Too Much Fiction

New York Times Saturday Review

Oct. 7, 1899, p. 674

To The New York Times Saturday Review:

I want to register a protest. I read The Saturday Review every week and immensely enjoy the fare spread before me. I read all the letters that are sent to you, Mr. Editor—that is, those that you make public—and yet I am tired. In the name of heaven, does anybody in this broad land read books on sociology, psychology, morphology, pedagogy, art, science, religion, politics, philosophy? Will the wisdom of all the world die with novelists? I am satiated, saturated, inundated, interpenetrated with Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hardy, Cable, Robins, Howells, Swift, Weyman, Caine, Zangwill, and a host of others “too numerous to mention.”

Are there any among your readers who read Spencer, Huxley, Le Ben, Tolstoi, Ibsen, Taine, Emerson, Swinburne, Watson, Bourget, (who is not a novelist,) Kelvin, Ribot, or Moll? Give us a rest on the novel for awhile, dear emotion seekers. Go up against the proper thing—as my friend Chuck Connors would say. Take a day off and read a few of the big guys. I warrant it to cure you all of that disputatious mania which wrangles over such a question as, “Do dates grow in Camden?” as Mrs. Bobbins asserts in her latest novel, or does Henry James understand the difference between foulard and mousseline de soie?

Having relieved my mind, I return to Brandes’s Ibsen and leave your correspondents to Laura Jean Libbey and Hall Caine.