Henry James- The Art of Fiction within Daisy Miller: A Study

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Henry James discusses the intricacies of writing in his piece “The Art of Fiction.” While the main binary in literature is between that of fiction and non-fiction, however James further distinguishes the category of fiction into romance and novel. While a romance exists for the form of entertainment and is driven by character development, a novel is more of an attempt to create a realistic representation of the current social standard. James declares that fiction is not just a leisure art form but meant to be taken seriously, as a historical text. In this piece James critiques the work of another author, Besant, and discredits the former hostility towards novels as a credible form of knowledge. Many of James’ key points are present in his short story “Daisy Miller: A Study” which follows a young girl’s journey through American society abroad. In this riveting tale James depicts a harshly vivid and real portrayal of a society with black and white views towards morality. Morality is a driving factor in the novel as it is in the society, and James’ own views regarding the strict moral environment is evident in the unexpected close of the novel. James follows his formula for a “serious” novel by acting as a historian, painting a clear and vivid portrayal of a specific social scene. In “The Art of Fiction” James emphasized the rediscovery of fiction as a form of serious writing, a form of ascribed history. James asserts “The subject-matter of fiction is stored up likewise in documents and records, and if it will not give itself away…it must speak with assurance, with the tone of the historian” (377). In other words, the credibility of a work of fiction is in the hands of the author, if he cannot take his work ... ... middle of paper ... ...society has is presented in the novel, and Daisy’s death signifies the implications that challenging these norms may have. It is an ominous message on the part of James and reflects on his opinion of American society. Works Cited James, Henry. "The Art of Fiction." Tales of Henry James: the Texts of the Stories, the Author on His Craft, Background and Criticism. Ed. Christof Wegelin and Henry B. Wonham. Second ed. New York: Norton, 1984. Pgs. 375-94. Print. Further references are to this edition and will appear parenthetically in the text. James, Henry. "Daisy Miller: A Study." Tales of Henry James: the Texts of the Stories, the Author on His Craft, Background and Criticism. Ed. Christof Wegelin and Henry B. Wonham. Second ed. New York: Norton, 1984. Pgs. 3-51. Print. Further references are to this edition and will appear parenthetically in the text.

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