The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

VI. The Short Story

§ 27. Smith

The demand of the decade has been for “stories with a punch.” The material must be out of the ordinary; it must not only breathe the breath of unfamiliar regions but it must give the impression that it is a bit of autobiography, or at least a section of life that has passed under the author’s own eyes. The short story work of F. Hopkinson Smith (1838–1915) may be taken as an illustration. There is in it the breath of foreign parts, the sense of cosmopolitanism, breezy knowledge of the world. Everywhere alertness, wide-awakeness, efficiency, in an easy colloquial style of narrative that has about it a businesslike ring. His brilliant narratives in such a collection as At Close Range are the work of one who would have made a most efficient special reporter for a city daily. Here are modern instances in all parts of the world, engagingly told. He has been everywhere, he has seen everything, he has learned all the world’s rituals and all its secrets. There is no leisurely approach, no sentimental colourings, no literary effects; they are life seen in flashes, a vivid fragment snipped from the moving film of human life.