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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Henry James on the Novel

This link shows Henry James' compressed view of the novel, in a letter to Deerfield Summer School.

James spends some time discouraging what he thinks the director's predilection of the novel might be and presents an overview of James's own perspective:

  1. do something from your point of view
  2. an ounce of example is worth a ton of generalities
  3. do something with the great art and the great form 
  4. do something with life
  5. see the actual or imaginative... and... paint it.
He expands on point of view:
  1. any point of view is interesting that is a direct impression of life
  2. You each have an impression coloured by your individual conditions
  3. Make that into a picture... framed by your own person wisdom, your glimpse of the American world
  4. The field is vast for freedom, for study, for observation, for truth.
On life, he writes:
  1. Consider life directly and closely
  2. [don't] be put off with mean and puerile falsities
  3. be conscientious about it. 
  4. It is infinitely large, various and comprehensive.
  5. Every sort of mind will find what it [the mind?] look for in it [presumably life].
  6. Whereby, the novel becomes truly multifarious and illustrative.
On liberty, he writes:
  1. give [liberty?] its head and let it range.
  2. nothing but freedom can refresh [the English novel] and restore its self respect.

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