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Bret Harte (1836-1902)

 
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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3360


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 10:49 am    Post subject: Bret Harte (1836-1902)  Reply with quote

The American writer Bret Harte (1836-1902) was more-or-less just a name to me until I downloaded his Complete Works onto my Kindle E-reader.  I thought I’d start with a short story A WAIF OF THE PLAINS which turned out to be a very long short story indeed in eleven chapters, practically a novella.  Harte, although born in Albany, New York, appears to have written mostly about the West (his most famous story is ‘The Outcasts of Poker Flat’), pioneers and settlers, and ‘A Waif of the Plains’ would appear to be typical.  Its chief character is a boy of eleven, Clarence Brant, whom we first meet on a wagon-train heading towards California to meet his relations, accompanied by little girl, Susy. Clarence & Susy get separated from the train and get lost on the prarie.  The first part of the story tells of their adventures including confrontations with Indians and stampeding buffalo. Susy soon disappears from the story and we follow Clarence, who has many adventures in California, including gold-prospecting, until several years later, when he’s fifteen the story has him re-meeting Susy.  I enjoyed ‘A Waif of the Plains’ very much. The prolific Harte is a vigorous and lively story-teller, just as good, I think, as Jack London who is more famous in Europe.  Harte’s story is full of good scenes, well-drawn characters and plenty of humour, and it’s very American.  As I read I could picture everything Harte described, and it seemed to me that ‘A Waif of the Plains’ would make an excellent film.  I think Harte is a neglected writer who deserves to be better known outside the USA.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 677


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I confess the name means nothing to me, Mike. The only Bret Harte I know is a professional wrestler. Odd, because here in Canada we are pretty much saturated with American culture. Thank you for bringing Harte to our attention.



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