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

Page 147

and interest are only memories, where equality is complete, and men and women, in the midst of beauty, lead lives that are just, temperate, and kind. Besides these exotic matters Howells touched closer ones. No man spoke out more firmly or ringingly on behalf of the Chicago “anarchists” or against the annexation of the Philippines and the attendant saturnalia of imperialism. Had he been by disposition a fighting man he might have become a national voice. Not being that, he led his art if not his nation.
  Tolstoy’s novels seemed to Howells as excellent as his doctrine. “To my thinking they transcend in truth, which is the highest beauty, all other works of fiction that have been written.… He has not only Tourguenief’s transparency of style, unclouded by any mist of the personality which we mistakenly value in style, and which ought no more to be there than the artist’s personality should be in a portrait; but he has a method which not only seems without artifice, but is so.” Howells must have understood that the artlessness of Tolstoy is only apparent, must have learned, then or later, how painfully Tolstoy toiled at his art; still it was hardly more than critical hyperbole to say that, compared to other novelists, Tolstoy was a mirror of nature and had no art but nature’s own of growth. Howells himself having been in all his novels singularly unartificial, those written after he had read Tolstoy could exhibit no new methods. He merely broadened his field and deepened his inquiries.
  A Hazard of New Fortunes (1889), in which Basil and Isabel March, the bridal couple of Their Wedding Journey, give up Boston, as Howells himself had just

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