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


Page 95

intervals between his profounder studies of these same years. The Snow-Image volume, besides earlier writings some of great merit and some of little, boasts in the title story, The Great Stone Face, and Ethan Brand, three late tales that are among his best. The most considerable achievement of the period, however, is of course the two novels, The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance.
  Writing in the preface to the first of these Hawthorne distinguished between the Romance and the Novel. “The latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course of man’s experience. The former—while, as a work of art, it must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably so far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart—has fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer’s own choosing or creation. If he think fit, also, he may so manage his atmospherical medium as to bring out or mellow the lights and deepen and enrich the shadows of the picture.” Hawthorne, who called The House of the Seven Gables a Romance, assumed the full license to which he thought himself entitled, but it is with respect to the “atmospherical medium” that his powers were most successfully employed. If The Scarlet Letter springs from the faculty which had earlier created Young Goodman Brown and Rappaccini’s Daughter and Ethan Brand, The House of the Seven Gables springs from the descriptive faculty which had set down The Seven Vagabonds and The Toll-Gatherer’s Day and Main Street. By some inexplicable



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