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


Page 194

had represented the entire action—Roderick’s aspiration and descent, his unfaithfulness to Mary Garland and his passion for Christina Light—through the consciousness of Rowland Mallet, who, though he does not speak in the first person, renders the narrative something the same service that Miles Coverdale renders in The Blithedale Romance. Without at the moment quite understanding it, James was working toward that admirable technique, in which he is practically supreme among novelists—the technique of concentration which makes his novels as compact as tales and which allows his tales to run without dilution of emphasis almost to the dimensions of novels.
  Now established in London, James sedulously worked at making himself a purer Anglo-Saxon than he believed he could be anywhere along the periphery of the race, forgetful, it seems, that Anglo-Saxons are explorers and colonizers no less truly than huggers of the insular hearth. As an American with proper introductions he went into penetralia of English society which novelists in the Islands do not easily reach unless they are born to them. He learned, after a struggle and occasional relapses, to like both the weather and the manners of Britain, exposing himself to both those cooling experiences, except for a few brief visits to France and Italy, during five remarkably busy years. The critical doctrines which sustained him he collected and put forth in French Poets and Novelists (1888), much of it written during his earlier years on the Continent. “Realism,” he said, “seems to us with ‘Madame Bovary’ to have said its last word”; but he felt that for the most part Flaubert’s knowledge was greater than his imagination. James admired George



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