Sunday, June 05, 2005

Rediscovering Howells

From the New York Sun (unfortunately, only paid subscribers can access much more than this):

Other than English majors and literary scholars, who reads William Dean Howells? If your project is 19th-century American fiction, then Hawthorne, Melville, James, Twain, Crane, and the early Wharton and Dreiser head the list. Yet Howells wrote magnificent travel books (he was U. S. consul in Venice), and at least three novels that deserve their place in the canon. "A Modern Instance" (1882) is a shrewd and diverting study of a corrupt and womanizing Boston journalist, Bartley Hubbard; "The Rise of Silas Lapham" (1885) dramatizes the fate of a self-made Vermont businessman; "A Hazard of New Fortunes" (1890), set in New York City, reflects profound misgivings about rampant capitalism.

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