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Edmond De Goncourt

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Edmond de Goncourt was the chief ipokesman of his school. He was the first to set the fashion, or at least the firet t proclaiin it, of goingabout notebook in hand for professional purposes, and on nothing did he pride himself so mnch as on the paternity of the "human document." For any üseful - nay, blessed - formula let him receive all credit, so long as the invention is understood to be of a phase, not of a thing. The limitation is necessary, in view of C8rtain extravagant pretensions which would assign to the founders of realistic flction au honor and glory similar to that which, in physical scieuce, belongs to the author of the "Novum Orgamim. " In both cases, we are told, there was a change of ïnethod in both the importance of particulars was einphasized. Unfortunately the comparison an hardly be extended to the subject matter and the results. Nature was unknown when Bacon prescribed rules for the discovery of her secrets. Human nature, the motives and conduct of men, was as well known 2,000 years ago as it is today. No documentary novelist has added to the sum of general knowledge or done more than dress up old truths in a few new garnients borrowed from vari ous sciences. The innovation of realism, or naturalisni, was at most, then, one of niethod applied to a given body of already known phenomena, just as the same facts inay be treated by induction or deduction in turns. And even as an innovation of method it has been much exaggerated on the fatuous presumption, often made by De Goncourt and others, that no novelist before Balzao had ever studied the details of life - a presumptioa resting apparently on no other basis than the fact that our old f riends, taking such study for grantd, did not deern it necessary to be


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