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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Frank Richard Stockton (1834–1902)
Critical and Biographical Introduction by Franklin Thomas Baker (1864–1949)
STOCKTON’S name is commonly associated with a certain type of story best represented by ‘The Lady or the Tiger,’ and ‘The Casting Away of Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine.’ It was, however, an earlier story, ‘Rudder Grange,’ that gave him his national reputation. In all of these there is a common element: an unusual, almost fantastic, situation; a situation, in the latter two at least, carried out in a natural, matter-of-fact way by ordinary and matter-of-fact people.  1
  ‘The Lady or the Tiger’ presents and leaves unanswered a provocative riddle: Would the barbaric princess, who could not have her lover, give him to the tiger or to her rival? Women of gentle nurture have been disagreeing on the matter ever since the story appeared. Stockton always refused to give his own answer to the riddle; from which it may be inferred that he knew something of human nature.  2
  ‘Rudder Grange’ introduces a young married pair and their servant Pomona, living, like the Peggoty family, in an old boat beached and fitted up as a house. Their guilelessness, their naïve optimism, their adjustments to life and to each other are the theme of the story. Its serious way of presenting absurd ideas and ridiculous situations, the freshness and kindliness of its humor, and especially the novelty of the setting for this old theme of comedy—the inexperienced married pair—won for the book a wide and enthusiastic set of readers.  3
  Stockton’s best piece of work is ‘The Casting Away of Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine.’ The two heroines are clearly imagined and drawn without a false line. Into all the startling adventures they meet they carry the same cool though limited judgment, the same practical foresight, the same small-town measure of values. No crises can upset them or make them other than they were when they left home.  4
  He has written also stories of pure adventure. ‘The Adventures of Captain Horn’ is a tale of treasure trove. The scene is a desert coast of Peru; the gold, hidden from the Spaniards by the Incas of Peru, is found by accident by a group of shipwrecked Americans, and in quantities immense enough to satisfy the most insatiable appetite for romance.  5
  During Stockton’s earlier literary period he was on the staff of St. Nicholas. Some of his stories for children have passed into the courses of reading recommended in schools, and bid fair to outlast his other work. Particularly fine are: ‘The Bee Man of Orme,’ ‘Old Pipes and the Dryad,’ and ‘The Clocks of Rondaine,’ which are included in the collection called ‘Fanciful Tales.’ In their human interest, inventiveness, delicacy of imagination and feeling, and their urbanity and restraint in hinting a moral, they are among the best things in the juvenile literature of the last half century. Here, as in the tales for older people, Stockton is no moralist, but a humorist, a teller of tales with an agile fancy and an engaging style. Mr. Stockton’s death occurred at Washington, DC, on April 20, 1902.  6

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