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


Page 242

goes with the more apocalyptic arts. For his own part he thought problem novels odious, cared nothing for dialect and local color, believed it a mistake to make a novel too minute a picture of one generation lest another should think it old-fashioned, and preferred to regard the novel as a sort of pocket theater—with ideals, it must be added, much like those of the British and American stage in the decades just before Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw came to add something of intellectual distinction to the entertainment.
  Thus far Crawford was carried by his cosmopolitan training and ideals: he believed that human beings are the same everywhere and can be made intelligible if reported lucidly and discreetly. Reading his books is like conversing with a remarkably humane, sharp-eyed traveler who appears—at least at first glance—to have seen every nook and corner of the globe and to have talked naturally to all the natives in their own languages. How many other novelists have known, as Crawford did, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Turkish, Portugese, the ancient tongues taught ordinarily in universities, and Sanskrit? Crawford ranges, too, with apparent case though with no great antiquarian knowledge, through large areas of recorded time, from the days of Belshazzar to the modern United States. Of his later novels, Khaled (1891) is a vivid and lovely tale of Arabia with something of the color of The Thousand and One Nights, and Via Crucis (1898) moves from England to the East during the crusading twelfth century; The Witch of Prague (1891) localizes a wildly supernatural legend in Bohemia; Greifenstein (1889) is



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