The Lane That Had No Turning, Volume 1

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The story with which this book opens, 'The Lane That Had No Turning',gives the title to a collection which has a large share in whateverimportance my work may possess. Cotemporaneous with the Pierre series,which deal with the Far West and the Far North, I began in the'Illustrated London News', at the request of the then editor, Mr. ClementK. Shorter, a series of French Canadian sketches of which the first was'The Tragic Comedy of Annette'. It was followed by 'The Marriage of theMiller, The House with the Tall Porch, The Absurd Romance of P'titeLouison, and The Woodsman's Story of the Great White Chief'. They werebegun and finished in the autumn of 1892 in lodgings which I had taken onHampstead Heath. Each--for they were all very short--was written at asitting, and all had their origin in true stories which had been told mein the heart of Quebec itself. They were all beautifully illustrated inthe Illustrated London News, and in their almost monosyllabic narrative,and their almost domestic simplicity, they were in marked contrast to themore strenuous episodes of the Pierre series. They were indeed inkeeping with the happily simple and uncomplicated life of French Canadaas I knew it then; and I had perhaps greater joy in writing them and thepurely French Canadian stories that followed them, such as 'Parpon theDwarf, A Worker in Stone, The Little Bell of Honour, and The Prisoner',than in almost anything else I have written, except perhaps 'The Right ofWay and Valmond', so far as Canada is concerned.I think the book has harmony, although the first story in it coverseighty-two pages, while some of the others, like 'The Marriage of theMiller', are less than four pages in length. At the end also there arenine fantasies or stories which I called 'Parables of Provinces'. All ofthese, I think, possessed the spirit of French Canada, though all aremore or less mystical in nature. They have nothing of the simple realismof 'The Tragic Comedy of Annette', and the earlier series. These ninestories could not be called popular, and they were the only stories Ihave ever written which did not have an immediate welcome from theeditors to whom they were sent. In the United States I offered them to'Harper's Magazine', but the editor, Henry M. Alden, while, as I know,caring for them personally, still hesitated to publish them. He thoughtthem too symbolic for the every-day reader. He had been offered four ofthem at once because I declined to dispose of them separately, though theeditor of another magazine was willing to publish two of them. Messrs.Stone & Kimball, however, who had plenty of fearlessness where literaturewas concerned, immediately bought the series for The Chap Book, longsince dead, and they were published in that wonderful little short-livedmagazine, which contained some things of permanent value to literature.They published four of the series, namely: 'The Golden Pipes, TheGuardian of the Fire, By that Place Called Peradventure, The Singing ofthe Bees, and The Tent of the Purple Mat'. In England, because I wouldnot separate the first five, and publish them individually, two or threeof the editors who were taking the Pierre series and other storiesappearing in this volume would not publish them. They, also, werefrightened by the mystery and allusiveness of the tales, and had anapprehension that they would not be popular.Perhaps they were right. They were all fantasies, but I do not wish themother than they are. One has to write according to the impulse thatseizes one and after the fashion of one's own mind. This at least can besaid of all my books, that not a page of them has ever been written toorder, and there is not a story published in all the pages bearing myname which does not represent one or two other stories rejected bymyself. The art of rejection is the hardest art which an author has tolearn; but I have never had a doubt as to my being justified in
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