White returned from his wedding trip, his imagination enormously enriched, his horizon broadened. He felt himself, at last, equipped to play a leading part in the reformation of American architecture, and impatient to be at the business of erecting beautiful and satisfying buildings. Restless, driven by his daemon, he had no false notions of modesty—or, as it is better called, “indecision.” And he had no wish to be “original.” He knew that the Greeks had borrowed from the Egyptians; that the Gothic cathedral had been inspired by the Crusades and by social contact with the East; that the Renaissance—that breathless period of unexampled artistic achievement—had been a rebirth, a reawakening; that every great age is a revival, demanding the best that tradition has to offer. He would take his good where good could be found, translating the historic idioms of the past and recreating them to suit his purpose. Whistler had already said that there is nothing new—the story of the beautiful has been told, hewn in the marbles of the Parthenon, ’broidered with birds upon the fans of Hokusai. Conrad was to say—in Nostromo— that the only value in a sentence lies, not in its originality, but in the personality that utters it. “You can do anything you want to,” said St. Gaudens; “it’s how you do it that makes the difference.”
KeywordsSonal Preference False Notion Artistic Achievement Gothic Cathedral Chapter Xviii
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