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


Page 237

crystal, and in imaginary machines such as those for making war prohibitive in The Great War Syndicate (1889). In such directions he carried his fooling to an extravagance and a tenuity which have punished him with inpermanence, the fate, indeed, of most lighter comedy. But in his three or four genuine successes he achieved more with merry farce than any other American novelist. Stockton should have credit, too, for his services in rendering popular the briefer type of novel called in America the novelette, the vogue of which was established during the eighties and early nineties.
  With Stockton may be mentioned Eugene Field, much better known for his verse and his comic skits than for his fiction, and yet the author of at least one novel—if it may be called a novel—which has achieved among book-lovers a little immortality. The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac (1896) chronicles no passions more violent than the desire for books, but it chronicles that desire in forms as diversified as Field’s own career as a collector, and in a tone as piquant and whimsical as that of his own personality. The tale is packed with charming episodes and vagaries recognizable by all the book-hunting tribe; indeed, it exhibits, in an unpretentious way, an unusual erudition playing over the amiable regions of literature which Field himself had explored. But the bibliomaniac of the narrative, though largely studied from Field’s own tastes, is also an actual creation, extended, if not enlarged, from the life by the addition of adventures which every book-collector has imagined himself as having, and portrayed with the sprightly humor and wistful grace which Field generally reserved for his verse. Something like the same



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