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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 128

Bret Harte with an interest compounded of curiosity about the unknown and delight in the familiar. The success of the master naturally suggested imitation, not only in regard to the local manners and types of other neighborhoods but in the very dimensions of the tales which he had thus begotten. The generation after 1870 practised the short story as no generation had ever done before. Brown and Cooper and Simms and Melville and Hawthorne and Mrs. Stowe had all indeed written short stories, but the novel had called forth their major faculties. Bret Harte, a voluminous author, wrote only one full-length novel; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, H. C. Bunner, Cable, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Hamlin Garland, Miss Jewett, Miss Murfree, Page, Frank R. Stockton, though they wrote novels, are better known for their shorter stories; Ambrose Bierce and O. Henry wrote no novels at all. There was still an economic factor, as during the days of Cooper. Until the passage of the international copyright law of 1891 British novels could be freely pirated in the United States and American competition increasingly took the form of short stories, further encouraged by the multiplication of native magazines particularly hospitable to brevity. The novel, in consequence, was left standing for a few years out of the main channel of imaginative production. Those who chose it were likely to do so because of greater seriousness or larger strength than might be needed by the story-writers who were tempted to slighter and yet more profitable undertakings.
  During the sixties realism hovered in the air without definitely alighting. Oliver Wendell Holmes, for instance, in Elsie Venner (1861) worked his romantic problem of



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