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


Page 100

like Brook Farm, the tragedy of Hollingsworth the philanthropist and the two women who interrupt his career to love him. Through the figure of Hollingsworth project some of the bones of Hawthorne’s reasoning; the man who blindly sacrifices actual hearts for an abstract cause is himself here something of an abstraction, though he eventually recognizes his fault with a human sincerity. Priscilla, outwardly so visible because so closely studied from the little seamstress at Brook Farm, is never quite impressive; she has been refined to a point which brings her too near the bloodless decorum of her decade. It is in Zenobia that the rather wintry senses of Coverdale—and readers of all degrees of vitality after him—detect the fullest flood of life, fire and color, passion and experience. Hester Prynne had been of this stature. Both of them come into Hawthorne’s New England from other regions; both to be gorgeous have to be exotic. This may perhaps be taken as his tacit accusation that magnificence of personality did not ripen on the rock-bound coast. At least his imagination had gone out and found abundance and ripeness where they dwelt.
  The seven years which Hawthorne spent in Europe removed him for the first time from the village atmosphere which—except in his imagination—was all he had known heretofore. His journals in England, France, and Italy throw quite as much light backward upon his earlier days as upon those of which he sedulously records the very modest happenings. A man of genius, already a classic, nearly fifty years old when he left America, he had yet to make his acquaintance with architecture, music,



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