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


Page 116

The decade was fighting romance with romance, the romance of blood with the romance of tears.
  The tears of the women sentimentalists were the daughters of the tears of Richardson and the Evangelicals; the tears of Ik Marvel and G. W. Curtis were the sons of the tears of the gently secular Irving as exhibited in The Wife and The Pride of the Village. The Bachelor of the Reveries sits dreaming, at his comfortable hearth, the pensive dreams which the maiden of the time imagined he dreamed about the kind of maiden she imagined herself to be. The images which run through his mind are all of snug cottages and soft wives and rosy children and trim servants and lawns and gardens. In Dream Life he ventures somewhat further with his dreams and dips a little deeper into the felicities of bachelor reverie, but he is still a Lord of Shalott, sitting before the mirror in his safe tower. He tastes affection but no passion, longing but no ambition, piety but no religion, expectation but no experience. He stands at the very antipodes from the older dream-world of frontier adventure, and of course from the jangling world of the American fifties between the Fugitive Slave Law and the guns of Sumter. His imagination, like the fictive imagination generally, had withdrawn from the cold wind outside and was hugging itself warm over sentimental fires. Had there been less of the spirit of adolescence in its behavior, it might have sounded those richer and more permanent notes which come from the similar withdrawal of Isaak Walton and George Herbert in the seventeenth century, and might have had a larger claim upon posterity than that which lies in its lucid though fragile style and its sweetish taste



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