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


Page 222

the hands of Howells and Henry James; Bayard Tuckerman wrote A History of English Prose Fiction (1882) which included American authors; and Sidney Lanier used his lectures on The English Novel (1883) as the vehicle for a load of passionate opinions concerning literature. By the eighties practically all the types of fiction known to the United States had been invented and all of them were in use. Domestic sentimentalism of course still walked its everlasting way of tears with an abundant audience. The romance of adventure, though degraded to the dime novel for the most part, asked no quarter from the critical. The historical tale kept up its ancient habits with the past, sweetening and decorating it. The international novel, sometimes rather the exotic romance, was having its day, not only in Howells and James but in various followers. Local color, tending toward the romantic, divided the principal field with realism, tending away from it. The novel with some sort of purpose continued to be a tool ready to almost every hand. And there were also certain gaily whimsical stories of a sort new to the country if not to the language.
  The novels of the eighties cannot be reduced to any such simple formulas as suffice with the romance of Cooper’s school or with the tearful tales of the fifties. They show diversities of style and structure, of artistic and moral attitude, as well as topographical variety. In general they represent a decisive advance in simplicity and reality. Characters were now no longer required to speak the stilted language or to feel the quivering sentiments that had once seemed symptoms of nobility of soul. At the same time, but little advance had been made in the



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