“…a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity”

Why, you ask, is Hawthorne ranked among the greatest of American writers? Because he finds room in his prose for quotes like this:

“Where is it, then?” asked Hilda. “I never peeped into it.”
“Wait, and it will open for you,” replied her friend. “The chasm was merely one of the orifices of that pit of blackness that lies beneath us, everywhere. The firmest substance of human happiness is but a thin crust spread over it, with just reality enough to bear up the illusive stage scenery amid which we tread.”

From The Marble Faun. Simply glorious.

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