FICTION has never been “original.” It is not in its nature to be so. But as that fact became apparent at least some two hundred years ago it seems a trifle unnecessary to dwell upon it. The dreadful thing is that, like the other arts, fiction now finds itself at the edge of the world of invention, staring into an abyss of nothingness, a Ginungagap of emptiness. It can conceive no new situations or conditions, mental or spiritual, its inventive powers are bankrupt, its fashions and expressions of dialogue are fast becoming matter for public jape, food for the flighty interludes of the wisecracker and the Smart Aleck. Its general aspect has become fantastic because of an obliquity to the life‐plane, a tilt almost as extreme as that exhibited by recent painting or music. Its folk are often monstrous and as unrelated to the actualities of existence as the shapes of nightmare. In short, it is the workshop of a guild or trade caste. And just because man is what he is, castes are the worst enemies of Art, and when, by accident or misfortune, they succeed to its functions and become its “bureaucrats,” Art is in mortal peril.
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