of six, the well-known theory of the unity of effect of the brief tale.
This unity Harte
secured through a simplification, often an insulation, of his theme, the omission of quarreling details, an atmosphere none the less novel for its occasional theatricality, and characters cunningly modulated to the one note they were intended to strike.
Tennessee's partner, the Outcast of Poker Flat
, and all the rest are triumphs of selective skill — as bright nuggets as ever glistened in the pan at the end of a hard day's labor.
That they do not adequately represent the actual California
of the fifties, as old Californians obstinately insist, is doubtless true, but it is beside the point.
Here is no Tolstoi
painting the soul of his race in a few pages: Harte
is simply a disciple of Poe
, turning the Poe
construction trick gracefully, with Dickensy characters and consistently romantic action.
has been rediscovered many a time since that decade which witnessed the first literary bonanza of Mark Twain
and Bret Harte
It will continue to be discovered, in its fresh sources of appeal to the imagination, as long as Plains and Rockies and Coast endure, as long as there is any glow upon a distant horizon.