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 ‘subservient,’ to use a contemporary phrase, ‘only to the interest of virtue’—a form peculiarly adapted to flourish in the Puritanic atmosphere of the new nation. Such stories as Chariessa, or a pattern for the sex and The danger of Sporting with innocent Credulity, both from Carey's Columbian magazine established in 1786, satisfied the American reading public for half a century. Then came the work of Washington Irving1—the blending of the moral tale with the Addisonian essay, especially in its Sir Roger de Coverley phase. The evolution was a peculiar one, a natural result of that isolation of early America which belated all its art forms and kept it always a full generation behind the literary fashions of London. Irving's early enthusiasms came from the shelves of the paternal library rather than from the book stalls of the vital centres where flowed the current literature of the day. To the impressionable youth Addison and Steele and Goldsmith were as fresh and new as they had been to their first readers. The result appears in his first publication, Salmagundi, a youthful Spectator, and later in his first serious work, The sketch Book, another essay periodical since it was issued in monthly numbers—a latter-day Bee. Never did he outgrow this formative influence: always he was of the eighteenth century, an essayist, a moralist, a sketcher of manners, an antiquarian with a reverence for the past, a sentimentalist. His sketchy moral essays and his studies of manners and character grew naturally into expository stories, illustrations, narratives of a traveller set in an atmosphere attractive to the untravelled American of the time, all imagination and longing. He added to the moral tale of his day characterization, humour, atmosphere, literary charm, but he added no element of constructive art. He lacked the dramatic; he overloaded his tales with descriptions and essay material; and he ended them feebly. His stories, even the classic Rip Van Winkle, are elaborations with pictorial intent rather than dramas with culminative movement and sharp outlines. They are essays rather than short stories. Irving advanced the short story more by his influence than by his art. The popularity of The sketch Book and the others that followed it, the tremendous fact of their author's European
1 See also Book II, Chap. IV.
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