Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/106

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The Later Novel

fiction is deeply based in a native soil. As to his ideas, Crawford appears to have had few that were unusual, and at least he suspected such ideas as the substance of fiction, about the aims and uses of which he is very explicit in The Novel: What It Is (1893). Novelists he called “public amusers,” who must always write largely about love and in Anglo-Saxon countries must write under the eyes of the ubiquitous young girl. They might therefore as well be reconciled to the exigencies of their business. For his own part he thought problem novels odious, cared nothing for dialect or local colour, believed it a mistake to make a novel too minute a picture of one generation lest another should think it “old-fashioned,” and preferred to regard the novel as a sort of “pocket-theatre”—with ideals, it should be added, much like those of the British and American stage from 1870 to 1890.

Thus far Crawford was carried by his cosmopolitan training and ideals: he believed that human beings are much the same everywhere and can be made intelligible everywhere if reported lucidly and discreetly. Reading his books is like conversing with a remarkably humane, sharp-eyed traveller who appears —at least at first—to have seen every nook and corner of the world. Zoroaster (1885), Khaled (1891), and Via Crucis (1898) have their scenes laid in Asia; Paul Patoff (1887), in Constantinople; The Witch of Prague (1891), in Bohemia; Dr. Claudius (1883), Greifenstein (1889), and A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance (1890), in Germany; In the Palace of the King (1900), in Spain; A Tale of a Lonely Parish (1886) and Fair Margaret (1905), in England; An American Politician (1885), The Three Fates (1892), Marion Darche (1893), Katharine Lauderdale (1894), and The Ralstons (1895), in America; and, most important group of all, the Italian tales, of which A Roman Singer (1884), Marzio’s Crucifix (1887), The Children of the King (1892), and Pietro Ghisleri (1893) are but little less interesting than the famous Roman series,—Saracinesca (1887), Sant’Ilario (1889), Don Orsino (1892), and Corleone (1896). The Saracinesca cycle most of all promises to survive, partly because as a cycle it is imposing but even more particularly because here Crawford’s merits appear to best advantage. After all, though he considered himself an American, and though he knew many parts of the globe, he knew the inner circles of