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


Page 77

IV.   Nathaniel Hawthorne

  THUS far the cause of the American novel had enlisted no man who came primarily for the sake of art. Brown had been a radical journalist, Cooper a stentorian man of action, Simms a passionate antiquarian, Melville a transcendentalist with adventures to recount; but all of them had been improvisatores, although Melville, it is true, took some heed of his technical manœuvers. The art of fiction was being studied in the United States during this half century only in connection with the short story, which Irving had invested with his amused and amusing charm, of which Poe had discovered secrets of structure and effect not heretofore analyzed, and into which Hawthorne as the century advanced was pouring a deeper and deeper strain of intellectual and moral significance. Neither Irving nor Poe undertook a novel in any strict sense of the word, nearly as Irving’s versions of history in works like The Conquest of Granada or Astoria approach the manner and color of contemporary romance; or as bulky as was Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket (1838), which pretended to be a veracious book of travels though it was not. Nor do such pleasant divagations as Longfellow’s Hyperion (1839) and Kavanagh (1849) or Whittier’s Margaret Smith’s Journal (1849), though not



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