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Featured Books

Featured Books

Old Creole Days: A Story of Creole Life (1907)Summary and Reviews of Old Creole Days: A Story of Creole Life (1907)
The Grandissimes A Story of Creole LifeSummary and Reviews of The Grandissimes A Story of Creole Life
Madame DelphineSummary and Reviews of Madame Delphine
John March - SouthernerSummary and Reviews of John March - Southerner
The CavalierSummary and Reviews of The Cavalier
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George Washington Cable

Click the banner or the individual items listed to buy and read Cable's work.

George Washington Cable (1844-1925) was a novelist of Louisiana, especially its blend of cultures.  He was born in New Orleans, though he New England and Virginia ancestry.  By fourteen, George was the sole breadwinner in his house.  By the age of nineteen, he was fighting in the Civil War, an experience that gave him the material for The Cavalier (1901), possibly his best novel.  After the war, Cable became a Louisiana levee surveyor.  Unfortunately, he contracted malaria while doing this work, but he turned it into an advantage by starting his writing.  As part of his beginning writing career, he wrote a column to the New Orleans Picayune.  He was well enough in 1869 to marry, and with his wife Louise eventually had five sons.  To pay the bills, he worked as a bookkeeper for a cotton firm, but he also had a short-lived job as a newspaper reporter.

Cable had to educate himself, but he did this rather successfully.  One key achievement in this process was his mastery of French, which he used to study the records of New Orleans in its original language.  Through this study, he gathered the material for his New Orleans stories that introduced the rest of America to New Orleans culture, history, and folklore.  Cable gained national attention with "'Sieur George," published in Scribner's Monthly in 1873.  Scribner's Monthly would publish "Belles Demoiselles Plantation," "'Tite Poulette," "Madame Délicieuse," "Jean-ah Poquelin," and other stories, all within three years after "Sieur George."  All these stories Cable published together in Old Creole Days (1879).  The local flavor and realism of these stories made him an important national literary figure.

Scribner's serialized The Grandissimes, which appeared in book form in 1880.  This is probably his most widely read novel today.  The novella Madame Delphine, followed a year later.  These novels deal with the weighty subjects of Creole culture and race relations.  Even though Creole readers did not approve of Cable's representation of their culture, his novels were successful enough to allow him to devote all his time to writing.

After Madame Delphine, Cable's writing became much preachier.  Dr. Sevier (1884) dealt with prison reform.  He also wrote a scathing exposé of the prison system for Century magazine.  Cable moved in 1885 Northampton, Massachusetts, for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that he had begun to alienate New Orleans residents because of his criticism of their treatment of black people.

After he moved, Cable wrote The Negro Question and John March, Southerner, both of which were even more critical of the white South.  Finally, with The Cavalier in 1901, Cable began a more romantic period, seemingly growing tired of criticizing a society that didn't seem to want change or simply giving in to publishers' tastes so he could keep food on his table.  Though his later work has its detractors, many critics acknowledge Cable has leading the way for later luminaries of southern literature like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, and others.


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