The zeal for true pictures of life which thus censures the older theories of “instruction and delight” is part of the modern tendency to realism, and is connected with the triumph of the scientific point of view. Indeed, its most extreme advocates are at times quite explicit about this: “We should work,” says Zola, “upon characters, passions, human and social facts, as the physicist and chemist work with inorganic bodies, as the physiologist works with living organisms.” On this theory he believed himself to have constructed his novels; and though he did not carry it out as rigorously as he supposed he did, the results of it are all too evident in the assembling in his pages of vast masses of almost statistical facts, set down without regard to taste, convention, or decency. 34But not all modern realists interpret their creed in so mechanical a manner. Many have held to the belief in true pictures of life without committing themselves to the extreme view that the record should be untinged with the personality of the writer. And, indeed, it is now fairly well agreed that such absolute objectivity, is neither possible nor desirable. It is not possible for many reasons. All the facts concerning any human episode, not to say life, cannot be recorded in a book, so infinitely numerous and complex are they, linked to thousands of others which are necessary to a full statement of them, and themselves involving a life history and an immemorial ancestry. Thus in the most severely realistic work selection is necessary, the selection of what seems significant to the author; and with this selection the personal element has already entered. Again, the sympathy of the author unconsciously determines questions of relative stress and emphasis; and intimate qualities of temperament and imagination affect the atmosphere in which the most baldly reported incidents take place.

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