The Gates of Horn: A Study of Five French Realists by Harry Levin

By Harry Levin

"The writer explores this custom extensive and defines it with a breadth of imaginative and prescient, a dynamic vigour and freedom hardly paralleled today....His technique, versatile, beneficiant, humane within the top feel of the notice, eschews pedantry, dogma, dead theorizing and scholastic argumentation."--The long island instances booklet assessment. "I desire to make it transparent that The Gates of Horn represents a superb serious accomplishment."--Saturday evaluation. within the Odyssey, Homer describes gates of the mind's eye: one in every of ivory wherein fictitious desires move, and the opposite of horn, during which not anything however the fact might move. Realism is the kind of literature that passes during the horn, and during this major examine of the style Levin examines a big kind of Realism--the French novel--and makes a speciality of 5 of its masters--Stendahl, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Proust. Now on hand in paperback, Levin's research is a veritable reconstruction of the creative and highbrow lifetime of a country.

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Amid the mutations of modern individualism, we may very conceivably have overstressed the private aspects of writing. One convenience of the institutional method is that it gives due credit to the audience, PREMISES 23 and to the never-ending collaboration between writer and public. It sees no reason to ignore what is relevant in the psychological prepossessions of the craftsman, and it knows that he is ultimately to be rated by the technical resources of his craftsmanship; but it attains its clearest and fullest scope by centering on his craft, upon his social status and his historical function as participant in a skilled calling and a living tradition.

A practical man can refute the philosophers, to his own satisfaction, by kicking a stone; the only way in which a writer can refute other writers, however, is to write yet another book. Cervantes, who was both a practical man and a writer, discovered that he could give his book the special effect of vividness and solidity by repudiating all bookish precedent. By disenchanting his readers, he could cast a spell of his own. By attacking literary illusions, he could capture the illusion of reality.

It was Scott who reversed the itinerary, and guided trippers through the landmarks of restored Gothic and the outposts of local color. Dickens demonstrated that the cockney cut a ridiculous figure afield, and that his nostalgia for coaching days on the highroad was a protest against a pedestrian circuit of narrow streets and reeking slums. Possibly the centrifugal tendency of English culture, whether the nature-loving example be George Eliot or D. H. Lawrence, has been a reaction against its prevailing industrialism.

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