A Humble Remonstrance Analysis

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Robert Louis Stevenson’s essay, ‘A Humble Remonstrance’, [2001, (1884] is a direct onslaught on, the ongoing debate on the nature and function of fiction initiated by two renowned authors Walter Besant and Henry James, whose essays both entitled ‘The Art of Fiction’ attempt to define the artistic side of fiction.
Each author entering this discussion had differing views on the subject, and the crux of this debate was to define the laws of what constitutes the definition of ‘Realism’. This literary realist movement represented life as it is, without idealisation, or romantic subjectivity (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015). Realists believed that literature should be available to all and not just the upper classes and aristocracy. This movement
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James argues that the novelist is free to approach the task with complete freedom, the only obligation being that the novel should be ‘interesting’ and ‘a personal impression of life’ (2001, p73); it is only the execution that should be subject to criticism (2001, p.78). Additionally, James insists that whilst there are certain ‘rules’ to writing good fiction the novelist must write ‘truthfully and faithfully, but simple, and yet be understood in a far fuller sense than was present in his own mind.’ (2001, …show more content…
James, definition was that ‘Art competes with life,’ a statement that Stevenson passionately refutes. His reasons for this were that, ‘No Art does compete with life, and is only a pale imitation of it, supplying ‘phantom reproductions of experience’. (Stevenson, 2001 [1884], p96). He deliberates that the novel extracts details from the broad sweep of life and makes something ‘typical’ of them. He therefore sees the novel as more of an entertainment than having a higher moral purpose. Stevenson argues that no matter what the novel states the truth remains unchanged and the novel cannot create truth. The novel's objective is not to create the truth but to create a typical representation. To create this the artist does not have to have experienced what they are writing about. Stevenson is saying that the novelist is not responsible for the shade of life he happens to represent in his

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