Nonfiction > Carl Van Doren > The American Novel > Subject Index > Page 109

Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.

Page 109

V.   Blood and Tears

  ALTHOUGH Hawthorne’s example subsequently exercised, notably upon Howells and Henry James but also upon various slighter figures, a spell which no one of them could either justify by wielding it or escape without a struggle, during his lifetime his serious and noble art was unimportantly heeded by his fellow-craftsmen. Nor did he seem to the wide public which had come to read novels anything like so eminent in the years between The Scarlet Letter and the outbreak of the Civil War as he seems when looked at from the twentieth century. Heavier and louder weapons than his were needed to break down the habits which for thirty years had led American novelists to write and American readers to expect tales of adventure and external events. It was a new school of sentimentalists who, beginning about 1850, advanced with a tearful rush, brandishing those weapons in soft but effective hands.
  The romance of the immediate school of Cooper did not die without a struggle, though it had indeed fallen into disuse among most writers of capacity at the time of his death and was rapidly descending into the hands of fertile hacks who for fifty years were to hold an immense audience without deserving more than the barest history. In that very year (1851) Robert Bonner bought the New

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