The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

VI. The Short Story.

§ 4. The Annuals; Hawthorne.

For the new form there sprang up in the twenties a new vehicle, the annual. For two decades the book-stands were loaded with flamboyantly bound gift books—The Token, The Talisman, The Pearl, The Amaranth, and the others, elaborate Sketch Books varied soon by echoes from the new romanticism of Europe. Never before such a gushing of sentiment, of mawkish pathos, of crude terror effects, and vague Germanic mysticism. From out of it all but a single figure has survived, the sombre Hawthorne 2  who was genius enough to turn even the stuff of the annuals into a form that was to persist and dominate. Hawthorne added soul to the short story and made it a form that could be taken seriously even by those who had contended that it was inferior to the longer forms of fiction. He centred his effort about a single situation and gave to the whole tale unity of impression. Instead of elaboration of detail, suggestion; instead of picturings of external effects, subjective analysis and psychologic delineation of character. Hawthorne was the first to lift the short story into the higher realms of art.   6

Note 2. See also Book II, Chap. XI. Here may be mentioned, however, one short story before Hawthorne which seems rather to anticipate him than to follow Irving, William Austin’s tantalizing Peter Rugg, the Missing Man, of which the first part appeared in 1824. [For Austin, see also the Bibliography for Book II, Chap. XIX.] [ back ]