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col.) and A New England Nun (1891 col.); Western Pennsylvania in Margaret Deland's Old Chester Tales (1898). And a general exploitation of dialects, customs, scenery, the rags, tatters, waifs, strays, and left behinds of civilization generally, accompanied these finer examples.

Three of the women in this list are particularly interesting, for their stories indicate the especial lines of development followed by the really valuable among our thousands of local-color stories in the decades just before the close of the nineteenth century. Miss Jewett was not content with the superficies of the local life she studied. In The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), and like stories, she tried to establish a true relationship between the rocky country she loved and its weathered inhabitants. Mrs. Wilkins-Freeman, whose pen is far more skilful, goes further. With her, the setting is interesting only for its effect upon the dwellers of her hill country. She deals with the subtle influence of a hard, unlovely life upon temperament; she is a conscientious realist, who constructs her little stories as carefully as Maupassant himself. In fact, in spite of the difference in moral angle, she writes more like Maupassant than does any other American author. With her, the local-color story in English reaches its highest point of finesse; but loses in vividness, and sometimes in force. Margaret Deland is almost no local colorist at all in the narrow sense of the word, for her Old Chester Tales could be shifted into any rural community in the East with no damage to their essential values. Personality is what she seeks, and the careful details of her rural neighborhood merely explain the peculiar nature of her characters, and insure the reality of her work.

One wonders, indecd, whether local color is not, after all, a misnomer for this school; whether its true art is not to be found in the study of the intricate relationship between man's character and environment, and whether the use of peculiar circumstances of some unusual location ought not to be simply a contributory means which adds interest and truth to the story. Certainly this characterization fits the leaders whose work we have just described. And the magazines of this epoch at the end of the nineteenth century also lend assurance to this theory. The many writers (most of them women) whose stock-in-trade was no more than a description of unfamiliar peoples and localities, made no excellent contribution to our fiction, nor has their vogue as individuals lasted. For a while they feminized some of our standard magazines. Fancying that local color was valuable, whether attached to a real story or not, they exalted the weakest element of narrative, setting, at the expense of character and plot; with the result that the public have wearied of them. They degraded the local-color story into a descriptive sketch.

Thus the story of localities declined from the interests of good narrative; indeed, the writers who practise it in the new developments which our times have brought about have not yet escaped from the fallacy that facts or impressions alone can make fiction. Nevertheless, in the hands of the real artists of the school, it has been responsible for some of our best and our most characteristic short stories. Furthermore, the feeling for local color gave to our fiction, as it has given to others, an invaluable conscientiousness in the use of setting. And this, properly controlled, properly used, may raise the short story or the novel in the next great creative period to a higher artistic level than has hitherto been reached.

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BRUCE Williams WAS HERE

1964

XIII

THE DEEPENING OF THE SHORT STORY.

HENRY JAMES

So far we have been busy chiefly with the broadening of the field of the American short story, although naturally work like that of Mrs. Wilkins-Freeman must also make it reach deeper into human nature and experience. But now we turn specifically to an earlier deepening of its activities, conducted by one of the master-minds of English fiction, who has been, and is, influential to a degree hardly yet to be estimated.

As early as Harte and Aldrich, Henry James had begun the practice of the short story, but the beginning of his most characteristic work is to be placed in the decade 1870-1880. One of these early stories was The Madonna of the Future (1873). An American painter, resident in Florence and optimistic to a degree, believes that it is not too late to paint a great Madonna. But his ideal of what that Madonna should be is eternally in advance of his powers of execution. His chosen model grows old and corrupt; he himself grows old and incapable; while his idea flowers beyond all powers of realization, until, when the famous canvas at last is seen, it is still bare.

This is but one of many experiments in the subtleties of human nature which, since those early days, Henry James has been conducting. It illustrates admirably the direction down and in towards the utmost depths of subjectivity which he has given to the short story. The brief unity of the short tale is made to express the striking incident, the significant phase of the inner, as before of the outer, life. But The Madonna is only an example. In later stories he has plunged far deeper, and, to borrow the psychologist's term, since with James we are never far from psychology, he has entered into a surprising variety of mental states. There is Brooksmith (1891), which skilfully manipulates the mind of the perfect servant, who is lost when he loses his master; an unpromising subject, surely, until, by James's aid, you discover the fold upon fold of subtlety which go to make up the gradation of that experience. There is The Turn of the Screw (1898), a study of intangible, loathly horror, whose theme is the slow corrupting of children's minds. There is the pathetic, but more pleasant, The Real Thing (1893), in which the essential principle of aristocracy, apart from all supporting circumstances of wealth and position, is discovered, mounted on a slide, and projected upon the screen of the short story.

That many of James's stories are over-subtle there is no denying, and from an over-subtlety of thought may arise the obscurity of style which often is urged against them. However, this fault, for fault it sometimes is, may be quite as properly charged to this author's evident fondness for minutely accurate statement. It has been said by Mr. James himself that the later stories, where complexity of style is most frequent, have all been dictated, and this would confirm the latter hypothesis, for qualifications of statement which make at the same time for accuracy and complexity come easily from the tongue. In any case, that' the genius of this great writer too often plays with his unusual intellectual power, as a skilful swordsman might play with his rapier in the midst of the duello, is clear. Sometimes, at the close of a story, one has the sensation which properly belongs after an experiment in physics. And yet, in the considerable body of short stories which Mr. James has given us, there is a marvelous collection of experiences, sensations, moods, and reactions, which never found their way into fiction before. It is possible that some of them never have existed, nor ever will exist for the average man of our half-intellectualized civilization. But this does not invalidate the insight, or the foresight, of this artist in psychological research; nor does it detract from the great and only halfadmitted influence of this work upon later fiction, and especially upon the later short story.

It is very interesting to compare the work of Henry James with that of Hawthorne, that other American explorer of the inner experience, for in so doing one sees more clearly the place which the later writer must be assigned in the development of our short story. Both men work with situations. It is an infinitely delicate, infinitely refined situation which Mr. James uses as a kind of frame upon which he stretches the minds he is about to dissect. Suppose evil influences could be exerted after death by evil advisers; suppose they should be exerted upon the tender minds of children. There is the frame of The Turn of the Screw. Suppose a butler in the household of a gentleman who has created by his personal attainments a notable salon, should become dependent upon the society he served there. If that society should dissolve with his master's death, what effect upon him? That is the central situation of Brooksmith. One sees that, except in the use of such unifying situations, there is no resemblance to the method of Hawthorne. Hawthorne, indeed, was a moralist who began with a preoccupationthe moral he intended to inculcate. James is an artist in research who studies what he finds in the brain, or in the soul, or-more rarely—in the heart. He advanced the short story into new fields much as the scientist has advanced chemical analysis, or microscopic determination. He gave it a trend towards minute specialization, and the

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