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


Page 98

thinner. Judge Pyncheon, who has oppressed his kinsfolk and falls himself under the family curse, belongs too much to the stage—or to Dickens. The curse hangs vaguely over the action, a part of the house’s furniture, an element thickening the shadow, but still a thing with little life apart from that preserved by the Pyncheon belief—and pride—in it. As in The Scarlet Letter the implications frequently go beyond the doctrine, so in The House of the Seven Gables the picture, with its richness of texture and depth of atmosphere, frequently overpowers the argument. The picture is the memorable aspect of the book.
  Of The Blithedale Romance Hawthorne declared that he had “occasionally availed himself of his actual reminiscences” of Brook Farm—“essentially a day-dream, and yet a fact”—“merely to establish a theatre, a little removed from the highway of ordinary travel, where the creatures of his brain may play their phantasmagorical antics without exposing them to too close a comparison with the actual events of real lives.” The personages of his romance he said were all imaginary. Conjecture has persisted in identifying Zenobia with Margaret Fuller and Miles Coverdale with Hawthorne himself; and research, since the publication of various portions of Hawthorne’s diary, has found numerous “sources” for Blithedale, such as the masquerade in the woods, which actually occurred at Brook Farm, the little seamstress there from Boston, whose appearance must have suggested Priscilla’s, and the woman drowned at Concord in 1843, whose fate is known to have suggested that of Zenobia. These, and many other items of actuality which might be added, are all



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