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


Page 81

village sculptor of Chippings with a Chisel; upon a visit to the Shaker community at Canterbury, New Hampshire, he based The Canterbury Pilgrims and The Shaker Bridal, though the action of the latter story takes place elsewhere; the shaggy flanks of Greylock in the Berkshires furnish the wild setting for the wilder story of Ethan Brand; and in other sketches and journal entries Hawthorne writes of other regions in Vermont and Connecticut and New York to which he wandered, once as far as to Niagara and possibly still farther to Detroit. In none of these does there appear that elaboration of local color which was to characterize American short stories a generation or so later, but neither was Hawthorne in attentive to the outward manners of his age. He is a prime source for modern knowledge of them. Somewhat unexpectedly, he had a decided taste for the low life which he encountered, for peddlers, drovers, tawdry hawkers of amusement, stage-agents, and tavern-haunters. A Fielding would have known them better, but Hawthorne knew them.
  At the same time he invaded the past of New England, hunting for pictures with which to enlarge his consciousness of life. From the very first, as in his sketches of Sir William Phips and Mrs. Hutchinson, he neglected analysis or historical narrative for the sake of constructing definite little scenes out of his material. “And now, having arranged these preliminaries,” he says after two or three pages, “we shall attempt to picture forth a day of Sir William’s life.” And similarly after the briefest discussion of Mrs. Hutchinson: “We shall endeavor to give a more practical idea of this part of her course”—a



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