Brander Matthews (1852–1929). The Short-Story. 1907.By Bret Harte (1839–1902)
Notes to Tennessee’s Partner
|BRET HARTE derived his method from Dickens as Dickens had derived his from Smollett; but the American author had a finer sense of form than his British master. His stories present not so much novel situation as eccentric character. Their center of interest is in a strange human being of unexpected characteristics. What interests us in one of his vignettes of California in the days of the Argonauts of ’49 is not so much what happens, as the creature to whom it happens. Whether or not these curious beings are really characteristic of California cannot be asserted with certainty. But it is a fact that Bret Harte captured the romance of those days, the glamour of the quest of gold, the atmosphere of the time and the place. This story was written about 1870.
|Bret Harte’s sentiment is obvious, yet restrained. His pathos is not paraded and insisted upon as Dickens’s was. For all the variety of incident, there is a controlling unity of theme and of tone.