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Chapter 8 at the turn of the century


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Title: Chapter 8 at the turn of the century

Chapter 8 at the turn of the century
Social background By the mid-1880s, the happy,
well-educated world of the Boston Brahmins was
dead and gone. Rich businessmen had replaced the
old aristocrats of literature as the leaders of
Boston life. At he turn of the century, words and
phrases like uncontrollable forces. Energy,
and evolution were appearing in other novels.
Writers were greatly influenced by Zolas
scientific study of man, by Darwins theory of
evolution and by the ideas of the German
philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which attacked
Christianity writers at the Turn of the Century
were beginning to think about traditional social
morality in a new way. Traditional values had
been based on the idea of individual
responsibility the individual can and must
choose between good and evil. But now writers
were asking whether the individual could really
make such a choice. When they looked at the many
outside forces influencing a person, the area of
individual choice and responsibility seemed quite
small. Nietzsche suggested that there were also
other forces, which worked inside the individual.
Each person, he said, has a will to power.
This will or desire to control oneself, other
people and the world around one-is beyond good
and evil (Nietzsches phrase). It is a force of
nature, like hunger, or sex.
Henry Adams (18381918)
Adams, Henry, Born in Boston into one of the
country's most prominent families - both his
great-grandfather and his grandfather had been
Presidents of the United States -, Adams
graduated from Harvard in 1858. He travelled
extensively, spending many years in Europe. His
novel Democracy was published anonymously in 1880
and immediately became popular. However, only
after Adams's death did his publisher reveal
Adams's authorship.
He is a writer and historian, born in Boston, son
of Charles Francis Adams (180786). He was
secretary (186168) to his father, then U.S.
minister to Great Britain. Upon his return to the
United States, having already abandoned the law
and seeing no opportunity in the traditional
Adams vocation of politics, he briefly pursued
journalism. He reluctantly accepted (1870) an
offer to teach medieval history at Harvard, but
nonetheless stayed on seven years and also edited
(187076) the North American Review. In 1877
Adams moved to Washington, D.C., his home
thereafter. He wrote a good biography of Albert
Gallatin (1879), a less satisfactory one of John
Randolph (1882), and two novels (the first
anonymously and the second under a
pseudonym)Democracy (1880), a cutting satire on
politics, and Esther (1884).
Henry Adams (18381918)
His exhaustive study of the administrations of
Jefferson and Madison, History of the United
States of America (9 vol., 188991 reprinted in
a number of editions), is one of the major
achievements of American historical writing.
Famous for its style, it is deficient, perhaps,
in understanding the basic economic forces at
work, but the first six chapters constitute one
of the best social surveys of any period in U.S.
history. Never of a sanguine temperament, Adams
became even more pessimistic after the suicide
(1885) of his adored wife. He abandoned American
history and began a series of restless journeys,
physical and mental, in an effort to achieve a
basic philosophy of history. Drawing upon the
physical sciences for guidance and influenced by
his brother, Brooks Adams, he found a
satisfactory unifying principle in force, or
energy. He selected for intensive treatment two
periods 10501250, presented in
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (privately printed
1904, pub. 1913), and his own era, presented in
The Education of Henry Adams (privately printed
1906, pub. 1918). The first is a brilliant
idealization of the Middle Ages, specifically of
the 13th-century unity brought about by the force
of the Virgin, which was dominant then.
Henry Adams (18381918)
The second was classified by his publishers as an
autobiography, although it was written in the
third person and was unrevealing about much of
his life. It is, however, a tour de force, and
describes his unsuccessful efforts to achieve
intellectual peace in an age when the force of
the dynamo was dominant. These two books,
containing some of the most beautiful English
ever written, rather than his monumental History,
won Adams his lasting place as a major American
The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma (1919),
edited by Brooks Adams and prefaced with a memoir
by Henry Adams, contains three brilliant essays
on his philosophy of historyThe Tendency of
History, A Letter to American Teachers of
History (pub. separately in 1910), and The Rule
of Phase Applied to History. Friendships,
especially those with John Hay and Clarence King,
played a large part in Adamss life, and his
personal letters reveal a warmer man than one
might suspect.
Frank Norris (1870-1902)
Benjamin Franklin Norris was born in Chicago, at
the age of 14 he moved with his family to San
Francisco. He studied in Paris and then attended
the University of California from 1890 to 1894.
In 1895 he visited South, hoping to find material
for travel sketches instead he reported the
conflict between the English and the Boers for
the San Francisco Chronicle.
After being captured by the Boer forces he was
deported, and returned to San Francisco where he
joined the staff of a magazine called The Wave.
Moran of the Lady Letty, a sea story set off the
California coast, was serialized in the magazine
and published in 1898. A Mans Woman, a romantic
adventure story, appeared in 1900. Other
contributions to The Wave were published in later
years, such as The Joyous Miracle (1906, a
novelette), and the short-story , collections A
Deal in Wheat (1903) and The Third Circle (1909).
In 1898 Norris went to Cuba to report on the
Spanish-American War for McClures Magazine, and
on his return took a job with the publishers
Doubleday, who in 1899 published the love story
Blix and McTeague A Story of San Francisco.
Strongly influenced by Emile Zola, McTeague tells
of the descent of a man of limited intelligence
into primitivism when his precariously assembled
world is brought down by greed and spite.
Norris next concentrated his energies on a
trilogy, The Epic of the Wheat. The first book,
The Octopus (1901), describes the struggle
between farming and railroad interests in
California. Norris died in the following year
after an appendix operation, and the second
novel, The Pit, was published posthumously in
1903. The third part, to be entitled The Wolf,
was never written. The Pit concerns the
manipulation of the wheat market in Chicago, and
The Wolf was to tell of a wheat famine in Europe.
Also published posthumously were The
Responsibilities of the Novelist (1903), in which
he describes the type of naturalistic writing,
based on actual experience and observation, which
he had derived from Zola and the novel Vandover
and the Brute (1914), which he had started in
Frank Norris on Naturalism
According to the novelist Frank Norris, Realism
was the literature of the normal and the
representative the smaller details of everyday
life, things that are likely to happen between
lunch and supper. Romanticism, according to
Norris, was concerned with variations from the
type of normal life, and in its desire to
penetrate beneath the surface of experience and
derive large generalizations on the nature of
life. It explores the unplumbed depths of the
human heart, and the mystery of sex, and the
problems of life, and the unsearched penetralia
of the soul of man. Naturalism abstracts the
best from Realism and Romanticism---detailed
accuracy and philosophical depth. Also important
in Naturalism is the choice of milieu. That
Zolas is not purely romantic as was Hugos, lies
chiefly in the choice of milieu. These great
terrible dramas no longer happen among the
personnel of a feudal and Renaissance nobility,
those who are in the forefront of the marching
world, but among the lower---almost the
lowest---classes those who are falling by the
roadway. This is not romanticism---this drama of
the people working itself out in blood and
ordure. It is not realism. It is a school by
itself, unique, somber, powerful beyond words.
It is naturalism. Norris.

Major works
Mc Teague (1899)
Vandover and the Brute (1914)
The Octopus (1901)
The pit (1903)
Mc Teague
Norris first novel, McTeague, was written while
he was at Harvard in 1895 but was not published
until 1899, after a number of less important
ones. It does more or less follow his idea of
naturalism, combining the dispassionate
a-morality Zola advocated with a romantic
emphasis on the grotesque and violent. The
central character, for whom the book is named, is
an unintelligent, sluggish and powerful animal.
He has been raised, by his mothers efforts, from
a life of simple physical labor in which he might
have been happy, to the position of a
semi-skilled dentist---really just a puller of
teeth. In a poor section of San Francisco he
settles into the office his mother has provided
with crude equipment, and achieves a life of
simple physical comfort. There is enough work to
pay for the huge quantities of cheap food he eats
in a nearby restaurant and for the beer he drinks
every evening until he is ready to sleep.
Mc Teague
This routine satisfies until he is stirred to
desire by one of his patients as she sits
unconscious in the dental chair. Although she is
half engaged to the acquaintance who brought her
to the dentist, she reciprocates McTeagues
desire and they are soon married. For a while
her efforts to refine and civilize him,
together with their violent lovemaking, arouse
him to keener sensations of pleasure in a
slightly more varied and interesting life. When
she wins 5000 dollars in a lottery her former
suitor becomes jealous enough to inform the
authorities that McTeague is practicing dentistry
without a license, and he is forced to close his
office. He has no idea what else he can possibly
do in the bewildering city he has never even
explored his wife goes back to work and they
separate. Finally he kills her because she will
not share the lottery money she is hoarding. True
to his emphasis on man as an animal, Norris has
Trina convert the money into gold coins with
which she fills her bed, rolling upon them in a
naked ecstasy for the sheer physical sensation of
possession. She never entertains the more
sophisticated idea of money as a possibility of
investment or prestige or even luxury.
The Octopus (1901)
In Norris next and most famous novel, The
Octopus (1901), we find a very different
viewpoint. It is more uneven than McTeague, in
parts unconvincingly mystical and in others
falsely sentimental, but it is also much more
important. It uses a huge canvas to present some
of the most significant social conflicts of the
time, develops a great variety of representative
men and women, and shows a real grasp of its
fast-changing world. Norris had planned The
Octopus as the first book of a trilogy which
would follow the wheat from its harvesting in
western fields through its marketing in Chicago
to its shipment from New York and its arrival in
hungry European villages.
Unfortunately he died after completing only the
second novel---The Pit---set in Chicago. This is
a smaller, better organized, more coherent book
than its predecessor but it moves in an entirely
different and, apparently, unintended and
irrelevant direction. It begins as a study of the
fierce competitive bidding on the wheat exchange,
centering on Jadwin. He is a millionaire who is
trying to buy up all the coming years wheat
harvest so as to establish a virtual monopoly.
That would enable him to raise the price as high
as he liked. But Norris does not, as we might
expect, follow this theme to its effect on the
hungry villages of Europe.
At the end of The Octopus he did show how high
rates in the cities to go without bread. But in
The Pit he becomes interested in a totally
different problem---what happens to the relation
between Jadwin and his wife when the millionaire
gives all his energy and thought to making money
while she is left alone in the beautiful home he
has built for her. There she fills her time
studying music and develops a culture he admires
but cannot share.
Jack London (1876-1916)
Jack London, whose life symbolized the power of
will, was the most successful writer in America
in the early 20th Century. His vigorous stories
of men and animals against the environment, and
survival against hardships were drawn mainly from
his own experience. An illegitimate child, London
passed his childhood in poverty in the Oakland
slums. At the age of 17, he ventured to sea on a
sealing ship.
The turning point of his life was a thirty-day
imprisonment that was so degrading it made him
decide to turn to education and pursue a career
in writing. His years in the Klondike searching
for gold left their mark in his best short
stories among them, The Call of the Wild, and
White Fang. His best novel, The Sea-Wolf, was
based on his experiences at sea. His work
embraced the concepts of unconfined individualism
and Darwinism in its exploration of the laws of
nature. He retired to his ranch near Sonoma,
where he died at age 40 of various diseases and
drug treatments. Works The Call of the Wild
(1903), The Seawolf (1904) The People of the
Abyss, The War of the Classes (1905), White Fang
(1906) The Iron Heel (1908), Martin Eden (1909).
The Seawolf
The Call of the wild 
A thrilling epic of a sea voyage and a complex
novel of ideas, The SeaWolf is a standard-bearer
of its genre. It is the vivid story of a
gentleman scholar, Humphrey Van Weyden, who is
rescued by a seal-hunting schooner after a
ferryboat accident in San Francisco Bay. London
uses Van Weydens ordeal at the hands of a
schooner's devious crew to explore powerful
themes of ambition, courage, and the innate will
to survive. The Sea-Wolf also introduces Jack
Londons most memorable, fully realized
character, Wolf Larsen, the schooners brutal
captain, who ruthlessly crushes anyone standing
in his way.
Jack Londons classic 1903 story of Buck, a
courageous dog fighting for survival in the
Alaskan wilderness, is widely considered to be
his masterpiece. Sometimes wrongly considered
simply a childrens novel, this epic vividly
evokes the harsh and frozen Yukon during the Gold
Rush. As Buck is ripped from his pampered
surroundings and shipped to Alaska to be a sled
dog, his primitive, wolflike nature begins to
emerge. Savage struggles and timeless bonds
between man, dog, and wilderness are played to
their heartrending extremes, as Buck undertakes a
mystic journey that transforms him into the
legendary Ghost Dog of the Klondike.
Upton Beall Sinclair (1878-1968)
Born in Baltimore, Maryland. USA, 20th September
1878, died 25th Nov. 25, 1968, is as famous for
his social concern as for his many novels. His
first well-known novel, the Jungle, exposed the
appalling conditions in the Chicago stockyards
and influenced passage of the Pure Food and Drug
Act. Sinclair subsequently tried and failed to
exercise his socialism in a cooperative colony,
in Arden Delaware but he persisted as a
muckraker. Upton Sinclair was an avowed
Fearful that the public would not wait for the
socialist dream to be realized in America,
Sinclair switched to the Democratic Party.
California, popularly known as the land of milk
and honey before the Depression struck, was
suffering just as much misery as the rest of the
American nation by 1934. That year,
Socialist-turned-Democrat Upton Sinclair entered
Californias governors race as the Democratic
candidate for governor of California on his
famous EPIC (End Poverty in California) program.
A plan to end poverty in the state against him
was a powerful group of Republicans, old-line
Democrats, Hollywood studios, and ad agencies. In
September, prominent Republicans met in Los
Angeles to raise money for Sinclairs defeat.
Upton Beall Sinclair (1878-1968)
His proposed program, called EPIC End Poverty
In California called for the state to turn over
idle farms and factories to the unemployed in a
system of cooperatives based on production for
use instead of production for profit. There is
no excuse for poverty in a state as rich as
California. We can produce so much food that we
have to dump it into our bay. Campaign workers
were convinced Sinclair was going to win.
Ultimately, however, Republican opponent Frank
Merriam carried the election with 1.1 million
votes to Sinclairs 900,000. However, Sinclairs
campaign did have an impact on the political
landscape in California 27 out of 80 members of
the state legislature were EPIC legislators, new
to politics, creating an infusion of new blood
into California politics and the Democratic
party. Across the country, Sinclairs leftist
leaning made room for change at the center of
American politics in addition, he persuaded
ordinary people that win or lose they had a
voice in the electoral process. After his defeat
Upton Sinclair launched a new and highly
successful writing career. In 1940, at the age of
62, he published World's End. His novel Dragon's
Teeth (1942), about Hitler's rise to power, won
the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Upton Beall Sinclair (1878-1968)
Major Works The Jungle (1906) King Coal
(1917)Oil! (1927) Boston (1928) World's End
(1940) Dragon's Teeth (1942, Pulitzer
Prize) American Outpost (1932) The Autobiography
of Upton Sinclair (1962)
The Jungle
In this novel Sinclair portrayed the horrible and
degrading working conditions and meat industry of
the Chicago stockyards with such accuracy so as
to arouse not only the reading public, but also
to cause the political hierarchy to be greatly
affected. If Dante or Zola were alive today,
Sinclair remarks, the conditions rampant in the
stockyards would prove appropriate subject matter
for the conceptualization of hell. Except for the
last three chapters of the novel The Jungle was
written with such tension and variety of scene
changes so as to enable comparison with Victor
Hugos Les Miserables and his description of
Paris underground.
The jungle becomes a symbol of the corruption,
insidiousness, and deception prevalent in
society. In the beginning of The Jungle Sinclair
presents his major characters at the Lithuanian
wedding. In observing the wedding, Sinclair was
fascinated with Lithuanian folk songs and thus in
his novel includes a stanza in original
Lithuanian verse of one of the songs, Sudiev,
kvietkeli, tu brangiausias. If the author of the
song, Antanas Vienažindys, had been mentioned in
the novel, the poet would have become world
renowned, since The Jungle was translated into
thirty-six languages.
The Jungle
It is necessary to consider just how strongly the
Lithuanian character is delineated and preserved
in The Jungle. Within a period of seven weeks of
visiting homes and observing the Lithuanian
lifestyle Sinclair no doubt became acquainted
with a large percentage of Lithuanians in
Chicago. However, it was impossible for the
author to come to full understanding of the
Lithuanian soul and to more deeply understand
Lithuanian customs, culture, and attitudes.
Sinclair had accumulated factual material before
even becoming acquainted with the major
characters of his novel. Jurgis, although an
uneducated individual, is portrayed as the
embodiment of physical strength, endurance,
diligence, and temperance. However upon
misfortunes his wifes death in childbirth and
subsequent death of his child -- Jurgis is thrown
off balance and thus becomes the conventional
rambler. This is highly contrary to the
Lithuanian character that is usually portrayed as
abiding by the Golden Mean and avoiding
extremities in action. Among other inaccurate
descriptions is the comparison of Jurgis to the
Slavs. This is highly unlikely and nonsensical
and should not be emphasized in works such as
Encyclopedia America, V. Bennets Reader
Encyclopedia or H. R. Kellers Readers Guide.
The Jungle
Another inaccurate description is the portrayal
of Jurgis wife as she is sexually misused by her
boss. Nothing is said of her inner strength and
endurance. It is the influence of naturalism and
materialism that led Sinclair to such
descriptions. One must remember, however, that
Sinclair is not a naturalist by literary
standards (J. C. Duram, Upton Sinclair's
Realistic Romanticism, 1970). Among other
erroneous descriptions inconsistent with
Lithuanian character is aunt Elzbietas
surrender to Jurgis new ideas, which he himself
does not yet firmly uphold. Even more erroneous
is the delineation of Marija Bercinskaite as
incapable to resist misfortune. These
descriptions are not representative. What is even
less acceptable is that the characters are
portrayed without a sense of patriotism and
affiliation to the mother country, Lithuania. It
is a known fact that many of the Lithuanian
immigrants possessed a longing for their mother
country even though returning was impossibility.
However, Sinclairs motive was to portray Jurgis
Rudkus as Americas social reformer and
apostle. It can be concluded that the
characters that feature in The Jungle are
stereotyped and without an individual identity.
The Jungle
In writing The Jungle Sinclair includes various
elements of his own life as evidenced in his
memoirs. He wrote with true compassion and
insight into the stockyard workers plight,
juxtaposing his own family experiences with the
workers difficulties. He writes in his memoir,
Have I not experienced what it means to suffer
the winters of Chicago? Ona (Jurgis wife) was
Corydon (Sinclairs first wifes surname), who
spoke Lithuanian fluently. Sinclair further
writes, it was our youngest son who fell under
the blow of sickness (p. 158). Jurgis Rudkus no
doubt is the authors idealistic exponent.
Marijas leaving home to work urges Jurgis to
seek social justice, yet he becomes passive in
the last three chapters of The Jungle when he
listens to Ostrinkis and Schliemanns (Swedish)
exposition on socialism. Schliemann, an advocate
of Nietzsche, believes in the propagation of
Nietzsches gospel. One of the views that
Schliemann so adamantly supports is that
elimination of competition leads to elimination
of corruption and vice. Although an intellectual,
Schliemann often remarks about the wasteful
practices of the manufacturing industry. For
example he speaks of the waste of time in
manufacturing a variety of sample products when
one type of sample should suffice.
The Jungle
Generally Sinclairs conception of socialism is
of an individualistic, Utopian, and religious
nature as evidence by the remarks of the writer
Winston Churchill (U. Sinclair. My Life time in
Letters, 1962). In the 29th chapter of The Jungle
one finds the following statement It was the
new religion of humanity or you might say it
was the fulfillment of the old religion, since it
implied but the literal application of all the
teachings of Christ. With such an
individualistic tendency it was impossible for
Sinclair to participate within the framework of
the Socialist Party and thus he withdrew in 1933.
The author also greatly rejected extreme
socialism (communism). Sinclair was preoccupied
with religious themes, but as evidenced by later
writings his conception of Christianity was
individualistic as well. Sinclairs primary
objective in writing was to seek social justice
and as his instrument of thought he chose the
Lithuanian immigrant. Through him Sinclair chose
to bring injustices to the foreground. Upon the
publication of The Jungle Winston Churchill,
Englands renowned Prime Minister, wrote an
enthusiastic review. Sinclair later noted Would
Churchill have remarked in an enthusiastic way if
the gruesome working conditions in England were
The Jungle
In 1931 Sinclair was a candidate for the Nobel
Prize. The committee to elect the laureate
consisted of renowned members such as J. Dewey,
A. Einstein, B. Russell, and others. The Jungle
was given much credit both literally and
thematically for its excellent portrayal of
social injustice. However, Professor Quin of the
University of Pennsylvania depreciated the
literary value of The Jungle and thus the Nobel
Prize was withheld from Sinclair. For this
reason C. A. Andrews, Professor of literature at
the University of Iowa states (introduction to
The Jungle, 1965 edition) As a novel the book
fails in the end because the hero almost
disappears from view and the solutions offered
are presented in a chapter which is little more
than a socialist tract with Jurgis only a
passive observer of the ideas of others. The
ending must be regarded as a deus ex machina
which is altogether weak and unconvincing. In
general The Jungle is considered to be Sinclairs
best work, written with the enthusiasm of a
youth. One cannot even compare The Jungle to the
series of Sinclairs later works. The Lithuanians
are credited with their role in bringing the
gruesome workers conditions to the foreground.
After the Second World War the waves of
immigrants were no longer subjected to such
conditions. Thus, Sinclair and his hero had
accomplished their goals of social justice. The
Chicago stockyards had already begun to
O. Henry (1862-1910)
O. Henry was a prolific American short-story
writer, a master of surprise endings, who wrote
about the life of ordinary people in New York
City. A twist of plot, which turns on an ironic
or coincidental circumstance, is typical of O.
Henry's stories. William Sydney Porter (O. Henry)
was born in Greenboro, North Carolina. His
father, Algernon Sidney Porter, was a physician.
When William was three, his mother died, and he
was raised by his paternal grandmother and aunt.
William was an avid reader, but at the age of
fifteen he left school, and then worked in a drug
store and on a Texas ranch. He moved to Houston,
where he had a number of jobs, including that of
bank clerk. After moving to Austin, Texas, in
1882, he married. In 1884 he started a humorous
weekly The Rolling Stone. When the weekly failed,
he joined the Houston Post as a reporter and
columnist. In 1897 he was convicted of embezzling
money, although there has been much debate over
his actual guilt. In 1898 he entered a
penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio. While in prison
O. Henry started to write short stories to earn
money to support his daughter Margaret. His first
work, "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking"
(1899), appeared in McClure's Magazine.
O. Henry (1862-1910)
After doing three years of the five years
sentence, Porter emerged from the prison in 1901
and changed his name to O. Henry. O. Henry moved
to New York City in 1902 and from December 1903
to January 1906 he wrote a story a week for the
New York World, also publishing in other
magazines. Henry's first collection, Cabbages And
Kings appeared in 1904. The second, The Four
Million, was published two years later and
included his well-known stories "The Gift of the
Magi" and "The Furnished Room". The Trimmed Lamp
(1907) included "The Last Leaf". Henry's best
known work is perhaps the much anthologized "The
Ransom of Red Chief", included in the collection
Whirligigs (1910). The Heart Of The West (1907)
presented tales of the Texas range. O. Henry
published 10 collections and over 600 short
stories during his lifetime. O. Henry's last
years were shadowed by alcoholism, ill health,
and financial problems. He married Sara Lindsay
Coleman in 1907, but the marriage was not happy,
and they separated a year later. O. Henry died of
cirrhosis of the liver on June 5, 1910, in New
York. Three more collections, Sixes And Sevens
(1911), Rolling Stones (1912) and Waifs And
Strays (1917), appeared posthumously.
Excerpt from The Gift of the Magi
Now, there were two possessions of the James
Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a
mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had
been his father's and his grandfather's. The
other was Della's hair. Had the Queen of Sheba
lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della
would have let her hair hang out the window some
day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's
jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the
janitor, with all his treasure piled up in the
basement, Jim would have pulled at his watch
every time he passed, just to see him pluck at
his beard from envy. So now Della's beautiful
hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a
cascade of brown waters. It reached below her
knee and made itself almost a garment for her.
And then she did it up again nervously and
quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood
still while a tear or two splashed on the wool
red carpet. On went her old brown jacket on
went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts
and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes,
she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to
the street. Where she stopped the sign read
"Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One
flight up Delia ran, and collected herself,
panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly
looked the "Sofronie."
Excerpt from The Gift of the Magi
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della. "I buy
hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's
have sight at the looks of it. Down rippled the
brown cascade. "Twenty dollars," said Madame,
lifting the mass with a practiced hand. "Give it
to me quick," said Della. Oh, and the next two
hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed
metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's
Features Like Mark Twain, he wrote in an
easy-to-understand, journalistic style. His
stories begin with action and move quickly toward
their conclusion. They are filled with deep,
loving portraits of the lives of ordinary people.
Like Twain, he takes the side of the little
people and the weak under-dogs against the
strong or important. The plots often seem to be
written according to a formula. One such formula
is the reversal an action by a character
produces the opposite effect from the one he had
been hoping for. When, for example, a little boy
is kidnapped by some bad men, we know what will
happen. The boy will reverse the situation
before the end of the story and make the men his
prisoners. Another formula is to keep an
important piece of information from the reader
until the very end (as in The Gift of the Magi,
O. Henry (1862-1910)
Topics for discussion
Lafcadio Hearn(1850-1904)
Hearn was born on the Greek island of Lefkas, on
June 27, 1850, son of an Anglo-Irish surgeon
major in the British army and a Greek mother.
After his parents divorce when he was six, he
was brought up by a great-aunt in Dublin,
Ireland. He lost the sight in his left eye at the
age of 16, and soon after, his father died. A
year later, due to his great-aunt's bankruptcy,
he was forced to withdraw from school.
At the age of nineteen he moved to Cincinnati,
Ohio, where five years later he became a
newspaper reporter. In 1877 Hearn went to New
Orleans to write a series of articles, and
remained there for ten years. Having achieved
some success with his literary translations and
other works, he was hired by Harper Publishing
Co. He was in the West Indies on assignment from
Harper from 1887-89, and wrote two novels on that
period. In 1889 he decided to go to Japan, and
upon his arrival in Yokohama in the spring of
1890, was befriended by Basil Hall Chamberlain of
Tokyo Imperial University, and officials at the
Ministry of Education. At their encouragement, in
the summer of 1890 he moved to Matsue, to teach
English at Shimane Prefectural Common Middle
School and Normal School.
There he got to know Governor Koteda Yasusada and
Sentaro Nishida of Shimane, and later married
Setsu Koizumi, the daughter of a local samurai
family. Hearn stayed fifteen months in Matsue,
moving on to another teaching position in
Kumamoto, Kyushu, at the Fifth Higher Middle
School, where he spent the next three years and
completed his book Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan
(1894). In October of 1894 he secured a
journalism position with the English-language
Kobe Chronicle, and in 1896, with some assistance
from Chamberlain, he began teaching English
literature at Tokyo (Imperial) University, a post
he held until 1903, and at Waseda University. On
September 26, 1904, he died of heart failure at
the age of 54. Hearns most famous work is a
collection of lectures entitled Japan An Attempt
at Interpretation (1904). His other books on
Japan include Exotics and Retrospective (1898),
In Ghostly Japan (1899), Shadowings (1900), A
Japanese Miscellany (1901), and Kwaidan (1904).
O. Henry (1862-1910)
O. Henry was a prolific American short-story
writer, a master of surprise endings, who wrote
about the life of ordinary people in New York
City. A twist of plot, which turns on an ironic
or coincidental circumstance, is typical of O.
Henry's stories. William Sydney Porter (O. Henry)
was born in Greenboro, North Carolina. His
father, Algernon Sidney Porter, was a physician.
When William was three, his mother died, and he
was raised by his paternal grandmother and aunt.
William was an avid reader, but at the age of
fifteen he left school, and then worked in a drug
store and on a Texas ranch. He moved to Houston,
where he had a number of jobs, including that of
bank clerk. After moving to Austin, Texas, in
1882, he married. In 1884 he started a humorous
weekly The Rolling Stone. When the weekly failed,
he joined the Houston Post as a reporter and
columnist. In 1897 he was convicted of embezzling
money, although there has been much debate over
his actual guilt. In 1898 he entered a
penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio. While in prison
O. Henry started to write short stories to earn
money to support his daughter Margaret. His first
work, "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking"
(1899), appeared in McClure's Magazine.
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