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


Page 145

adumbrate the labors he performed on behalf of realism. Chiefly discussions of current books, they did not concern themselves merely with aspects of fiction, but also with poetry, history, and biography, applying to them all a calmly rational temper, measuring them by generous but none the less firm canons of truthfulness. What he warred upon particularly was the adulteration of honest literature with false alloys like sentimentalism, pseudo-heroic attitudes, gaudy ornament, theatrical endings; he enjoyed and praised works of pure fancy which do not pretend to paint the fact. Hardly one of the local color writers but passed under his critical or editorial hand, and few of them but in some degree were touched by his creed. The short story as well as the novel responded to his influence; even the theater, ancient home of the tinsel which he hated, had for a time its James A. Herne trying to write plays which should be as real as Howells’s stories. Moreover, though as a rule unfriendly to French realists because of his dislike of their fierce candor, Howells was constantly introducing and commending the realists of Spain and Italy and Russia.
  Toward the end of the Boston period he had an eager partiality for Turgenev, his art, his poetry, his pity, his wisdom. But about 1886 a change came over Howells through his reading of Tolstoy, who became his final and greatest literary passion. “He has been to me that final consciousness, which he speaks of so wisely in his essay on ‘Life.’ I came in it to the knowledge of myself in ways I had not dreamt of before, and began at last to discern my relations to the race.” “Tolstoy gave me heart to hope that the world may yet be made over in the image of



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