Excerpt from Some Modern Authors
IN earlier volumes of literary essays I disclaimed any pretensions to be thought a literary critic. I wrote of men and women whose books I liked, for two reasons one, I liked writing about them; two, I wanted to enlarge the number of their readers. Then by that curious irony which certainly governs my life I became a professional book reviewer, and now those who use terms loosely imagine that I really am a literary critic. In truth, I am further from being one than ever I was. For what does it entail to be a book reviewer It means to open parcels all day long, to dip into as many as seventy books in as many hours, not casually, but to make sure that they have or have not what is called in Fleet Street news-value. It is an amusing job, but as far removed from literary criticism as breaking stones. This book is no collection of criticisms that have appeared in a newspaper. It is a holiday that I have thoroughly earned. I am master of my own space. I need exercise no news sense. I do not have to think in inches. I can use my own judgment. I write as I like. I do not mean that I have voluntarily turned my back on literary criticism. As a novelist I have with some difficulty created a technique of my own which only about two critics have had the ability to discover. My true business in life is creative. The function and technique of criticism have up to now been hidden from me. I have got as far as the discovery that the critic is one who appreciates, who tries to follow the craft of the author, who tries to see how far the artist has carried out his own intention. I do not.
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