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13 January, 2012
Outlines of English and American Literature|
by Long, William J.
|Cable was accompanied by so many other good writers that it would require a
volume to do them justice. We name only, by way of indicating the wide
variety that awaits the reader, the charming stories of Grace King and
writers Kate Chopin dealing with plantation life; the New England stories,
powerful or brilliant or somber, of Sarah Orne Jewett, Rose Terry Cooke and
Mary E. Wilkins; the tender and cheery southern stories of Thomas Nelson
Page; the impressive stories of mountaineer life by Mary Noailles Murfree
(Charles Egbert Craddock); the humorous, Alice-in-Wonderland kind of
stories told by Frank Stockton; and a bewildering miscellany of other
works, of which the names Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Hamlin Garland, Alice
French (Octave Thanet), Rowland Robinson, Frank Norris and Henry C. Bunner
are as a brief but inviting index.
It would be unjust at the present time to discriminate among these writers
or to compare them with others, perhaps equally good, whom we have not
named. Occasionally in the flood of short stories appears one that compels
attention. Aldrich's "Marjorie Daw," Edward Everett Hale's "The Man without
a Country," Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger,"--each of these impresses us
so forcibly by its delicate artistry or appeal to patriotism or whimsical
ending that we hail it as a new classic, forgetting that the term "classic"
carries with it the implication of something old and proved, safe from
change or criticism. Undoubtedly a few of our recent stories deserve the
name; they will be more widely known a century hence than they are now, and
may finally rank above "Rip Van Winkle" or "The Gold Bug" or "The Snow
Image"; but until the perfect tale is sifted from the thousand that are
almost perfect, every ambitious critic is free to make his own prophecy.