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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life, Chapter 1: discontinuance of the guide-board (search)
y the young men who grew up fifty or sixty years ago in America obtained some of their very best tonic influences through such thoroughly ideal tales as that writer's Heinrich von Offerdingen, Fouque's Sintram, Hoffmann's Goldene Topf, and Richter's Titan, whether these were read in the original German or in the translations of Carlyle, Brooks, and others. All these books are now little sought, and rather alien to the present taste. To these were added, in English, such tales as Poe's William Wilson and Hawthorne's The Birthmark and Rappaccini's Daughter,; and, in French, Balzac's Le Peau de Chagrin, which Professor Longfellow used warmly to recommend to his college pupils. Works like these represented the prevailing sentiment of a period; they exerted a distinct influence on the moulding of a generation. Their moral was irresistible for those who really cared enough for the books to read them; they needed no guide-boards; the guide-board was for the earlier efforts at realism, be