I am dead against art's being self-expression. I see an inherent failure in any story which fails to detach itself from the author-detach itself in the sense that a well-blown soap-bubble detaches itself from the bowl of the blower's pipe and spherically takes off into the air as a new, whole, pure, iridescent world. Whereas the ill-blown bubble, as children know, timidly adheres to the bowl's lip, then either bursts or sinks flatly back again.
... a novel survives because of its basic truthfulness, its having within it something general and universal, and a quality of imaginative perception which applies just as much now as it did in the fifty or hundred or two hundred years since the novel came to life.
A novel which survives, which withstands and outlives time, does do something more than merely survive. It does not stand still. It accumulates round itself the understanding of all these persons who bring to it something of their own. It acquires associations, it becomes a form of experience in itself, so that two people who meet can often make friends, find an approach to each other, because of this one great common experience they have had ...
The writer, unlike his non-writing adult friend, has no predisposed outlook; he seldom observes deliberately. He sees what he didnot intend to see; he remembers what does not seem wholly possible. Inattentive learner in the schoolroom of life, he keeps some faculty free to veer and wander. His is the roving eye.
The most striking fault in work by young or beginning novelists, submitted for criticism, is irrelevance--due either to infatuation or indecision. To direct such an author's attention to the imperative of relevance is certainly the most useful--and possibly the only--help that can be given.
She had one of those charming faces which, according to the angle from which you see them, look either melancholy or impertinent. Her eyes were grey; her trick of narrowing them made her seem to reflect, the greater part of the time, in the dusk of her second thoughts. With that mood, that touch of arriere pensee, went an uncertain, speaking set of lips.
Ghosts, we hope, may be always with us--that is, never too far out of the reach of fancy. On the whole, it would seem they adapt themselves well, perhaps better than we do, to changing world conditions--they enlarge their domain, shift their hold on our nerves, and, dispossessed of one habitat, set up house in another. The universal battiness of our century looks like providing them with a propitious climate ...