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


Page 256

a softer, mellower light than has been thrown by romance upon any other Revolutionary city, and Washington, though drawn, like Philadelphia, as much to the life as Mitchell could draw him, is still a stately demigod.
  Since the decline of the rococo mode there has been no definite school of romancers in America, although the cult of Lincoln, both in poetry and imaginative prose, since the Lincoln centennial in 1909 has furnished a theme which may reasonably be expected to assume a large importance in any future revival of romance. The Revolution and the Settlement have had their chief exponents among writers of juvenile fiction; the Frontier has attracted the notice of the moving pictures to an enormous extent; the sea has been exploited in the overpraised tales of Morgan Robertson. The World War elicited, of course, an enormous number of romantic inventions, but they were restricted, almost without exception, to the melodramatic tradition of subliterary entertainment: German plots, German spies, dashing Yankee heroes, tender maidens. In dozens and scores of such novels the narrative begins in an effeminate or troubled peace, and then brings in the war with a rush of trial and purgation. Some of them skilful as propaganda, not one has the look of permanence.

2. Toward the Left: Naturalism

  AMONG the followers of Howells toward realism, even though they might be genuine disciples, there was bound to come sooner or later a discontent with the gentleness which restrained him from portraying the unlovely or



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