The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) established William Dean Howells's reputation in the annals of American literature. This collection of essays argues the renewed importance of Howells's novel for an understanding of literature as social force as well as a literary form. In his introduction Donald Pease recounts the fall and rise of the novel's value in literary history, outlines the various critical responses to Silas Lapham, and then restores Silas Lapham to its social context. The essays that follow expand on this theme, challenging the accepted views of literary critics by explicating narrative methods and the genre of literary realism. Focusing much of its attention on economics of morality, manners, and pain, as well as the marketplace, the volume as a whole argues that a relationship exists between Howells's realism and its socioeconomic context.
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