van Dyke, Henry: The Blue Flower
(researched by Mary McMahon)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
The Blue Flower. Henry Van Dyke. New York: C.Scribner's Sons, 1902. Other first editions: English: London: G.Newnes, 1902. Translation: De Blauwe Bloem. Amsterdam: Van Holkema and Warendorf, 1915. Some of the chapters were published individually as short stories before being put into the book, so they have their own copyrights: VI. "The Other Wise Man" copyright, Harper and Brothers, 1895 VIII. "The Lost Word" copyright, C. Scribner's Sons, 1898 IX. "The First Christmas Tree" copyright, C. Scribner's Sons, 1897
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
266 leaves [12] vii [7] 1-7 [3] 11-34 [2] 35-36 [4] 41-64 [2] 65-71 [3] 75-125 [3] 129-138 [2] 139-147 [4] 152-196 [6] 201-205 [4] 210-238 [2] 239-256 [5] 262-278 [2] 279-288 [2] 289-298 [4] Each chapter has its own title page, which is counted in the numbering, although not actually numbered. The illustrations, however, are not included in the numbers.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are eight illustrations on glossy paper, all of which are taken from drawings done by various artists. Legend artist facing page 1. In the City of Saloma J.R. Weguelin title page 2. She murmured again and again the beautiful name J.R. Weguelin 34 3. "Surely this is it," and she brought him a spray of blue bells F.V. DuMond 64 4. "Good-bye, old cabin! Good-bye, the rivers! Good-bye, the woods!" Arthur Heming 138 5. Then the old man's lips began to move Howard Pyle 196 6. "Take this to John of Antioch and tell him it is a gift from his former pupil" C.K. Linson 238 7. The fields around lay bare to the moon Howard Pyle 278 8. It poised for an instant above the child's fair head- death cruel and imminent Howard Pyle 288
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The first edition has a simple but attractive front cover design. My copy shows signs of much use; the cloth is faded and cracked, fraying along the spine. The book is 197 x 128 mm and the text size is 132 x 79 mm. These fairly large margins make it easy to read. Well spaced lines and large print add to the ease of reading the text. The illustrations are 123 x 85 mm which are centered on their glossy plates and have the legend written finely underneath. The type is 110R.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The pages of this book are holding up fairly well, although they are very yellowed and showing definite signs of age. Some of the edges are brown and scruffy and brown towards the right side. The top edge of the pages are gold gilt but stained, dirty and old looking. The right edge and bottom are uncut. The pages are not smooth, they are almost grid-like underneath in appearance.
11 Description of binding(s)
The book is bound in navy blue cloth with gilt lettering. The illustration is a floral design stamped on in gold, green and light blue. It has the initials MA in the design. The binding is old, faded and fraying along the spine. Transcribed on the front: THE BLUE| FLOWER| BY HENRY VAN DYKE Transcribed on the spine: THE| BLUE| FLOWER| BY| HENRY| VAN DYKE
12 Transcription of title page
THE BLUE FLOWER (red)| [BY] | HENRY VAN DYKE| The desire of the moth for the star,| Of the night for the morrow,| The devotion to something afar| From the sphere of our sorrow.| -SHELLEY| ILLUSTRATED| NEW YORK (red)| CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS| MDCCCCII| ∑ There is no back title page.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Van Dyke's manuscripts are scattered throughout the country,so it is difficult to determine exactly where this particular manuscript is held. It is most likely in the Van Dyke collection in the library archives at Princeton Universtiy, although other possible locations where he also has work include:University of Virginia, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, New York University's Tamiment Library, the University of Southern California, the Henry E. Huntington Library and Museum in San Marino, California, Yale University, Columbia University, and the University of Texas.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
On the page after the title page is a dedication: "To the dear memory of Bernard Van Dyke |1887-1897 | and the love that lives beyond the years." Immediately following this page is a page containing a message " To the Reader." This note explains that each of the nine chapters is an individual short story, but they have been compiled based on a common theme of finding happiness. It is signed: Avalon, September 1, 1902.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
In addition to 12 impressions and printings of the first edition, Charles Scribner's Sons also issued The Blue Flower as the "Sylvanora Edition" in 1927. This edition has the same size and number of pages as the first edition, but only one illustration plate compared with eight in the first edition. Also, The Blue Flower appeared as the sixth volume in the anthology: The Works of Henry Van Dyke. Avalon ed. Stories and Romances II. This edition has a special title page, 277 pages and is 21.5 cm. It has no illustrations.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Charles Scribner's Sons issued 12 separate printings of the first edition of The Blue Flower. The first printing yielded 50,000 copies. Quantities of the subsequent printings, issued in the years 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1915, 1916, 1924, 1926 and 1929, are unknown.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Several other publishers also issued editions of The Blue Flower: Grosset and Dunlap 1913 (used same plates as the first edition) Publishing House of the ME Church, South 1904 Books for Libraries Press 1970 Smith and Lamar 1902 G. Newries (London) 1902 Richard West 1920 Ayer Company Publishers, Inc. 1977
6 Last date in print?
The last known printing was in 1977, by Ayer Company Publishers, Inc. This edition is no longer in print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Hackett's 70 Years of Best Sellers lists The Blue Flower as the ninth highest selling book in 1902, however, the book is not included in the overall bestsellers list for books that sold over 1 million copies. Some other sources consulted fail to list The Blue Flower as a best seller at all, and none list the number of copies sold.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
The Blue Flower sold for $1.50 in 1902 when it was originally published, although the number of copies sold at this price is unknown. The last printing, by Ayer Company Publishers, sold for $23.95.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Several advertisements leading up to the publication of The Blue Flower appeared in "Publisher's Weekly" urging readers to "Order Immediately." All of the advertisements have van Dyke's name in large highlighted lettering, indicating that he is already well known at this point, and they make reference to his previous success with The Ruling Passion. One ad states that The Blue Flower "Will ably follow up the tremendous success, last season, of The Ruling Passion," and another ad explains: " The Blue Flower which Dr. van Dyke takes as the title for his new book symbolizes that ideal of happiness for which all are striving, and each of the stories illustrates some phase of the search for it. The publishers have given the volume a sumptious presentation, suggestive of The Ruling Passion, including illustrations strikingly reproduced in full color." All ads show a picture of the cover of The Blue Flower.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
All promotions of this book focus on van Dyke's name and previous successes. He was already a well known author and famous preacher at the time of The Blue Flower's publication, so this popularity naturally boosted sales of The Blue Flower.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
N/A
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Dutch translation: De Blauwe Bloem; schetsen van. Henry van Dyke. Amsterdam: Van Holkema & Warendorf.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
One of the chapters, the Other Wise Man, was largely successful as a short story before being published as a chapter within The Blue Flower. It was serialized in the 1892 Christmas edition of "Harper's Monthly."
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Prequels: Three of the chapters were published as individual books before being included in The Blue Flower. The Other Wise Man was published by Harper in 1896. The Lost Word was published in 1897 and The First Christmas Tree in 1898, both by Scribners. There were no sequels to this work.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Although he authored over 80 books and edited many others, Henry Van Dyke was not primarily an author. His interests, of which writing was only one, were many and varied. Van Dyke was also an avid outdoorsman, a well known professor and critic, a diplomat and Ambassador, and a much-loved minister. All of these interests resurface as prominent themes in Van Dyke's later writings, making his literary contributions, including poems, essays, parables, romances, travel journals and literary criticisms as varied and versatile as his life. Many of these interests in which Van Dyke dabbled were influenced by his parents and childhood. Henry Van Dyke was born on November 10th, 1852 in Germantown, Pennsylvania into an old, distinguished family. There, his father, Henry Jackson Van Dyke, worked as a Presbyterian minister, sparking his son's love for religion and future career as a minister himself. Henry Van Dyke combined this inherent love for religion with his love for the outdoors, and believed that the two, nature and religion, went hand-in-hand (Edens). When Henry was at a young age the Van Dyke family moved to Brooklyn, where he grew up and later preceded to The Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. This prepared him for Princeton, where he earned the degree of A.B. in 1873 and graduated from their Theological Seminary in 1877. Unsure of whether or not he actually wanted to be a minister, however, Van Dyke took on the two careers of ministry and writing simultaneously. In 1883 he began his sixteen years as the minister of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, during which time he also published twenty-eight books. The most famous of these was the short story "The Story of the Other Wise Man", which he originally wrote for his Christmas sermon at the church. In this story, as well as in many others, a strong correlation can be seen between Van Dyke's strong faith and Christianity beliefs and his outdoorsmanship and belief that God is most easily found in nature (Edens). Van Dyke was married to Ellen Reid in 1881, and together they had nine children. In 1899 he resigned from the ministry and accepted the position of professor of English Literature at Princeton, where he and his family moved in 1900. Van Dyke was a well-known and respected professor, and earned such honors as being elected the president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and an appointment to be the Ambassador to the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1913. Frustrated by the neutrality of these nations in World War I, Van Dyke resigned from ambassador in 1916 to become the lietenant commander for the Chaplain Corps of the U.S. Navy instead. His involvement with the navy accounts for the strong patriotic themes in some of his later works (Dictionary of American Biography) . Following the war Van Dyke continued writing and speaking about literature as a critic, even though after 1920 his opinions and Victorian taste were considered out of date by many (Edens). It was hard to argue, though, that he had not been a man of great energy and achievement, making valuable literary contributions during his lifetime. He died at his home in Princeton on April 10th, 1933 after a brief illness. Sources: Dictionary of American Biography. ed. Dumas Malone. v.10. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936. Edens. "Henry van Dyke." Dictionary of Literary Biography. ed. Monica Grecu and John Rathbun. v.71. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Henry Van Dyke's The Blue Flower was met with relatively positive reception, although a few minor criticisms are made. Reviewers of this novel like to draw comparisons between The Blue Flower and Novalis, because it is from this latter novel that the symbolic title of the blue flower came. All reviewers of The Blue Flower see its stories as symbolic and allegorical, and are quick to recognize the theme, as Van Dyke wanted it to be seen, as man's quest for happiness. As one reviewer elegantly states it, "his theme is the human longing for the ideally perfect, always alluring, always eluding, beautifully symbolized in the 'Blue Flower' of Novalis" ("The Nation".) This work is seen as typical of Van Dyke's other works and of his personality, including his love for nature and strongly religious background. The stories included in the Blue Flower are praised for their "one charm inseparable from Van Dyke's work, a singularly intimate and passionate acquaintance with nature revealed not merely through specialized description, but through the turning of the author's mind toward forests and fields for his vocabulary" ("The New York Times Saturday Book Review".) They are also described as "strongly imagined and dramatic," and are said to "show several sorts of knowledge--knowledge theoretical and knowledge practical, of places and things and life" ("The Nation".) Another reviewer acknowledges The Blue Flower as a notable work of Van Dyke, especially considering his academic work and many other activities at the time ("The Critic".) This book, however, does not go without some criticism. One critic describes true imaginative work as that which is interpreted not through clarity and understanding, but rather through senses and feelings. This reviewer does not feel The Blue Flower meets this standard for imaginative work, and says, "Dr. Van Dyke does not get the strongest effect of imaginative symbolism. His work is too cold, too merely intelligent and intelligible, to produce a passionate sensation or haunting impression" ("The Nation".) "The Critic." (1903) v. 42:512. "The Nation." March 19, 1903. pg. 233. "New York Times Saturday Book Review." November 4, 1902.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Henry Van Dyke's The Blue Flower was met with relatively positive reception, although a few minor criticisms are made. Reviewers of this novel like to draw comparisons between The Blue Flower and Novalis, because it is from this latter novel that the symbolic title of the blue flower came. All reviewers of The Blue Flower see its stories as symbolic and allegorical, and are quick to recognize the theme, as Van Dyke wanted it to be seen, as man's quest for happiness. As one reviewer elegantly states it, "his theme is the human longing for the ideally perfect, always alluring, always eluding, beautifully symbolized in the 'Blue Flower' of Novalis" ("The Nation".) This work is seen as typical of Van Dyke's other works and of his personality, including his love for nature and strongly religious background. The stories included in the Blue Flower are praised for their "one charm inseparable from Van Dyke's work, a singularly intimate and passionate acquaintance with nature revealed not merely through specialized description, but through the turning of the author's mind toward forests and fields for his vocabulary" ("The New York Times Saturday Book Review".) They are also described as "strongly imagined and dramatic," and are said to "show several sorts of knowledge--knowledge theoretical and knowledge practical, of places and things and life" ("The Nation".) Another reviewer acknowledges The Blue Flower as a notable work of Van Dyke, especially considering his academic work and many other activities at the time ("The Critic".) This book, however, does not go without some criticism. One critic describes true imaginative work as that which is interpreted not through clarity and understanding, but rather through senses and feelings. This reviewer does not feel The Blue Flower meets this standard for imaginative work, and says, "Dr. Van Dyke does not get the strongest effect of imaginative symbolism. His work is too cold, too merely intelligent and intelligible, to produce a passionate sensation or haunting impression" ("The Nation".) "The Critic." (1903) v. 42:512. "The Nation." March 19, 1903. pg. 233. "New York Times Saturday Book Review." November 4, 1902.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Henry van Dyke's The Blue Flower, published in 1902, was written and received during a time of much cultural change in the United States. Immigrants were rapidly pouring into the country, cities were doubling in size, and advances in many aspects of society-communication, transportation, agriculture and domestic life, were causes for the revolution of American life at the turn of the century. Given these circumstances, it is not unlikely that the religious attitudes of Americans were changing as well (Guastad 227). All Christian denominations, especially Protestant religions, had their ups and downs during the nineteenth century, but following the civil war religion in general was on the rise in American society (Hall 297-8). Congregations everywhere were flourishing and religion had a strong influence on most people's daily lives. But by the turn of the century, religion was starting to lose some of this tight grasp it held on society and other factors were taking over. Industrialization and urbanization stepped up, pulling some of society's emphasis away from religion and onto social advances. Though religion was still important and widely practiced, it was starting to lose some of its clout in influencing Americans, as they now had several other places to turn their thoughts to as well (Hammond 15). Nonetheless, as a Presbyterian preacher from 1883-1899 Henry van Dyke was still popular, influential and widely known. In addition to the ministry, van Dyke was also writing many books during this period, including pieces of the Blue Flower. In fact, the most famous of the short story chapters in The Blue Flower, The Other Wise Man, originated as a sermon that he preached in 1892. Not surprisingly, the other stories in The Blue Flower, even though they were written after van Dyke's ministry had ended, still contain strong religious undertones and symbolism. How is it then that this book, with such a religious theme, became so popular and was widely embraced by a society that was gradually shifting away from the constant religious influence? The Blue Flower enjoyed such popularity because of its ease of reading. Although religion is very prominent throughout the book, it does not bombard the reader with stark religious views, nor does it make the reader feel uncomfortable by forcing issues or opinions on them. While many, knowing van Dyke's profession and reputation, may have bought the book expecting a religious theme, that was not all that they found. The Blue Flower simply contains many religious ideas, but they are gracefully masked by entertaining, fictitious stories. The Blue Flower is praised by critics for its allegorical and symbolic expression and I believe that it is these qualities that made it so popular among readers of its time as well. At a time when many wanted to hold on to religion but were unsure how to in the face of a rapidly changing society, The Blue Flower made that easier to do. Through the use of allegory and symbolism, van Dyke presents religion in The Blue Flower with stories of a fairy-tale like quality, making it appealing to many readers in its day. The first story in the Blue Flower does exactly that. It presents as a story of a young boy falling asleep, only to dream of the sweet things that he was imagining before drifting off to sleep. The boy has been thinking about a lovely blue flower, which in his mind he must find. In his dreams when the boy does find the flower he is filled with a great sense of peace and happiness, but is then awaken by his mother the next morning. What lies beyond this charming story is a deeper, symbolic meaning. In this story, the boy is on a quest to find a flower, which to him represents peace and happiness. Allegorically this story tells a piece of every man's search for happiness, and suggests that everyone is always yearning to find his or her "blue flower" in life. In the story, the blue flower also has similar qualities as those associated with Heaven and the Kingdom of God. When approaching the blue flower the boy is overcome by a bright light sparking from the ground that he describes as "brighter than molten gold" and the cave from which it comes is filled with "the sacred stillness of a shrine, a never broken hush of joy and wonder." This bright light that overcomes the boy is described in such a way to suggest the light at the entrance of Heaven, as if to say that the feeling of peace and happiness that the boy is about to find with his blue flower can actually be found in Heaven. The feeling of peace and safety that the boy describes by saying "every sound was music; every breath was peace; the rocks were like sentinels protecting him; the sky was like a cup of blessing full of tranquil light " also hints at Heaven, and the wonderful peace that is supposed to be found there. Even though the boy is awoken from his dream in which he seeks the blue flower, characters continue to quest for the blue flower and the happiness associated with it in other stories of the book. Each of these stories, in turn, hints at other religious lessons for finding the blue flower, or the Kingdom of Heaven that it has been shown to represent. One of these is the story of the source, where the narrator is lead to the plush, abundant city of Koorma in search of the blue flower. It is in this city that the story unfolds, and the visitor learns about the source-- the spring of water in the mountain that all the townspeople travel to and pray before because it provides the necessary water for their crops. He stays in the city for awhile, learning more about the source and visiting it with the townspeople. During his stay the visitor befriends Ruamie, the granddaughter of the man who is providing him lodging, and he tells her about his search for the blue flower. Once he has been in the city for a month, the narrator hears the call of the blue flower and feels the need to travel on again to find it. He bids them farewell, and does not return again to Koorma for ten years. When he returns he finds the once happy and well-hydrated city parched and sorrowful. No longer does water flow down the sides of every street, and whereas the people once traveled up the mountain to pray before the source, he now sees them praying around ancient leafless olive trees. Curious as to what has happened to destroy this city, the narrator seeks out his old friend Ruamie. When he finds Ruamie she explains about the false sources the people are now worshipping, and that she is the only one who has not forgotten and still visits the source. Because of Ruamie, only the smallest trickle of water still flows into the city, but this unfortunately is not enough to keep the city prosperous. The message of this story is clear, urging one to worship the "source" or provider of life. The source, which in this case is a spring of water used for drinking and watering crops, symbolically represents a lifeline and provider of all life, or God. The story also discourages the worship of false Gods, by showing the mal- effects that become the city when sources other than the spring are prayed to. The reward for remaining faithful is made clear when the narrator prophesizes about the city: "if it lives at all, I know that it is because there is one who remembers, and keeps the hour of visitation, and treads the steep way, and breathes the beautiful name over the spring, and sometimes I think that long before my seeking and journeying brings me to the blue flower, it will bloom for Ruamie beside the still waters of the source." By saying that Ruamie will likely find the blue flower symbolizes that she who remains faithful to the true God and does not stray to false worshipping will be rewarded by finding Heaven. Religion in The Blue Flower is masked not only by imaginative stories of mysticism, but also by stories of adventure, as in the story of the mill. In this story a noble young man, Martimor, seeks to become a knight and name the blue flower on his shield by performing valiant and courageous tasks such as saving kings and queens and fighting off ferocious beasts. On his way to perform these tasks, however, Martimor encounters several other situations of need to which his chivalry calls for him to respond. The first duty that Martimor performs is to save the drowning dog of a distraught maiden, Lirette, who then persuades him to stay at the mill with her and her father and help them build a sturdy dam to prevent flooding of their land. He agrees to this, and remains at the mill for quite some time, until a sturdy dam is built and the miller is in good health. Just as Martimor is back on his way to seeking noble adventures and a name for the blue flower on his shield he is faced with another situation of a maiden in distress, whom he also agrees to help. Martimor kills off the three false knights that are pursuing the Lady and prevents her from being kidnapped. Later, Martimor learns that the Lady he has assisted is the daughter of the King, and for his brave action of defending her he is dubbed a knight. Martimor then returns to the mill where he takes Lirette as his wife, and when asked about finding a name for the blue flower on his shield replies, " 'He that names it shall never find it and he that finds it needs no name.'" This indicates that Martimor has found happiness and Heaven simply by fighting the battles around him, and that it was unnecessary for him to seek larger battles and protect kings and queens. Allegorically, the coincidence that the Lady he defended was the daughter of the king can be paralleled to the Biblical lesson which teaches that we are all children of the Kingdom of Heaven, and shows that anything done for any person, not just a king or God, is recognized and rewarded by God. Similarly, the story about the other wise man also relays the message that whatever you do unto the least of God's people you also do unto God. This story is another tale of adventure, which retells the story of the three wise men from another point of view-that of a fourth Magi who was supposed to have joined them. This other wise man set out to meet his three companions with jewels; a ruby, a sapphire and a pearl, to offer to the newborn king. But like Martimor, the Magi meets up with others in need along the way, and because of this is prevented from ever reaching the king. His jewels, instead of being offered to Jesus, are donated along the way to other causes-saving a dying man, preventing Herod's soldiers from killing a kind lady's baby in Bethlehem and providing ransom so that a woman is not sold into slavery. Despite these worthy causes the Magi worries about his use of the jewels, because each time he gave one away represents a set back that inhibited him from ever meeting or being able to offer a gift to Jesus. In the end, however, the Magi is reminded that " though he found none to worship, he found many to help. He fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and healed the sick and comforted the captive." Right before his dying moment, after searching for Jesus for thirty-three years to no avail, the Magi is assured that he will soon find the king, so this must mean that he is on his way to Heaven. A voice from above speaks to him saying that " 'Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethen, thou hast done it unto me.'" Another form in which van Dyke likes to convey religious ideas is through Nature. This corresponds with his dual belief in nature and religion, and uses the theme, common to van Dyke's writings, about finding God in nature (Edens 71). His writing is praised for this quality by critics, one of whom notes "one charm inseparable from van Dyke's work, a singularly intimate and passionate acquaintance with nature." This love of nature shines through in the story of the wood magic, which tells the story of a man who eats a certain vine, making him obsessed with nature. Because of this fascination with nature, he stays in the woods for an unknown lengthy period of time, but when he returns he finds everyone around him has aged ten years, though he has not changed at all. Somehow, in nature, this man is able to avoid aging. Allegorically, this can be seen as a way for every man to avoid aging, or to preserve his or her soul. The things that he says about nature, such as "how the busy hands of Nature are ever weaving the beautiful garment of life out of the strands of death, and nothing is lost that yields itself to her quiet handling," or "you will understand that Nature knows a secret for which man has never found a word," and also "the enchantment of the treeland will enter your heart and the charm of the wildwood will flow through your veins," can easily be replaced by statements about God or religion instead, and still make sense. Symbolically this is a way of saying that religion or God is a way to preserve one's soul. The Handful of Clay is a short and simple tale, which also proves a religious point through the use of nature. It tells the story of a bit of clay that is hoping to someday become great. When the clay is finally dug up it must go through an excruciating process-being mixed, beaten, stirred, molded and fired, but it endures all this hopefully, knowing it is the process to become perfect. The clay realizes that "the path to glory is always rugged," and it thinks to itself, "Surely I am intended for something very splendid, since such pains are taken with me." When the clay does, however, realize that it has been formed into a simple flower pot, it is sharply disappointed and curses the one who has made it. It is not until the pot is placed in a church that it learns that it contains the most wonderful flowers in the world, and the root of these beauties is in the middle of his heart. With this, the pot is finally satisfied and realizes his own worth. Symbolically, this clay can be extended to stand for all things, showing that we all have worth and a special task to perform. The potter who has formed the clay is continually referred to as the pot's "maker" and can be seen as God the Maker, who forms us all. At first when the clay realizes it is a pot it curses its maker, "and it murmured against the unknown maker, saying 'why hast thou made me thus?'," but later "the clay was content, and silently thanked its maker, because, though an earthen vessel, it held so great a treasure." Not surprisingly this transformation of the clay's attitude takes place in a church, which shows that all things realize their worth through church and religion. It is through these stories, and the use of magic, adventure, nature, allegory and symbolism, that van Dyke incorporates religion into The Blue Flower. He teaches lessons about Heaven, being faithful to God, not worshipping false gods, treating all with love and respect and recognizing one's own worth in the context of delightful imaginary tales. It is the charm of these stories and the way that van Dyke presents his ideas in them that made The Blue Flower so popular and embraced by so many readers in 1902. References: Edens, Janice L. "Henry Van Dyke." Dictionary of Literary Biography. v.71. 213 vols. Detroit: Gale, 1988. Guastad, Edwin Scott. A Religious History of America. New York: Harper and Row, 1966. Hall, Thomas Cuming. The Religious Background of American Culture. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.:1930. Hammond, Philip E. The Protestant Presence in Twentieth Century America. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.
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