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The best of Stockton's short work is to be found in his Negative Gravity, The Transferred Ghost, The Remarkable Wreck of the ‘Thomas Hyke,’ and The Late Mrs. Null. It is like nothing else in American literature: everywhere paradox presented with the utmost gravity, everywhere topsy-turviness and anticlimax and the grotesquely unexpected. There is little of substance in it all; it is opera bouffe, amusing, delightful, ephemeral. Even now Stockton is remembered only for The lady or the Tiger? and the present generation considers even that story clumsy work when compared with the creations of his successor, O. Henry.

Another who did much to advance the short story toward the mechanical perfection it had attained to at the close of the century was Henry Cuyler Bunner1 (1855-96), editor of Puck and creator of some of the most exquisite vers de society of the period. The title of one of his collections, Made in France: French Tales with a U. S. Twist, forms an introduction to his fiction. Not that he was an imitator; few have been more original or have put more of their own personality into their work. His genius was Gallic. Like Aldrich, he approached the short story from the fastidious standpoint of the lyric poet. With him, as with Aldrich, art was a matter of exquisite touches, of infinite compression, of almost imperceptible shadings. The lurid splashes and the heavy emphasis of the local colourists offended his sensitive taste: he would work with suggestion, with microscopic focussings, and always with dignity and elegance. He was more American than Henry James, more even than Aldrich. He chose always distinctively native subjects,—New York City was his favourite theme,—and his work had more depth of soul than Stockton's or Aldrich's. The story may be trivial, a mere expanded anecdote, yet it is sure to be so vitally treated that, like Maupassant's work, it grips and remains, and, what is more, it lifts and chastens or explains. It may be said with assurance that Short Sixes marks one of the high places which have been attained by the American short story.

In the same group belongs Ambrose Bierce (1838-1914?), though in mere point of time he is to be counted with the California group of the early Overland monthly days. A

1 See also Book II. Chap. XXIII, and Book III. Chan. IX.

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