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A Broken Teacup

Amanda Claybaugh: The ambition of William DeanHowells, 6 October 2005

William DeanHowellsA Writer’s Life 
by Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson.
California, 519 pp., £22.95, May 2005, 0 520 23896 6
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... At the end of his life, with his reputation already waning, William DeanHowells remarked that he would be remembered for the quantity of his writing, if not for its quality. He had published a hundred books: plays and poetry collections, memoirs and travel essays, novels and novellas ...

Absent Framers

Andreas Teuber, 31 March 1988

... to hand over the record of Chief Justice John Jay’s treaty negotiations with Great Britain, William Vans Murray of Maryland expressed his belief that where there were ‘doubts upon some of the plainest passages’ of the Constitution it was the duty of a person ‘known to have been in the illustrious body that framed the instrument’ to ‘clear up ...

‘I thirst for his blood’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James, 25 November 1999

Henry James: A Life in Letters 
edited by Philip Horne.
Penguin, 668 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7139 9126 7
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A Private Life of Henry James: Two Women and His Art 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 500 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6166 3
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... Master’s letters rather exasperating. ‘I read your current novel with pleasure,’ he wrote to William DeanHowells in 1880, ‘but I don’t think the subject fruitful, & I suspect that much of the public will agree with me.’ As a response to another novelist’s work, this is uncharacteristic only in its brevity ...

I can’t, I can’t

Anne Diebel: Edel v. the Rest, 21 November 2013

Monopolising the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship 
by Michael Anesko.
Stanford, 280 pp., £30.50, March 2012, 978 0 8047 6932 7
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... built at the turn of the 20th century and advertised to appeal to ‘refined persons’. When William DeanHowells first told James about the building, James replied that the news ‘at once deeply agitated & wildly uplifted’ him. It was his ‘delirious dream’ that the event would bring his work to the ...

Yes and No

John Bayley, 24 July 1986

Lionel Trilling and the Fate of Cultural Criticism 
by Mark Krupnick.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $25.95, April 1986, 0 8101 0712 0
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... off his head and Blackburn successfully gets round Howe and ends up a success in the eyes of the Dean and college. Though the story is told with great feeling and style, its schematism may seem crude. But this is done to lure the reader on. Trilling’s ulterior purpose is to show, not how things go wrong which a liberal society ought to be able to put ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: ‘Inside the Dream Palace’, 6 February 2014

... no one on the New York arts scene fails to put in an appearance in Tippins’s book, starting with William DeanHowells and Stephen Crane, up through Thomas Wolfe, and on to anyone you care to name, sliding to an elegant halt with Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland. Largely it’s the names, not the work. You almost ...

Special Place

Sean Wilentz, 19 April 1990

America’s Rome. Vol I: Classical Rome 
by William Vance.
Yale, 454 pp., £19.95, September 1989, 0 300 03670 1
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America’s Rome. Vol II: Catholic and Contemporary Rome 
by William Vance.
Yale, 498 pp., £19.95, September 1989, 0 300 04453 4
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... and depictions of Rome. Out of these changes, and the persisting themes that attended them, William Vance has fashioned this gargantuan two-volume commentary on American culture from the end of the 18th century to the present. The project is not as far-fetched as it might appear at first. To the extent that American culture has puritanical roots, Rome ...

Making doorbells ring

David Trotter: Pushing Buttons, 22 November 2018

Power Button: A History of Pleasure, Panic and the Politics of Pushing 
by Rachel Plotnick.
MIT, 424 pp., £30, October 2018, 978 0 262 03823 2
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... which is notable for its lavish attention to the social and cultural life of objects. In novels by William DeanHowells, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Kathleen Thompson, Henry James, Edith Wharton and others, the encounter with technology is a small step taken, often regardless, on a journey defined by an ...

Deadly Eliza

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: ‘The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors’, 1 November 2001

The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors 
by William DeanHowells et al.
Duke, 416 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2838 0
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Publishing the Family 
by June Howard.
Duke, 304 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2771 6
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... We have good reason to be wary of paternal metaphors for authorship, but characterising W.D. Howells as the father of The Whole Family is hard to resist – if only because it reminds us of how little control a modern patriarch has over his offspring. A composite novel by 12 hands that originated in a suggestion from Howells to the editor of Harper’s Bazar (as the magazine was then called) in the spring of 1906, The Whole Family began its serial run the following year with a contribution by Howells himself ...

Voice of America

Tony Tanner, 23 September 1993

Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices 
by Shelley Fishkin.
Oxford, 270 pp., £17.50, June 1993, 0 19 508214 1
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Black Legacy: America’s Hidden Heritage 
by William Piersen.
Massachusetts, 264 pp., £36, August 1993, 9780870238543
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Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism 
by Kenneth Warren.
Chicago, 178 pp., £21.95, August 1993, 0 226 87384 6
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... Warren has decided to address the work of two major white ‘realists’ – Henry James and William DeanHowells. He does this hoping ‘to reveal that concerns about “race” may structure our American texts, even when those texts are not “about” race in any substantive manner’. He is hearkening to Toni ...

In what sense did she love him?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Constance Fenimore Woolson, 8 May 2014

The Complete Letters of Constance Fenimore Woolson 
edited by Sharon Dean.
Florida, 609 pp., £71.95, July 2012, 978 0 8130 3989 3
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... the city of Charleston. When next she alludes to James, it is to suspect the Atlantic’s editor, William DeanHowells, of playing favourites. Her first report on the fiction itself is no more promising. ‘I was very much disappointed with … Roderick Hudson,’ she wrote to a friend in the summer of 1876. A few ...

Relations will stop at nothing

Philip Horne, 5 March 1987

The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William DeanHowells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... keep his place in the American market, and the wish to maintain his useful friendships with W.D. Howells, the originator, and Elizabeth Jordan, the editor, of the strange Harper’s project. If these are plausible causes for James’s involvement, however, they don’t seem wholly to account for the way in which, when his turn came, the creative James showed ...

Haute Booboisie

Wendy Lesser: H.L. Mencken, 6 July 2006

Mencken: The American Iconoclast 
by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers.
Oxford, 662 pp., £19.99, January 2006, 0 19 507238 3
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... in these passages the ringing tones of the progressive tradition extending from Mark Twain and William DeanHowells through Norman Mailer, Murray Kempton and beyond, you are mistaken. Mencken also wrote this: The educated Negro of today is a failure, not because he meets insuperable difficulties in life, but ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal, 3 February 2000

Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... at John Barth and Thomas Pynchon, among others), gave the now unfashionable Somerset Maugham and William DeanHowells their dues, and resurrected the novels of Dawn Powell from neglect. Confronted with reams of words which speak so forthrightly for themselves, Kaplan resorts to academic robot-talk, wading into a minor ...


James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was puffed by Moody), David Foster Wallace and William T. Vollmann, Moody spurns the eye-dropper technique of minimalism that was fashionable when he was a nervous colt in the 1980s in favour of a bachelor-guy pack-rat approach where everything the author has ever seen, read, felt or heard on headphones is ...

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