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


Page 260

still he is imagined without too much subtlety. He speaks a convincing boyish dialect. His sensations are limited to something like his spiritual capacity. And the narrative as a whole Crane holds firmly in hand, pointing his prose with clean touches, heightening it here and there with poetry, warming it with an emotion which still leaves him critical. The Red Badge of Courage is a genuine feat of the imagination.
  Crane’s later novels and short stories, though some are vivid, add nothing to these two novels, and his early death truncated his career. Early death, too, cut off Wolcott Balestier, Kipling’s brother-in-law, and Harold Frederic, both men of promise, but never of more than promise. None of them, not even Crane, equaled Frank Norris (1870–1902), whom death at thirty-two could not cheat out of at least one masterpiece. The fame of Norris has always been colored by expectations of what he might have become had he lived to realize them. He seemed, as the older century ended and the new one opened, an authentic and prophetic voice. A leader in the little movement to “continentalize” American literature as a protest against local color, he was himself one of the least sectional of novelists. Born in Chicago, where he passed his boyhood, a student of art in Paris for two years, student for four years at the University of California and for one graduate year at Harvard, newspaper correspondent in South Africa at the time of the Jameson raid and in Cuba during the Santiago campaign, and later a journalist in San Francisco, Norris had a vision of American life which was geographically very wide. He was not a victim of any arid cosmopolitanism, for Zola,



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