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Henry James's“The Art of Fiction”

Why is it revolutionary?

1. Choice of subject belongs to the artist without restriction.

2. Conscious artistry and treatment of the subject is the key.

3. Organic structure is important.

4. Artistry, not morality, should be the criterion. "Bad" novels and "good" novels are a matter of taste, not morality or choice of subject matter.

5. Faithfulness to life (realism) is the important factor.

6. The expertise of the writer, like that of the painter, depends upon an artistic sensibility and openness to impressions.

7. Critics must judge works by the standards the artists have established.

8. Too many critics have drawn false distinctions, such as that between novels of action and novels of character. Novels representing reality ultimately address character.

9. Although it was formerly held in disrepute, the novel is a true art form and expresses legitimate truths, as do painting and history.

10. Accordingly, the author should take his obligation seriously and keep himself out of the text, or at least treat his subject matter seriously.