American Short Stories: Selected and Edited with an Introductory Essay on the Short Story (Classic Reprint)

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FB&C Limited, 2015 M09 27 - 358 pages
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Excerpt from American Short Stories: Selected and Edited With an Introductory Essay on the Short Story

In Poe's Berenice - the short story has been explored and tested to its utmost capacity by almost every American prose-writer Of note, and by many without note, as the chief American form of fiction. The great purveyor has been the monthly magazine. Before 1835, then, is a period Of experiment with tales; after 1835, a period of the manifold exercise of the short story. The tales of the former have much that is national in matter; the short stories of the latter show nationality also in form. Nationality, even provinciality, in subject - matter has been too much in demand. The best modern literature knows best that it is heir of all the ages, and that its goal should be, not local peculiarity, but such humanity as passes place and time.1 Therefore we have heard too much, doubtless, of local color. At any rate, many purveyors of local color in fiction have given us documents rather than stories. Still there was some justice in asking of America the things Of America. If the critics who begged us to be American have not always seemed to know clearly what they meant, still they may fairly be interpreted to mean in general something reasonable enough, namely, that we ought to catch from the breadth and diversity of our new country new inspirations. The world, then, was looking to us, in so far as it looked at all, for the impulse from untrodden and picturesque ways, for a direct transmission of Indians, cataracts, prairies, bayous, and Sierras. Well and good. But, according to our abilities, we were giving the world just that. Years before England decided that our only American writers in this sense were Whitman.

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