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


Page 64

by bare events to perceive that they needed to be colored into fiction if they were to fit his narratives. Simms never took his art as a mere technical enterprise. He held that “modern romance is the substitute which the people of the present day offer for the ancient epic,” and his heart beat to be another Homer. His seven novels are his epic of the Revolution. Marion, the Agamemnon of these wars, had already become a legend in the popular memory with the help of Weems’s fantastic ardor, but it remained for Simms to show a whole society engaged in Marion’s task. The defect of Simms was that he relied too much upon one plot for each of his tales—a partizan and a loyalist contending for the hand of the same girl—and that he repeated certain stock scenes and personages again and again. His virtue was not only that he handled the actual warfare with interest and power but that he managed to multiply episodes with huge fecundity. He described, in a surge of rhetoric, his favorite material: “Partisan warfare, itself, is that irregular and desultory sort of life, which is unavoidably suggestive of the deeds and feelings of chivalry—such as gave the peculiar character, and much of the charm, to the history of the middle ages. The sudden onslaught—the retreat as sudden—the midnight tramp—the moonlight bivouack—the swift surprise, the desperate defence—the cruel slaughter and the headlong flight—and, amid the fierce and bitter warfare, always, like a sweet star shining above the gloom, the faithful love, the constant prayer, the devoted homage and fond allegiance of the maiden heart!”
  The passage is almost a generalized epitome of his Revolutionary romances. It also betrays the fact that



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