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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 9, page 185, August 20-21, 1858

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Identifier: DX03562641

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 9, page 185, August 20-21, 1858

Description: Comments on George William Curtis.


good fellow, now arrived at an over-estimate of himself [George William Curtis]. It would demand a very strong head and cool sense to have got to another conclusion, in his position. The Howadji books were pretty ones, the Potiphar, clever, but inherently snobbish. “[William Makepeace] Thackeray beaten on his own ground!” cried the critic’s here, not seeing that the book was at best but an echo of the master, with a Yankee taint which none of his brave books ever had. When the dainty author is saying “My good Sir, an ormolu clock would have thrown Pericles intoa fit!” he’s more of a snob than poor Paul Potiphar ever was. Satire at the expense of parvenus is a cheap, overdone business anyway, and a rich man’s desire to surround himself with handsome things may sometimes be ludicrous but it isn’t contemptible. Again the book has a fault of construction, in the tagging on of a sort of retrospective love-story to Mrs Potiphar. I’ve no doubt the young ladies think Curtis a darling man and he himself that is fervently persuaded that going to England as U. S. ambassador would be a delightful thing. Well; he had the pluck to choose the right side in the political contest, at least, so give him credit for that, at least! But to write books isn’t the noblest thing in the world, especially in America, at the present time. And these men, Curtis, “Ik. Marvel” &c are only feeble reflections of stronger lights elsewhere. [Nathaniel] Hawthorne is the only thoroughly American writer I know — a man who couldn’t by any chance have been begotten out of New England.

21. Saturday. Breakfast with Mr & Mrs Corbin, after a walk with the latter. [Robert] Gun & [Frank] Cahill came.

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1858-08-20

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Authors
Books and reading


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