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For the student of the fiction form of literature, this has a challenging contribution to make. Mr. DeVoto will seem, at times, dogmatic; often his conclusions, and the steps by the which he reaches them, are controversial. But there's meaty reading here, for those interested in his analytical approach to the role of reader, the role of writer, and the techniques and skills demanded today for the writing of fiction. His opinion of the reader is not very exalted; perhaps reading this book might raise the general level of reading (though it is unlikely to reach those to whom Mr. DeVoto has reference). He feels that as a mass art fiction withdraws from reality, that many novels today deliberately falsify life and corrupt readers; that modern trends and experimentation produce tensions from which the reading public rebels and turns to the superficial action and costume novel that only tells a story, to the lucidity and freedom and sense of leisure of those novels that depart from the modern trends. Much of his material on the novelist will be of interest almost solely to writers. He explores some of the current tendency of psychiatry and fiction to invade each others field with dire results. A novelist's primary job is to keep the reader reading, and Mr. DeVoto proceeds to show wherein lies the craftsmanship, the techniques, the principles to this end. This last third of the book was to me the best integrated, most rewarding part of the whole. In final summation he says that after all, the novel tells a story. Everything else (by way of artistry, etc.) is added to that..... College libraries- study groups- will provide the chief market.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1950
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin