The Art of Fiction

MAX: If we read his works in order we can see his progression from a narrative of clear simplicity to one of one of rich complexity. Now this is not homework, but I strongly urge you, if you have not already read The Art of Fiction, read it. It’s a remarkable manifesto that contains basic truths that still apply to fiction in any form. All right, so Henry James, the man of the moment. Pick your book. Read it carefully. A full report on my desk one week from today.

The Art of Fiction is an essay by American-born British author Henry James, first published in his 1888 Partial Portraits, a book of literary criticism. In the essay, James argues for the greatest freedom possible in subject and style for the author.

Max has given his class their own choice of any Henry James novel to read. We don’t know which of James’ novels Rory might have chosen, but in a later season we learn that Rory has read the 1879 novella Daisy Miller by Henry James, so that might have been her choice for this assignment. As she’s tired and grumpy in this episode, a short book probably suited her.

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