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Full text of "The Brontes"

THE   BRONTES                      113
in what the story tells. It is a primitive device
and, like all primitive technique, it is effective
partly because its very defects appear not as de-
fects but as perfectly natural limitations. Its
advantages are obvious. It permits of a much
greater freedom in presenting the facts than when
they are set down in the third person by the
author. The author is presumed by the reader to
know everything there is to know about his char-
acters. The fictional narrator is not expected to
know everything ; it would seem unnatural if he
seemed to know all. He cannot know all : he was
not there at every point in the story. As a real
person, he could not have been -there. Conse-
quently, there is nothing odd in his being unable
to explain certain things. He can get over any
difficulty by saying : " What happened, I don't
know, but the next thing I knew was . . ." and
he can thus pass swiftly and with cogency, even
though all sorts of links are left out, from one
dramatic situation to another. He can ramble ;
he can digress ; he can be quite informal; and
his tale will be none the worse for being unevenly
told. Its unevenness and informality will suggest
the stamp of truth.
The disadvantages of this way of writing are,
of course, that it cannot explain everything. Its
ability to go into details and to make certain con-
nections is limited by the physical and mental
powers of the fictional narrator who cannot pre-
tend to know all that passed behind the scenes,
unless he is prepared to acknowledge himself as
an eavesdropper, which will spoil the reader's
HB