The technique of the novel - PDF book by Charles Horne

The technique of the novel; the elements of the art, their evolution and present use 

The technique of the novel

The aim of this book is to make clear the principles that underlie the most popular form of literature, the novel. With this end in view, these pages trace historically and by the aid of constant illustration the development of the art of novel writing. Considering the present frequently lamented "tyranny of the novel," it is surprising that the technique of this influential form of art has not been more closely studied. Its principles are often loosely discussed, and histories of the novel or critiques on the work of individuals are abundant, but nowhere has the complete body of accepted law been gathered and formulated for common use. 

The necessity for some such undertaking is obvious if the critical study of fiction is to advance scientifically. Hence I have endeavoured here to analyze the novel, to separate its parts, and then, going back to the earliest fiction, to see how each one of these essential elements has been employed and understood through all the ages. 

Thus the book, without being history, has something of history's cultural value in its chronological advance. One important field which I have kept in view is that of collegiate study. Within the last twenty years, most of our colleges and universities have begun to give the novel serious consideration. The teaching of literature no longer means solely the discussing of poetry and of the essay. 

The novel is acknowledged as a potent literary form. Yet we have no completed textbook with which to approach it. Histories, whether of the novelists or their works, can not meet the demand; it is not through histories that we study other branches of literature. For the analysis of the novel, the discussion of its elements, and the tracing of their historical development, I venture to offer this book, the outlines of which have been tested in practical classroom work. 

So far as the general reader is concerned, it may be assumed that he must often desire to establish his opinions of his favourite novelists on some firmer basis than that of mere instinctive admiration, the changing whims of personal enjoyment. 

The need and value of a known foundation, not only for the judgment but even more for the execution of literary work, comes especially home to one who has faced the subject from many sides, has toiled as an editor, encouraged as a teacher, and groaned as a professional "reader" of manuscripts. The vast mass of beginners in the art of novel writing is not as a class characterized by any marked appreciation of the value of the form which they essay, or even any practical understanding of the technical difficulties of their work. 

They are poets pouring out their souls in blind confusion, or copyists laboriously imitating the im- perfections of their favourite author. To my brethren of the critic world, this book is therefore offered in confidence that its need at least will be recognized, though its conclusions may be open to dispute. It is intended both to guide the experiments of the beginner and to arouse the criticism of the expert. Every discussion of the subject, even though acrimonious, must tend toward what is after all the main object of the book, the recognition and establishment 'of the true principles of the novel's art.

Contents of the book

The Beginnings of Story Building
The Aim of the Book. Our Unconscious Following of Law. Confusion of the Novel with the Drama. Confusion with the Epic. The Need of Historical Examination. The Origin of Fiction. ; 3
The Elements of the Novel
Differing Views as to the Novel's Essentials. Early Attempts at Defining the Novel. Recent Definitions. The Essential Qualities Selected. Relative Value of these Elements. A Working Definition. The Novel as a Set of Steps 12
The Egyptian Tales
The Fragmentary Manuscripts. The Oldest Story. Technique at its Beginning. The Progress of Artistic Skill. The Most Advanced Tale. The Most Famous Tale.
The Final Development of Story Building in Egypt.... 29
The Greek Romances
Earliest Traces of Greek Fiction. The Oldest Romance. Technique in the First Romance. The Most Famous of the Greek Romances. Development and Decay of the Later Work. The Final Attainments of Ancient Story Building 46
The Medieval Conglomerates
A Review of the Early Development of Fiction. The Origin of Modern Fiction. Beowulf. Technique in Beowulf. The Nibelungenlied. The Mediaeval Romances. Amadis of Gaul. The Separation of Novel and Romance. Short Prose Tales of the Middle Ages. The approach of the Short Tales toward the Novel 60
The Modern Novel
The Period of Transition. Picaresque Fiction. Technique in Picaresque Fiction. Don Quixote. The Later Romances. The Princess of Cleves. The Modern Development of Human Thought. The English Approach to the Modern Novel. Pamela. A Review 83

Author: Charles Horne
 Publication Date: 1908 

the book details :
  • Author: Charles Horne
  • Publication date: 1908
  • Company: New York, London, Harper & Brothers

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