Brander Matthews (18521929). The Short-Story. 1907.
Notes to Markheim
By Robert Louis Stevenson (18501894)
STEVENSON was one of the earliest of British writers to perceive the artistic possibilities of the true short-story as it had been formulated by Poe and as it had been practiced in America and in France. He wrote long romantic fictions and he essayed the novel of adventure; but he was most indisputably within his powers in the compact short-story. His most successful work of fiction, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is a novelette, but it has the swiftness and the compactness of the short-story. And he was no happy-go-lucky story-teller; he held a theory of the art closely akin to Poes, although he had a wider outlook on life than his American predecessor, a keener relish for humanity, and a far richer sense of morality. In Markheim, which was written in 1884, he combines the inventive ingenuity of Poe with the ethical insight of Hawthorne.
This is truly one of the masterpieces of the short-story in its inexorable swiftness and in its perfect unity of tone. Every part adds to the effect of the whole; and the narrative moves irresistibly to its unexpected end,an end which takes the reader suddenly by surprise and yet which is absolutely logical in its consistency with the character of the central figure.