In reaffirming the significant position of the American short story as compared with the English short story, I am more impressed than ever with the leadership maintained by American artists in this literary form. Mr. James Stephens has been criticising us for our curiously negative achievement in novel writing. He has compared the American novelist with the English novelist and found him wanting. He is compelled to deny literary distinction to the American novel, and he makes a sweeping indictment of American fiction in consequence. But does he know the American short story? If you turn to the English magazines, you will find a certain form of conte of narrow range developed to a point of high literary merit in such a paper as the Nation or the New Statesman. But if you look for short stories in the literary periodicals, you will not find them, and if you turn to the popular English magazines, you will be amazed at the cheap and meretricious quality of the English short story. It would be idle to dispute about the origin of the short story, for several literatures may claim its birth, but the American short story has been developed as an art form to the point where it may fairly claim a sustained superiority, as different in kind as in quality from the tale or conte of other literatures. It would be difficult to trace the reasons for its specially healthy growth in a soil so idly fertilized as our American reading public, but it is less difficult and far more valuable to trace its development and changing standards from year to year as the field of its interest widens and its technique becomes more and more assured and competent. Accordingly it seems advisable to undertake a study of the American short story from year to year as it is represented in the American periodicals which care most to develop its art and its audiences, and to appraise so far as may be the relative achievement of author and magazine in the successful fulfilment of this aim. We have listened to much wailing during the past year about the absence of all literary qualities in our fiction. We have been judged by Englishmen and Irishmen who do not know our work and by Americans who do know it. We have been appraised at our real worth by Mr. Edward Garnett, who is probably the only English critic competent through sufficient acquaintance to discuss us. Mr. Owen Wister and Mr. Henry Sydnor Harrison have discussed us with each other, and bandied names to and fro rather uncritically. And Mr. Robert Herrick has endeavored to reassure us kindly and a little wistfully. Mr. Stephens has scolded us,and Mr. Howells and Mr. Alden have counselled us wisely. And many others have ventured opinions and offered judgment. The general verdict against American literature is Guilty! Is this wise? Is this just? Twelve years ago, if the public had been sufficiently interested, such a dispute might have arisen about American poetry. If it had arisen, the jury would probably have shouted "Guilty!" with one voice. We had no faith in our poetry, and we were afraid of enthusiasm. It was not good form. One or two poets refused to despair of the situation. They affirmed their faith in our spiritual and imaginative substance persistently and in the face of apathy and discouragement. They made us believe in ourselves, and now American poetry is at the threshold of a new era. It is more vital than contemporary English poetry.