AN O. HENRY CENTENARY. I posed the question here of why O. Henry is out of fashion and said that I thought that his use of the turn-of-the-century American vernacular made him unpopular with critics. The centenary of O. Henry’s death was June 10, 2010, and Tim Connell had a very good appreciation of O. Henry’s work in the Times Literary Supplement (June 4, 2010). Connell makes reference to O. Henry’s “exuberant style”, which I think is a good way of characterizing his language. Connell’s analysis suggests another answer to my question about why O. Henry is out of favor. He speaks of how in O. Henry “the endless optimism of the drifter and the wide open horizons of a growing country show through…in the people at the lowest end of society…” and of how the “atmosphere of cheap boarding houses, the teeming streets of the poorer quarters, the lower life reduced to sleeping on park benches” builds up a picture of New York. Reading Connell, it occurred to me that O. Henry may be disadvantaged with the critics by the rootless, isolated, working people he writes about—in contrast with the upper class people that were the subjects of the stories of Henry James and Edith Wharton.

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