Friday, September 16, 2011

On "Tennessee's Partner" by Bret Harte (3622 words) ***

I'm highlighting this 140-year-old story mostly for its beautiful language and its humorous turn of phrase. That the writing has been around so long and still seems fresh is quite an achievement. Tennessee partner is a man who quite literally lives for his friend. When that friend gets into trouble, the partner is there. But what's really cool are Harte's observations about the community and about the jury rigged up to try Tennessee. One gets a sense that Harte doesn't particularly take much liking to the American, or at least American western, legal system: "they were ready to listen to any defense, which they were already satisfied was insufficient." The tale is full of such bracing observations like these. Read more of them here.

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