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Harte was born in Albany (New York) and lost his father when he was still very young, so he had to go to work at fifteen; he moved to California with his mother in 1853, working as a messenger, miner, typographer, school teacher and journalist. In this last trade he met Mark Twain, who ended up distancing himself from him because of his character of sablista, poor payer and abuser of his wife. He was a regular collaborator of the Golden Era and, from 1868, director of the important Overland Monthly magazine, in whose pages appeared the short stories of Californian Sketches. A humorous poem “The Heathen Chinne” (The Pagan Chinese), made him famous from the Pacific to the Atlantic. In 1878, at his request, he was appointed consul in the city of Crefeld, in Prussia, and then in Glasgow. His last years were spent in London enjoying the friendship of Charles Dickens; He died in Surrey at sixty-three.
With a reputation as a drunkard and a bohemian, and, as has already been said, as a sablist and poor payer, his first literary works appeared in The Californian magazine. He directed the Overland Monthly. He became famous with a collection of poems, The Lost Galleon, now forgotten, but his fame endures through his prose stories, in which he forged, parodying the style and vision of the solemn and mendacious world of James Fenimore Cooper, the iconography of “Far West” or Far West and of the manifest Destiny: the cattle rancher, the diligences, the bandits, the mining towns, the crowded saloons, the gamblers, the cattlemen and cowboys, the sheriffs, the girls, the pioneers, the Indians .. His folk tales about the “Wild West” would later make a fortune in the cinema and his ironic and impressionistic style prefigured later American prose. You can sign up in a certain realism with certain customs of Romanticism. See novel of the west.
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