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


Page 83

equally into the past and the present, exploring everywhere, and with accurate instinct seizing upon the matters which were proper to his art.
  Both these last-named stories are concerned with a theme which Hawthorne touched again and again and which rose from a deep inner experience; the conflict in a soul between the pride which would contract it to harsh and narrow limits and the affections which would reach out and bind it to the natural society of its kind. It is the theme also of Wakefield, Rappaccini’s Daughter, The Artist of the Beautiful, and Ethan Brand, as well as many others. Always Hawthorne stands with society and sunshine against pride and gloom. Much as he had inherited from his Puritan ancestors of the knowledge of the secret heart, which in New England, from once seeking incessantly within itself for signs of a light from God, had formed habits of dwelling too constantly there; and much as he employed the secrets he had found in his own buried researches, Hawthorne was little of a Puritan. His sympathies in the historical tales are steadily with the radical movements away from the domination of the straiter sects, and in his contemporary pieces he regularly demolishes the austerities which had come down from the Fathers. In all his tales he is nowhere more engaging than in The Seven Vagabonds, wherein he—or the teller of the story—falls in with a chance assembly of traveling entertainers, the minstrels and jongleurs of seldom-smiling New England, and plans to accompany them as a sort of peripatetic novelist. This is a conception of Hawthorne amazingly unlike that which sees him as a reflective owl blinking in his dingy garret, but it is not far from the conception of



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