Quotation by Ray B. West

Modern criticism has concerned itself more with poetry than with fiction for several reasons. First, fiction does not lend itself so readily as verse to the close analytical approach. Second, there is no body of critical theory upon the subject of fiction comparable to the poetic theory available to the critic of poetry. Third, the tremendous output of short fiction and novels tends to obscure the total picture and to make the initial problem of selection and evaluation extremely difficult. The result is that fiction, when it has been examined, has been subjected to the same criteria as those applied to verse; sometimes, as in the case of such authors as James, Joyce, or Kafka, with excellent results; at other times, with authors such as Tolstoi, Mann, or Hemingway, the results have either been bad or criticism has limited itself to discussion of the authors' lives, their social background, or their historical importance.
Ray B. West (b. 1908), U.S. educator, critic. "Three Methods of Modern Fiction," The Writer in the Room, Michigan State University Press (1968).
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