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Page:Hans of Iceland (1891).djvu/13

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"HANS of Iceland" is the work of a young man,—a very young man.

As we read it, we see clearly that the eighteen-year old boy who wrote "Hans of Iceland" during a fever fit in 1821 had no experience of men or things, no experience of ideas, and that he was striving to divine all this.

Every intellectual effort, be it drama, poem, or romance, must contain three ingredients,—what the author has felt, what he has observed, and what he has divined.

In a romance particularly, if it is to be a good one, there must be plenty of feeling and plenty of observation; and those things which are divined must be derived logically, simply, and with no solution of continuity, from those things which are observed and felt.

If we apply this law to "Hans of Iceland," we shall readily grasp the chief defect of the book.

There is but one thing felt in "Hans of Iceland," the young man's love; but one thing observed, the young girl's love. All the rest is a matter of divination,—that is, of invention; for youth, having neither facts nor experience nor models behind it, can only divine by means of its imagination. "Hans of Iceland," therefore, admitting that it deserves classification, is hardly more than a fanciful romance.

When a man's prime is past, when his head is bowed, when he feels compelled to write something more than