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


Page 217

had vaguely hoped that the war with Spain might educate Americans as imperialism had educated the English, who had looked with candid contempt upon the Irish aspirations for freedom, now woke to the crisis of the world with a passion which ceased only with his death in 1916. There was nothing complicated in his loyalty, nothing critical in his attitude toward the drama being enacted. His “Europe”—France, England, Italy—had been assailed in utter wantonness; the barbarians were pounding at the gates and might at any moment break in to befoul the pavements and violate the shrines of his sacred city. His own distant country looked on without lifting a helping hand, and he saw no better way to signify his protest and his allegiance than by becoming a British citizen in 1915, declaring “civis Britannicus sum” with a Roman boast, and ending his career, as he had begun it, on the note of romance.
  Criticism must take account of the vast gulf across which those who like Henry James view with contempt those who do not, and in return those who do not like him view with incredulity those who do. Casual gossip says that his style by its obscurity has fixed the gulf there. While this indubitably operates with regard to certain of his later works, it can have nothing to do with The American, or The Europeans, or Daisy Miller, or Washington Square, or The Portrait of a Lady, which are all as pellucid as a clean spring. And even in the elaborate, maturer books the style is obscure only in the sense that it speaks of matters less blunt and tangible than those which most fiction deals with. Nor will the cosmopolitan aspect of his themes entirely explain the



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