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An Estimate of the Value and Influence of Works of Fiction in Modern Times   By: (1836-1882)

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Thomas Hill Green

An Estimate of The Value and Influence


Works of Fiction In Modern Times

Edited With Introduction and Notes


Fred Newton Scott

Professor of Rhetoric in the University of Michigan

George Wahr Ann Arbor Michigan 1911






For a good many years I have used this essay of Green's with an advanced class in the theory of prose fiction. It has worked well. It always arouses discussion, and in doing so it has the great virtue that it imperiously leads the argument away from superficialities and centers it upon fundamentals. Its service as a stimulus to high thinking cannot easily be overestimated. For any student, and especially for one who has known only the unidea'd criticism of fiction so popular today, it is a fine thing to come in contact with a high minded, sturdy, and uncompromising thinker such as Green is. As Green says of the hearer of tragedy, "He bears about him, for a time at least, among the rank vapors of the earth, something of the freshness and fragrance of the higher air." I trust that this reprint, by making the essay more easily accessible than it has been heretofore, will help to raise the grade of student thought and taste and criticism.

F. N. S. University of Michigan December 1, 1910.


PAGE Introduction 9 I. PRINCIPLES OF ART 19 a. Epic, Drama, and Novel 19 b. Imitation vs. Art 21 c. Nature the Creation of Thought 22 d. The 'Outward' aspect of Nature 23 e. Conquest of Nature by Art 24 f. The Artist as Idealizer 26 g. The Epic 27 h. Tragedy as Purifier of the Passions 29 i. Tragedy the Elevation of Life 33 j. Conditions Favorable to Tragedy 34 II. THE NOVEL AN INFERIOR FORM OF ART 35 a. Beginnings of the Novel 35 b. Characteristics of the Spectator 36 c. The Modern Novel a Reflection of Ordinary Life 38 d. Naturalism vs. Idealism 43 e. Tragedy and the Novel 44 f. The Epic and the Novel 47 g. Poetry and Prose 49 h. The Novel an Incomplete Presentation of Life 52 i. Prudence the Novelist's Highest Morality 54 j. Evil Effects of Novel reading 56 III. TRUE FUNCTION OF THE NOVEL 60 a. A Widener of Experience 60 b. An Expander of Sympathies 63 c. A Creator of Public Sentiment 69 d. A Leveller of Intellects 69


a. An Appreciation of Green's Essay 72 b. Hegel on the Novel 77


Thomas Hill Green was born in Birkin, Yorkshire, April 7, 1836. His early education was acquired first at home under his father, the rector of Birkin, then at Rugby, where he was sent at the age of fourteen. In 1855 he entered Balliol College, Oxford, and came under the influence of Jowett, afterwards famous as Master of Balliol and translator of Plato... Continue reading book >>

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