Howells and the Age of Realism

By Everett Carter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
CRITICAL REALISM

1. INDUSTRIALISM AND CORRUPTION

"The high moral ones cost more . . ." -- Twain and Warner

"I have done with preaching for the present. Later I may have something to say. Now I feel sure of nothing, not even what I've been saying here." This was the Reverend Julius Peck in Annie Kilburn; it was Howells speaking as well. For its mood in 1887 expressed the change in the tone of the age and of its serious writers. It was the end of the self-assurance of a representative man like Howells that eighteenth-century moderation and reason, adapted to the contemporary American scene, would inevitably make it better; it was the gradual disillusion of the age's genius, Mark Twain, in the certainty that the triumph of the empirical method was all that democratic America needed to perfect its democracy. The disillusion spelt, for Twain, the end of his greatness, for with it deepening upon him he was capable only of a sombre afterglow. But it established Howells as the representative man of his times, for the change in tone led him to the next stage of his development wherein he turned from the working out of the fates of a few people in their corner of the world to the problems of a whole society, and from the carefully constructed dramatic form to looser and more organic

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Howells and the Age of Realism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Contents 9
  • Prologue 13
  • Chapter I - Background 23
  • Chapter II - The Attack on The Sentimental 43
  • Chapter III - Towards a Philosophy Of Literary Realism 88
  • Chapter IV - Critical Realism 170
  • Chapter V - Naturalism And Introspection 225
  • Epilogue 265
  • Notes 277
  • Index 299
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