Hawthorne, in his search for wisdom’s pearl by means of fancy, resembles this contemporary Englishman. He is related to the German romanticists in his fondness for the weird, the mystical, and the supernormal manifestations of the spirit. It is unnecessary to establish more definitely his connection with the romantic movement, and we may, therefore, pass on to more important matters.
The shapes of these tiny ridges and furrows are the best of all data by which a man or woman can be identified. Their great merit consists in the fundamental facts that they are never the same in two individuals, that they remain practically constant in the same person from the cradle to the grave, that they cannot be artificially modified, and that they can easily be classified for handy reference.
And the great bulk of this enormous output is fiction — sad tales, merry tales, tales with a moral, tales without a moral, tales we have heard before and can hear again, tales that are worth telling and tales that are not. Of late the attention of many serious-minded people has been turned to this question of novel writing and novel reading.
The teller of stories began to perceive — very slowly, indeed, that within his own limited being lay a strange, unsuspected, unlimited power: that he possessed a magic crucible by which all things he observed, all things he heard, might not only be stored as memories, but might be transmuted, re-cast, projected and given forth in a marvellous semblance of life. Astonishing vistas were henceforward opened to his fascinated gaze, though stumbling indeed must have been his first bewildered steps in the effort to explore their endless, lonely labyrinths.
The old proverb that truth is stranger than fiction may be put more soundly in the form that fiction must not be so strange as truth. And this is obviously so, since fiction has to create an illusion of reality, while truth, being true, can be as improbable as it chooses.
There is a radical error, I think, in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative-designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may, from page to page, render themselves apparent.
Sir Walter Besant (14 August 1836 - 9 June 1901, novelist and historian, delivers a forceful talk on the art of fiction, detailing what he felt were the three basic propositions for writing fiction. The talk was delivered at the Royal Institution on April 25, 1884.
This art of mystery in fiction, partaking as it does of the nature of a puzzle or conundrum; still it is ingenious though stagy, with its designing and fitting, and surely to be commended as an art worthy of a need of praise
Among all the detectives, amateur and professional, who have appeared before the public and performed their little tricks, there are only four who are classic — C. Auguste Dupin, Tabaret, M. Lecoq, and Sherlock Holmes. These abide. Beside them, the others are mere shadows. And these four are memorable not because they never bungled, not because occasionally they struck home with a cleverness and certainty which makes us forgive their mistakes. Their supreme moments are moments to be remembered with delight.