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Criticism and Fiction   By: (1837-1920)

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Criticism and Fiction by William Dean Howells is a compelling exploration of the relationship between literary criticism and the art of fiction writing. The book presents an insightful analysis of the role of criticism in shaping and influencing the development of fiction, as well as the impact of fiction on the practice of criticism.

One of the notable strengths of the book is Howells' extensive knowledge and profound understanding of the subject matter. With his vast experience as a renowned novelist and literary critic, Howells offers a unique perspective that combines both practical and theoretical insights. This allows the reader to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay between criticism and fiction.

Moreover, the book incorporates a wide range of examples from classic and contemporary literature to support the author's ideas and arguments. Howells effectively employs these examples to illustrate his points and make his theories more accessible and relatable. This approach allows readers of varied literary backgrounds to engage with the book and grasp its concepts more easily.

What sets Criticism and Fiction apart is Howells' clear and persuasive writing style. He presents his ideas with clarity and logic, making his arguments persuasive while also addressing potential counterarguments. This makes for a rewarding reading experience as it fosters an intellectual dialogue with the author's ideas, stimulating critical thinking and providing ample room for personal reflection.

One of the book's minor limitations lies in its occasional density and depth of analysis, which might prove challenging for readers seeking a more casual or introductory exploration of the subject matter. However, this depth of analysis also grants the book a comprehensive and rigorous scholarly quality, making it a valuable resource for serious students of literature, critics, and aspiring authors.

Overall, Criticism and Fiction by William Dean Howells is a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating exploration of the intricate relationship between criticism and the art of fiction. Through his well-informed arguments, insightful examples, and persuasive writing style, Howells guides readers on a journey of understanding and appreciation for the mutual influence that criticism and fiction wield upon each other. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the art of writing and literary analysis.

First Page:


By William Dean Howells

The question of a final criterion for the appreciation of art is one that perpetually recurs to those interested in any sort of aesthetic endeavor. Mr. John Addington Symonds, in a chapter of 'The Renaissance in Italy' treating of the Bolognese school of painting, which once had so great cry, and was vaunted the supreme exemplar of the grand style, but which he now believes fallen into lasting contempt for its emptiness and soullessness, seeks to determine whether there can be an enduring criterion or not; and his conclusion is applicable to literature as to the other arts. "Our hope," he says, "with regard to the unity of taste in the future then is, that all sentimental or academical seekings after the ideal having been abandoned, momentary theories founded upon idiosyncratic or temporary partialities exploded, and nothing accepted but what is solid and positive, the scientific spirit shall make men progressively more and more conscious of these 'bleibende Verhaltnisse,' more and more capable of living in the whole; also, that in proportion as we gain a firmer hold upon our own place in the world, we shall come to comprehend with more instinctive certitude what is simple, natural, and honest, welcoming with gladness all artistic products that exhibit these qualities... Continue reading book >>

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