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


Page 80

subsequently, when love and ambition had plucked him from his first solitude, he did not disapprove of it; “if I had sooner made my escape into the world, I should have grown hard and rough, and been covered with earthly dust, and my heart might have become callous by rude encounters with the multitude.… But living in solitude till the fulness of time was come, I still kept the dew of my youth with the freshness of my heart.” From a less sincere man this would sound priggish enough. Hawthorne held aloof not because he thought himself too precious or merely because he knew himself too shy for general society, but in part also because of an opinion which governed his early behavior as an artist. “I used to think I could imagine all passions, all feelings, and states of the heart and mind.” So competent was his imagination to interest and sustain him, so pervasive if not powerful, in its silent way so full of vitality, that he did not starve during his twelve lonely years but gradually ripened into a spirit that was no less strong than tender, no less sane than original, no less massive and secure than delicate and sympathetic.
  Nor must his imagination be thought of as feeding solely upon itself. At least once a year it was his habit to rouse himself for a season and make excursions here and there through his native section, an alert and observant traveler. The journal which he regularly kept and various of his tales and sketches bear witness to these journeys. The White Mountains are the scene of The Great Carbuncle and The Ambitious Guest; somewhere north of Boston Hawthorne laid the meeting genially recorded in The Seven Vagabonds; at Martha’s Vineyard he met the



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