Fiction: Neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring fiction flies
Once upon a time fiction was considered the stepchild of literature. A 19th century editor of the Edinburgh Review called fiction

neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring,

and sadly noted that “it has no moral value, because it is too entertaining.”

From the introduction to Living Biographies of Famous Novelists by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas:
When the minor poet, Walter Scott, entered upon his career as a major novelist, he was ashamed of his new role. “I shall not own Waverley,” he wrote. “I am not sure it would be considered quite decorous for me, as a Clerk of the Courts, to write novels.”
However, over the past two centuries the novel has evolved into a literary form that has given us masterpieces which rank with the noblest types of literature. This is because:

1. A good novel is a magic carpet

which transports us into blessed forgetfulness—a vital tonic for these days. On its higher levels it is an
exposition of philosophic thought
presented in dramatic form

2. Fiction at its best is a prose reincarnation of the ancient epic poem.

Every great novel,” said Emerson, “is a debtor to Homer.” Like the poems of Homer, the novel at its highest is not only an epitome of philosophy as applied to life;
it is a form of literature which
includes all the other forms
poetry, drama, history, biography, science, sociology, politics, adventure, religion, and art.

3. A great novel is an interpretative picture of all humankind.

It is an inclusive picture of Everyman’s body, mind, and soul.

4. Fiction is also a revealing picture of one person—the author.

Sometimes the best part of the story of any novel is the story of the novelist.
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