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


Page 184

but a dream.… In a little while you will be alone in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes without friend or comrade forever—for you will remain a thought, the only existent thought, and by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But I, your poor servant, have revealed you to yourself and set you free. Dream other dreams, and better!”
  Although it was out of such deeps of despair that there rose into Mark Twain’s work the profounder qualities which lift him above all other American humorists, he nevertheless customarily lived and wrote nearer the surfaces of existence. Heretical as he might be in his theology, he nevertheless employed—when he employed anything of the sort—the Christian mythology of the Sunday school, God and Satan, Heaven and Eden, the patriarchs and the heathen, all of them referred to in a language immediately understood by the populace which, with or without faith, shared that mythology. So in his political doctrines, though privately he might be now as Utopian as Nietzsche, he spoke in the American idiom as regards the usurping despots of the earth, the rights of the natural man, the superiority of republics to monarchies, the advantage of material well-being, the hope that through individual freedom and public education the human mass might be advanced to a plane never yet reached. He could rage over such abuses as Congressional stupidity and municipal graft, the brutality of the civil mob at home and the military mob in the Philippines, and yet could turn with patriotic fury against foreign detractors, as in his flaying of Paul Bourget for that critic’s sharp remarks about



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