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Modern Fiction   By: (1829-1900)

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In Modern Fiction, Charles Dudley Warner explores the ever-evolving landscape of literature and raises insightful questions about the nature and purpose of contemporary fiction. With his characteristic wit and intelligence, Warner offers a compelling analysis of the challenges faced by modern writers and the expectations of their readers.

Throughout the book, Warner delves into various aspects of modern fiction, examining the emerging trends and styles that have shaped the literary sphere. He notes that the genre has witnessed a shift from traditional storytelling to a more experimental and unconventional approach. Warner skillfully dissects the impacts of this transformation, pondering whether these changes enhance or diminish the overall quality of the work produced.

One of the outstanding aspects of Modern Fiction is Warner's ability to articulate complex ideas in a clear and accessible manner. He explores the influence of technology and globalization on storytelling, highlighting their potential to expand the boundaries of imagination while also raising concerns about the loss of genuine human connection. Warner's exploration of these themes demonstrates his keen insight into the social and cultural dynamics of his time.

Furthermore, Warner challenges the prevalent notion that modern fiction ought to adhere to strict rules or replicate the successes of past literary giants. He encourages authors to break free from the constraints of tradition and forge their own paths, embracing individual style and experimentation as a means of pushing the boundaries of storytelling. This emphasis on creative freedom and innovation remains highly relevant today, inspiring writers to venture into uncharted territories and take risks in their craft.

Despite its considerable merits, Modern Fiction does suffer from occasional instances of verbosity and repetition. While Warner's eloquence adds charm to the book, there are moments when his points could have been expressed more concisely. Some readers may find these passages sluggish and wish for a more streamlined narrative.

Nevertheless, Modern Fiction remains a valuable and thought-provoking read even in our contemporary era. Warner's astute observations and perceptive criticisms provide a valuable lens through which to examine the evolution of literature. Whether one is a writer, reader, or simply curious about the role of fiction in society, this book offers an engaging and informative exploration of the challenges and possibilities of modern storytelling.

First Page:


By Charles Dudley Warner

One of the worst characteristics of modern fiction is its so called truth to nature. For fiction is an art, as painting is, as sculpture is, as acting is. A photograph of a natural object is not art; nor is the plaster cast of a man's face, nor is the bare setting on the stage of an actual occurrence. Art requires an idealization of nature. The amateur, though she may be a lady, who attempts to represent upon the stage the lady of the drawing room, usually fails to convey to the spectators the impression of a lady. She lacks the art by which the trained actress, who may not be a lady, succeeds. The actual transfer to the stage of the drawing room and its occupants, with the behavior common in well bred society, would no doubt fail of the intended dramatic effect, and the spectators would declare the representation unnatural.

However our jargon of criticism may confound terms, we do not need to be reminded that art and nature are distinct; that art, though dependent on nature, is a separate creation; that art is selection and idealization, with a view to impressing the mind with human, or even higher than human, sentiments and ideas. We may not agree whether the perfect man and woman ever existed, but we do know that the highest representations of them in form that in the old Greek sculptures were the result of artistic selection of parts of many living figures... Continue reading book >>

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