Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)
ph_0111207080-Frederic.jpg Harold Frederic Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Harold Frederic was a journalist by profession, so it is no surprise that he wrote a considerable amount of nonfiction. A large portion of his copy for The New York Times was essayistic and well researched and developed. Extended pieces also appeared regularly in English and American magazines. Two sizable groups of dispatches were brought out in book format, The Young Emperor William II of Germany: A Study in Character Development on a Throne (1891) and The New Exodus: A Study of Israel in Russia (1892). The first of these is not a notable work, despite the fact that its subject became one of the crucial figures of the early twentieth century—and despite the fact that, like almost all of Frederic’s fiction, it is a character study. The second work, however—a series of reports on pogroms under Czar Alexander III—was so effective that Frederic became persona non grata in Russia. One is tempted to add to his list of nonfiction the novel Mrs. Albert Grundy, a book that hangs by a narrative thread and is precisely what its subtitle proclaims: Observations in Philistia, that is, satiric sketches of the London bourgeoisie.

Also not surprising for a journalist, Frederic tried his hand at short fiction. His output ranges from poorly written juvenile beginnings to very readable stories about Ireland to a number of short novels and short stories about the Civil War. These latter pieces are his best; they are collected in variously arranged editions and attracted the attention of writers such as Stephen Crane. In them, Frederic examines the effect of the war on the people at home in central New York through insightful and striking situations and through a skillful handling of description, dialogue, and point of view.