Tag Archives: restrictions

Experiences made into convention?

“Selection will be sure to take care of itself, for it has a constant motive behind it. That motive is simply experience. As people feel life, so they will feel the art that is most closely related to it. This closeness of relation is what we should never forget in talking of the effort of the novel. Many people speak of it as a factitious, artificial form, a product of ingenuity, the business of which is to alter and arrange the things that surround us to translate them into conventional, traditional moulds. This however, is a view of the matter which carries us but a very short way, condemns the art to an eternal repetition of a very short way, condemns the art to an eternal repetition of a few familiar clichés, cuts short its development and leads us straight up to a dead wall. Catching the very note and trick the strange irregular rhythm of life, that is the attempt whose strenuous force keeps Fiction upon her feet. In proportion as in what she offers us we see life without rearrangement do we feel that we are touching the truth; in proportion as we see it with rearrangement do we feel that we are being put off with a substitute, a compromise and convention.”

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction” Major Stories and Essays. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1999. pp. 586.

James discusses the importance of when a novel contains truth verses that which has been fabricated. The genuine portrayal of experiences is how Fiction thrives; it is art in its most relatable form.