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


Page 101

painting, and sculpture on their native ground, had yet to study the remains of great antiquity or to encounter a brilliant society. Any such society he conspicuously missed; he met few men of letters of real distinction; and he never felt more at home than among the other American and British expatriates in Florence. With the eagerness of a very young American he tasted the delights of antiquity in the routine quarters. With the patience of a man long withheld from masterpieces he gorged cathedrals and galleries. Very often he was bored. At the end of his journey he could still seriously condemn the representation of the nude in art. But his consistent provincialism is saved from being disagreeable by his exquisite honesty. What far smaller men learn early Hawthorne was learning late, but he gave himself without stealth or affectation to the task of mastering a new world, as observant, sensitive, and masculine in spirit as he had been in familiar New England. How good his temper was in the new circumstances appears from Our Old Home (1863), an account of his English stay subsequently refined from his English note-books: a book both beautiful and shrewd and nicely touched with international satire. A still more eminent, though hardly a more characteristic, product of his European experience was the romance which he himself always thought his best, The Marble Faun, begun at Rome in 1859 and finished the next year in England.
  The venerable commonplace regarding The Marble Faun says that it is a guidebook to Rome—the Rome, of course, of the tourist who studies the city as a glorious mausoleum without much attention to the living inhabitants



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