I SUPPOSE the question uppermost in the mind of a reader seriously considering the state of fiction at the present time must inevitably be: where are the successors to the thrones at present filled by the older writers? One by one the old school are passing from our midst. Have we, among the younger writers, any qualified to occupy their positions, to inherit their prestige and authority? The names of Mr. Walpole and Mr. Priestley immediately spring to mind. They have reputations. They write abundantly. They are talked about. Their work sells. They are the typical traditionalists of modern letters, the inheritors of a long and fairly continuous tradition of technique and subject matter. They are craftsmanly novelists. They are stylists in their way. They are quiet, urbane, efficient and conscientious. Neither possesses any profound depth of feeling. Neither possesses, as yet, that infallible instinct for character by which, and by which alone (as Arnold Bennett insisted) a novel can reach greatness.
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