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[371] sense of reality which makes of a tale an actual piece of human life; His creations are tours de force; they reflect no earthly soil, they are weak in characterization, and their dialogue— as witness the conversation of the negroes in The gold Bug—is wooden and lifeless. Poe was a critic, keenly observant of the tendencies of his day, sensitive to literary values, scientific, with powers of analysis that amounted to genius. He was not the creator of the short story; he was the first to feel the new demand of his age and to forecast the new art and formulate its laws.

In the realm of the short story Poe was a prophet, peering into the next age, rather than a leader of his own time. Until later years his influence was small. He had applied his new art to the old sensational material of the thirties—old wine in new bottles. The annuals and all they stood for were passing rapidly. Putnam's magazine noted in February, 1853, the great change that had come over the literature for the holiday period.

It used to be the custom to issue when Christmas approached an almost endless variety of ‘Gifts,’ ‘Remembrances,’ ‘Gems,’ ‘Tokens,’ ‘Wreathes,’ ‘Irises,’ ‘Albums,’ &c, with very bad mezzotint engravings and worse letter-press,—ephemeral works, destined to perish in a few weeks; but that custom appears to be rapidly passing away.

The decline of the old type of story explains why Hawthorne turned to the production of long romances. The age of the Hawthornesque short story had passed. With the fifties had come a new atmosphere. To realize it one has but to read for a time in Godey's lady's Book and Graham's magazine and the annuals and then to turn to Harper's magazine, established in 1850, Putnam's magazine, in 1853, and The Atlantic monthly, in 1857.

In England it was the period of Dickens and Thackeray and Reade and George Eliot, the golden age of the later novel. American magazines like Harper's were publishing serial after serial by British pens, yet the demand for short fiction increased rather than declined. During its first year The Atlantic monthly published upward of thirty-three short stories by twenty-three different authors, or an average of

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