The Life and Letters of Henry Cuyler Bunner

The Life and Letters of Henry Cuyler Bunner

The Life and Letters of Henry Cuyler Bunner

The Life and Letters of Henry Cuyler Bunner

Excerpt

No fame is more evanescent than that of the journalist whose utterances one day shape the course of public affairs and the next have passed to the limbo of outworn issues. For several decades of the last century Henry Cuyler Bunner, as editor of Puck, was winning a respect not always accorded the editors of comic papers as the unyielding opponent of corruption, opportunism, and wildness in politics. He wielded a pen which knew no flinching in exposing ill-doing or wrong-headedness, and that by virtue of its owner's command of satire was a weapon of indubitable power. Direct and unsparing as Bunner's editorials were, they had the high merit of never betraying either bitterness or rancor, and they were enlivened by the flashes of humor that made his short stories so popular with the public for which they were written. Yet they are forgotten, and Bunner to the children of a generation which profited by their fearless pronouncements has become merely the author of delightful vers de société and teller of tales.

As a short story writer Bunner deserves rank with the best of the group that in the second half of the last century graced the literature of the United States. In common with Aldrich and Stockton, he practiced the type of story, later so highly developed by O. Henry, in which the effect of the narrative hinges upon a surprise cleverly sprung at the close. Like Aldrich he had the poet's instinct for selection and compression, his delight in the beauty of nature, and his delicacy of fancy. The whimsical turn that lent pungency to Stockton's work was Bunner's too, but without the exaggeration that made of the former's tales something frequently approaching extravaganza. Bunner was steeped in the French tradition and had both inherently and by absorption a Gallic wit. His adaptations from Maupassant, a collection of tales entitled "Made in France," are fairly amazing in the skill with which they convey the flavor of the originals.

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