Eugene Field

 

During the year 1890 I had been formulating my first dim notion as to what it was I wanted to do in life. For two years and more I had’ been reading Eugene Field’s “Sharps and Flats,” a column he wrote daily for the Chicago Daily News, and through this, the various phases of life which he suggested in a humorous though at times romantic way, I was beginning to suspect, vaguely at first, that I wanted to write, possibly something like that. Nothing else that I had so far read-novels, plays, poems, histories-gave me quite the same feeling for constructive thought as did the matter of his daily notes, poems, and aphorisms, which were of Chicago principally, whereas nearly all others dealt with foreign scenes and people.

— Theodore Dreiser, A Book About Myself

 

Everything Field wrote in prose or verse reflects his contempt for earth’s mighty and his sympathy for earth’s million mites. His art, like that of his favorite author and prototype, Father Prout, was “to magnify what is little and fling a dash of the sublime into a two-penny post communication.” Sense of earthly grandeur he had little or none. Sense of the minor sympathies of life-those minor sympathies that are common to all and finally swell into the major song of life-of this sense he was compact. It was the meat and marrow of his life and mind, of his song and story. With unerring instinct Field, in his study of humanity, went to the one school where the emotions, wishes, and passions of mankind are to be seen unobscured by the veil of consciousness. He was forever scanning whatever lies hidden within the folds of the heart of childhood. He knew children through and through because he studied them from themselves and not from books. He associated with them on terms of the most intimate comradeship and wormed his way into their confidence with assiduous sympathy. Thus he became possessed of the inmost secrets of their childish joys and griefs and so became a lit­erary philosopher of childhood.

— Slason Thompson, Eugene Field: A Study in Heredity and Contradictions (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901), Volume I, pg. x

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   January 2023

 

Eugene Field

 

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