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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

The Enfant Terrible of Literature    191

but I do not think I should have liked him, whereas Fielding,
I am sure, must have been delightful. Why do the faults of
his work overweigh its many great excellences, while the
less great excellences of the Voyage to Lilliput outweigh its
more serious defects ?

I suppose it is the prolixity of Fielding that fatigues me.
Swift is terse, he gets through what he has to say on any
matter as quickly as he can and takes the reader on to the
next, whereas Fielding is not only long, but his length is
made still longer by the disconnectedness of the episodes
that appear to have been padded into the books—episodes
that do not help one forward, and are generally so exaggerated,
and often so full of horse-play as to put one out of conceit
with the parts that are really excellent.

Whatever else Bunyan is he is never long; he takes you
quickly on from incident to incident and, however little his
incidents may appeal to us, we feel that he is never giving us
one that is not bona fide so far as he is concerned. His
episodes and incidents are introduced not because he wants
to make his book longer but because he cannot be satisfied
without these particular ones, even though he may feel that
his book is getting longer than he likes.

And here I must break away from this problem, leaving
it unsolved. [1897.]

Bunyan and the Odyssey

Anything worse than The Pilgrim's Progress in the matter
of defiance of literary canons can hardly be conceived. The
allegory halts continually; it professes to be spiritual, but
nothing can be more carnal than the golden splendour of the
eternal city ; the view of life and the world generally is flat
blasphemy against the order of things with which we are sur-
rounded. Yet, like the Odyssey, which flatly defies sense and.
criticism (no, it doesn't; still, it defies them a good deal),
no one can doubt that it must rank among the very greatest
books that have ever been written. How Odyssean it is in
its sincerity and downrightness, as well as in the marvellous
beauty of its language, its freedom from all taint of the schools