Tag Archives: Ultimate Test

Art Needs to be Liked

Nothing, of course, will ever take the place of the good old fashion of
“liking” a work of art or not liking it: the most improved criticism will
not abolish that primitive, that ultimate test. I mention this to guard myself
from the accusation of intimating that the idea, the subject, of a novel
or a picture, does not matter. It matters, to my sense, in the highest
degree, and if I might put up a prayer it would be that artists should
select none but the richest.

Henry James, Major Stories and Essays (New York:Literary Classics of the United States, 1999), 585.

As James argues of the novel’s perception as an art, he makes a digression to point
out that what will remain consistent, regardless on how novels should be viewed and written, is that the work needs be, at the very least, liked. He adds to this view by stating that he simply wishes the work of a writer, or any other artist, to be good and of value. Otherwise, the work will not be perceived with any regard, regardless of style or medium.