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date: 23 July 2024

Howells, William Deanlocked

Howells, William Deanlocked

  • Susan Goodman

Extract

William Dean Howells was a consummate man of letters. Novelist, poet, playwright, memoirist, critic—this author of well over one hundred books also edited the leading magazines of his day: the Atlantic Monthly (1871–1881) and Harper's (“The Editor's Study,” 1886–1892, and “The Editor's Easy Chair,” 1900–1920. The years following the Civil War have been called the Age of Howells for several reasons. He helped to define and advocated a type of writing known as literary realism and he promoted the careers of many of the authors still associated with that movement. Sarah Orne Jewett, Samuel Clemens, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Hamlin Garland, Stephen Crane, Charles Chesnutt, and Paul Laurence Dunbar are just a few of the dozens of American writers he reviewed and in some cases introduced to the reading public. The number of European novelists is almost as long. He had a voracious interest in the literatures of other countries—reading, for example, Leo Tolstoy's novels in French translation or learning Spanish to read Cervantes in his own language. From his reviews, many Americans first learned about Thomas Hardy, Émile Zola, Henrik Ibsen, and Ivan Turgenev. He welcomed to the United States people as varied as Matthew Arnold, the British poet and critic of culture, and Maxim Gorky, the radical Russian novelist.

Subjects

  • North American Literatures

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