The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.
§ 8. Hale
Another figure in the transition was Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909), whose The Man without a Country, first published in 1863, has been accepted generally as an American classic. Little else that he has written, and he wrote much in many fields, gives promise of surviving, and the reasons why this should survive are not immediately evident. As a short story it would seem to have almost fatal defects. It may be used as an example of mid-century diffuseness, its moralizing intent is only thinly veiled, it is episodic, and it does not culminate. Undoubtedly its timeliness—it is a document in the history of the war—and its genuine atmosphere of patriotism account partly for its success, but there are more vital reasons. It is really a work of art. With all its episodes it presents but a single situation, and that situation at the close has been so worked upon that it becomes to the reader a haunting presence, never to be forgotten. Moreover, there is reality to the story. Everything is in the concrete. The author adds specific detail to detail with the skill of a Defoe until, in spite of its manifest impossibility, the tale becomes alive, a piece of actual history, a human document. Few modern writers have surpassed Hale in what may be called the art of verisimilitude. He was the precursor of Stockton. A story like My Double and how he Undid me is manifestly a tour de force, yet one is in danger of gravely accepting it as a fact. Hale added to the short story not alone the sense of reality; he added plausibility as well.