The American Novel, published last year, undertook to trace the progress of a literary type in the United States from its beginnings to the end of the nineteenth century; Contemporary American Novelists undertakes to study the type as it has existed during the first two decades of the twentieth century.
een largely inarticulate except for his rude songs and ballads; formula and tradition caught him early and in fiction stiffened one of the most picturesque of human beings--a modern Centaur, an American Cossack, a Western picaro--into a stock figure who in a stock costume perpetually sits a bucking broncho, brandishes a six-shooter or swings a lariat, rounds up stampeding cattle, makes fierce war on Mexicans, Indians, and rival outfits, and ardently, humbly woos the ranchman's gentle daughter or the timorous school-ma'am. He still has no Homer, no Gogol, no Fenimore Cooper even, though he invites a master of some sort to take advantage of a thrilling opportunity.
The same fate of formula and tradition befell another type multiplied by the local novelists--the bad boy. His career may be said to have begun in New England, with Thomas Bailey Aldrich's reaction from the priggish manikins who infested the older "juveniles"; but Mark Twain took him up with such mastery that his subsequent habitat has usually