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Selected Short Stories Wm. Dean Howells

Selected Short Stories Wm. Dean Howells (Paperback) by William Dean Howells, Ruth Bardon (Contributor)

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Summary

From Kirkus Reviews

A lovingly annotated sampling of stories by the prolific Howells (18371920), now best known for his many novels and for his unstinting efforts to champion realism in American literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bardon provides both a lengthy general introduction setting the stories (written between 1861 and 1917) within the context of Howells's career (ironically, as she points out, Howells was best known in his own time for his short fiction and essays; only later did he become identified primarily as a novelist), as well as prefaces to each of the 13 tales. They range from the elegantly slight (''A Dream'') to the lyrical (''Christmas Every Day''), and from closely observed tales of psychological and intellectual complexity (''A Difficult Case'') to work with frank supernatural overtones (''The Angel of the Lord''). A varied and impressive gathering, surprisingly fresh and intriguing, and a necessary volume for any Howells collection. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

5 out of 5 stars A Singular Voice, December 2, 2008

By Lynn Hoffman, author:The Short Course in Beer (Philadelphia) (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)       

It's hard to believe that Howells was a contemporary of Mark Twain. They seem to belong to different centuries: Twain to ours and Howells to Abraham Lincoln's. Howell's voice sounds necessarily a bit strange to a modern reader, but that strangeness gives him a special power.

He is inclined to narrate things from a distance. Even the agonies of a woman who has lost her lover in a war are told at a remove. In extreme cases, the narrator is telling the story as it was told by someone else who is relating events in the past. This style costs some immediacy, but it also keeps us from being totally distracted by personality. We don't root for these protagonists, but we listen to them.

And these are stories that are meant to get our ears. They demand our attention by their lack of polemic and the graceful nature of the narrative. Howells is a master.

Lynn Hoffman


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