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


Page 216

but lasts on as a remembered effluence of loveliness. If The Ambassadors is the best constructed of these three novels, and The Golden Bowl the most subtly suggestive, The Wings of the Dove is most elevated, most tender, most noble.
  They issued from what might be called the Indian summer of James’s career as an American. “Europe,” he wrote in 1902, “has ceased to be romantic to me, and my own country, in the evening of my days, has become so.” But his longing did not survive the visit which he lustrously chronicled in The American Scene (1907). From New Hampshire to Florida, from New York to California, the sensations awakened by the roaring continent overwhelmed him. Like an astronomer come down from his tower into the town, James fled back with his hands to his ears. The remainder of his life was more fragmentary than the rounded period 1896–1904. He resumed for a little while his theatrical ambitions; he wrote more short stories; he worked at the two novels, The Sense of the Past (originally begun in 1900) and The Ivory Tower, which, though incomplete when posthumously published in 1917, have the special interest that the second of them employs the American scene and both are accompanied by the dictated notes which he latterly made to assist him in his composition; and he carried avowed autobiography through A Small Boy and Others (1913), Notes of a Son and Brother (1914), and the unfinished The Middle Years (1917). The war shattered his peace beyond repair. This lover of art who had not taken the trouble to form an opinion concerning the Dreyfus case, who had little more to say of the Boer War than that it doubled his income tax, who



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