This collection of essays, chiefly on British and American novels and novelists, examines a different aspect of the novelists art. The central issue Robert Heilman confronts - often by studying the novels in pairs - is how the novelist does what he does. Dealing with subjects as diverse as Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, and Evelyn Waugh, Heilman studies the workings of fiction from varied stances. He investigates the uses of the verbal medium and the several means by which a given theme is developed. As Heilman identifies and traces particular themes, he studies how parts are assembled into a whole. In addition, he explores particular generic types - like the picaresque, the gothic, the tragic - as they are used by a variety of novelists. The book takes us inside the process of criticism and offers as original and perceptive a view of ""Under the Volcano"" as it offers of ""Pride and Prejudice"" or ""The Turn of the Screw"". Each essay presents a fresh way of looking at and understanding these novels. This collection will be of interest to anyone who desires insight into the workings of fiction.
Robert Bechtold Heilman is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of numerous books, including The Ways of the World: Comedy and Society, winner of the 1979 Christian Gauss Prize.