Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/15

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INTRODUCTION

ix

is a funeral, at which are numerous mourners. Narrowing the mourners to one, the author follows the reminiscences of an old mother—presumably overcome with grief under the heavy swathes of her English crêpe—who does not weep, for entertaining reasons, but at length bursts into tears, for reasons even more entertaining. A whole life is rounded through the moments of reflection of old Mrs. Overton whose mind the author, once having entered it, never leaves. It is a hard story, hard as a precious stone and as luminant. Since Miss Newman is the author of "The Short Story’s Mutations," a work which bespeaks her interest in the development of the short story, it may be guessed that this gem is no accident. She knew the particular technique she was employing, was cognizant of its advantages—as Henry James would have been cognizant.

Over the first prize there was more debate. "White Apes," by Fannie Hurst, headed two lists. But four judges held that since the story was published in two parts, it falls outside the limitations imposed on this committee who consider only one-part stories. Its employment of heredity, its application of the Freudian theory, its vigour, the Greek quality of its tragedy, the vivid style by which these are conveyed—all contribute to one of the best tales Miss Hurst has written. ‘White Apes” is superior, even, to "Humoresque" (reprinted in the first volume of this series), which in its motion-picture version became popular throughout the earth.

"What Do You Mean—Americans?" held first place on one list but was voted out inasmuch as Mr. Steele has received two prizes from the Society of Arts and Sciences. Oddly enough the judge who preferred it remarked that having been recently to Cape Cod he found the story a perfect reflection of the life he saw there, while the judge who gave it the lowest rating—a Steele fan and friend, at that—averred that having been many times on Cape Cod she found it not at all adequate.

"A Different Country," by Josephine Daskam Bacon, stood first on another list. But most of the committee, though admitting its charm, felt it to be another in the long chain of tales that began with "The Brushwood Boy" and reached the stage last season in "Outward Bound."