This perceptive and stimulating volume of essays on 19th century novelists originated in lectures given at Harvard's summer school. Revised and expanded, and ably introduced by a preliminary essay on the role of the novel as an art form, this constitutes a truly original and provocative contribution to literary criticism. O'Connor's thesis is that the 19th century novel is ""incomparably the greatest of modern art forms, greater than the symphony with which it has much in common; greater than any of the popular literary forms since the Greek theater"". Discussing with brilliance a wide range of novelists,- Jane Austen, Stendhal, Dickens, Balzac, Gogol, Turgenev, Trollope, Hardy, Proust, Joyce and others, he makes it plain why serious novel readers today feel bereft. No one equals the great life giving artists. The conflict between judgment and emotion provides a provocative central theme. He is not rigid in its application, but applies it with subtlety and insight. A rich and rewarding book of literary criticism, lighted by Celtic imagination. The literary minded public will love it.