THE AMERICANS FROM BRET HARTE TO THE NINETIES
THE use of Bret Harte to separate two literary periods is more convenient than inevitable. Harte was the great advertiser of the short story, and accomplished with it certain remarkable things, but only in a restricted sense did he begin a new era. The years of which we have now to write, the two score in which the American short story has grown from an infant industry to a national avocation, do not date from The Luck of Roaring Camp. But the several well-marked kinds of stories most popular with us first became readily distinguishable in the decade in which that tale was written, or in the years just succeeding. Bret Harte is the figure which closes the struggle to popularize the new short story in America. He is only one of the progenitors of our current short-story fiction.
These forty years in short narrative have closely paralleled the trade in Oriental rugs. In one respect, the short-story market differs from Constantinople. Modern Ghiordez, Kirmanshah, Tabriz worthy the names are not procurable except in the conceit of the sanguine collector, while as good short stories as ever were written are always to be found somewhere in the bales of stock goods. But, in both instances, an enormous demand has caused