Day's End and Other Stories.
London: Jonathan Cape, 1928 (June), 288 pp. New York: Viking Press, 1928. Dedication: "to George William Lucas [Bates's maternal grandfather], also a story-teller."
Bates's first collection includes twenty-five stories, almost every one he had written by the age of 23. The tales concern ordinary people -- in many cases relatively powerless and inarticulate children, adolescents, or old people -- facing unremarkable challenges in life. All but a few of the tales reflect Bates's Northampton roots, and two exhibit his dislike of organized religion.
In the preface to Country Tales, a 1938 collection of his stories (including none from this first collection), Bates would write that "stories like 'Fear," 'Fishing,' 'Blossoms,' 'the Idiot' and 'Harvest'... were written easily, quickly and light-heartedly, often between breakfast and lunch...I was groping my way towards becoming a conscious writer....I showed a dangerous appetite for sucking the significance out of trivialities [which] threatened...to make me a writer of very limited scope." He also refers to "The Birthday" and "Two Candles" as examples of "the dreamy world of the subjective...in which mood was more important than character." "The Flame" is the only story in the volume selected by Bates for inclusion in his 1963 collection of "best stories," Seven by Five). The opening story, "Day's End," can be considered Bates's first novella.
While the New Yorker (as quoted by Eads) calls the collection "splendid short stories by a young man who should be pensioned by the king," other reviews were less effusive. The New York Times concludes a lengthy review by saying that "most of these stories are of individuals beaten by themselves, or what they think about themselves...These are moods, done quietly in one color. As stories, they will add nothing to the reputation of the author, and many of them...would better have been left as character sketches in the author's notebook..." Similarly, The Spectator comments that "his subdued method is not always effective...on the whole, we are left with a sense of impotent and almost imbecile creatures lapsing into paralysis in an unnaturally ominous world." The Times Literary Supplement notes that "by their inexpressiveness and yet artistic economy Mr. Bates's writings have that 'illusion of vague profundity' which Mr. Santayana has spoken of as a characteristic of youthful sensibility. But he has undoubtedly found the way in which he should write, and the more he writes like himself the better." The Nation & Athenaeum characterizes the collection well: "He does not often attempt to characterize his figures: they are just human beings in the common tragic situation of life, childbirth, unhappy love, illness and old age, death. And round them is the English countryside, in painting which Mr. Bates makes continual and deliberate use of the pathetic fallacy, so that the struggles and sufferings of man may appear part of a universal rule, to which also the clouds and trees obey."
Forum (date unknown, excerpt attached from Eads)
The Nation, “Fiction Shorts,” 127, October 10, 1928, p. 377.
Nation & Athenaeum, June 9, 1928 (attached)
New Statesman, July 21, 1928 (attached)
New York Times, October 14, 1928 (attached)
New Yorker (date unknown)
Saturday Review of Literature 5, “The New Books,” January 5, 1929, p. 575,
Spectator, July 14, 1928 (attached)
Times Literary Supplement, “New Books and Reprints,” July 5, 1928, part 2, p. 506 (attached)
Contains: Day's End; The Baker's Wife; The Birthday; The Shepherd; The Easter Blessing; The Spring Song; The Mother; Fear; The Dove; The Flame; The Holiday; Two Candles; The Fuel-Gatherers; The Father; Gone Away; Harvest; The Barge; The Lesson; The Schoolmistress; Fishing; Never; Nina; The Voyage; The Idiot; Blossoms.
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