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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Henry Blake Fuller (1857–1929)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
NEW ENGLAND blood reveals itself in certain characteristics of Mr. Henry B. Fuller’s fiction, though his grandfather took root in Chicago even after its incorporation in 1840. Born in the “windy city,” of prosperous merchant stock, he is of the intellectual race of Margaret Fuller; and the saying of one of his characters, “Get the right kind of New England face, and you can’t do much better,” shows his liking for the transplanted qualities which began the good fortunes of the Great West.  1
  Family councils decreed that he should fill an important inherited place in the business world; but temperament was too strong for predestination. He might have been an architect, he might have been a musician, had he not turned out a novelist. But a creative artist he was constrained by nature to become. His first story, unacknowledged at first, and entitled ‘The Chevalier of Pensieri-Vani,’ attracted little notice until it fell by chance under the eye of Professor Norton of Cambridge, who sent it with a kindly word to Lowell. This fine critic wrote a cordial letter of praise to the author, and the book was republished by the Century Company of New York in 1892 and widely read. ‘The Chatelaine of La Trinité,’ his next venture, appeared as a serial in the Century Magazine during the same year. Both of these stories have a European background; in both a certain remoteness and romantic quality predominates, and both have little in common with this workaday world.  2
  To the amazement of his public, Mr. Fuller’s next book—published as a serial in Harper’s Weekly, during the summer of the World’s Fair, and called ‘The Cliff-Dwellers’—pictured Chicago in its most sordid and utilitarian aspect. King Money sat on the throne, and the whole community paid tribute. The intensity of the struggle for existence, the push of competition, the relentlessness of the realism of the book, left the reader almost breathless at the end, uncertain whether to admire the force of the story-teller or to lament his mercilessness.  3
  In 1895 appeared ‘With the Procession,’ another picture of Chicago social life, but painted with a more kindly touch. The artist still delineates what he sees, but he sees more truly, because more sympathetically. The theme of the story is admirable, and it is carried out with a half humorous and wholly serious thoroughness. This theme is the total reconstruction of the social concepts of an old-fashioned, rich, stolid, commercial Chicago family, in obedience to the decree of the modernized younger son and daughters. The process is more or less tragic, though it is set forth with an artistic lightness of touch. ‘With the Procession’ is such a story as might happen round the corner in any year. Herr Sienkiewicz’s Polanyetskis are not more genuinely “children of the soil” than Mr. Fuller’s Marshalls and Bateses. Among his later publication are ‘The Puppet Booth,’ dramatic pieces (1896); ‘From the Other Side,’ short stories (1898); ‘The Last Refuge’ (1900); ‘Under the Skylights’ (1901); ‘Waldo Trench and Others’ (1908). In these later stories he seems to be asking himself, in most serious words, what is to be the social outcome of the great industrial civilization of the time, and to demand of his readers that they too shall fall to thinking.  4

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