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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Hamlin Garland (1860–1940)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
HAMLIN GARLAND is a favorable example of a class of strong writers which has coming to the fore in the Middle West of the United States,—fresh, original, full of faith and energy, with a robust and somewhat aggressive Americanism. In native endowment he is a strong man, and his personal character is manly, clean, and high. At times, carelessness of technique and lack of taste can be detected in his writings, but his strength and spirit make amends for these defects.  1
  Mr. Garland was born September 16th, 1860, in the La Crosse Valley, Wisconsin. His family is of Scotch descent,—sturdy farmer folk, remarkable for their physical powers. His maternal grandfather was an Adventist, with the touch of mysticism that word implies. Garland was reared in the picturesque coulé country (French coulée, a dry gulch); living in various Western towns, one of them being the Quaker community of Hesper, Iowa. His early education was received from the local schools; the unconscious assimilation of the Western ways came while he rode horses, herded cattle, and led the wholesome, simple open-air life of the middle-class people. Some years were spent in a small seminary at Osage, Wisconsin, whence he was graduated at twenty-one years of age. His kin moved to Dakota, but Hamlin faced Eastward, eager to see the world. Two years of travel and teaching in Illinois found him in 1883 “holding down” a Dakota claim—the only result of the land boom being a rich field of literary ore. Then in 1884 he went to Boston, made his headquarters at the Public Library, read diligently, taught literature and elocution in the School of Oratory, and became one of the literary workers there, remaining until 1891. Since then he has lectured much throughout the country, and has settled in Chicago, his summer home being at West Salem, Wisconsin, in the beautiful coulé region of his boyhood.  2
  Mr. Garland’s main work is in fiction, but he has also tried his hand at verse and the essay. His volume ‘Crumbling Idols,’ published in 1894, a series of audacious papers in which the doctrine of realism is cried up and the appeal to past literary canons made a mock of, called out critical abuse and ridicule, and no doubt shows a lack of perspective. Yet the book is racy and stimulating in the extreme. The volume of poetry, ‘Prairie Songs’ (1893), has the merit of dealing picturesquely and at first hand with Western scenery and life, and contains many a stroke of imaginative beauty. Of the half-dozen books of tales and longer stories, ‘Main-Traveled Roads,’ Mr. Garland’s first collection of short stories, including work as striking as anything he has done, gives vivid pastoral pictures of the Mississippi Valley life. ‘A Little Norsk’ (1893), along with its realism in sketching frontier scenes, possesses a fine romantic flavor. And ‘Rose of Dutcher’s Coolly’ (1895), decidedly his strongest full-length fiction, is a delineation of Wisconsin rustic and urban life, including a study of Chicago, daringly unconventional, but strong, earnest, evidently drawn from the author’s deepest experiences and convictions. Other books of fiction are ‘Jason Edwards,’ ‘A Member of the Third House,’ ‘A Spoil of Office,’ and ‘Prairie Folks.’ Among his later books are ‘The Long Trail’ (1907); ‘Cavanagh, Forest Ranger’ (1909), and ‘Other Main Traveled Roads’ (1913).  3
  Mr. Garland’s work in its increasing command of art, its understanding of and sincere sympathy with the life of the great toiling population of the Middle West, and its unmistakable qualities of independence, vigor, and ideality, is worthy of warm praise. A rich, large nature is felt beneath his fiction. His literary creed is “truth for truth’s sake,” and his conception of his art is broad enough to include love of country and belief in his fellow-man.  4

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