Published: Jan 6 2015
Size: 6 x 9
Projects of the Simms Initiatives
Martin Faber and Other Tales
William Gilmore Simms
Martin Faber and Other Tales includes the novella Martin Faber, as well as nine other short stories and a poem. This publication marks a significant branching out for Simms—up until this point he had published almost exclusively poetry, and this is his foray into a new genre that would become his life's work. Following this, Simms became primarily a fiction writer.
Reviewers tended to find Martin Faber representative of a promising new voice in American letters. The stories collected with the title novella exhibit concerns with American history, the fantastic, and the romantic. "A Passage of Arms in '76" is one of Simms's earliest pieces of Revolutionary War fiction, and briefly explores an aspect of Charleston's experience with that conflict. Other stories, like "The Plank" and "Juan Ponce de Leon," elicit Simms's interest in how other aspects of history serve as the material for imaginative literature, exploring how American history and national development was shaped not only by English colonization, but also by Spanish explorers and the effects of piracy. Martin Faber itself exists as a precursor to the southern gothic mode, and the influence of German Romanticism on Simms's work is seen in tales like "Sweet William" and "The Spirit Bridegroom." Martin Faber and Other Tales closes with a poem, suggesting that while Simms may have come to see the novel as his primary genre, he would never abandon his first love. Here, then, we have a collection that presents the most significant moves of Simms's overall literary project in miniature.