lundi 7 mars 2011

Sergio Perosa, AMERICAN THEORIES OF THE NOVEL: 1793-1903, New York, New York University, 1983, 243 pages.

In the more specific Preface to The House of the Seven Gables (1851), the romance is distinguished from the novel in terms of its greater freedom and "latitude" in the choice of materials as well as of form:

  • When a writer calls his work a Romance, it need hardly to be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself to assume had he professed to be writing a Novel. The latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course of man's experience. The former - while, as a work of art, it must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably so far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart - has fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer's own choosing or creation. If he think fit, also, he may so manage his atmospherical medium as to bring out or mellow the lights and deepen and enrich the shadows of the picture. he will be wise, no doubt, to make a very moderate use of the priviledges here stated, and, especially, to mingle the Marvelous rather as a slight, delicate, and evanescent flavor, than as any portion of the actual substance of the dish offered to the public. He can hardly be said, however, to commit a literary crime even if he disregard this caution.
(p. 54-55)

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