The Essay and The Drama


The Essay.

Among contemporary American essayists, Samuel McChord Crothers (born 1857), a Unitarian clergyman in Cambridge, holds a distinctive place. Marked with a frequent touch of humor and a whimsical fancy, his work is reminiscent of that of Oliver Wendell Holmes. The Gentle Reader (1903), The Pardoner's Wallet (1905), Among Friends (1910), Humanly Speaking (1912), and The Dame School of Experience (1919) are the titles of his most engaging volumes. Agnes Repplier (born 1858), of Philadelphia, has written seriously and suggestively on many themes. Compromises (1904), Americans and Others (1912), Counter Currents (1915), and Points of Friction (1920) are representative volumes. In A Fireside Sphinx (1901) and Cats (1912) her subjects are less formal and more intimate. Bliss Perry (born 1860), editor of the Atlantic Monthly (1899-1909) and since Professor of English Literature at Harvard, is the author of occasional essays collected under the titles The Amateur Spirit (1904), Park Street Papers (1909),The American Mind (1912), and The American Spirit in Literature (1918). In addition to several monographs on American men of letters, he has also written two valuable texts: A Study of Prose Fiction (1902) and A Study of Poetry (1920). Our most notable representative in the field of literary criticism is Paul Elmer More (born 1864), editor of The Nation (1909-1914). The first volume of his Shelburne Essays was published in 1904; since that date ten successive volumes have appeared under the same general title. Henry Louis Mencken (born 1880), journalist and critic, author of A Book of Prefaces (1917) and a series of volumes, Prejudices (1919, 1920, 1921), together with a study of The American Language (1918, revised 1922), belongs to the "modern" group of writers. Independent and unconventional in his judgments, vigorous and unabashed in the expression of his views, he is sometimes irritating, sometimes amusing and refreshing.

Purely literary essays of unusual interest and charm are to be found in Amenities of Book Collecting and Kindred Affections (1918) and An Amazing Farce and Other Diversions of a Book Collector(1921), by Alfred Edward Newton (born 1863), of Philadelphia, an ardent book-lover and a collector of first editions. In lighter vein are the essays of Charles S. Brooks (born 1878), Journeys to Bagdad (1915) and Chimney-pot Papers (1919), and those of Robert C. Holliday (born 1880), Walking-Stick Papers (1918), and Broome Street Straws (1919). Pleasantly suggestive of the spirit of Thoreau are the essays of Dallas Lore Sharp (born 1870), a professor of English in Boston University, a lover of nature and the life out of doors. Roof and Meadow (1904), The Lay of the Land (1908), The Face of the Fields (1911), The Fall of the Year (1911), Winter (1912), The Spring of the Year (1912), Summer (1913), Beyond the Pasture Bars (1913), and The Hills of Hingham (1916) are representative titles. Stewart Edward White (born 1873) has written vividly of nature in wilder aspects. The Forest (1903), The Silent Places (1904), and The Mountains (1904) contain his best descriptive sketches.

Humor and Philosophy.

The modern institution of the daily "Column" in many of our prominent newspapers has produced a group of writers whose work is not altogether journalistic but has permanent literary value. It was in the nineties of the last century that George Ade introduced his humorous characters Artie, Pink Marsh, and Doc Horne in a series of sketches, followed by his earlier Fables in Slang, in the columns of the Chicago Record. Finley Peter Dunne (born 1867) in another Chicago paper first gave to the public the wit and satire of his well-wrought character Mr. Dooley. Mr. Dooley in Peace and War (1898) was the first in a lengthy series of Dooley books. A later development, the column filled with pungent paragraphs in verse or prose, adding salt and flavor to the editorial page, is now an important feature of the daily paper. Such was B. L. T.'s A Line o' Type or Two, in the Chicago Tribune, the work of Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921), which merited the national reputation that it gained. The Pipe Smoke Carry (1912) and The So-Called Human Race (1922) preserve some of this writer's wit and wisdom. F. P. A. Franklin Pierce Adams (born 1881), who edited The Conning Tower in the New York Tribune, is represented by the volumes, By and Large (1914), Weights and Measures (1917), and Something Else Again (1920). Don Marquis, Donald Robert Perry Marquis (born 1878), conductor of the Sun Dial in the New York

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