Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974


           Stories and Tales is Volume V of the University of South Carolina’s Centennial Edition of the writings of William Gilmore Simms[1].  This volume contains fifteen stories and tales, chronologically presented, collecting writings from all phases of Simms’s career. [2]  Simms wrote short fiction, often of wildly inconsistent quality, throughout his long career; his best fiction was praised by Poe, while his poorer fiction was often self-consciously born out of economic necessity[3].  Simms published his short fiction widely both in a variety of periodicals and multiple book-length collections[4].  Stories collected in the Centennial Edition of Stories and Tales are drawn from several magazines, journals, and even one-off printings, as well as from four of Simms’s published collections of short fiction.[5]  Importantly, none of the stories collected here were included in The Wigwam and the Cabin, “the one well-known group of his tales which Simms himself collected.”  Thus, John Caldwell Guilds, the editor of this volume, gathers together many of Simms’s lesser-known works in order to call attention to their real significance.[6]  Further, Stories and Tales samples from the two broad divisions into which Simms placed his stories:  “domestic tales” or “tales of the South,” those that have a strong realism and impulse towards specificity in subject matter, and “tales of the imagination,” more philosophical or fantastical stories, often influenced by European, and particularly German, romanticism[7].  Of particular note are the final three stories in this volume, “How Sharp Snaffles Got His Capital and Wife,” “Bald-Head Bill Bauldy,” and “The Humours of the Manager,” all of which reveal Simms’s talents as a writer of humor.