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


Page 84

himself which he more than once cherished, and which he embodied in his original scheme for Twice-Told Tales. This collection he wanted to call The Story-Teller and to present as a series of narratives in a framework describing the adventures and observations of just such a novelist errant on his varied rounds. The publisher would not agree; the tales appeared without the framework in 1837, Horatio Bridge having guaranteed the expenses; and Hawthorne came promptly into a small but gratifying reputation decisively helped by approving reviews from Longfellow and, a little later, from Poe.
  That he had heretofore been, as he not quite correctly said, “the obscurest man of letters in America,” elicits the less complaint over the blindness of his contemporaries since he had worn anonymity as a regular garment and had addressed the public, for the most part, from the pages of very modest magazines or annuals among the dying birds and weeping willows which made up the fauna and flora of those periodicals in that period. A touch of fame stirred him to rather greater activity; and he was stirred still more by falling in love, very soon after the publication of his book, with Sophia Amelia Peabody, whom he married in 1842 and with whom he subsequently led a life of exquisite felicity. “We are but shadows,” he wrote during his engagement; “We are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream,—till the heart be touched. That touch creates us,—then we begin to be,—thereby we are beings of reality and inheritors of eternity.” Now he so far emerged from his solitude as to look about for some livelihood which would make marriage possible.



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