In 'Criticism and Fiction' Mr. Howells gives his ideas of the proper functions of critics, and the lines along which he may be supposed to have written his novels . He considers criticism an entirely contemplative branch of literature; finding in it, seemingly, no creative potentialities . The critic, he thinks, should first consider what the author has tried to do, then examine how he has done it . As to whether or not the thing was worth doing that concerns the author, not the critic. The critic need not say whether the book is good or bad; for, in the first place, it is none of his business; in the second, he may judge from a wrong point of view. Above all, he must sign his criticisms; this is his first and greatest duty. Like most realistic sermons the part of the book which deals with fiction is extremely plausible. So plausible, indeed, and inevitable, that one wonders why books that are written in accordance with such recognized theories should be so unlike many phases of life; why, in short, realism should seem such an ideal. Mr. Howells has a very high conception of the power of the novel. It influences men's lives and morals more than most people would imagine. Therefore, the novelist should consider that he holds his power in trust. He should preach by describing things as they are, rather than as they should be. Instead of a delusive New Jerusalem he should paint the squalor and vice of the old one. The book is a good exponent of the realistic point of view. It is always clear, frequently brilliant, and sometimes eloquent. Sometimes a more than usually colloquial passage suggests that Mr. Howells does not take himself quite seriously. An expression like "caught onto," for instance, rather mars the impression of high seriousness. The book, however, can hardly fail to confirm devotees of realism in their faith even such as have been weakened by stories of Zola sitting amid his bourgeois domesticity, imagining what bad men do. The doubters may still doubt ? not so much that they scorn the theory, but that they disbelieve in the practice.