Excerpt from Louisa Kirkbride: A Tale of New York
Why is it that novels unless altogether meaningless and dull, invariably attract so many readers? When they are cleverly written, books, not only on theology and religion, but likewise on history, science, or travels, cannot compete with them in that regard. It is not sufficient to assign as the chief cause of it the general lowering of intellect so re markable in our age since men of an acute mind often read them with pleasure and perhaps profit. The main reason may be that there is something extremely attractive in the description of human life; and this is the object of most modern novels. Their authors, moreover, often attempt to foster social and political reform, and occasionally great questions are treated under the alluring form of a tale. Of ten, it is true, these philosophical considerations are rather ﬂights of fancy than sober and useful discussions. Some times, however, social good may be effected by an apologue, a fable, a complicated story, a novel, in fine. Every one knows that Charles Dickens acquired a great deal of his fame by endeavoring to bring on the correction of some social abuses; and Mr. Victor Hugo, in the last twenty years or more, has published a large number of political pamphlets, for the instruction of the French, under the form of huge, pompous romances.
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