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


Page 196

his new pretensions, is not, to an imagination fond of caressing the old, fixed contours, an especially grateful phenomenon.” James still drew considerably, and was long to draw, upon the “sprawling continent” at his back; but he was “fond of caressing the old, fixed contours” of Europe.
  He sustained his position as an expatriate in his subtle study of Hawthorne (1879), which he had been asked by John Morley to contribute to the English Men of Letters series and in which the recent disciple of Hawthorne, while delicately appreciating the master, wrote into almost every page his accusation of provincialism against the entire American nation. “Certain national types,” he answered to Howells’s comment that it is no more provincial for an American to be very American than for an Englishman to be very English, “are essentially and intrinsically provincial.” If James during these acclimatizing years reflected almost constantly upon the “international situation” it was because he stood in that situation himself. A good deal of what it meant for him may be found ripely remembered in his posthumous autobiographical fragment The Middle Years. But he had thousands of companions under the same spell in varying degrees: those of his nationality who, the Civil War being now over and methods of travel in Europe easier than in the home-keeping days of the republic, annually swarmed to Europe for vacations of culture. Whether Henry James sympathized with their aspirations or satirized their numerous awkwardnesses in the midst of manners less casual than those of the United States, he could not overlook them or that simplicity which he



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