Australian Writers

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: [90] HENRY K1NGSLEY. What are the special qualities that constitute the permanent charm of Henry Kingsley's early novels ? Some English critics, judging him by principles of literary art, have said that his best work is in many places of slovenly construction, deficient in dramatic power, and imitative in expression. A series of episodes, they observe, supply the place of a plot in The Recollections of Geoffry Hamlyn; the central motive of The Hill- yars and the Burtons is an impossible story of a young woman's self-sacrifice ; and the Thackerayan mannerisms in Ravenshoe are an offensive blemish upon an otherwise fine novel. As a set-off to these defects, which are of less real consequence than may appear fromtheir brief enumeration, Kingsley has been freely credited with a certain ever-pleasing vivacity and gallantry of style far too rare in literature to be overlooked. The warmest of his admirers in his own country have even attempted to raise him to a position above that of his more celebrated brother. The task of comparing Kingsley the poet, preacher, and reformer, with Kingsley the laughing, genial teller of stories who never cherished a hobby in his life, would seem to be as superfluous on general grounds as it is premature in respect of the only possible question as to which of them is likely to be best remembered a generation or two hence. Only in one particular does it seem quite safe to predict—namely, that whatever may be the future standing of one who is said to have never penned a story without a didactic purpose of some kind, Henry Kingsley is certain of a permanent place in the literature of the young country where he encountered both the best and the worst experiences of his life. The English estimate of his novels—mainlya technical one—having been r...
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