Americans All by Benjamin A. Heydrick 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by Benjamin A. Heydrick
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Americans All by Benjamin A. Heydrick
Benjamin A. Heydrick
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In the years before the war, when we had more time for light pursuits, a favorite sport of reviewers was to hunt for the Great American Novel. They gave tongue here and there, and pursued the quarry with great excitement in various directions, now north, now south, now west, and the inevitable disappointment at the end of the chase never deterred them from starting off on a fresh scent next day. But in spite of all the frenzied pursuit, the game sought, the Great American Novel, was never captured. Will it ever be captured? The thing they sought was a book that would be so broad, so typical, so true that it would stand as the adequate expression in fiction of American life. Did these tireless hunters ever stop to ask themselves, what is the Great French Novel? what is the Great English Novel? And if neither of these nations has produced a single book which embodies their national life, why should we expect that our life, so much more diverse in its elements, so multifarious in its aspects, could ever be summed up within the covers of a single book? Yet while the critics continued their hopeless hunt, there was growing up in this country a form of fiction which gave promise of some day achieving the task that this never-to-be written novel should accomplish. This form was the short story. It was the work of many hands, in many places. Each writer studied closely a certain locality, and transcribed faithfully what he saw. Thus the New England village, the western ranch, the southern plantation, all had their chroniclers. Nor was it only various localities that we saw in these one-reel pictures; they dealt with typical occupations, there were stories of travelling salesmen, stories of lumbermen, stories of politicians, stories of the stage, stories of school and college days. If it were possible to bring together in a single volume a group of these, each one reflecting faithfully one facet of our many-sided life, would not such a book be a truer picture of America than any single novel could present?

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