The long care which James gave to the technique of his art was all a gain for vividness, and the kind of ivory tower that he inhabited admitted life more truthfully than a hatter’s castle. His rules were not cramping; they had as their object the liberation of his genius, and the extent of the liberation is best seen when we compare him to his great contemporary, Thomas Hardy. Hardy wrote as he pleased just as any popular novelist does, quite unaware of the particular problems of his art, and yet it is Hardy who gives the impression of being cramped, of being forced into melodramatic laocoon attitudes, so that we begin to appreciate his novels only for the passages where the poet subdues the novelist. In James the poet and the novelist were inseperable.
—Graham Greene, ‘The Lesson of the Master’, (in The Lost Childhood, p. 50)