The Land of Contrasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Land of Contrasts.

[20] I confess I should have felt myself on still firmer ground in making the above comparison if I had been able to select “Peter Ibbetson” instead of “Trilby” as the American favourite.  It is distinctly the finest, the most characteristic, and the most convincing of Mr. Du Maurier’s novels, though it is easy to see why it did not enjoy such a “boom” as its successor.  In “Peter Ibbetson” our moral sense does not feel outraged by the fact of the sympathy we have to extend to a man-slayer; we are made to feel that a man may kill his fellow in a moment of ungovernable and not unrighteous wrath without losing his fundamental goodness.  On the other hand, it seems to me, Mr. Du Maurier fails to convert us to belief in the possibility of such a character as Trilby, and fails to make us wholly sympathise with his paeans in her praise.  It seems psychologically impossible for a woman to sin so repeatedly as Trilby, and so apparently without any overwhelming temptation, and yet at the same time to retain her essential purity.  It is a prostitution of the word “love” to excuse Trilby’s temporary amourettes with a “quia multum amavit.”

[21] His extraordinary article on George Du Maurier in Harper’s Magazine for September, 1897, is, perhaps, so far as style is concerned, as glaring an example of how not to do it as can be found in the range of American letters.

[22] Perhaps Mr. George W. Cable is entitled to rank with Mr. Howells in this respect as a man who refused to disguise his moral convictions behind his literary art, and thus infallibly and with full consciousness imperilled his popularity among his own people.

[23] “Stops of Various Quills,” by W.D.  Howells (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1895).

XI

Certain Features of Certain Cities

One of the dicta in M. Bourget’s “Outre Mer” to which I cannot but take exception is that which insists on the essential similarity and monotony of all the cities of the United States.  Passing over the question of the right of a Parisian to quarrel with monotony of street architecture, I should simply ask what single country possesses cities more widely divergent than New York and New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco, Chicago and San Antonio, Washington and Pittsburg?  If M. Bourget merely means that there is a tendency to homogeneity in the case of modern cities which was not compatible with the picturesque though uncomfortable reasons for variety in more ancient foundations, his remark amounts to a truism.  For his implied comparison with European cities to have any point, he should be able to assert that the recent architecture of the different cities of Europe is more varied than the contemporary architecture of the United States.  This seems to me emphatically not the case.  Modern Paris resembles modern Rome more closely than any two of the above-named cities resemble each other; and it is simply the universal

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The Land of Contrasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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