The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
438 Pages
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The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story


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Learn all about the services we offer
438 Pages


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story, by Various, Edited by Edward J. O'Brien
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Title: The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
Author: Various
Editor: Edward J. O'Brien
Release Date: June 28, 2006 [eBook #18709]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Suzanne Lybarger and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team (
Copyright, 1920, by John T. Frederick, Charles J. Finger, The Dial Publishing Company, Inc., Charles Scribner's Sons, The Interna tional Magazine Company, Harper & Brothers, and Smart Set Company, Inc.
Copyright, 1921, by The Boston Transcript Company.
Copyright, 1921, by B.W. Huebsch, The Century Company, John T. Frederick, George H. Doran Company, The Dial Publishing Company, Inc., The Pictorial Review Company, The Curtis Publishing Company, The Crowell Publishing Company, Harper & Brothers, Charles Scribner's Sons , The International Magazine Company, and Smart Set Company, Inc.
Copyright, 1921, by Boni & Liveright, Inc.
Copyright, 1922, by Maxwell Struthers Burt, George H. Doran Co., Lincoln Colcord, Waldo Frank, Katharine Fullerton Gerould, Doubleday, Page & Co., Glasgow, Susan Glaspell Cook, Richard Matthews Hallet, Frances Noyes Hart, Fannie Hurst, Manuel Komroff, Frank Luther Mott, Vi ncent O'Sullivan, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Harriet Maxon Thayer, Charles Hanson Towne, and Mary Heaton Minor.
Copyright, 1922, by Small, Maynard & Company, Inc.
Grateful acknowledgment for permission to include the stories and other material in this volume is made to the following authors, editors and publishers:
To the Editor ofThe Century Magazine, the Editor ofThe Bookman, the Editor o fThe Dial, the Editor ofThe Pictorial Review, the Editor ofThe Saturday Evening Post, the Editor ofThe American Magazine, the Editor ofScribner's Magazine, the Editor ofGood Housekeeping, the Editor ofHarper's Magazine, the Editor ofThe Cosmopolitan, the Editors ofThe Smart Set, The Editor of The Midland, Boni & Liveright, Inc., George H. Doran Co., B.W. Huebsch, Doubleday, Page & Co., Sherwood Anderson, Konrad Be rcovici, Maxwell Struthers Burt, Irvin S. Cobb, Lincoln Colcord, Charles J. Finger, Waldo Frank, Katharine Fullerton Gerould, Ellen Glasgow, Susan G laspell, Richard Matthews Hallet, Frances Noyes Hart, Fannie Hurst, Manuel Komroff, Frank Luther Mott, Vincent O'Sullivan, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Harriet Maxon Thayer, Charles Hanson Towne, and Mary Heaton Vorse.
Acknowledgments are specially due toThe Boston Evening Transcript for permission to reprint the large body of material previously published in its pages.
I shall be grateful to my readers for corrections, and particularly for suggestions leading to the wider usefulness of this annual volu me. In particular, I shall welcome the receipt, from authors, editors, and publishers, of stories printed during the period between October, 1921 and Septemb er, 1922 inclusive, which have qualities of distinction and yet are not printed in periodicals falling under my regular notice. Such communications may be addressed to me at Forest Hill, Oxfordshire, England.
By the Editor
By Sherwood Anderson
(FromThe Bookman)
By Konrad Bercovici
PAGE xii 3
(FromGood Housekeeping)
(FromThe Smart Set)
By Mary Heaton Vorse
(FromHarper's Magazine)
By Susan Glaspell
(FromThe Dial)
(FromAll's Well)
(FromThe Smart Set)
By Katharine Fullerton Gerould
(FromThe Midland)
(FromThe Saturday Evening Post)
By Lincoln Colcord
By Manuel Komroff
By Frank Luther Mott
(FromThe Midland)
By Vincent O'Sullivan
By Charles Hanson Towne
By Harriet Maxon Thayer
By Wilbur Daniel Steele
(FromThe Pictorial Review)
By Ellen Glasgow
(FromScribner's Magazine)
(FromScribner's Magazine)
(FromThe American Magazine)
(FromThe Dial)
By Frances Noyes Hart
By Irvin S. Cobb
By Maxwell Struthers Burt
(FromThe Cosmopolitan)
By Fannie Hurst
By Charles J. Finger
By Waldo Frank
(FromThe Pictorial Review)
(FromThe Dial)
(FromHarper's Magazine)
By Richard Matthews Hallet
(FromHarper's Magazine)
THEYEARBO O KO FTHEAMERICANSHO RTSTO RY, OCTO BER, 1920,TOSEPTEMBER, 1921 Addresses of American and English Magazines Publishing Short Stories The Biographical Roll of Honor of American Short Stories The Roll of Honor of Foreign Short Stories in American Magazines The Best Books of Short Stories: A Critical Summary
Volumes of Short Stories Published in the United States: An Index
Volumes of Short Stories Published in England and Ireland Only Volumes of Short Stories Published in France Articles on the Short Story: An Index
Index of Short Stories in Books
I. American Authors
II. English and Irish Authors
III. Translations
Magazine Averages
Index of Short Stories Published in American Magazines
I. American Authors
II. English and Irish Authors
III. Translations
424 428 430 437 440 442 443
457 458 461 463 466 469 471 500 505
I was talking the other day to Alfred Coppard, who has steered more successfully than most English story writers away from the Scylla and Charybdis of the modern artist. He told me that he had been reading several new novels and volumes of short stories by contempo rary American writers with that awakened interest in the civilization we are framing which is so noticeable among English writers during the past three years. He asked me a remarkable question, and the answer which I gave hi m suggested certain contrasts which seemed to me of basic importance for us all. He said: "I have been reading books by Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Frank and Ben Hecht and Konrad Bercovici and Joseph Hergesheimer, and I can see that they are important books, but I feel that the essential poin t to which all this newly awakened literary consciousness is tending has somehow subtly eluded me. American and English writers both use the same language, and so do Scotch and Irish writers, but I am not puzzled when I read Scotch and Irish books as I am when I read these new American books. Why is it?"
I had to think for a moment, and then the obvious answer occurred to me. I told
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him that I thought the reason for his moderate bewilderment was due to the fact that the Englishman or the Scotchman or the Irishma n living at home was writing out of a background of racial memory and established tradition which was very much all of one piece, and that all such a n artist's unspoken implications and subtleties could be easily taken for granted by his readers, and more or less thoroughly understood, because the y were elements in harmony with a tolerably fixed and ordered world.
I added that this was more or less true of the American writer up to a date roughly coinciding with that of the Chicago World's Fair in 1892. During the thirty years more or less which have elapsed since that date, there has been an ever widening seething maelstrom of cross currents thrusting into more and more powerful conflict from year to year the contributory elements brought to a new potential American culture by the dynamic creative energies, physical and spiritual, of many races.
My suggestion to Mr. Coppard was that gradually the Anglo-Saxon, to take the most readily understandable instance, was beginning to absorb large tracts of many other racial fields of memory, and to share th e experience of Scandinavian and Russian and German and Italian, of Polish and Irish and African and Asian members of the body politic, and that all these widening tracts of remembered racial experience interacting upon one another under the tremendous pressure of our nervous, keen, and eager industrial civilization had set up a new chaos in many creative minds. I said that Mr. Anderson and the others, half consciously and half unconsciously, were trying to create worlds out of each separate chaos, living dangerously, as Nietzsche advised, and fusing their conceptions at a certain calculated temperature in artistic crucibles of their own devising.
Mr. Coppard said that he quite saw that, but added that the particular meaning in each case more or less escaped him. And then I ventured to suggest that these meanings were more important for Americans at the present stage than for Europeans, because American minds would grasp readily at suggestions that harmonized with their own spiritual pasts, and seize instinctive relations and congruities which had previously escaped them in their experience, and so begin to formulate from these books new intuitive laws. I suggested, moreover, that from the point of view of the great artist these books were all more or less magnificent failures which were creating, little by little, out of the shock of conflict an ultimate harmony, out of which the great book for which we are all waiting in America might come ten years from now, o r five years, or even tomorrow.
To this he replied that he felt I had supplied the clue which had baffled him, and asked me if I did not discover a chaos of a differe nt sort in English life and literature since the armistice. I agreed that I did discover such a chaos, but that it seemed to me a chaos which was an end rather than a beginning, a chaos in which the Tower of Babel had fallen, and men had come to babble with more and more complete dissociation of ideas, or else, o n the other hand, were clinging desperately to such literary and social traditions as had been left, while their work froze into a new Augustanism comparable to that of the early years of the eighteenth century.
Next year, in conjunction with John Cournos, I shall begin in a parallel series of
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volumes with the present series, to present my annual study of the English case. Meanwhile, for the present, I deal once more with that American chaos in which I have unbounded and ultimate faith. From now on I should like to take as my motto almost the last paragraph written by Walt Whitman before he died: "The Highest said: Don't let us begin so low—isn't our range too coarse—too gross?—The Soul answer'd: No, not when we consider what it is all for—the end involved in Time and Space." Or, as the old Dutch flour-miller put it more briefly: "I never bother myself what road the folks come—I only want good wheat and rye."
To repeat what I have said in these pages in previous years, for the benefit of the reader as yet unacquainted with my standards and principles of selection, I shall point out that I have set myself the task of disengaging the essential human qualities in our contemporary fiction which, when chronicled conscientiously by our literary artists, may fairly be called a criticism of life. I am not at all interested in formulæ, and organized cri ticism at its best would be nothing more than dead criticism, as all dogmatic interpretation of life is always dead. What has interested me, to the exclusion of other things, is the fresh, living current which flows through the best America n work, and the psychological and imaginative reality which American writers have conferred upon it.
No substance is of importance in fiction, unless it is organic substance, that is to say, substance in which the pulse of life is beating. Inorganic fiction has been our curse in the past, and bids fair to remain so, unless we exercise much greater artistic discrimination than we display at present.
The present record covers the period from October 1920, to September 1921, inclusive. During this period, I have sought to select from the stories published in American magazines those which have rendered life imaginatively in organic substance and artistic form. Substance is something achieved by the artist in every act of creation, rather than something already present, and accordingly a fact or group of facts in a story only attain substantial embodiment when the artist's power of compelling imaginative persuasion transforms them into a living truth. The first test of a short story, therefore, in any qualitative analysis is to report upon how vitally compelling the writer ma kes his selected facts or incidents. This test may be conveniently called the test of substance.
But a second test is necessary if the story is to take rank above other stories. The true artist will seek to shape this living substance into the most beautiful and satisfying form, by skilful selection and arrangement of his materials, and by the most direct and appealing presentation of it in portrayal and characterization.
The short stories which I have examined in this study, as in previous years, have fallen naturally into four groups. The first consists of those stories which fail, in my opinion, to survive either the test of substance or the test of form. These stories are listed in the year book without c omment or a qualifying asterisk. The second group consists of those stories which may fairly claim that they survive either the test of substance or the test of form. Each of these stories may claim to possess either distinction of technique alone, or more frequently, I am glad to say, a persuasive sense of life in them to which a reader responds with some part of his own experience. Stories inclu ded in this group are
[Pg xv]
indicated in the yearbook index by a single asterisk prefixed to the title.
The third group, which is composed of stories of still greater distinction, includes such narratives as may lay convincing clai m to a second reading, because each of them has survived both tests, the test of substance and the test of form. Stories included in this group are indicated in the yearbook index by two asterisks prefixed to the title.
Finally, I have recorded the names of a small group of stories which possess, I believe, the even finer distinction of uniting genuine substance and artistic form in a closely woven pattern with such sincerity that these stories may fairly claim a position in American literature. If all of these stories by American authors were republished, they would not occupy more space than five novels of average length. My selection of them does not imply the critical belief that they are great stories. A year which produced one great story would be an exceptional one. It is simply to be taken as meanin g that I have found the equivalent of five volumes worthy of republication among all the stories published during the period under consideration. These stories are indicated in the yearbook index by three asterisks prefixed to the title, and are listed in the special "Roll of Honor." In compiling these lists I have permitted no personal preference or prejudice to consciously influence my judgment. To the titles of certain stories, however, in the "Rolls of Honor," an asterisk is prefixed, and this asterisk, I must confess, reveals in some measure a personal preference, for which, perhaps, I may be indulged. It is from this final short list that the stories reprinted in this volume have been selected.
It has been a point of honor with me not to republi sh a story by an English author or by any foreign author. I have also made it a rule not to include more than one story by an individual author in the volume. The general and particular results of my study will be found explained and car efully detailed in the supplementary part of the volume.
In past years it has been my pleasure and honor to dedicate the best that I have found in the American magazines as the fruit of my labors to the American artist who, in my opinion, has made the finest imaginative contribution to the short story during the period considered. I take pleasure in recalling the names of Benjamin Rosenblatt, Richard Matthews Hallet, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Arthur Johnson, Anzia Yezierska, and Sherwood Anderson. In my opinion Sherwood Anderson has made this year once more the most permanent contribution to the American short story, but as last year's book is associated with his name, I am happy to dedicate this year's offering to a new and distinguished English artist, A.E. Coppard, to whom the future offers in my opini on a rich harvest of achievement.
Forest Hill, Oxon, England, November 23, 1921
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Note.—The order in which the stories in this volume are printed is not intended as an indication of their comparative excellence; t he arrangement is alphabetical by authors.
(FromThe Bookman)
I am at my house in the country and it is late October. It rains. Back of my house is a forest and in front there is a road and beyond that open fields. The country is one of low hills, flattening suddenly into plains. Some twenty miles away, across the flat country, lies the huge city, Chicago.
On this rainy day the leaves of the trees that line the road before my window are falling like rain, the yellow, red, and golden leaves fall straight down heavily. The rain beats them brutally down. They are denied a last golden flash across the sky. In October leaves should be carried away, out over the plains, in a wind. They should go dancing away.
Yesterday morning I arose at daybreak and went for a walk. There was a heavy fog and I lost myself in it. I went down into the plains and returned to the hills and everywhere the fog was as a wall before me. Out of it trees sprang suddenly, grotesquely, as in a city street late at night people come suddenly out of the darkness into the circle of light under a street lamp. Above there was the light of day forcing itself slowly into the fog. The fog moved slowly. The tops of trees moved slowly. Under the trees the fog was den se, purple. It was like smoke lying in the streets of a factory town.
An old man came up to me in the fog. I know him well. The people here call him insane. "He is a little cracked," they say. He lives alone in a little house buried deep in the forest and has a small dog he carries always in his arms. On many mornings I have met him walking on the road and he has told me of men and women who were his brothers and sisters, his cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers-in-law. The notion has possession of him. He cannot draw close to people near at hand so he gets hold of a name out of a newspaper and his mind plays with it. One morning he told me he was a cousin to the man named Cox who at the time when I write is a candidate for the presidency. On another morning he told me that Caruso the singer had married a woman who w as his sister-in-law. "She is my wife's sister," he said, holding the little dog closely. His gray watery eyes looked appealingly up to me. He wanted me to believe. "My wife was a sweet slim girl," he declared. "We lived together i n a big house and in the
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morning walked about arm in arm. Now her sister has married Caruso the singer. He is of my family now." As some one had told me the old man had never been married I went away wondering.
One morning in early September I came upon him sitting under a tree beside a path near his house. The dog barked at me and then ran and crept into his arms. At that time the Chicago newspapers were fill ed with the story of a millionaire who had got into trouble with his wife because of an intimacy with an actress. The old man told me the actress was his sister. He is sixty years old and the actress whose story appeared in the newspap ers is twenty, but he spoke of their childhood together. "You would not realize it to see us now but we were poor then," he said. "It's true. We lived in a little house on the side of a hill. Once when there was a storm the wind nearly swept our house away. How the wind blew. Our father was a carpenter and he built strong houses for other people but our own house he did not build very strongly." He shook his head sorrowfully. "My sister the actress has got into trouble. Our house is not built very strongly," he said as I went away along the path.
For a month, two months, the Chicago newspapers, that are delivered every morning in our village, have been filled with the story of a murder. A man there has murdered his wife and there seems no reason for the deed. The tale runs something like this—
The man, who is now on trial in the courts and will no doubt be hanged, worked in a bicycle factory where he was a foreman, and li ved with his wife and his wife's mother in an apartment in Thirty-Second Street. He loved a girl who worked in the office of the factory where he was employed. She came from a town in Iowa and when she first came to the city li ved with her aunt who has since died. To the foreman, a heavy stolid-looking man with gray eyes, she seemed the most beautiful woman in the world. Her desk was by a window at an angle of the factory, a sort of wing of the building, and the foreman, down in the shop, had a desk by another window. He sat at his desk making out sheets containing the record of the work done by each man in his department. When he looked up he could see the girl sitting at work at her desk. The notion got into his head that she was peculiarly lovely. He did not think of trying to draw close to her or of winning her love. He looked at her as one might look at a star or across a country of low hills in October when the leaves of the trees are all red and yellow gold. "She is a pure, virginal thing," he thought vaguely. "What can she be thinking about as she sits there by the window at work?"
In fancy the foreman took the girl from Iowa home with him to his apartment in Thirty-Second Street and into the presence of his w ife and his mother-in-law. All day in the shop and during the evening at home he carried her figure about with him in his mind. As he stood by a window in his apartment and looked out toward the Illinois Central railroad tracks and beyond the tracks to the lake, the girl was there beside him. Down below women walked in the street and in every woman he saw there was something of the Iowa girl. One woman walked as she did, another made a gesture with her hand that reminded of her. All the women he saw except only his wife and his mother-in-law were like the girl he had taken inside himself.
The two women in his own house puzzled and confused him. They became suddenly unlovely and commonplace. His wife in particular was like some
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strange unlovely growth that had attached itself to his body.
In the evening after the day at the factory he went home to his own place and had dinner. He had always been a silent man and when he did not talk no one minded. After dinner he, with his wife, went to a picture show. When they came home his wife's mother sat under an electric light reading. There were two children and his wife expected another. They came into the apartment and sat down. The climb up two flights of stairs had wearied his wife. She sat in a chair beside her mother groaning with weariness.
The mother-in-law was the soul of goodness. She took the place of a servant in the home and got no pay. When her daughter wanted to go to a picture show she waved her hand and smiled. "Go on," she said. "I don't want to go. I'd rather sit here." She got a book and sat reading. The little boy of nine awoke and cried. He wanted to sit on the po-po. The mother-in-law attended to that.
After the man and his wife came home the three people sat in silence for an hour or two before bedtime. The man pretended to re ad a newspaper. He looked at his hands. Although he had washed them carefully grease from the bicycle frames left dark stains under the nails. He thought of the Iowa girl and of her white quick hands playing over the keys of a typewriter. He felt dirty and uncomfortable.
The girl at the factory knew the foreman had fallen in love with her and the thought excited her a little. Since her aunt's death she had gone to live in a rooming house and had nothing to do in the evening. Although the foreman meant nothing to her she could in a way use him. To her he became a symbol. Sometimes he came into the office and stood for a moment by the door. His large hands were covered with black grease. She looked at him without seeing. In his place in her imagination stood a tall slender young man. Of the foreman she saw only the gray eyes that began to burn with a strange fire. The eyes expressed eagerness, a humble and devout eagerness. In the presence of a man with such eyes she felt she need not be afraid.
She wanted a lover who would come to her with such a look in his eyes. Occasionally, perhaps once in two weeks, she stayed a little late at the office, pretending to have work that must be finished. Through the window she could see the foreman, waiting. When every one had gone she closed her desk and went into the street. At the same moment the foreman came out at the factory door.
They walked together along the street, a half-dozen blocks, to where she got aboard her car. The factory was in a place called S outh Chicago and as they went along evening was coming on. The streets were lined with small unpainted frame houses and dirty-faced children ran screaming in the dusty roadway. They crossed over a bridge. Two abandoned coal barges lay rotting in the stream.
He went along by her side walking heavily, striving to conceal his hands. He had scrubbed them carefully before leaving the factory but they seemed to him like heavy dirty pieces of waste matter hanging at his side. Their walking together happened but a few times and during one summer. "It's hot," he said. He never spoke to her of anything but the weather. "It's hot," he said; "I think it
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