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


Page 94

  It is a revealing fact about the American taste for fiction in 1850 that though Hawthorne’s publisher regarded The Scarlet Letter as a masterpiece he issued the book in an edition of only five thousand copies, which were, however, so soon sold as immediately to call for another. The fame of Hawthorne was henceforth assured, and it helped stir him during the next three years to an activity he had never known before. Leaving Salem in the summer of 1850 for the lovely Berkshire village of Lenox, he proceeded early in the fall to a new novel, The House of the Seven Gables, completed and published early in the following year. In 1851 he wrote A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys (1852) and collected various scattered pieces into The Snow-Image, and Other Twice-Told Tales (1852); that winter, now removed to West Newton, Massachusetts, he produced The Blithedale Romance (1852); the next summer, finally established at The Wayside, a house he had bought in Concord, he wrote his Life of Franklin Pierce (1852); and in the winter of 1852–53, his Tanglewood Tales (1853), completed just before he left for England, where upon Pierce’s appointment he was to be United States consul at Liverpool. The life of Pierce was a trivial biography of a trivial man who was Hawthorne’s close and loyal friend. The Wonder-Book and Tanglewood Tales, with their exquisite versions of Greek myths quaintly medievalized and gently Puritanized by a passage through Hawthorne’s imagination, in becoming unchallenged classics for all children have perpetuated the grace of his attitude toward his own and continue to exhale the light and sweetness which Hawthorne seems to have distilled into them in the sunny



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