A clear basic critical analysis of the English novel from its beginnings to the present, treats the subject as a convenient whole and brings a picture of the novel form and its process in England into clear focus. For Mr. Allen, the novel as any art form, is not evolutionary, the novelist as commentator, synthesizer and judge, must in turn be judged in relation to the mores and knowledge of his own times. To do this, Mr. Allen starts by tracing the various influences that preceded the birth of the novel proper, with the publication of Richardson's Pamela in 1740. Following the familiar periods of English literature from Chaucer on, he makes interesting and pertinent points, such as the change in painting that came about as artists gradually began to humanize a hitherto completely idealistic Madonna. The literary humanization though different in character, produced its own results of a kind that led to the works of Swift in the early 18th century, though Swift is the embodiment of satire and cannot be considered as a novelist in the true sense. It is interesting to watch too, the different eyes with which succeeding authors viewed their worlds, to note for example that Willkie Collins' wrote superb mysteries because the genre was not yet developed; that the mutations after 1850 were traceable from continental works; that Virginia Woolf's drastic statement about the abrupt change in human nature in 1910- when French impressionistic paintings were exhibited in London- had its own truth. A satisfying study, particularly useful for students.