The Best Short Stories of 1918
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DESCRIPTIONThe Best Short Stories of 1918
STORIES OF 1918This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You maycopy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook oronline at http://www.gutenberg.org/license.
Title: The Best Short Stories of 1918 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
Release Date: May 06, 2012 [EBook #39635]
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*THE* *BEST SHORT STORIES* *OF 1918*
AND THE YEARBOOK OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY
EDITED BY EDWARD J. O'BRIEN
STORIES OF 1918 1
EDITOR OF "THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1915," "THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1916," "THEBEST SHORT STORIES OF 1917," ETC.
BOSTON SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1918, by The Boston Transcript Company.
Copyright, 1918, by The New York Tribune, Inc.
Copyright, 1918, by The Frank A. Munsey Company, Harper & Brothers, The Story-Press Corporation, Dodd,Mead & Company, Inc., The Curtis Publishing Company, The Atlantic Monthly Company, Charles Scribner'sSons, The Pictorial Review Company, The Stratford Journal, The Century Company, and P. F. Collier & Son,Inc.
Copyright, 1919, by Achmed Abdullah, Edwina Stanton Babcock, Charles Caldwell Dobie, GeorgeHumphrey, Arthur Johnson, Sinclair Lewis, Harrison Rhodes, Fleta Campbell Springer, Wilbur Daniel Steele,Edward C. Venable, Mary Heaton O'Brien, Frances Gilchrist Wood, William Dudley Pelley, Gordon HallGerould, Katharine Holland Brown, Burton Kline, Mary Mitchell Freedley, Katharine Prescott Moseley, andJulian Street.
Copyright, 1919, by Small, Maynard & Company, Inc.
TO ARTHUR JOHNSON
BY WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Grateful acknowledgment for permission to include the stories and other material in this volume is made tothe following authors, editors, publishers, and literary agents:
To the Editor of The All-Story Weekly, The Frank A. Munsey Company, Harper and Brothers, TheStory-Press Corporation, the Editor of The Bookman, Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc., The Curtis PublishingCompany, The Atlantic Monthly Company, Charles Scribner's Sons, The Pictorial Review Company, TheStratford Journal, The Century Company, P. F. Collier & Son, Inc., Captain Achmed Abdullah, Miss EdwinaStanton Babcock, Mr. Charles Caldwell Dobie, Mr. George Humphrey, Captain Arthur Johnson, Mr. SinclairLewis, Mr. Harrison Rhodes, Mrs. Fleta Campbell Springer, Mr. Wilbur Daniel Steele, Mr. Edward C.Venable, Mrs. Mary Heaton O'Brien, Mrs. Frances Gilchrist Wood, Captain Gordon Hall Gerould, MissKatharine Holland Brown, Mr. Burton Kline, Mrs. Mary Mitchell Freedley, Miss Katharine Prescott Moseley,Mr. Julian Street, and Mr. Paul R. Reynolds (on behalf of Mr. William Dudley Pelley).
Acknowledgments are specially due to The Boston Evening Transcript and The New York Tribune forpermission to reprint the large body of material previously published in their pages.
I shall be grateful to my readers for corrections, and particularly for suggestions leading to the widerusefulness of this annual volume. In particular, I shall welcome the receipt, from authors, editors, andpublishers, of stories published during 1919 which have qualities of distinction, and yet are not printed inperiodicals falling under my regular notice. Such communications may be addressed to me at Bass River,Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
E. J. O.
STORIES OF 1918 2
INTRODUCTION THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1918 A SIMPLE ACT OF PIETY CRUELTIESBUSTER THE OPEN WINDOW BLIND VISION IMAGINATION IN MAULMAIN FEVER-WARD THEFATHER'S HAND THE VISIT OF THE MASTER IN THE OPEN CODE THE WILLOW WALK THESTORY VINTON HEARD AT MALLORIE THE TOAST TO FORTY-FIVE EXTRA MEN SOLITAIRETHE DARK HOUR THE BIRD OF SERBIA AT ISHAM'S DE VILMARTE'S LUCK THE WHITEBATTALION THE YEARBOOK OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY, JANUARY TO OCTOBER, 1918ADDRESSES OF AMERICAN MAGAZINES PUBLISHING SHORT STORIES THE BIOGRAPHICALROLL OF HONOR OF AMERICAN SHORT STORIES THE ROLL OF HONOR OF FOREIGN SHORTSTORIES IN AMERICAN MAGAZINES THE BEST BOOKS OF SHORT STORIES OF 1918: ACRITICAL SUMMARY VOLUMES OF SHORT STORIES PUBLISHED, JANUARY TO OCTOBER,1918: AN INDEX THE BEST SIXTY AMERICAN SHORT STORIES ARTICLES ON THE SHORTSTORY, JANUARY TO OCTOBER, 1918 MAGAZINE AVERAGES, JANUARY TO OCTOBER, 1918INDEX OF SHORT STORIES IN BOOKS, JANUARY TO OCTOBER, 1918 INDEX OF SHORTSTORIES PUBLISHED IN AMERICAN MAGAZINES, JANUARY TO OCTOBER, 1918
Note. The order in which the stories in this volume are printed is not intended as an indication of theircomparative excellence; the arrangement is alphabetical by authors.
In reviewing once more the short stories published in American periodicals during the year, it has beeninteresting, if partly disappointing, to observe the effect that the war has had upon this literary form. While Ibelieve that this effect is not likely to be permanent, and that the final outcome will be a stiffening of fibre, thefact remains that the short stories published during the past ten months show clearly that the war has numbedmost writers' imaginations. This is true, not only of war stories, but of stories in which the war is not directlyor indirectly introduced. There has been a marked ebb this year in the quality of the American short story. Lifethese days is far more imaginative than any fiction can be, and our writers are dazed by its forceful impact.But out of this present confusion a new literature will surely emerge, although the experience we are gainingnow will not crystallize into art for at least ten years, and probably not for longer. If this war is to produceAmerican masterpieces, they will be written by men of middle age looking back through the years' perspectiveupon the personal experience of their youth. Such work, to quote the old formula, must be the product of"emotion remembered in tranquillity."
Not long ago Mr. Van Wyck Brooks, the keenest of the younger critics, was pointing out to us the value of ausable past. Such a usable past has clearly failed us in this emergency, but the war is rapidly creating a newone for us, if we have the vision to make use of it. During the past four years English writers have had such apast to fall back upon, when their minds failed before the stupendous reality of the present, and so they havecome off better than we on the whole. It was such a usable past, to point out the most signal instance of it, thatinspired Rupert Brooke's last sonnets, which will always stand as the perfect relation of a noble past to anunknowable present.
But if we are to make our war experience the beginning of a usable past, we must not sentimentalize it on theone hand, nor denaturalize it objectively on the other. Yet that is precisely what we have been doing for themost part, even in the better war stories of the past year. The superb exception is Wilbur Daniel Steele's "TheDark Hour," published last May in The Atlantic Monthly.
I can do no better than to refer the reader to Henry Seidel Canby's two admirable articles during the past year,in which he has developed these points far more adequately than I can pretend to do here. In his essay, "On aCertain Condescension Towards Fiction," published in The Century Magazine last January, and in thecompanion article entitled "Sentimental America," published last April in The Atlantic Monthly, he hasdiagnosed the disease and suggested the necessary cure. While I am not a realist in my sympathies, and whilethe poetry of life seems to me of more spiritual value than its prose, I cannot help agreeing with Professor
STORIES OF 1918 3
Canby that our literary failure, by reason of its sentimentality, is rooted in a suppressed or misdirectedidealism, based on a false pragmatism of commercial prosperity, and insisting on ignoring the facts instead offacing and conquering them.
To repeat what I have said in these pages in previous years, for the benefit of the reader as yet unacquaintedwith my standards and principles of selection, I shall point out that I have set myself the task of disengagingthe essential human qualities in our contemporary fiction which, when chronicled conscientiously by ourliterary artists, may fairly be called a criticism of life. I am not at all interested in formul, and organizedcriticism at its best would be nothing more than dead criticism, as all dogmatic interpretation of life is alwaysdead. What has interested me, to the exclusion of other things, is the fresh living current which flows throughthe best of our work, and the psychological and imaginative reality which our writers have conferred upon it.
No substance is of importance in fiction, unless it is organic substance, that is to say, substance in which thepulse of life is beating. Inorganic fiction has been our curse in the past, and bids fair to remain so, unless weexercise much greater artistic discrimination than we display at present.
The present record covers the period from January to October inclusive, 1918. During the past ten months Ihave sought to select from the stories published in American magazines those which have rendered lifeimaginatively in organic substance and artistic form. Substance is something achieved by the artist in everyact of creation, rather than something already present, and accordingly a fact or group of facts in a story onlyattain substantial embodiment when the artist's power of compelling imaginative persuasion transforms theminto a living truth. The first test of a short story, therefore, in any qualitative analysis is to report upon howvitally compelling the writer makes his selected facts or incidents. This test may be conveniently called thetest of substance.
But a second test is necessary if the story is to take rank above other stories. The true artist will seek to shapethis living substance into the most beautiful and satisfying form, by skilful selection and arrangement of hismaterial, and by the most direct and appealing presentation of it in portrayal and characterization.
The short stories which I have examined in this study, as in previous years, have fallen naturally into fourgroups. The first group consists of those stories which fail, in my opinion, to survive either the test ofsubstance or the test of form. These stories are listed in the yearbook without comment or a qualifyingasterisk. The second group consists of those stories which may fairly claim that they survive either the test ofsubstance or the test of form. Each of these stories may claim to possess either distinction of technique alone,or more frequently, I am glad to say, a persuasive sense of life in them to which a reader responds with somepart of his own experience. Stories included in this group are indicated in the yearbook index by a singleasterisk prefixed to the title.
The third group, which is composed of stories of still greater distinction, includes such narratives as may layconvincing claim to a second reading, because each of them has survived both tests, the test of substance andthe test of form. Stories included in this group are indicated in the yearbook index by two asterisks prefixed tothe title.
Finally, I have recorded the names of a small group of stories which possess, I believe, an even finerdistinction--the distinction of uniting genuine substance and artistic form in a closely woven pattern with suchsincerity that these stories may fairly claim a position in our literature. If all of these stories by Americanauthors were republished, they would not occupy more space than five novels of average length. My selectionof them does not imply the critical belief that they are great stories. It is simply to be taken as meaning that Ihave found the equivalent of five volumes worthy of republication among all the stories published betweenJanuary first and October thirty-first, 1918. These stories are indicated in the yearbook index by three asterisksprefixed to the title, and are listed in the special "Rolls of Honor." In compiling these lists, I have permitted nopersonal preference or prejudice to influence my judgment consciously for or against a story. To the titles of
STORIES OF 1918 4
certain stories, however, in the "Rolls of Honor," an asterisk is prefixed, and this asterisk, I must confess,reveals in some measure a personal preference. It is from this final short list that the stories reprinted in thisvolume have been selected.
It has been a point of honor with me not to republish an English story, nor a translation from a foreign author.I have also made it a rule not to include more than one story by an individual author in the volume. Thegeneral and particular results of my study will be found explained and carefully detailed in the supplementarypart of the volume.
The Yearbook for 1918 contains three new features. I have compiled an index of all short stories published ina selected list of volumes issued during the year; another index is devoted to critical articles on the short story,and noteworthy reviews published in English and American magazines and newspapers this year; and I haveadded exact volume and page references to the index of short stories published in American magazines.
As in past years it has been my pleasure and honor to associate this annual with the names of BenjaminRosenblatt, Richard Matthews Hallet, and Wilbur Daniel Steele, whose stories, "Zelig," "Making Port," and"Ching, Ching, Chinaman," seemed to me respectively the best short stories of 1915, 1916, and 1917, so it ismy wish this year to dedicate the best that I have found in the American magazines as the fruit of my labors toArthur Johnson, whose stories, "The Little Family," "His New Mortal Coil," and "The Visit of the Master"seem to me to be among the finest imaginative contributions to the short story made by an American artist thisyear.
Edward J. O'Brien.
Bass River, Massachusetts, November 6, 1918.
THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1918
A SIMPLE ACT OF PIETY
By ACHMED ABDULLAH From The All-Story Weekly Copyright, 1918, by The Frank A. Munsey Co.Copyright, 1919, by Achmed Abdullah.
His affair that night was prosy. He was intending the murder of an old Spanish woman around the corner, onthe Bowery, whom he had known for years, with whom he had always exchanged courteous greetings, andwhom he neither liked nor disliked.
He did kill her; and she knew that he was going to the minute he came into her stuffy, smelly shop, loomingtall and bland, and yellow, and unearthly Chinese from behind the shapeless bundles of second-hand goodsthat cluttered the doorway. He wished her good evening in tones that were silvery, but seemed tainted bysomething unnatural. She was uncertain what it was, and this very uncertainty increased her horror. She felther hair rise...