Good Novels v. Bad Novels

It must be admitted that good novels are somewhat compromised by bad ones, and that the field, at large, suffers discredit from overcrowding. I think, however, that this injury is only superficial, and that the superabundance of written fiction proves nothing against the principle itself. It has been vulgarised, like all other kinds of literature, like everything else, to-day, and it has proved more than some kinds accessible to vulgarisation. But there is as much difference as there ever was between a good novel and a bad one: the bad is swept, with all the daubed canvases and spoiled marble, into some unvisited limbo or infinite rubbish-yard, beneath the back-windows of the world, and the good subsists and emits its light and stimulates our desire for perfection.

James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction”. <>. Longman’s Magazine. September 1884.

The increased production of fiction has not affected the content of the writing. A good novel will still be recognized, while a bad novel will be “swept” or forgotten. James reveals that the genre of a novel will not matter, only the quality of its writing. Many other forms of writing have been “vulgarized” just as fiction has been, but there are still good novels that become acknowledged literary works.