reader is left discontented.
If in this respect he seems behind Howells
, it must be remembered that James habitually deals with profounder emotions, and is hence more liable to be overmastered.
says to himself in his “Hyperion,” “O thou poor authorling!
Reach a little deeper into the human heart!
Touch those strings, touch those deeper strings more boldly, or the notes shall die away like whispers, and no ear shall hear them save thine own.”
It is James rather than Howells
who has heeded this counsel.
The very disappointment which the world felt at the close of “The American” was in some sense a tribute to its power: the author had called up characters and situations which could not be cramped, at last, within the conventional limits of a stage-ending.
As a piece of character-drawing, the final irresolution of the hero was simply perfect: it seemed one of the cases where a romancer conjures up persons who are actually alive, and who insist on working out a destiny of their own, irrespective of his wishes.
To be thus conquered by one's own creation might seem one of those defeats that are greater than victories ; yet it is the business of the novelist, after all, to keep his visionary people well in hand, and to contrive that they shall have their own way, and yet not spoil his climax.
In life, as in “The ”