Hamlin Garland, a Biography

Hamlin Garland, a Biography

Hamlin Garland, a Biography

Hamlin Garland, a Biography

Excerpt

The place of Hamlin Garland in American literature has been hotly debated ever since the publication of Main-Travelled Roads in 1893. The earliest critics were shocked by a realism which was in advance of its time. But soon the currents of American thought had eddied past Garland, leaving him stranded on the isolated reef of his "veritism." Naturalism had moved to the fore. Only once in his lifetime did Garland's inspiration synchronize with the taste of the public. A Son of the Middle Border was widely acclaimed, and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography followed. But immediately the socially-conscious writers of the twenties raised the cry:

Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat.

And academicians down to the present, usually basing their interpretations upon fragments of the Garland-Gilder correspondence, have tended to follow the same line.

Unquestionably Garland's literary reputation must rest upon a sprinkling of short stories and a volume or two of autobiography. But criticism continues to raise the issue of his motivations, to present the enigma of a talented writer who squandered his talents. It has seemed to me that the biographical approach would elucidate not only Garland the man, but Garland the writer.

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