H. M. Tomlinson, considered by many one of the foremost prose stylists today, has frequently acknowledged his debt to Thoreau.
BY H. M. TOMLINSON
My two friends from New York looked out to the Thames from an upper window of the Savoy Hotel. . . . The three of us began to discuss English and American writers. We were painfully polite to one another. We made free concessions of our pawns, as it were, as though we did not wish to win the game. My friends submitted, and I freely confessed, the vitality and significance of the literary impulses in contemporary America. No doubt about that vitality. But they regretted that America could not match the old country yet with any star of the first magnitude--no Shelley, no "Ode to the Nightingale," no "Christabel," no Pickwick Papers; nothing of that size.
Heavens, I said to myself, what do these men want! What would they call a big star? My mind fumbled backwards to the 'fifties when, within a few years of one another, there appeared in the United States Leaves of Grass, Walden, and Moby Dick. Enough to satisfy any quiet community for a century! I glanced at my friends, thought I could see how it was, and therefore made bread pills, silently and respectfully. Evidently I was faced at this luncheon with a very fine exhibit of transatlantic modesty. They did not want me to feel sorry because England had nothing to____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Thoreau:A Century of Criticism. Contributors: Walter Harding - Editor. Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press. Place of publication: Dallas, TX. Publication year: 1954. Page number: 136.
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