedient is not
necessarily to be regarded as a permanent contribution to the methods
of fiction; and Mr. Kipling, in his later stories, is a finer artist
than Miss Edna Ferber or any other of the many imitators of O. Henry.

=The Terminal Position.=--But, in the structure of the short-story,
the emphasis of the terminal position is an even more important
matter. In this regard again Poe shows his artistry, in stopping at
the very moment when he has attained completely his preëstablished
design. His conclusions remain to this day unsurpassed in the sense
they give of absolute finality. Hawthorne was far less firm in
mastering the endings of his stories. His personal predilection for
pointing a moral to adorn his tale led him frequently to append a
passage of homiletic comment which was not bone of the bone and blood
of the blood of the narrative itself. In the chapter on emphasis, we
have already called attention to Guy de Maupassant's device of
periodic structure, by means of which the solution of the story is
withheld till the concluding sentences. This exceedingly effective
expedient, however, is applicable only in the sort of story wherein
the element of surprise is inherent in the nature of the theme. In no
other single feature of construction may the work of the inexperienced
author be so readily detected as in the final passage of his story.
Mr. Kipling's "Lispeth" (the first of "Plain Tales from the Hills"),
which was written at a very early age, began perfectly [the first word
is "She"] and proceeded well; but when he approached his conclusion,
the young author did not know where to stop. His story really ended at
the words, "And she never came back"; for at that point his
pre-established design had been entirely effected. But instead of
closing there, he appended four unnecessary paragraphs, dealing with
the subsequent life of his heroine--all of which was, to use his own
familiar phrase, "another story." Poe and de Maupassant would not have
made this mistake; and neither would Mr. Kipling after he had grown
into mastery of artistic method. In one of the most celebrated stories
of O. Henry, entitled "The Gift of the Magi", the author made the
technical mistake of appending a superfluous paragraph after his
logical pattern had been completed.

=Poe's Analysis of "The Raven."=--In his very interesting paper on
"The Philosophy of Composition," Edgar Allan Poe outlined step by step
the intellectual processes by which he developed the structure of "The
Raven" and fashioned a finished poem from a preconceived effect. It is
greatly to be regretted that he did not write a similar essay
outlining in detail the successive stages in the construction of one
of his short-stories. With his extraordinarily clear and analytic
intellect, he fashioned his plots with mathematical precision. So
rigorously did he work that in his best stories we feel that the
removal of a sentence would be an amputation. He succeeded absolutely
in giving his narrative the utmost emphasis with the greatest economy
of means.

=Analysis of "Ligeia."=--If we learn through and through how a single
perfect story is constructed, we shall have gone far toward
understanding the technic of story-building as a whole. Let us
therefore analyze one of Poe's short-stories--following in the main
the method which he himself pursued in his analysis of "The Raven"--in
order to learn the successive steps by which any excellent short-story
may be developed from its theme. Let us choose "Ligeia" for the
subject of this study, because it is very widely known, and because
Poe himself considered it the greatest of his tales. Let us see how,
starting with the theme of the story, Poe developed step by step the
structure of his finished fabric; and how, granted his preëstablished
design, the progress of his plan was in every step inevitable.[8]

The theme of "Ligeia" was evidently suggested by those lines from
Joseph Glanvill which, quoted as a motto for the story, are thrice
repeated during the course of the narrative:--

"And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the
mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will,
pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield
himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the
weakness of his feeble will."

Poe recognized, with the English moralist, that the human will is
strong and can conquer many of the ills that flesh is heir to. If it
were still stronger, it could do more mighty things; and if it were
_very much_ stronger, it is even conceivable that it might vanquish
death, its last and sternest foe. Now it was legitimate for the
purposes of fiction to imagine a character endowed with a will strong
enough to conquer death; and a striking narrative effect could
certainly be produced by setting forth this moral conquest. This,
then, became the purpose of the story: to exhibit a character with a
superhuman will, and to show how, by sheer force of volition, this
person conquered death.

Having thus decided on his theme, the writer of the story was
first forced to consider how many, or rather _how few_, characters
were necessary to the narrative. One, at least, was obviously
essential,--the person with the superhuman will. For esthetic reasons
Poe made this character a woman, and called her Ligeia; but it is
evident that _structurally_ the story would have been the same if he
had made the character a man. The resultant narrative would have been
different in mood and tone; but it would not have been different in
structure. Given this central character, it was not perhaps evident
at first that another person was needed for the tale. But in all
stories which set forth an extraordinary being, it is necessary to
introduce an ordinary character to serve as a standard by which the
unusual capabilities of the central figure may be measured.
Furthermore, in stories which treat of the miraculous, it is
necessary to have at least one eye-witness to the extraordinary
circumstances beside the person primarily concerned in them. Hence
another character was absolutely needed in the tale. This second
person, moreover, had to be intimately associated with the heroine,
for the two reasons already considered. The most intimate relation
imaginable was that of husband and wife; he must therefore be the
husband of Ligeia. Beside these two people,--a woman of superhuman
will, and her husband, a man of ordinary powers,--no other character
was necessary; and therefore Poe did not (and _could not_, according
to the laws of the short-story) introduce another. The Lady of
Tremaine, as we shall see later on, is not, technically considered, a

The main outline of the story could now be plotted. Ligeia and her
husband must be exhibited to the reader; and then, in her husband's
presence, Ligeia must conquer death by the vigor of her will. But in
order to do this, she must first die. If she merely exerted her will
to ward off the attacks of death, the reader would not be convinced
that her recovery had been accomplished by other than ordinary means.
She must die, therefore, and must afterwards resurrect herself by a
powerful exertion of volition. The reader must be fully convinced that
she did really die; and therefore, before her resurrection, she must
be laid for some time in the grave. The story, then, divided itself
into two parts: the first, in which Ligeia was alive, terminated with
her death; and the second, in which she was dead, ended with her

Having thus arrived at the main outline of his plot, Poe was next
forced to decide on the point of view from which the story should be
told. Under the existing conditions, any one of three distinct points
of view may have seemed, at the first glance, available: that of the
chief character, that of the secondary character, and that of an
external omniscient personality. But only a little consideration was
necessary to show that only one of these three could successfully be
employed. Obviously, the story could not be narrated by Ligeia: for it
would be awkward to let an extraordinary woman discourse about her own
unusual qualities; and furthermore, she could hardly narrate a story
involving as one of its chief features her stay among the dead without
being expected to tell the secrets of her prison-house. It was
likewise impossible to tell the tale from the point of view of an
external omniscient personality. In order that the final and
miraculous incident might seem convincing, it had to be narrated not
impersonally but personally, not externally but by an eye-witness.
Therefore, the story must, of course, be told by the husband of

At this point the main outline was completed. It then became
necessary for Poe to plan the two divisions of the story in detail.
In the first part, no action was necessary, and very little
attention had to be paid to setting. It was essential that all of
the writer's stress should be laid on the element of character; for
the sole purpose of this initial division of the story must be to
produce upon the reader an extremely emphatic impression of the
extraordinary personality of Ligeia. As soon as the reader could be
sufficiently impressed with the force of her character, she must be
made to die; and the first part of the story would be finished. But
at this point Poe was obliged to choose between the direct and the
indirect means of delineating character. Should Ligeia be depicted
directly by her husband, or indirectly, through her own speech? In
other words, should this first half of the story be a description
or a conversation? The matter was easy to decide. The method of
conversation was unavailable; because a dialogue between Ligeia and
her husband would keep the attention of the reader hovering from one
to the other, whereas it was necessary for the purpose of the tale
to focus all of the attention on Ligeia. She must, therefore, be
depicted directly by her husband. Having concluded that he must devote
the entire first half of his story to this description, Poe
employed all his powers to make it adequate and emphatic. The
description must, of course, be largely subjective and suggestive,
and must be pervaded with a sense of something unfathomable about
the person described. In order that (reverting to the language of
Poe's own critical dictum) "his very initial sentence" might "tend
to the outbringing of this effect," the author wrote, "I cannot
for my soul remember how, when, or even precisely where I first
became acquainted with the Lady Ligeia"; and the story was begun.

It was more difficult to handle the second division of the tale,
which was to deal with the period between Ligeia's death and her
resurrection. The main stress of the story now ceased to be laid on
the element of character. The element of action, furthermore, was
subsidiary in the second part of the tale, as it had been already in
the first. All that had to happen was the resurrection of Ligeia;
and this the reader had been forced by the very theme of the
story to foresee. The chief interest in the second part must therefore
lie in determining where and when and how this resurrection was
accomplished. A worthy setting must be found for the culminating
event. Poe could lose no time in preparing a place for his climax;
and therefore he was obliged, as soon as he had laid Ligeia in the
grave, to begin an elaborate description of the stage settings of his
final scene. The place must be wild and weird and arabesque. It must
be worthy to receive a resurrected mortal revisiting the glimpses
of the moon. The place was found, the time--midnight--decided upon:
but the question remained,--_how_ should Ligeia be resurrected?

And here arose almost an insuperable difficulty. Ligeia had been
buried (_must have been_ buried, as we have seen), and her body had
been given to the worms. Yet now she must be revived. And it would not
be sufficient to let her merely walk bodily into the fantastic
apartment where her husband, dream-haunted, was waiting to receive
her; for the point to be emphasized was not so much the mere fact of
her being once more alive, as the fact that she had won her way back
to life by the exertion of her own extraordinary will. The reader must
be shown not only _the result_ of her triumph over death, but _the
very process of the struggle_ through which by sheer volition she
forced her soul back into the bodily life. If only her body were
present, so that the reader could be shown its gradual obsession by
her soul, all would be easily accomplished; but, by the conditions of
the story, her body _could not_ be present: and the difficulty of the
problem was extreme.

But here Poe hit upon a solution of the difficulty. Would not another
dead body do as well? Surely Ligeia could breathe her life into any
discarded female form. Therefore, of course, her husband must marry
again, solely in order that his second wife should die. The Lady
Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine is, therefore, as I have already hinted,
not really a character, but only a necessary adjunct to the final
scene, an indispensable piece of stage property. In order to indicate
this fact, Poe was obliged to abstain carefully from describing her in
detail, and to seek in every possible way to prevent the reader's
attention from dwelling long upon her. Hence, although, in writing the
first part of the story, he devoted several pages to the description
of the heroine, he dismissed the Lady Rowena, in the second part, with
only two descriptive epithets,--"fair-haired and blue-eyed," to
distinguish her briefly from the dark-eyed and raven-haired Ligeia.

With the help of this convenient body, it was easy for Poe to develop
his final scene. The intense struggle of Ligeia's soul to win its way
back to the world could be worked up with enthralling suspense: and
when at last the climax was reached and the husband realized that his
lost love stood living before him, the purpose of the story would be
accomplished, Ligeia's will would have done its work, and there would
be nothing more to tell. Poe wrote, "These are the full, and the
black, and the wild eyes--of my lost love--of the Lady--of the _Lady
Ligeia_": and the story was ended.

For it must be absolutely understood that with whatever may have
happened after that moment of entire recognition this particular story
does not, and cannot, concern itself. Whether in the next moment
Ligeia dies again irrevocably, or whether she lives an ordinary
lifetime and then ultimately dies forever, or whether she remains
alive eternally as a result of the triumph of her will, are questions
entirely beyond the scope of the story and have nothing to do with the
single narrative effect which Poe, from the very outset, was planning
to produce. At no other point does he more clearly display his
mastery than in his choice of the perfect moment at which to end his

It would, of course, be idle to assert that Poe disposed of all the
narrative problems which confronted him while constructing this story
precisely in the order I have indicated. Unfortunately, he never
explained in print the genesis of any of his stories, and we can only
imagine the process of his plans with the aid of his careful analysis
of the development of "The Raven." But I think it has been clearly
shown that the structure of "Ligeia" is at all points inevitably
conditioned by its theme, and that no detail of the structure could be
altered without injuring the effect of the story; and I am confident
that some intellectual process similar to that which has been outlined
must be followed by every author who seeks to construct stories as
perfect in form as Poe's.

=Analysis of "The Prodigal Son."=--The student of short-story
structure is therefore advised to submit several other masterpieces of
the form to a process of intellectual analysis similar to that which
we have just pursued. By so doing he will become impressed with the
_inevitability_ of every structural expedient that is employed in the
best examples of the type. For a further illustration of this
inevitability of structure, let us look for a moment at the parable of
"The Prodigal Son" (Luke xv., beginning with the eleventh verse),
which, although it was written down many centuries ago, fulfills the
modern critical concept of the short-story, in that it produces a
single narrative effect with the greatest economy of means that is
consistent with the utmost emphasis. For the purposes of this study,
let us set aside the religious implications of the parable, and
consider it as an ordinary work of fiction. The story should more
properly be called "The Forgiving Father," rather than "The Prodigal
Son"; because the single narrative effect to be wrought out is the
extent of a father's forgiveness toward his erring children. Two
characters are obviously needed for the tale,--first, a father to
exercise forgiveness, and second, a child to be forgiven. Whether this
child were a son or a daughter would, of course, have no effect on the
mere structure of the story. In the narrative as we know it, the
erring child is a son. In pursuance of the greatest economy of means,
the story might be told with these two characters only, because the
effect to be wrought out is based on the personal relation between
them,--a relation involving no one else. But fatherly forbearance
exercised toward an _only_ child might seem a trait of human weakness
instead of patriarchal strength; and the father's forgiveness will be
greatly accentuated if, beside the prodigal, he has other children
less liable to error. Therefore, in pursuance of the utmost emphasis,
it is necessary to add a third character,--another son who is not
allured into the way of the transgressor. The story must necessarily
be narrated by an external omniscient personality: it must be seen and
told from a point of view aloof and god-like. The father could not tell
it, because the theme of the tale is the beauty of his own character;
and neither of the two sons is in a position to see the story whole
and to narrate it without prejudice. The story opens perfectly, with
the very simple sentence, "A certain man had two sons." Already the
reader knows that he is to be told a story of character (rather than
of action or of setting) concerning three people, the most important
of whom is the certain man who has been mentioned first. Consider, in
passing, how faulty would have been such another opening as this, for
instance,--"Not long ago, in a city of Judea".... Such an initial
sentence would have suggested setting, instead of suggesting
character, as the leading element in the story. Very properly, the
first of the two sons to be singled out specifically is the more
important of the two, the prodigal: "And the younger of them said to
his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to
me.'" Thus, in only two sentences, the reader is given the entire
basis of the story. The swift and simple narrative that follows is
masterly in absolute conciseness. The younger son takes his journey
into a far country, wastes his substance in riotous living, begins to
be in want, suffers and repents, and returns to seek the forgiveness
of his father. Wonderfully, beautifully, his father loves and pities
and forgives him: "For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was
lost, and is found." At this point the story would end, if it were
told with only two characters instead of three. But emphasis demands
that the elder son should now make an entirely reasonable objection to
the reception of the prodigal; because the great love which is the
essence of the father's character will shine forth much more brightly
when he overrules the objection. He does so in the same words he had
used in the first moment of emotion: "For this thy brother was dead,
and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." These beautiful
words, which now receive the emphasis of iteration as well as the
emphasis of terminal position, sum up and complete the entire
preëstablished design.

This story, which contains only five hundred words, is a little
masterpiece of structure. It embodies a narrative theme of profound
human import; it exhibits three characters so clearly and completely
drawn that the reader knows them better than he knows many a hero of a
lengthy novel; and it displays an absolute adjustment between economy
and emphasis in its succinct yet touching train of incidents.
Furthermore, it is also, in the English version of the King James
translators, a little masterpiece of style. The words are simple,
homely, and direct. Most of them are of Saxon origin, and the
majority are monosyllabic. Less than half a dozen words in the entire
narrative contain more than two syllables. And yet they are set so
delicately together that they fall into rhythms potent with emotional
effect. How much the story gains from this mastery of prose may be
felt at once by comparing with the King James version parallel
passages from the standard French Bible. The English monosyllabic
refrain, with its touching balance of rhythm, loses nearly all of its
esthetic effect in the French translation: "_Car mon fils, que voici,
était mort, mais il est ressuscité; il était perdu, mais il est
retrouvé._" And that very moving sentence about the elder son, "And he
was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out and
entreated him," becomes in the French Bible, "_Mais il se mit en
colère, et ne voulut point entrer; et son père étant sorti, le priait
d'entrer._" No especial nicety of ear is necessary to notice that the
first is greatly written, and the second is not.

=Style Essential to the Short-Story.=--And this leads us to the
general consideration that even a perfectly constructed story will
fail of the uttermost effect unless it be at all points adequately
written. After Poe had, with his intellect, outlined step by step
the structure of "Ligeia," he was obliged to confront a further
problem,--the problem of writing the story with the thrilling and
enthralling harmony of that low, musical language which haunts us
like the echo of a dream. It is one thing to build a story; it is
quite another thing to write it: and in Poe's case it is evident that
an appreciable interval of time must have elapsed between his
accomplishment of the first, and his undertaking of the second,
effort. He built his stories intellectually, in cold blood; he wrote
them emotionally, in esthetic exaltation: and the two moods are so
distinct and mutually exclusive that they must have been successive
instead of coexistent. Some authors build better than they write;
others write better than they build. Seldom, very seldom, is a man
equipped, as Poe was, with an equal mastery of structure and of style.
Yet though unity of form may be attained through structure alone,
unity of mood is dependent mainly upon style. The language should be
pitched throughout in tune with the emotional significance of the
narrative effect to be produced. Any sentence which is tuned out of
harmony will jangle and disrupt the unity of mood, which is as
necessary to a great short-story as it is to a great lyric poem.
Hawthorne, though his structure was frequently at fault, proved the
greatness of his art by maintaining, through sheer mastery of
style, an absolute unity of mood in every story that he undertook.
Mr. Kipling has not always done so, because he has frequently used
language more with manner than with style; but in his best stories,
like "The Brushwood Boy" and "They," there is a unity of tone
throughout the writing that sets them on the plane of highest art.

   [8] The analysis of "Ligeia" which follows was first printed in the
       _Reader_ for February, 1906. It is here resumed with a few
       revisions of detail.


1. What are the main points to be considered in constructing a

2. Explain the technical importance of the last paragraph, and the
  first paragraph, of a short-story.

3. Analyze a great short-story according to the method illustrated in
  the foregoing analyses of "Ligeia" and "The Prodigal Son."


EDGAR ALLAN POE: "The Fall of the House of Usher."


BRET HARTE: "Tennessee's Pardner."


RUDYARD KIPLING: "Without Benefit of Clergy."

KENNETH GRAHAME: "The Roman Road."

F. J. STIMSON: "Mrs. Knollys."

GUY DE MAUPASSANT: "The Necklace."

ALPHONSE DAUDET: "The Last Class."

H. C. BUNNER: "A Sisterly Scheme."

O. HENRY: "A Municipal Report."



  Structure and Style--Style a Matter of Feeling--Style an
  Absolute Quality--The Twofold Appeal of Language--Concrete
  Examples--Onomatopoetic Words--Memorable Words--The Patterning
  of Syllables--Stevenson on Style--The Pattern of Rhythm--The
  Pattern of Literation--Style a Fine Art--Style an Important
  Aid to Fiction--The Heresy of the Accidental--Style an Intuitive
  Quality--Methods and Materials--Content and Form--The Fusion
  of Both Elements--The Author's Personality--Recapitulation.

=Structure and Style.=--The element of style, which has just been
touched upon in reference to the short-story, must now be considered
in its broader aspect as a factor of fiction in general. Hitherto, in
examining the methods of fiction, we have confined our attention for
the most part to the study of structural expedients. The reason is
that structure, being a matter merely of the intellect, can be
analyzed clearly and expounded definitely. Like any other intellectual
subject--geometry, for instance--structure may be taught. But style,
although it is in fiction a factor scarcely less important, is not a
matter merely of the intellect. It is not so easily permissible of
clear analysis and definite exposition; and although it is true that,
in a certain sense, it may be learned, it is also true that it cannot
be taught.

=Style a Matter of Feeling.=--The word "style" comes trippingly to the
tongue of every critic; but it has never yet been satisfactorily
defined. Famous phrases have been made about it, to be sure; but most
of these, like that corrupted from Buffon's cursory remark in his
discourse of reception into the Academy--"_Le style est de l'homme
même_,"--are lofty admissions of the impossibility of definition. By
this fact we are fortified in our opinion that style is a matter of
feeling rather than of intellect. Avoiding, therefore, as unwise any
attempt at definition, we may yet succeed in clarifying our ideas
regarding style if we circle round the subject.

=Style an Absolute Quality.=--At the outset, in order to narrow the
compass of the circle, let us admit that the familiar phrase "bad
style" is a contradiction of terms. Basically, there is no such thing
as good style or bad. Either a literary utterance is made with style,
or else it is made without it. This initial distinction is absolute,
not relative. It must, however, be admitted that of two utterances
made with style, the one may be more imbued with that quality than is
the other; but even this secondary distinction is a matter of more and
less, rather than of better and worse. Style, then, is a quality
possessed in a greater or less degree, or else not possessed at all.
This much being granted, we may investigate with clearer minds the
philosophic aspect of the subject.

=The Twofold Appeal of Language.=--Language makes to the mind of the
reader or the listener an appeal which is twofold. First, it conveys
to his intellect a definite meaning through the content of the words
that are employed; and secondly, it conveys to his sensibilities an
indefinite suggestion through their sound. Consciously, he receives a
meaning from the denotation of the words; subconsciously, he receives
a suggestion from their connotation. Now, an utterance has the quality
of style when these two appeals of language--the denotative and the
connotative, the definite and the indefinite, the intellectual and the
sensuous--are so coördinated as to produce upon the reader or the
listener an effect which is, not dual, but indissolubly single. And an
utterance is devoid of the quality of style when, although it conveys
a meaning to the intellect through the content of the words, it does
not reinforce that conveyance of meaning by a cognate and harmonic
appeal to the senses through their sound. In the latter case the
language produces upon the recipient an effect which is, not single,
but dual and divorced.

=Concrete Examples.=--The matter may be made more clear by the
examination of concrete examples. The following sentence, for
instance, is devoid of style: "The square on the hypothenuse of a
right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other
two sides": for, although by its content it conveys to the intellect a
meaning which is entirely clear and absolutely definite, it does not
by its sound convey to the senses a suggestion which is cognate. But,
on the other hand, the following lines from Tennyson's "The Princess"
are rich in style, because the appeals to the intellect and to the ear
are so coördinated as to produce a single simultaneous effect:--

          "Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro' the lawn,
          The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
          And murmuring of innumerable bees."

In these lines, fully as much is conveyed to the reader by the mere
melody of m's and r's and l's as by the content, or denotation, of the
words. For instance, the word "innumerable," which denotes to the
intellect merely "incapable of being numbered," is in this connection
made to suggest to the senses the murmuring of bees. That one word,
therefore, accomplishes a dual service, and contributes to the
expression of the general idea in one way through its content and in
another through its sound.

=Onomatopoetic Words.=--This coördination of the two appeals is the
origin and the essence of the quality of style. But the question now
demands to be considered,--_how_ may this coördination be effected?
The first detail we must attend to is the choice of words. Tennyson's
task, in the lines that we have just considered, was comparatively
easy. He was writing about certain sounds; and it was not especially
difficult for him to imitate those sounds with the words that he
selected to denote them. His device was the obvious one which is
called, by rhetoricians, onomatopoeia. In every language those words
which are denotative of sounds are nearly always also imitative of
them. Such words, as, for example, "whisper," "thunder," "rattle," are
in themselves stylistic. Alone, and apart from any context, they
incorporate that cognate appeal of significance and sound which is the
secret of style. Thus far the matter is extremely simple. But there
are also many words which denote other things than sounds and yet
somehow convey subtly to the ear a sensuous suggestion of their
content. Such words, for instance, are "mud," "nevermore," and
"tremulous." Any child could tell you that words like these "sound
just like what they mean"; and yet it would be impossible for the
critical intellect to explain exactly wherein lies the fitness between
sound and sense in such a word as "mud." The fitness, however, is
obviously there. If we select from several languages words which are
identical in denotation, we are likely to find that, because of their
difference in sound, they connote different phases of the idea which
they contain. For example, the English word "death" has a spiritual
sound; whereas the German "_der Tod_" sounds horrible and grim, and
the French "_la mort_" sounds fearsome and bizarre. In content, these
three words are indistinguishable; but in style they differ very
widely. Their diversity of connotation is obviously inherent in their
sound; and yet, though the difference may be heard at once, it seems
inexplicable by the intellect.

=Memorable Words.=--But by far the greatest number of stylistic words
owe their connotation not so much to their sound alone, as to their
capacity for evoking memories. They awake the psychologic process of
association. Such are the words which lie close to the heart of every
one's experience,--words like "home," "sorrow," "mother," "youth," and
"friends." Whenever such a word is used, it conveys to the reader or
the listener not only the specific meaning intended by the momentary
context, but also a subsidiary and subconscious recollection of many
phases of his personal experience. All of the indisputably magic words
possess this associative or _memorable_ quality. Saying one thing
definitely, they evoke a concordant harmony of subconscious and
shadowy suggestion. Expressing a message in the present, they recall
remembered beauty from the past. Thus it is with the words of those
two enchanted lines of Keats,--

        "Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."

They say much more than what they say. Conveying one meaning to the
reader, they remind him of many, many others.

=The Patterning of Syllables.=--But the choice of suggestive and
memorable words is only the first step toward mastery of style. The
perfect marriage of significance and sound is dependent not so much
upon the words themselves as upon the way in which they are arranged.
The art of style, like every other art, proceeds by an initial
selection of materials and a subsequent arrangement of them in
accordance with a pattern. In style, the pattern is of prime
importance; and therefore, in order to understand the witchery of
writing, we must next consider technically the patterning of words.

=Stevenson on Style.=--This phase of the subject has been clearly
expounded and deftly illustrated by Robert Louis Stevenson in his
essay "On Some Technical Elements of Style in Literature."[9] This
essay is, so far as I know, the only existing treatise on the technic
of style which is of any practical value to the incipient artist. It
should therefore be read many times and mastered thoroughly by every
student of the mystery of writing. Since it is now easily accessible,
it will not be necessary here to do more than summarize its leading
points,--stating them in a slightly different way in order that they
may better fit the present context.

=The Pattern of Rhythm.=--Every normal sentence, unless it be
extremely brief, contains a knot, or hitch. Up to a certain point, the
thought is progressively complicated; after that, it is resolved. Now,
the art of style demands that this natural implication and explication
of the thought should be attended by a cognate implication and
explication of the movement of the sentence. Unless the hitch in the
rhythm coincides with the hitch in the thought, the two appeals of the
sentence (to the intellect and to the ear) will contest against each
other instead of combining to accomplish a common effect. Therefore
the first necessity in weaving a web of words is to conquer an
accordance between the intellectual progression of the thought and the
sensuous progression of the sound. The appeal of rhythm to the human
ear is basic and elemental; and style depends for its effect more upon
a mastery of rhythmic phrase than upon any other individual detail. In
verse, the technical problem is twofold: first, to suggest to the ear
of the reader a rhythmic pattern of standard regularity; and then, to
vary from the regularity suggested, as deftly and as frequently as may
be possible without ever allowing the reader for a moment to forget
the fundamental pattern. In prose, the writer works with greater
freedom; and his problem is therefore at once more easy and more
difficult. Instead of starting with a standard pattern, he has to
invent a web of rhythm which is suited to the sense he wishes to
convey; and then, without ever disappointing the ear of the reader by
unnecessarily withholding an expected fall of rhythm, he must shatter
every inkling of monotony by continual and tasteful variation.

=The Pattern of Literation.=--But language, by its very nature, offers
to the ear not only a pattern of rhythm but also a pattern of letters. A
mastery of literation is therefore a necessary element of style.
Effects indisputably potent in suggestion may be gained by running a
recurrence of certain letters, deftly for a time withheld,--since
blatancy must always be avoided,--yet triumphant in harmonious return.
The great sentences of literature which echo in our ears because their
sound is married to their meaning will be found upon examination to
incorporate an intricate pattern of tastefully selected letters. Thus it
is with the following sentence of Sir Thomas Browne's, wherein it is
difficult to decide whether the rhythm or the literation contributes
the larger share to its symmetry of sound:--"But the iniquity of
oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men
without distinction to merit of perpetuity." Thus it is, again, with
this sentence from Ruskin's "Seven Lamps of Architecture":--"They are
but the rests and monotones of the art; it is to its far happier,
far higher, exaltation that we owe those fair fronts of variegated
mosaic, charged with wild fancies and dark hosts of imagery, thicker
and quainter than ever filled the depths of midsummer dream; those
vaulted gates, trellised with close leaves; those window-labyrinths of
twisted tracery and starry light; those misty masses of multitudinous
pinnacle and diademed tower; the only witnesses, perhaps, that
remain to us of the faith and fear of nations." So it is also with
these sentences from De Quincey's "The English Mail-Coach":--"The sea,
the atmosphere, the light, bore each an orchestral part in this
universal lull. Moonlight, and the first timid tremblings of the dawn,
were by this time blending; and the blendings were brought into a
still more exquisite state of unity by a slight silvery mist,
motionless and dreamy, that covered the woods and fields, but with a
veil of equable transparency."

=Style a Fine Art.=--A more detailed study of style along these lines
would lead us to considerations too minutely technical for the purpose
of the present volume. Style, in its highest development, belongs only
to the finest art of literature; and it must be admitted that
literature is not always, nor even perhaps most frequently, a fine
art. Of the four rhetorical moods, or methods, of discourse,
exposition lends itself the least to the assistance of the quality of
style. Explanations are communicated from intellect to intellect.
Words, in exposition, must be chosen chiefly with a view to definite
denotation. The expository writer must be clear at any cost; he must
aim to be precise rather than to be suggestive. Style is considerably
more important as an adjunct to argumentation; since in order really
to persuade, a writer must not only convince the reader's intellect
but also rouse and conquer his emotions. But it is in narrative and in
description that the quality of style is most contributive to the
maximum effect. To evoke a picture in the reader's mind, or to convey
to his consciousness a sense of movement, it is advisable (I am
tempted to say necessary) to play upon his sensibilities with the
sound of the very sentences that are framed to convey a content to his

=Style an Important Aid to Fiction.=--Since narrative is the natural
mood of fiction, and since description is more often introduced than
either argument or exposition, it follows that the writer of fiction
must always reckon with the factor of style. It is true that stories
may be written without style; it is even true that many of the
greatest stories have been devoid of this indefinable quality: but it
is not therefore logical to argue that the factor of style may be
neglected. How much it may be made to contribute to the attainment of
the aim of fiction will be recognized instinctively upon examination
of any wonderfully written passage. Let us consider, for example, the
following paragraphs from "Markheim." After Markheim has killed the
dealer, and gone upstairs to ransack the belongings of the murdered
man, he suffers an interval of quietude amid alarms.--

"With the tail of his eye he saw the door--even glanced at it from
time to time directly, like a besieged commander pleased to verify the
good estate of his defenses. But in truth he was at peace. The rain
falling in the street sounded natural and pleasant. Presently, on the
other side, the notes of a piano were wakened to the music of a hymn,
and the voices of many children took up the air and words. How
stately, how comfortable was the melody! How fresh the youthful
voices! Markheim gave ear to it smilingly, as he sorted out the keys;
and his mind was thronged with answerable ideas and images;
church-going children and the pealing of the high organ; children
afield, bathers by the brookside, ramblers on the brambly common,
kite-fliers in the windy and cloud-navigated sky; and then, at another
cadence of the hymn, back again to church, and the somnolence of
summer Sundays, and the high genteel voice of the parson (which he
smiled a little to recall) and the painted Jacobean tombs, and the dim
lettering of the Ten Commandments in the chancel.

"And as he sat thus, at once busy and absent, he was startled to his
feet. A flash of ice, a flash of fire, a bursting gush of blood, went
over him, and then he stood transfixed and thrilling. A step mounted
the stair slowly and steadily, and presently a hand was laid upon the
knob, and the lock clicked, and the door opened."

Anybody who has ears to hear will immediately appreciate how much the
effect of this passage is enhanced by the masterly employment of every
phase of style which we have hitherto discussed. If, instead of
writing, "Presently the notes of a piano were wakened to the music of
a hymn," Stevenson had written, "Soon a piano began to play a hymn,"
he would have suggested to the ear a jangle like the banging of tin
pans, instead of the measured melody he had in mind. And let it be
particularly noted that the phrase suggested for comparison is, _in
intellectual content alone_, scarcely distinct from the original. How
little is the difference in denotation, how great the difference in
suggestion! The brief phrase, "Kite-fliers in the windy and
cloud-navigated sky," seems to blow us bodily upward into the
air:--here is mastery of rhythm. "The somnolence of summer Sundays,"
is whispery and murmurous with s's, m's, and n's:--here (more
obviously) is mastery of literation. In the second paragraph, notice
how the rhythm suddenly hurries when Markheim is startled to his feet;
and in the last sentence, consider the monotonous and measured
slowness of the movement, ominous with pauses.

=The Heresy of the Accidental.=--Every now and then a critic steps
forward with the statement that style in fiction is not a deliberate
and conscious conquest, that the sound of sentences is accidental and
may therefore not be marshaled to contribute to the sense, and that
preoccupation with details of rhythm and of literation is an evidence
of a finical and narrow mind. To such a statement no answer is
necessary but the wholesome advice to re-read, aloud and carefully,
several passages on a par with that from "Markheim" which we have just
examined. Very evidently Stevenson knew intuitively what he was about
when he planned his rhythmic patterns and his literate orchestral

=Style An Intuitive Quality.=--I say "intuitively," because, as I
admitted at the outset, style is, with the author, a matter of feeling
rather than of intellect. But matters may be planned with sensibility
as well as with intelligence. The writer with the gift of style
forehears a rhythmic pattern into which he weaves such words as may be
denotative of his thought; and all the while that he is striving to be
definite and clear, he carries in his mind a subtle sense of the
harmonic accompaniment of consonants, the melodious eloquence of

By what means a writer may attain to mastery of style is a question
not to be answered by the intellect. Matters of sensibility are
personal, and every man must solve them for himself. The author of
"Markheim," as he tells us in his essay on "A College Magazine,"
taught himself to write by playing the sedulous ape to many masters;
and this method may be recommended to aspirants with an imitative ear.
But there can be no general rule; because, although in the process of
pure reason all men rightly minded think alike, each man differs from
every other in the process of emotion.

This is the reason why style, besides being (as we asserted at the
outset) an absolute quality, possessed or not possessed by any
literary utterance, is also in every case a quality personal to
the author who attains it. In this regard, Buffon was right in
stating that style is a phase of the man himself. Any work that is
accomplished by the intellect alone belongs to man in general rather
than to one man in particular; but any work that is accomplished by
the sensibilities incorporates those profounder qualities by virtue
of which each man stands distinct from every other. By studying the
structure of an author's work, we can estimate his intellect: by
studying the style, we can estimate that subtler entity which is the
man himself.

=Methods and Materials.=--At the close of our study of the materials
and methods of fiction, it is advisable that we should consider in
general the relation between form and content,--the respective value
of methods and materials. Primarily, there are two groups of worthy
fiction,--that which is great mainly on account of its content, and
that which is great mainly on account of its form. It would be unwise,
of course, to overestimate the single and inherent value of either
material or method. Some comparison, however, may be made between the
merits of the one group and the other.

=Content and Form.=--In the first place, it must be noted that, as far
as the general reader is concerned, the appeal of any work of fiction
depends far more upon its content than upon its form. The average
reader knows little and cares less about the technical methods of the
art. What he demands above all is interesting subject-matter. He
seeks, in the popular phrase, "a good story"; he wishes to be told
interesting things about interesting people; and he does not feel
especially concerned about the question whether or not these things
are told him in an interesting way. The matter, rather than the
manner, is the element that most allures him.

There are many reasons that tempt the critic to accept without
reservation the general reader's view. For instance, many of the
most important works of fiction have been inefficient in mere art. The
"Don Quixote" of Cervantes is indubitably one of the very greatest
novels in all literature, for the reason that it contains so vast
a world. Yet it is very faulty both in structure and in style. The
author seems to have built it little by little, as he went along;
and he changed his plan so often during the process of construction
that the resultant edifice, like the cathedral of St. Peter's, is
architecturally incoherent. He showed so little regard for unity that
he did not hesitate to halt his novel for half a hundred pages
while he set before the reader the totally extraneous novelette of
"The Curious Impertinent," which he happened to find lying idle in his
desk. How little he was a master of mere style may be felt at once by
comparing his plays with those of Calderon. Yet these technical
considerations do not count against the value of his masterpiece. All
of Spain is there resumed and uttered, all pains that the idealist in
any age must suffer, all the pity and the glory of aspiration

Scott has no style, and Thackeray has no structure; but these
technical defects go down before their magnitude of message. Scott
teaches us the glory and the greatness of being healthy, young,
adventurous, and happy; and Thackeray, with tears in his eyes that
humanize the sneer upon his lips, teaches us that the thing we call
Society, with a capital S, is but a vanity of vanities. If we turn
from the novel to the short-story, we shall notice that certain themes
are in themselves so interesting that the resultant story could not
fail to be effective even were it badly told. It is perhaps unfair to
take as an example Mr. F. J. Stimson's tale called "Mrs. Knollys,"
because his story is both correctly constructed and beautifully
written; but merely in theme this tale is so effective that it could
have endured a less accomplished handling. The story runs as
follows:[10]--A girl and her husband, both of whom are very young, go
to the Alps for their honeymoon. The husband, in crossing a glacier,
falls into a crevasse. His body cannot immediately be recovered; but
Mrs. Knollys learns from a German scientist who is making a study of
the movement of the ice that in forty-five years the body will be
carried to the end of the glacier. Thereafter she regards her husband
as absent but not lost, and lives her life in continuous imagined
communion with him. At the end of the allotted time, she returns and
finds his body. She is then a woman in her sixties; but her husband
is, in aspect, still a boy of twenty-one. She has dreamt of him as
growing old beside her: she finds him sundered from her by half a
century of change.--Even in a bald and ineffective summary the
interest of this narrative effect must be apparent. The story scarcely
needed to be told so well as Mr. Stimson told it.

We must admit, then, that, from the standpoint of the author as well
as from that of the general reader, material may often be regarded as
more important than method. But the critic is not therefore justified
in stating that style and structure may be neglected with impunity.
Other things being equal, the books that have lived the longest are
those which have been executed with admirable art. The decline in the
fame of Fenimore Cooper is a case in point. Merely in subject-matter,
his books are more important now than they were at the time of their
original publication; for the conditions of life in the forest
primeval must necessarily assume a more especial interest to a world
that, in its immediate experience, is rapidly forgetting them. But
Cooper wrote very carelessly and very badly; and as we advance to a
finer appreciation of the art of fiction, we grow more and more
distracted from the contemplation of his message by his preposterous
inequalities of craftsmanship.

Novels like the "Leatherstocking Tales" may be most enjoyed (I had
almost said appreciated best) by readers with an undeveloped sense of
art. This would seem a very strange admission at the close of a study
devoted to the art of fiction, were it not for the existence of that
other group of stories whose importance lies in method even more than
in material. A lesser thing done perfectly is often more significant
than a bigger thing done badly. Jane Austen is likely to live longer
than George Eliot, because she conveyed her message, less momentous
though it were, with a finer and a firmer art. Jane Austen's subjects
seem, at the first glance, to be of very small account. From English
middle-class society she selects a group of people who are in no
regard remarkable, and thereafter concerns herself chiefly with the
simple question of who will ultimately marry whom. But by sedulously
dwelling on the non-essentials of life, she contrives to remind the
reader of its vast essentials. By talking to us skilfully about the
many things that do not matter, she suggests to us, inversely and with
unobtrusive irony, the few things that really do. Her very message,
therefore, is immediately dependent upon her faultless art. If she had
done her work less well, the result would have been non-significant
and wearisome.

Poe and de Maupassant are shining examples of the class of authors who
are destined to live by their art alone. Poe, in his short-stories,
said nothing of importance to the world; and de Maupassant said many
matters which might more decorously have remained untalked of. But the
thing they meant to do, they did unfalteringly; and perfect
workmanship is in itself a virtue in this world of shoddy compromise
and ragged effort. Long after people have ceased to care for battle,
murder, and sudden death, the thrill and urge of buoyant adventure,
they will re-read the boyish tales of Stevenson for the sake of their
swiftness of propulsion and exultant eloquence of style.

And fully to appreciate this class of fiction, some technical
knowledge of the art is necessary. Washington Irving's efforts must,
to a great extent, be lost on readers who are lacking in the ear for
style. He had very little to say,--merely that the Hudson is
beautiful, that the greatest sadness upon earth arises from the early
death of one we love, that laughter and tears are at their deepest
indistinguishable, and that it is very pleasant to sit before the fire
of an old baronial hall and remember musingly; but he said this little
like a gentleman,--with a charm, a grace, an easy urbanity of
demeanor, that set his work forever in the class of what has been well
done by good and faithful servants.

There is a very fine pleasure in watching with awareness the doing of
things that are done well. Hence, even for the casual reader, it is
advisable to study the methods of fiction in order to develop a more
refined delight in reading. It would seem that a detective story, in
which the interest is centred mainly in the long withholding of a
mystery, would lose its charm for a reader to whom its secret has been
once revealed. But the reader with a developed consciousness of method
finds an interest evermore renewed in returning again and again to
Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue." After his first surprise has been
abated, he can enjoy more fully the deftness of the author's art.
After he has viewed the play from a stall in the orchestra, he may
derive another and a different interest by watching it from the wings.
To use a familiar form of words, Jane Austen is the novelist's
novelist, Stevenson the writer's writer, Poe the builder's builder;
and in order fully to appreciate the work of artists such as these, it
is necessary (in Poe's words) to "contemplate it with a kindred art."

=The Fusion of Both Elements.=--But the critic should not therefore be
allured into setting method higher than material and overestimating
form at the expense of content. The ideal to be striven for in fiction
is such an intimate interrelation between the thing said and the way
of saying it that neither may be contemplated apart from the other. We
are touching now upon a third and smaller group of fiction, which
combines the special merits of the two groups already noted. Such a
novel as "The Scarlet Letter," such a short-story as "The Brushwood
Boy," belong in this third and more extraordinary class. What
Hawthorne has to say is searching and profound, and he says it with an
equal mastery of structure and of style. "The Scarlet Letter" would be
great because of its material alone, even had its author been a
bungler; it would be great because of its art alone, even had he been
less humanly endowed with understanding. But it is greater as we know
it, in its absolute commingling of the two great merits of important
subject and commensurate art.

=The Author's Personality.=--But in studying "The Scarlet Letter" we
are conscious of yet another element of interest,--an interest derived
from the personality of the author. The same story told with equal art
by some one else would interest us very differently. And now we are
touching on still another group of worthy fiction. Many stories endure
more because of the personality of the men who wrote them than because
of any inherent merit of material or method. Charles Lamb's
"Dream-Children; A Revery," which, although it is numbered among the
"Essays of Elia," may be regarded as a short-story, is important
mainly because of the nature of the man who penned it,--a man who, in
an age infected with the fever of growing up, remained at heart a
little child, looking upon the memorable world with eyes of wonder.

=Recapitulation.=--These, then, are the three merits to be striven for
in equal measure by aspirants to the art of fiction: momentous
material, masterly method, and important personality. To discover
certain truths of human life that are eminently worth the telling, to
embody them in imagined facts with a mastery both of structure and of
style, and, behind and beyond the work itself, to be all the time a
person worthy of being listened to: this is, for the fiction-writer,
the ultimate ideal. Seldom, very seldom, have these three contrarious
conditions revealed themselves in a single author; seldom, therefore,
have works of fiction been created that are absolutely great. It would
be difficult for the critic to select off-hand a single novel which
may be accepted in all ways as a standard of the highest excellence.
But if the term _fiction_ be regarded in its broadest significance, it
may be considered to include the one greatest work of art ever
fashioned by the mind of man. The "Divine Comedy" is supreme in
subject-matter. The facts of its cosmogony have been disproved by
modern science, the religion of which it is the monument has fallen
into disbelief, the nation and the epoch that it summarizes have been
trampled under the progress of the centuries; but in central and
inherent truth, in its exposition of the struggle of the beleaguered
human soul to win its way to light and life, it remains perennial and
new. It is supreme in art. With unfaltering and undejected effort the
master-builder upreared in symmetry its century of cantos; with
faultless eloquence he translated into song all moods the human heart
has ever known. And it is supreme in personality; because in every
line of it we feel ourselves in contact with the vastest individual
mind that ever yet inhabited the body of a man. We know (to quote the
Poet's most appreciative translator)--

             "from what agonies of heart and brain,
           What exultations trampling on despair,
           What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong,
           What passionate outcry of a soul in pain,
           Uprose this poem of the earth and air,
           This medieval miracle of song."

His labor kept him lean for twenty years; and many a time he learned
how salt his food who fares upon another's bread,--how steep his path
who treadeth up and down another's stairs. But Dante saw and
conquered,--realizing what he had to do, knowing how to do it, being
worthy of his work. Therefore, singly among authors, he deserves the
epithet his countrymen apply to him,--divine.

"The Divine Comedy" is the supreme epic of the world. The supreme
novel remains to be written. It is doubtful if human literary art may
attain completeness more than once. But as our authors labor to embody
truths of human life in arranged imagined facts, they should
constantly be guided and inspired by the allurement of the ultimate
ideal. The noblest work is evermore accomplished by followers of the
gleam. Let us, in parting company, paraphrase the sense of a remark
made centuries ago by Sir Philip Sidney,--that model of a scholar and
a gentleman:--It is well to shoot our arrows at the moon; for though
they may miss their mark, they will yet fly higher than if we had
flung them into a bush.

   [9] First published in the _Contemporary Review_ for April, 1885; and
       now included in Volume XXII of the "Thistle Edition": Charles
       Scribner's Sons.

  [10] "Mrs. Knollys" is now easily accessible in "The Short Story:
       Specimens Illustrating Its Development." Edited by Brander
       Matthews. American Book Company, 1908.


1. What is meant by style in literature?

2. Make three patterns of words,--the first notable for sheer
  selection, the second notable for rhythm, and the third notable for

3. Write a theme, containing approximately three hundred words, that
  shall be judged for its quality of style.


ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON: "On Some Technical Elements of Style in

WALTER PATER: "Essay on Style," in "Appreciations."

HERBERT SPENCER: "Philosophy of Style."


_Actions and Reactions_, 112, 137.

_Adam Bede_, 20, 33, 116.

Addison, Joseph, xv;
  _Sir Roger de Coverley_, xv.

_Æneid, The_, 160, 161, 162.

Alcott, Louisa M., 78;
  _Little Women_, 78.

Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 137;
  _Marjorie Daw_, 137.

_Alice in Wonderland_, 18.

_Ambitious Guest, The_, 174.

_American Short Stories_, 174.

Amiel, Henri-Frédéric, 9.

Andersen, Hans Christian, 11.

_Angel in the House, The_, 158.

_An Habitation Enforced_, 112.

_Anna Karénina_, xxi.

_Arcadia_, 102.

Archer, William, 8.

Ariosto, Ludovico, 102;
  _Orlando Furioso_, 102.

Aristotle, 69, 70.

Arnold, Matthew, 184.

_Assignation, The_, 38.

_As You Like It_, 12.

_At the End of the Passage_, 110.

Aubignac, Abbé d', xviii, xx;
  _Pratique du Théâtre_, xviii.

_Aurora Leigh_, 158.

Austen, Jane, 7, 21, 29, 90, 130, 131, 221, 222;
  _Emma_, 90, 130, 146;
  _Pride and Prejudice_, 131, 146.

Bacon, Francis, 34.

Baldwin, Charles Sears, 174, 175, 180;
  _American Short Stories_, 174.

Balfour, Graham, 54.

Balzac, Honoré de, xiv, xvi, xvii, 55, 58, 157, 163, 184;
  _Eugénie Grandet_, 173;
  _Human Comedy_, 163.

Barrie, Sir James Matthew, xxiv, 13, 28, 135, 136.

_Beach of Falesá, The_, 182.

_Beowulf_, 133.

Bernhardt, Sarah, 165.

Besant, Sir Walter, xxiv, 37;
  _The Art of Fiction_, 37.

Beyle, Henri, see Stendhal.

Boccaccio, Giovanni, xiv, 64, 101, 180;
  _Decameron_, 64, 101, 180.

Boswell, James, 125.

Brontë, Charlotte, 13;
  _Jane Eyre_, 13, 122, 124, 170.

Brougham, Lord, xxiii.

Browne, Sir Thomas, 213.

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 158;
  _Aurora Leigh_, 158.

Browning, Robert, 157.

Brunetière, Ferdinand, xiv, 167;
  _History of Classical French Literature_, 14.

_Brushwood Boy, The_, 28, 35, 205, 223.

Buffon, Comte de, 207, 218.

Bunner, Henry Cuyler, 137, 152;
  _A Sisterly Scheme_, 152;
  _The Documents in the Case_, 137.

Bunyan, John, 81;
  _Pilgrim's Progress_, 65, 81.

Burbage, Richard, 165.

Cable, George Washington, 111.

Calderon, 219.

Camoëns, 160; _The Lusiads_, 160.

_Captive, The_, 91, 124.

Carlyle, Thomas, 10;
  _Heroes and Hero-Worship_, 10.

_Carmen_, 173.

Carroll, Lewis, _Alice in Wonderland_, 18.

_Cask of Amontillado, The_, 143, 178.

Cervantes, xiv, 8, 219;
  _Don Quixote_, xxv, 162, 219;
  _The Curious Impertinent_, 219.

Chateaubriand, René de, 18.

_Child's Dream of a Star, A_, 185.

Cimabue, 99.

Collins, Wilkie, 18, 51, 75, 153;
  _The Moonstone_, 75.

_Colomba_, 173.

Colvin, Sir Sidney, 179.

Cooper, James Fenimore, xvi, 29, 146, 186, 220;
  _Leatherstocking Tales_, 221;
  _The Last of the Mohicans_, 173;
  _The Spy_, 146.

Coppée, François, 159;
  _The Strike of the Iron-Workers_, 159;
  _The Substitute_, 159.

Coquelin, Constant, 165.

Corneille, Pierre, xx.

Crawford, F. Marion, xxiv, 26;
  _The Novel: What It Is_, 26.

_Criticism and Fiction_, 40, 134.

_Curious Impertinent, The_, 219.

_Cyrano de Bergerac_, 165.

_Daisy Miller_, 173.

_Daniel Deronda_, 130, 149.

D'Annunzio, Gabriele, 7, 18.

Dante Alighieri, 32, 160, 225;
  _The Divine Comedy_, 160, 224, 225.

Daudet, Alphonse, 79, 107, 144, 174, 186, 187;
  _Sapho_, 19, 79;
  _The Elixir of the Reverend Father Gaucher_, 107;
  _The Last Class_, 174.

_David Copperfield_, 72.

_David Swan_, 65.

_Deal in Cotton, A_, 137.

_Decameron_, 64, 101, 180.

Defoe, Daniel, xv, 103, 122;
  _Robinson Crusoe_, 103, 122.

De Quincey, Thomas, 10, 214;
  _The English Mail-Coach_, 214.

Dickens, Charles, xx, 23, 70, 72, 81, 104, 147, 185;
  _A Child's Dream of a Star_, 185;
  _A Tale of Two Cities_, 68, 147;
  _David Copperfield_, 72;
  _Martin Chuzzlewit_, 86;
  _Our Mutual Friend_, 70, 96, 103, 152;
  _Pickwick Papers_, xxv;
  _The Old Curiosity Shop_, 104, 105.

_Divine Comedy, The_, 160, 224, 225.

_Documents in the Case, The_, 137.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, 125, 149.

_Dream-Children_, 223.

_Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Strange Case of_, xxii, 33, 38, 126, 182.

Dryden, John, xx.

Dumas, Alexandra, père, xvi, xxiii, 9, 42, 50, 145.

Du Maurier, George, 117.

Eckermann, J. P., xx.

_Egoist, The_, 72, 84, 92, 113.

_Elia, Essays of_, 223.

Eliot, George, xvii, xxiii, 6, 13, 20, 25, 27, 28, 29, 33, 37, 41,
45, 51, 67, 70, 72, 73, 83, 87, 88, 116, 123, 129, 130, 184, 186, 221;
  _Adam Bede_, 20, 33, 116;
  _Daniel Deronda_, 130, 149;
  _Middlemarch_, 70, 79;
  _Romola_, 28, 37, 114, 148;
  _Silas Marner_, 29, 67;
  _The Mill on the Floss_, 12, 87, 112.

_Elixir of the Reverend Father Gaucher, The_, 107.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 43, 80;
  _Representative Men_, 80.

_Emma_, 90, 130, 146.

_English Mail-Coach, The_, 214.

Erasmus, xiv.

Erckmann-Chatrian, 163.

_Essays of Elia_, 223.

_Esther, Book of_, 174.

_Eugénie Grandet_, 173.

_Evangeline_, 159.

_Evan Harrington_, 73, 127.

_Experimental Novel, The_, 111.

_Faerie Queene, The_, 102, 161.

_Fall of the House of Usher, The_, 96, 114, 117, 143.

_False Dawn_, 113.

Ferber, Edna, 193.

Fielding, Henry, xv, 103;
  _Tom Jones_, xxv.

Flaubert, Gustave, xvii, 25, 26, 114;
  _Madame Bovary_, 26;
  _Salammbô_, 114.

Franklin, Benjamin, 80;
  _Autobiography of_, 80.

Freeman, Mrs. Mary E. Wilkins, 111.

Freytag, Gustave, xxiv;
  _Technic of the Drama_, xxiv.

Froude, James Anthony, xxiii.

Furetière, Antoine, xvii, xviii;
  _Roman Bourgeois_, xvii.

Garland, Hamlin, 111.

_Gentle Boy, The_, 191.

_Gesta Romanorum_, 64, 101.

_Gift of the Magi, The_, 143, 194.

_Gil Blas_, 66, 122.

Giotto, 99, 101.

Glanvill, Joseph, 195.

Goethe, J. W. von, xx;
  _Conversations with Eckermann_, xx.

Goldsmith, Oliver, xv;
  _The Vicar of Wakefield_, 84, 85.

Goncourt, Jules and Edmond de, 28.

_Gossip on Romance, A_, 56, 108.

Greene, Robert, xxiii.

Gummere, Francis B., xvii.

Hale, Edward Everett, 182;
  _The Man Without a Country_, 182.

_Hamlet_, xiv, 8, 9, 82, 165, 169.

Hardy, Thomas, 111;
  _Tess of the D'Urbervilles_, 111.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, xvii, 7, 15, 20, 28, 29, 31, 38, 65, 71, 72,
73, 146, 148, 154, 159, 175, 180, 186, 187, 191, 193, 205, 223;
  _David Swan_, 65;
  _The Ambitious Guest_, 174;
  _The Gentle Boy_, 191;
  _The House of the Seven Gables_, 7, 28, 31;
  _The Marble Faun_, 38, 73, 154;
  _The Scarlet Letter_, xxv, 15, 20, 29, 36, 71, 72, 73, 146, 223;
  _The White Old Maid_, 148.

_Hedda Gabler_, 148.

Hegel, G. F. W., xix.

_Henry Esmond_, 28, 122.

_Henry IV_, 49.

Henry, O., 143, 193, 194;
  _The Gift of the Magi_, 143, 194.

_Heroes and Hero-Worship_, 10.

Hervieu, Paul, xxiv.

Homer, 74, 133, 157, 160, 162;
  _The Iliad_, 94, 133, 160, 162;
  _The Odyssey_, 133.

Horace, 74.

_House of the Seven Gables, The_, 7, 28, 31.

Howells, William Dean, 40, 134, 135;
  _Criticism and Fiction_, 40, 134;
  _The Rise of Silas Lapham_, 173.

Hugo, Victor, xvi, xxiii, 25, 26, 50, 112, 145, 149;
  _Les Misérables_, 26;
  _Notre Dame de Paris_, 112, 145, 149, 173.

_Human Comedy_, 163.

_Humble Remonstrance, A_, 60, 70.

Huxley, Thomas Henry, xxi.

Ibsen, Henrik, 8, 12, 147;
  _Hedda Gabler_, 148;
  _Rosmersholm_, 147.

_Iceland Fisherman, The_, 112.

_Iliad, The_, 94, 133, 160, 162.

Irving, Washington, 7, 181, 222;
  _Rip Van Winkle_, 181;
  _The Legend of Sleepy Hollow_, 181.

James, Henry, 21, 27, 37, 57, 72, 78, 118, 137, 151, 181;
  _Daisy Miller_, 173;
  _The Art of Fiction_, 27, 118;
  _The Turn of the Screw_, 151, 181;
  _What Maisie Knew_, 137.

_Jane Eyre_, 13, 122, 124, 170.

_Jerusalem Liberated_, 160.

Johnson, Samuel, xv, xviii, xx, xxiii, 125.

Jonson, Ben, 81.

_Just So Stories_, 23.

Keats, John, 211.

_Kenilworth_, 149, 173.

_Kidnapped_, 15, 122, 124.

_Kim_, 67, 148.

_King Lear_, 82.

Kipling, Rudyard, 11, 21, 22, 23, 35, 39, 50, 67, 79, 82, 87, 106, 110,
112, 124, 127, 137, 148, 150, 157, 169, 173, 174, 184, 185, 186, 187,
191, 192, 193, 194, 205;
  _Actions and Reactions_, 112, 137;
  _A Deal in Cotton_, 137;
  _An Habitation Enforced_, 112;
  _At the End of the Passage_, 110;
  _False Dawn_, 113;
  _How the Elephant Got His Trunk_, 11;
  _Just So Stories_, 23;
  _Kim_, 67, 148;
  _Lispeth_, 193;
  _"Love-o'-Women,"_ 150;
  _Mrs. Bathurst_, 95, 127, 150;
  _Only a Subaltern_, 14;
  _Plain Tales from the Hills_, 185, 191, 193;
  _Soldiers Three_, 127;
  _The Brushwood Boy_, 28, 35, 205, 223;
  _The Captive_, 91, 124;
  _The Light That Failed_, 173;
  _The Three-Decker_, 174;
  _They_, 22, 35, 87, 169, 205;
  _Thrown Away_, 192;
  _Without Benefit of Clergy_, 21, 106, 174, 192.

_Kreutzer Sonata, The_, xxi.

_Lady of the Lake, The_, 158.

_Lady or the Tiger? The_, 154, 183.

Lamb, Charles, 135, 223;
  _Dream-Children_, 223;
  _Essays of Elia_, 223;
  _The South Sea House_, 135.

_Lantern-Bearers, The_, 23.

_Last Class, The_, 174.

_Last Days of Pompeii, The_, 113.

_Last of the Mohicans, The_, 173.

_Leatherstocking Tales_, 221.

Le Breton, André, xiv, xxiii.

Lee, Sir Sidney, 71.

_Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The_, 181.

Leibnitz, Baron G. W. von, 104.

Leonardo da Vinci, 100.

Le Sage, Alain René, 66;
  _Gil Blas_, 66, 122.

_Les Facheux_, 66.

_Les Misérables_, 26.

_L'Etourdi_, 66.

Lewes, George Henry, 51.

_Ligeia_, 174, 194, 195, 201, 204.

_Light That Failed, The_, 173.

_Lispeth_, 193.

_Little Women_, 78.

London, Jack, 111.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 159, 225;
  _Evangeline_, 159.

Loti, Pierre, 112;
  _The Iceland Fisherman_, 112.

_"Love-o'-Women,"_ 150.

Lowell, James Russell, xvii, 7.

_Lucile_, 158.

_Lusiads, The_, 160.

_Macbeth_, 7, 82, 153, 168.

MacLeod, Fiona, 113.

_Madame Bovary_, 26.

_Man Without a Country, The_, 182.

Manzoni, Alessandro, xvi.

_Marble Faun, The_, 38, 73, 154.

_Marjorie Daw_, 137.

_Markheim_, xxii, 36, 48, 141, 154, 174, 215, 216, 217.

_Marmion_, 158.

_Martin Chuzzlewit_, 86.

_Masque of the Red Death, The_, 142, 149, 155, 178.

_Master of Ballantrae, The_, 92, 93, 94, 113, 126, 148, 170.

Matthews, Brander, 42, 137, 173, 176;
  _The Documents in the Case_, 137;
  _The Philosophy of the Short-Story_, 176.

_Maud_, 158.

Maupassant, Guy de, 40, 63, 132, 134, 142, 143, 152, 174, 180, 181, 184,
186, 187, 193, 221;
  _Pierre et Jean_, 40;
  _The Necklace_, 142, 152, 174.

Mendès, Catulle, 29.

_Merchant of Venice, The_, 68.

Meredith, George, 29, 55, 72, 73, 113, 127, 129, 130, 169, 171, 184, 186;
  _Evan Harrington_, 73, 127;
  _The Egoist_, 72, 84, 92, 113;
  _The Ordeal of Richard Feverel_, 113.

Meredith, Owen, 160;
  _Lucile_, 160.

Merimée, Prosper, 173;
  _Carmen_, 173;
  _Colomba_, 173.

_Merry Men, The_, 54.

_Middlemarch_, 70, 79.

Millet, Jean-François, 101.

_Mill on the Floss, The_, 12, 87, 112.

Milton, John, 160, 162;
  _Paradise Lost_, 160.

_Modern Painters_, 105.

Molière, J. B. Poquelin de, xix, 66, 165;
  _Les Facheux_, 66;
  _Le Tartufe_, xix, 8;
  _L'Etourdi_, 66.

_Moonstone, The_, 75.

Motley, John Lothrop, xxiii.

_Mrs. Bathurst_, 95, 127, 150.

_Mrs. Knollys_, 219, 220.

_Murders in the Rue Morgue, The_, 75, 222.

_Necklace, The_, 142, 152, 174.

_New Arabian Nights_, 28, 85.

_Newcomes, The_, 126, 173.

_Nibelungen Lied_, 133.

Norris, Frank, xxii, 111, 164.

_Notre Dame de Paris_, 112, 145, 149, 173.

_Nouvelle Héloise_, La, 104.

_Novel, The: What It Is_, 26.

_Odyssey, The_, 133.

_OEdipus King_, xix.

_Old Curiosity Shop, The_, 104, 105.

_Only a Subaltern_, 14.

_Ordeal of Richard Feverel, The_, 113.

_Orlando Furioso_, 102.

Ostade, Adrian van, 100.

_Othello_, 149, 169.

_Our Mutual Friend_, 70, 96, 103, 152.

_Pamela_, 20.

_Paradise Lost_, 160.

Parkman, Francis, 10.

Patmore, Coventry, 158;
  _The Angel in the House_, 158.

_Paul and Virginia_, 102.

Peele, George, xxiii.

_Pendennis_, 14.

Pepys, Samuel, 47.

Perry, Bliss, xxiv, 28, 29, 182, 183, 184;
  _A Study of Prose Fiction_, 28, 182.

Petrarch, 71.

_Philosophy of Composition, The_, 194.

_Philosophy of the Short-Story, The_, 176.

_Pickwick Papers_, xxv.

_Pierre et Jean_, 40.

_Pilgrim's Progress_, 65, 81.

Pinero, Sir Arthur Wing, 149, 171.

_Pit and the Pendulum, The_, 183.

_Plain Tales from the Hills_, 185, 191, 193.

Plato, 9.

Plutarch, 10.

Poe, Edgar Allan, 29, 38, 75, 114, 115, 125, 142, 143, 144, 172, 174,
175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 190, 193,
194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 204, 205, 221, 222;
  _Ligeia_, 174, 194, 195, 201, 204;
  _The Assignation_, 38;
  _The Cask of Amontillado_, 143, 178;
  _The Fall of the House of Usher_, 96, 114, 117, 143;
  _The Masque of the Red Death_, 142, 149, 155, 178;
  _The Murders in the Rue Morgue_, 75, 222;
  _The Philosophy of Composition_, 194;
  _The Pit and the Pendulum_, 183;
  _The Raven_, 194, 201;
  _The Tell-Tale Heart_, 144, 178.

_Pride and Prejudice_, 131, 146.

_Princess, The_, 209.

_Prodigal Son, The_, 174, 201, 202, 203, 204.

Rabelais, François, xiv, 18.

Raphael, 100.

_Raven, The_, 194, 201.

_Redgauntlet_, 185.

Rembrandt, 140.

Richardson, Samuel, xv, 20, 127;
  _Pamela_, 20.

_Rip Van Winkle_, 181.

_Rise of Silas Lapham, The_, 173.

_Robinson Crusoe_, 103, 122.

_Romeo and Juliet_, 14.

_Romola_, 28, 37, 114, 148.

Ronsard, Pierre, 71.

_Rosmersholm_, 147.

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 71, 72.

Rostand, Edmond, 165;
  _Cyrano de Bergerac_, 165.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 104;
  _La Nouvelle Héloise_, 104.

Ruskin, John, 105, 213;
  _Modern Painters_, 105;
  _Seven Lamps of Architecture_, 213.

_Ruth, Book of_, 174.

Saint-Pierre, Bernardin de, 102;
  _Paul and Virginia_, 102.

_Salammbô_, 114.

_Sapho_, 19, 79.

Sardou, Victorien, 165;
  _La Tosca_, 165.

_Scarlet Letter, The_, xxv, 15, 20, 29, 36, 71, 72, 73, 146, 223.

_School for Scandal, The_, 149.

Scott, Sir Walter, xvi, 20, 21, 25, 26, 38, 42, 50, 58, 74, 86, 133,
145, 146, 149, 158, 185, 219;
  _Kenilworth_, 149, 173;
  _Marmion_, 158;
  _Redgauntlet_, 185;
  _The Lady of the Lake_, 158;
  _The Talisman_, 146;
  _Wandering Willie's Tale_, 185;
  _Waverley_, 20.

_Seven Lamps of Architecture, The_, 213.

Shakespeare, William, xviii, xix, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 35, 49, 70,
71, 157, 165, 168, 169;
  _As You Like It_, 12;
  _Hamlet_, xiv, 8, 9, 82, 165, 169;
  _Henry IV_, 49;
  _King Lear_, 82;
  _Macbeth_, 7, 82, 153, 168;
  _Othello_, 149, 169;
  _Romeo and Juliet_, 14;
  _The Merchant of Venice_, 68.

Shaw, George Bernard, 10.

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 149;
  _The School for Scandal_, 149.

Sidney, Sir Philip, 102, 225;
  _Arcadia_, 102.

_Silas Marner_, 29, 67.

_Sisterly Scheme, A_, 152.

_Smoke_, xxv.

Smollett, Tobias, xv.

_Soldiers Three_, 127.

Sophocles, xix, xx, 184, 185;
  _OEdipus King_, xix.

Spenser, Edmund, 102, 112;
  _The Faerie Queene_, 102, 161.

Spielhagen, Friedrich, xxiv;
  _Technic of the Novel_, xxiv.

_Spy, The_, 146.

Steele, Sir Richard, xv.

Stendhal, xvii.

Sterne, Laurence, xv.

Stevenson, Robert Louis, xxi, xxii, 16, 23, 28, 33, 36, 39, 40, 48,
50, 54, 56, 60, 61, 62, 70, 73, 85, 108, 113, 170, 173, 174, 179, 182,
187, 212, 223;
  _A College Magazine_, 217;
  _A Gossip on Romance_, 56, 108;
  _A Humble Remonstrance_, 60, 70;
  _Kidnapped_, 15, 122, 124;
  _Markheim_, xxii, 36, 48, 141, 154, 174, 215, 216, 217;
  _New Arabian Nights_, 28, 85;
  _On Some Technical Elements of Style in Literature_, 212;
  _Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde_, xxii, 33, 38, 126, 182;
  _The Beach of Falesá_, 182;
  _The Lantern Bearers_, 23;
  _The Master of Ballantrae_, 92, 93, 94, 113, 126, 148, 170;
  _The Merry Men_, 54;
  _The Treasure of Franchard_, 173;
  _Treasure Island_, 51, 52, 78, 122, 124.

Stimson, F. J., 219; _Mrs. Knollys_, 219, 220.

Stockton, Frank R., 154;
  _The Lady or the Tiger?_, 154, 183.

_Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde_, xxii, 33, 38, 126, 182.

_Strike of the Iron-Workers, The_, 159.

_Study of Prose Fiction, A_, 28, 182.

_Substitute, The_, 159.

Swift, Jonathan, xv, 18.

_Tale of Two Cities, A_, 68, 147.

_Talisman, The_, 146.

Tarkington, Booth, 111.

_Tartufe, Le_, xix, 8.

Tasso, Torquato, 160, 162;
  _Jerusalem Liberated_, 160.

Taylor, Bayard, 154;
  _Who Was She?_, 154.

_Tell-Tale Heart, The_, 144, 178.

Teniers, David, the younger, 100.

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 158, 209;
  _Maud_, 158;
  _The Princess_, 209.

_Tess of the D'Urbervilles_, 111.

Thackeray, William Makepeace, xvii, 14, 21, 26, 27, 28, 63, 71, 74,
79, 97, 126, 134, 135, 185, 219;
  _Henry Esmond_, 28, 122;
  _Pendennis_, 14;
  _The Newcomes_, 126, 173;
  _The Virginians_, 28;
  _Vanity Fair_, xxv, 20, 71, 79, 97, 98, 146, 151.

_Theocritus_, xiv.

_They_, 22, 35, 87, 169, 205.

_Three-Decker, The_, 174.

_Thrown Away_, 192.

Tintoretto, 140.

Tolstoi, Count Leo, xxi, 7;
  _Anna Karénina_, xxi;
  _The Kreutzer Sonata_, xxi;
  _War and Peace_, xxv.

_Tom Jones_, xxv.

_Tosca, La_, 165.

_Treasure Island_, 51, 52, 78, 122, 124.

_Treasure of Franchard, The_, 173.

Trollope, Anthony, 41, 51.

Turgénieff, Ivan, 57, 58, 72, 157, 173;
  _Smoke_, xxv.

_Turn of the Screw, The_, 151, 181.

_Uncle Tom's Cabin_, 163.

_Vanity Fair_, xxv, 20, 71, 79, 97, 98, 146, 151.

Verrocchio, Andrea, 140.

_Vicar of Wakefield, The_, 84, 85.

Virgil, 161;
  _The Æneid_, 160, 161, 162.

_Virginians, The_, 28.

Wagner, Richard, 147.

_Wandering Willie's Tale_, 185.

_War and Peace_, xxv.

_Waverley_, 20.

_What Maisie Knew_, 137.

_White Old Maid, The_, 148.

White, Stewart Edward, 111.

Whitman, Walt, 71, 79.

_Who Was She?_, 154.

_Without Benefit of Clergy_, 21, 106, 174, 192.

Wordsworth, William, 58.

Zola, Emile, 6, 29, 41, 111, 164;
  _The Experimental Novel_, 111;
  _The Rougon-Macquart Series_, 111, 164.



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