I'm a Stranger Here Myself and Other Stories

I'm a Stranger Here Myself and Other Stories

I'm a Stranger Here Myself and Other Stories

I'm a Stranger Here Myself and Other Stories

Excerpt

Sinclair Lewis's earliest literary efforts were poems, but almost as early were his first short stories, and he wrote short stories throughout his life and published altogether about one hundred and twenty-five of them. This number includes the ten pieces of fiction that appeared in three undergraduate periodicals at Yale when Lewis was in college— the Lit, the Courant, and the Yale Monthly. There is little in these first stories that suggests the kind of writer that Lewis was to become. They are "literary" in the worst sense. With titles like "The Heart of Pope Innocent," "The Coward Minstrel," "Father Ambrosial," and "A Miracle Forsooth," the bulk of them are set in remote times and places, the prose is falsely poetic, falsely archaic, and the situations are both flimsy and artificial. Only two of them in any way suggest his mature work. "The Yellow Streak," with its exposure of affectation and its preference for the downright, and "A Theory of Values," with its treatment of simple country people and the failure of a dream of education, are exceptional in suggesting themes that would later concern him.

For the seven years that followed on his graduation, Lewis continued to struggle with the short story form, and he managed in those years to publish fourteen pieces in obscure periodicals with such names as Blue Mule, Gray Goose, and The Bellman. These stories show no great improvement over his college efforts nor do they seem to bring him much closer to the writer he was finally to be. He was amazingly inventive as far as ideas for stories were concerned (he is said to have traveled with a "plot file" packed with hundreds of story conceptions), but he was somehow unable either to develop his ideas dramatically . . .

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