The Art of Fiction
Notes on Craft for Young Writers
By John Gardner
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679734031, 240pp.)
Publication Date: June 4, 1991
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This classic guide, from the renowned novelist and professor, has helped transform generations of aspiring writers into masterful writers—and will continue to do so for many years to come.
John Gardner was almost as famous as a teacher of creative writing as he was for his own works. In this practical, instructive handbook, based on the courses and seminars that he gave, he explains, simply and cogently, the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner’s lessons, exemplified with detailed excerpts from classic works of literature, sweep across a complete range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence. Written with passion, precision, and a deep respect for the art of writing, Gardner’s book serves by turns as a critic, mentor, and friend. Anyone who has ever thought of taking the step from reader to writer should begin here.
John Gardner was accorded wide praise for his works of imagination, of criticism, and of scholarship. He was born in 1933 in Batavia, New York. Among the universities at which he taught are Oberlin, San Francisco State, Northwestern, Southern Illinois, Bennington and SUNY-Binghamton. The Art of Fiction was completed before his death in 1982.
"It will fascinate anyone interested in how fiction gets put together. For the young writer it will become a necessary handbook, a stern judge, an encouraging friend... In the first half of the book, Gardner investigated just what fiction is. In the second half, he treats specific technical matters. The Art of Fiction is filled with lecture counsel, wise encouragement." -John L'Heureux, The New York Times Book Review
"A densely packed book of advice to all writers, not just young ones... It is serious, provocative, and funny, and I recommend it to anyone who cares about literature."- Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe
"He lays out virtually everything a person might want to know [about] how to say it, with good and bad examples and judgments falling like autumn leaves in a November storm." -William McPherson, The Washington Post
"The next best thing to graduate workshop in fiction writing. Drawing on examples from Homer to Kafka to Joyce Carol Oates, Gardner unravels the mysteries of plot, sentence structure, diction, and point of view." - Book-of-the-Month Club News