Excerpt from The Best American Short Stories I was talking the other day to Alfred Coppard, who has steered more successfully than most English story writers away from the Scylla and Charybdis of the modern artist. He told me that he had been reading several new novels and volumes of short stories by con temporary American writers with that awakened interest in the civilization we are framing which is so noticeable among English writers during the past three years. He asked me a remarkable question, and the answer which I gave him suggested certain contrasts which seemed to me of basic importance for us all. He said: I have been reading books by Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Frank and Ben Hecht and Konrad Bercovici and Joseph Hergesheimer, and I can see that they are important books, but I feel that the essential point to which all this newly awakened literary consciousness is tending has somehow subtly eluded me. American and English writers both use the same language, and so do Scotch and Irish writers, but I am not puzzled when I read Scotch and Irish books as I am when I read these new American books. Why is it?
I had to think for a moment, and then the obvious answer occurred to me. I told him that I thought the reason for his moderate bewilderment was due to the fact that the Englishman or the Scotchman or the Irishman living at home was writing out of a background of racial memory and established tradition which was very much all of one piece, and that all such an. Artist's unspoken implications and subtleties could be easily taken for granted by his readers, and more or less thoroughly understood, because they were elements in harmony with a tolerably fixed and ordered world.
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