By Phillip Barrish
Targeting key works of late-nineteenth and early- twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish strains the emergence of recent methods of gaining highbrow prestige--that is, new methods of gaining some extent of cultural popularity. via prolonged readings of works via Henry James, William Dean Howells, Abraham Cahan, and Edith Wharton, Barrish emphasizes the diversities among realist modes of cultural authority and people linked to the increase of the social sciences.
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Extra info for American literary realism
In the scene preceding the two scenes that I will discuss, Tom Corey had accidentally come upon and then joined the Laphams as Silas was showing his family around the new house he has under construction. ”22 Penelope’s response separates her own enjoyment of Silas’s “way” of talking from her sister’s anxiety about it, even as she also emphatically diﬀerentiates her attitude toward Silas’s mode of speech from any possibility of disdainful superciliousness on Tom Corey’s part: “It’s the way father always does talk.
Morrell, and other Howells protagonists of the period must be diﬀerentiated from the “ﬂippant gayety” that characterizes vulgar newspaper reporting about social problems. In Boston newspapers such as the Sunrise, as Sewell explains to his wife, such gaiety is “odious” because of how it minimizes the seriousness of urban tragedies. Where news reporters’ tones of ﬂippant gaiety seem of a piece with how their coverage often “rather blinked” the city’s truly “worst cases,” the wry smiles of Sewell, March, and Morrell attest to the clear-eyedness that they bring to hard realities (Novels, –, p.
In The Rise of Silas Lapham, alignment with the simple and the natural always precludes any preferential taste for the simple or natural. Silas announces in the book’s very ﬁrst scene that he’s baﬄed by all the fuss some city people have begun to make about preserving nature areas, “as if we were all a set of dumn Druids” (p. ). Later, the narrator tells us that the Coreys’ elegant house looks “bare to the eyes of the Laphams” (it is signiﬁcant that Penelope, who can appreciate a sophisticated aesthetic of simplicity, is absent from this scene) (p.