It may seem strange to put an Ellen Glasgow book under the heading ""dark horse"" -- but here is a Glasgow which may prove a ""sleeper"". On the face of it, a collection of prefaces to her novels in the limited Virginia Edition of her works would not seem to be a potential best seller. Actually, it is not only a commentary on the art of fiction, but virtually an autobiography, combining bits of her own life with a singularly objective analysis of her methods of work and her philosophy of writing, the conscious process of development of a keen intelligence. It is full of temptingly quotable phrases, as with her characteristic charm and perspicacity and wit she weighs the values and the weaknesses of her own work, of current literary -- particularly Southern -- art. She defines fiction as ""experience illuminated"", which carries with it an ""obligation to reflect the movements and tone of its age"". An important contribution to the inadequate shelf of American criticism, and a book that those who delight in her graceful style will read for its own sake.