The Principles of Success in Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about The Principles of Success in Literature.
having been beyond his village,” I understand a mental no less than topographical limitation.  The penetrating sympathy of genius will, even from a village, traverse the whole world.  What I mean is, that unless by personal experience, no matter through what avenues, a man has gained clear insight into the facts of life, he cannot successfully place them before us; and whatever insight he has gained, be it of important or of unimportant facts, will be of value if truly reproduced.  No sunset is precisely similar to another, no two souls are affected by it in a precisely similar way.  Thus may the commonest phenomenon have a novelty.  To the eye that can read aright there is an infinite variety even in the most ordinary human being.  But to the careless indiscriminating eye all individuality is merged in a misty generality.  Nature and men yield nothing new to such a mind.  Of what avail is it for a man to walk out into the tremulous mists of morning, to watch the slow sunset, and wait for the rising stars, if he can tell us nothing about these but what others have already told us—–­if he feels nothing but what others have already felt?  Let a man look for himself and tell truly what he sees.  We will listen to that.  We must listen to it, for its very authenticity has a subtle power of compulsion.  What others have seen and felt we can learn better from their own lips.


I have not yet explained in any formal manner what the nature of that insight is which constitutes what I have named the Principle of Vision; although doubtless the reader has gathered its meaning from the remarks already made.  For the sake of future applications of the principle to the various questions of philosophical criticism which must arise in the course of this inquiry, it may be needful here to explain (as I have already explained elsewhere) how the chief intellectual operations—­Perception, Inference, Reasoning, and Imagination—­may be viewed as so many forms of mental vision.

Perception, as distinguished from Sensation, is the presentation before Consciousness of the details which once were present in conjunction with the object at this moment affecting Sense.  These details are inferred to be still in conjunction with the object, although not revealed to Sense.  Thus when an apple is perceived by me, who merely see it, all that Sense reports is of a certain coloured surface:  the roundness, the firmness, the fragrance, and the taste of the apple are not present to Sense, but are made present to Consciousness by the act of Perception.  The eye sees a certain coloured surface; the mind sees at the same instant many other co-existent but unapparent facts—­it reinstates in their due order these unapparent facts.  Were it not for this mental vision supplying the deficiencies of ocular vision, the coloured surface would be an enigma.  But the suggestion of Sense rapidly recalls the experiences previously associated with the object.  The apparent facts disclose the facts that are unapparent.

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The Principles of Success in Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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