The debate between H. G. Wells and Henry James over the nature and purpose of fiction constitutes one of the most famous literary quarrels of the twentieth century. The quarrel has done immense harm to Wells’s reputation, partly because James is widely assumed to have been the victor, and partly because in the course of the debate Wells was stung into making a series of disingenuous statements about his approach to art in order to distance himself from what he regarded as James’s excessive pedantry. Yet the debate was much more than a personal dispute between two novelists. Underlying their argument was a polarisation of widely differing critical approaches to the novel and a profound divergence of attitudes to life and conduct.
KeywordsGreat Debate Person Method Academic Committee Emotional Antipathy Saturday Review
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