The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

IX. Minor Humorists

§ 8. O. Henry

When not busied with comments on current events, Mr. Dooley sometimes had leisure to relate incidents of the life about him in the gas-house district. As an interpreter of the city, however, he yields to Sydney Porter (“O. Henry”). The O. Henry story is the last word in deft manipulation, but as a humorist Porter is not deeply philosophical. His neat situations, surprising turns, and verbal cleverness show a refinement upon the methods of predecessors, indeed, but not a new comic attitude. Unsurpassed in daring extravaganza when he can give himself completely to gaiety, he becomes immediately sober in the presence of thought or sentiment. In these respects he represents the norm of recent American humour at a high pitch of technical perfection, and his death in 1910 may fittingly be taken as the close of the period. Just at present, judicious Americans are importing their best current humour from Canada.