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This short book offers the dispassionate but sharp-tongued comments on the novel, by an old fiction hand, a personal exercise of taste and judgment, backed by a life interest in the history and methods of literary criticism. It reviews the evergreen question of the death of the novel, so often and confidently announced; the difficulties, peculiar to our nihilistic and often brutal age, that press on the contemporary novelist; the effect on him and his work of the technological revolution; his increasing diffidence in face of the overwhelming prestige of science in our day; the changing language of fiction; the novel as an art form; the nouveau roman, and its most sophisticated and more esoteric cousin, the nouvelle critique; the eruption into common daylight of pornographic fiction; the use and misuse of censorship. It attempts to decide whether the traditional or classic novel has a future and what sort of future. Though it may offend a great many solemn persons it has not been written to give offence, but in a serious effort to reach some positive conclusions about the health, the moral and aesthetic worth, of the novel in a day when our minds are, as never before, at the mercy of their worst dreams.