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rise in memory as Mr. Forster speaks
all those muddled, imperfect works
“Waverley,” “Red Gauntlet,” “The Bride
of Lammermoor.” It is true, then, that 
our liking is sentimental? Is there noth-
ing but cardboard in the mountains and
cotton wool in the human hearts? Are
we tricked into tolerating these people
only because they jog forward; and we
ask, as we ask at the “movies,” what
is going to happen next? Surely not.
For what we remember is first a pro-
digious power of creation, in itself im-
pressive, whether the creations are 
flimsy or solid; and some, the humorous
and low born, we maintain, are as solid 
as need be. Next a romantic force such
as Stevenson was always trying to cap-
ture but never achieved, the sense of
valleys, mountains, plumes, heroes, death,
disaster, all composed and rightly or-
dered, so that we feel assuaged, relieved,
satisfied, without precisely knowing why.
But as a story-teller Scott is imperfect.
Defoe, Arnold Bennett, George Moore all
surpass him there. Only his romance
and his humor carry him through.

So having roused us, as he expected
and doubtless hoped, Mr. Forster pro-
ceeds to assemble the parts of fiction 
and to comment upon their use and
nature. He glances at Jane Austen’s
people and at Defoe’s, shows us how “the
perfect novelist,” Jane Austen, Richard-
son or Defoe, “seems to pass the creative
finger down every sentence and into
every word”; observes that Dickens and 
Wells are much alike in that their char-
acters tend to be flat as gramophone
records, but both have such immense
vitality of their own that the part of
their novels which is alive “galvanizes
the part that is not and causes the char-
acters to jump about and speak in a 
convincing way”; remarks “in music fic-
tion is likely to find its nearest parallel”; 
tells us that the reason why we cannot
imagine Moll Flanders in daily life is
because we know so much more about
her than about real people, for the
people of fiction “are people whose
secret lives are visible or might be vis-
ible; we are people whose secret lives
are invisible. And that is why novels,
even when they are about wicked peo-
ple, can solace us; they suggest a more
comprehensible, and thus a more man-
ageable human race; they give us the
illusion of perspicacity and power.” It
is tempting to quote further to show Mr.
Forster as he plays round his subject
and darts in and out and says in his 
ordinary speaking voice things which 
sink airily enough into the mind and
then unexpectedly stay and begin to
unfurl like those Japanese flowers which
open up in the depths of the water.

But greatly though these sayings in-
trigue us, we want to call a halt at some
definite stopping place; we want to make
Mr. Forster stand and deliver. For pos-
sibly, if fiction is, as we suggest, in dif-
ficulties, it may be because nobody 
grasps her firmly and defines her
severely. She has had no rules drawn up
for her. And though rules may be wrong
and must be broken, they have this ad-
vantage—they confer dignity and order 
upon their subject; they admit her to a 
place in civilized society. But this part
of his duty, if it is his duty, Mr. Forster
expressly disowns. He is not going to
theorize about fiction except incidentally;
he doubts even whether she is to be ap-
proached by a critic, and if so, with
what critical equipment. All we can do
is to edge him into a position which is
definite enough for us to see where he
stands by noticing what he likes and
dislikes. And perhaps the best way to
do this is to quote his summaries of
three great figures—Meredith, Hardy,
and Henry James.

        Meredith is not the great name he 
        was twenty years ago when much
        of the universe and all Cambridge 
        trembled…. His philosophy has
        not worn well. His heavy attacks
       upon sentimentality—they bore the