What are Henry James' views on the art of fiction?

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In the "The Art of Fiction," Henry James holds the view that fiction is an art that cannot be governed by a set of rules. According to the author, fiction is a genre that should not be confined by a set of guidelines since they will make it less of an art.

Moreover, James argues that fiction cannot be limited by morals since it prevents the artist from exploring his or her creativity. A work of art is an expression of an artist's feelings, which should not be restricted by morality.

Also, he notes that artists must be able to create from their own imagination and not only from personal experience. James recognizes fiction as an art that requires a natural ability that cannot be taught.

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In his essay "The Art of Fiction," Henry James argued for artistic freedom, challenging the ideas of Walter Besant, an English literary critic, who in 1884 delivered a lecture called "Fiction as One of the Fine Arts." Besant contended that writers should limit themselves to writing about only what they knew: James, in contrast, said writers should be limited only by their ability to remain interesting on whatever subject they chose to cover. Besant said writers should work with a moral purpose in mind. James, in contrast, said writers should not be limited by conventional morality, but that any writer who thought deeply, rather than superficially, should be able to take his or her writing wherever it led. James appreciated writers like the English novelist George Eliot, who wrote with depth and precision. 

"The Art of Fiction" helped establish the novel as a serious art form. In it, James asserted that the novel should represent life: if it does that, a set of rules doesn't matter. A writer should remain true to his or her own vision, try to represent human consciousness, and concentrate on developing his or her style.

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