Notes and Quotes – American Short Story 1

– Notes and Quotes –


American Short Story 1


Seduction taleFanny McDermot, heroine dies

Framed tales – story within a story

Gothic talesRose for Emily, death in the South



Washington Irving (1783-1859), Rip Van Winkle (1819)

Pre-dates Revolutionary War.

Irving – Took the old tales and transformed.

-Dutch colony

Myth – explanation of thunder, unknown sciences

Henry Hudson’s nine-pin game.


We are with him as she awakes – no paragraph break, time is constant.

Union Hotel – Jonathon Doolittle

Peaceful pipe

King George/President George

Superficial changes

Is there more to setting or date/time? (1750-1820)

Are we (then) really separate from Britain?

What (then) did it mean to be an American?

Build the country from the end of the revolution.

Rip must decide his loyalties.

Irving make the reader come to this decision, also.

Fed/Anti Fed-Dems, etc.

Son, just like Rip

American Dream – hard work?

Abuses – sanctioned/instituted by King George.



William Austin (1778-1841), Peter Rugg the Missing Man (1824)


Foreshadowing themes to Hawthorne, Melville, Poe

A theme to fascinate writers.


The search for the Holy Grail.


Flying Dutchman

Wandering Jew (actually Roman, not Jew, taunts Jesus)

Person is doomed to repeat things.

Groundhogs Day

Indiscretion varies

Rugg: bad tempered, threatens/prides to beat the storm home, attempts to being God like brings punishment.

Boston: home, things happening, Tea Party, etc.

Zealot of Puritan Christianity vs. non-Conformists, Puritan Anglicans.

The horse won’t stop at Boston.

Boston synonymous with colonialism.

How Hawthorne & Rugg coincide.


Punishment, Ire, Huber

Emotion, zeal for freedom in new country.

First buildings – jail & school.

Reclaim the zeal of Boston, never had, only reshaped.

Peter Rugg – Universal/Everyman

No Redemption

Oedipus – Moment of enlightenment (epiphany).

Changes accordingly or has a discernation.

Understanding, handed to the reader.

Human interest in the report.

Dunwell peruses for Krauff.

Epistitary tale-letters.

Universal search, contemporary warnings.


A storm chasing him, forcing him into the future.



Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867), Fannie McDermot (1844)

Widely read, rediscovered

Transitional figure


18th Century writers, American, British

Sentimental/domestic fiction

“Seduction” tale/novel

Skepticism of fiction

Poetry & drama were more preferable

Fiction must be edifying, teach a moral

Fiction claims to follow history

Test of Sedgwick’s individuality

Leaps over transcendentalism to realism

1844 – Transcendentalism

1850’s – Nature, Moby Dick, Walden

Fulfill/depart from fiction

Moral/didactic purpose

Directed to young women (unspoken)

Richardson – Longest novel in English?

Concerned with women/group treatment

Irish, potato famine

Brackenridge – Modern Chivalry

Sedgwick – religious conversion, Calvinist, Unitarianism, denounced religious intolerance

Without knowing why

God saves or forsakes

Point the dangers of young girls

Don’t read too much

Not educated, reads the bible

What was going on, historically, when the story was written?

Message of tolerance


Supernatural elements

Susanna Rowson

Hanna Foster – coquette

Richardson – Clarissa

Seduction novel – Victim always dies

So the moral sticks, emphasized/dramatized

Augusta – Sensible independent in 18th Century

Defy versus duty

Parents, country, church, husband, kids

Think for selves more

Pleading for child, dies – sentimental message

Harder message if mom & child die

Lovelace – caviler poets


God’s love

What windmills are you fighting now

Magdalene society – sister of mercy



James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), The Lake Gun (1850)

Leather Stocking Tales – Natty Bumpo

(human failings)


Not of transcendental school

Sir Walter Scott

combine real with fiction

aware of political realities/messages

Gray Champion/Peter Rugg

Lake Seneca, NY

Geneva, Swiss city

Cooper’s son, college in Geneva


created to explain phenomenon/unexplained sciences

Native – educated, representative (Natty Bumpo)

Fuller – Auto/bio representative of Cooper.

The Laws of Nature, by extension, the Laws of God

1850’s – the big decade in American literature

Post British stylization

Attacking contemporaries

Cooper Vs. Seward (Lincoln’s man, see – wise)


Cooper lived only 10 months after Lake Gun publication

Cooper opposed slavery, ineffective, counter productive

Lake Gun – a warning against the Civil War

Indians – more representational than real

All bad/good

Noble/ignoble savage

Nature, magnificent/pure

Setting, typically rural, not cities

Civilization – D.C., corruption, evil

Characters – poetic, lyricism in describing nature

Contemporary interests



Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Wives of the Dead (1831) & The Gray Champion (1837)

Usually 17th century, NOT 18th century

Narrator – mouthpiece of author, sometimes

displaced loyalty to the crown

Hawthorne loved parades & street scenes

carryovers of puritan action

brought infamy to colonies

narrator reveals biased

Champion – hermit, in hiding, perhaps based on William Goff

Goff – of 59 signers of death warrant against Charles (Angel of Hadley?).

Suspicious of James who sent reverse death warrants for the registrides.

Sympathizers provide protection

Invading army of Indians

Narrator exalts in retreat

Bellicose, hostile, eager to fight

Leader/Warrior, pacifism
Gray Champion – incites war, women & children

Where was the Gray Champion? Bradstreet/Embrace

Real names/people/places/historical

Drawn from Sir Walter Scott (Cooper, write a better novel)

Blended real with historical

Narrator – a viewpoint, real or imaginary.



Herman Melville (1819-1891), Bartleby the Scrivener (1853)

Bartleby – (1953)

Melville – consummate artist, avoids irrelevance

Wall Street – materialism/capitalism

Narrator – only source of knowledge, only his word, how reliable is he?

Literature – not history, but imagination/make-believe

Narrator – lacks strong moral conviction

John Jacob Astor – first millionaire in America, illegal and legal activities, opium, real estate, fur trading; ruthless – prelude “robber barons”; name – synonymous with wealth gained by dubious means

Narrator – “safe” – to be involved in dubious means with

Lost his office of Master of Chancery

No name given, no office number – ___ Wall Street

Symbolic configuration of the office

White view window/black view window

Perhaps reflection of narrator’s inner self

Melville – not writing in Realism.

Hawthorne – sometimes supernatural

Bartleby – motionless, pallid, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn

Byron/Bartleby – unlikely meeting

“I would prefer not to,” – the word – prefer


Bust of Cicero – Roman orator honorable, courageous, statesman, lawyer, died in battle, defended dictator

Cicero/Bartleby – can’t throw them out

Reminds narrator of his own shortcomings

Bartleby – passive resistance, eccentric, “of use” to narrator, earning self approval

Prefer – will not? – prefer not!

The will of god – great scale – can’t question, can’t understand; small scale – freedom of will within boundaries.

Priestly – no free will

“Priestly on necessity” – philosophical determinism

Reason to feel guilt

Bartleby – eminently decreous/decorum

Adhere to strict set of rules/guidelines

Black window – dead, brick wall (Bartleby’s view)

White window – not living wall

Interpretation #1 – Theme of the double; other half of personality; doppelganger; Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; Evil/good twin.

Dostoevsky – The Double

Poe – William Wilson (1939)

Nightmare landscape of human soul

Interest in human psychology became greater

The Tomb/womb – fetal position, narrator succeeds in suppressing better self

Interpretation #2 – Melville’s life; south sea romances; sailor/descriptions; Omu/Taipei; large family man; Mardi – hated by public; changed from adventure/travel novels; wrote Moby Dick (masterpiece, organic structure, romantic); second cross roads

Bartleby/Melville – “prefer” not to go back

Melville died in debtors’ prison

What Melville was saying to the public, could not sacrifice integrity for money

The story of Wall Street

Moby Dick – high art/epic

Interpretation #3 – Narrative view point, figments of imagination, verge of insanity?

Poe – everyone in my whole family is mad, but not me.

Narrator’s mind in disintegration

The hunger artist

Ghostlike qualities


Discussion of Jonathan Edwards and Joseph Priestley (mentioned in “Bartleby, the Scrivener”). The note in our text identifies both of them as deniers of free will, but that is simplistic and in fact misleading (although that is an assumption sometimes made).


Jonathan Edwards was firm on the doctrine of predestination (and no free will).


Joseph Priestley argued that scientific inquiry and the exercise of human intellectuality could alter natural forces, thereby giving value to free will. He was a Unitarian or a Deist, depending on one’s viewpoint, and he was generally an optimist like Franklin.



Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), The Ghost in the Mill (1872)


Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) (1835-1910), Cannibalism in Cars (1868)

Framed stories

Repetition of characters unifies the story

Story telling – retelling old stories

Homer – real person?

Hemingway – telling a story, tells the story away

Facts – not twisted, but dramatized

God’s law/civil law

Natives – converted/assimilated

Allegory vs. satire

Horace – Roman poet/satire

(Horatian, juvenalie)

Satire – point out something that’s wrong, implication of change

Date of writing, date of setting

Allegory – symbolic story, everything takes on symbolic representation

Train – important literary symbol, soulless/inhuman society

Lost our souls since the 13th century

Now! We worship the mechanical soulless dynamo



Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893), The Necklace (1884)

Maupassant – James’s contemporary

Inspired James’s Paste

Class conflict within the Mathilde character

Jealous of Mme. Forestier



Henry James (1843-1916), Paste (1899)

Henry James – 1843

Friends with wealthy Edith Wharton

She helped fund James

James – 5 siblings

Sister Alice was mentally ill

Henry James was a psychologist

James – fascinated with illusion, lived mostly in Europe, spoke French & Italian, would come to US but couldn’t stay long, not enough culture to satisfy himself.

Gave up citizenship because of America’s reluctance to enter WWI.

Surprise ending – influenced O. Henry

Interest in writing realistic characters

Class system/conflict built into story

French/British monarchies/classist

Story – reverses Maupassant’s Necklace

The Paste necklace – Pearls, valuable

The Necklace necklace – Diamonds, not valuable, paste

To lose American-ness

James’s techniques –

-The Scene – Not scenery, but in play terms, dialogue/scene.

-The Picture – Long descriptive paragraph

James’s villainess is almost more interesting that the heroine.

More emphasis on character development than on setting.




Henry James (1843-1916), The Real Thing (1892)

Artist – makes a living, but has higher aspirations

The model/product

The Monarchs

Narrator can’t use the Monarchs

Won’t violate the classist structure by allowing the Monarchs to be servants.

Donay (French) – The gift/inspiration

Monarchs – inequipped for their role as models

Other models – very equipped, comfortable, versatile

Art & alluring imagination to work.




Willa Cather (1873-1947), A Death in the Desert (1903)

Cather – “predominant American woman writer,”

Cather would have been upset by this title.

Cather & Wharton were more talented & capable

Cather – relationship between quality of life & art, particularly music.

The unfulfilled life needs art & love.



Edith Wharton (1862-1937), A Journey (1899)

High Line Flyer – a train

The train – a symbol/metaphor for life

Going home to die

Married to escape circumstance

Feisel – freckled kid (Henry James term)



Edith Wharton (1862-1937), The Other Two (1837)

Gus Varick – recurring character, florid, brash, self-important

Fiction of manners

Concentration on dialect, dress, interactions

Often a class conflict

Jane Austin – first author of “manners”

James Joyse – Dubliner’s Story

William Dean Howles

Jan. 6th – Feast of Epiphany

Inagnureasus (?)



F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), An Alcoholic Case (1937)

Told through the eyes of the nurse

Risked tuberculous and unnamed case of her own (possibly STD/VD)

Contrast Hemingway – jealous of Fitzgerald

Select Bar, Paris – Where Hemingway & Fitzgerald met.

Ritz Hotel



Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), A Clean Well-Lighted Place (1933)

Iceberg theory to creating art.

Little bit at the surface, but much more beneath the surface of the water

Style – repetition of key words/ideas; “nada” – lack of religion.

Favored dialog

Little attention to setting

Light & shadow

Underlying philosophy

Modernism – make it new

Fragmentation of human thought

Freud – influential in modernism

1920 – Introduction to Psychoanalysis published

Coordinating conjunctions, few subordinates

Childlike quality, deceptively simple

Omnishant viewpoint

Written during the Great Depression

Main character – plenty of money, no despair

Something going on outside the window – shows isolation

Style – Who’s saying what, distinguish forms & identify them

Alienation – Illusion – Temperance – Escape



Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), Sweat (1926)

Celebrated feminist

Following Harlem Renaissance

Combines folklore with biblical

Adam & Eve in reverse – serpent

Sykes – snakecharmer, lacks redeeming qualities

Delia – scared of snakes, bullwhip

Snake – sin, mortality, awful beauty

Biblical references – cup runeth over

Good/evil context



Langston Hughes (1902-1967), Red-Headed Baby (1934)

African American writers didn’t want to emulate European writers

Story – centered in urban north

Challenge to paternalism & racism

Own terms, black dignity & culture

Modernism – Joyce, Woolf, Hemingway, Porter

Poetic prose – recreating fragmented thought

Thought – conceptual, not articulated sentences

Impression of human thought made intelligible

Mr. Clarence – no moral responsibility



O. Henry (1862-1910), The Gift of the Magi (1905)

Starting writing in prison

Twist endings

Specific realism – “forget the bad/hashed metaphor”

Heavy-handed sentimentalism/moralism

The gifts, the magi, illusion to the bible