A Psychological Counter-Current in Recent Fiction by William Dean Howells

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews


An excerpt:

It is consoling as often as dismaying to find in what seems a cataclysmal tide of a certain direction a strong drift to the opposite quarter. It is so divinable, if not so perceptible, that its presence may usually be recognized as a beginning of the turn in every tide which is sure, sooner or later, to come. In reform, it is the menace of reaction; in reaction, it is the promise of reform; we may take heart as we must lose heart from it. A few years ago, when a movement which carried fiction to the highest place in literature was apparently of such onward and upward sweep that there could be no return or descent, there was a counter-current in it which stayed it at last, and pulled it back to that lamentable level where fiction is now sunk, and the word "novel" is again the synonym of all that is morally false and mentally despicable. Yet that this, too, is partly apparent, I think can be shown from some phases of actual fiction which happen to be its very latest phases, and which are of a significance as hopeful as it is interesting. Quite as surely as romanticism lurked at the heart of realism, something that we may call "psychologism" has been present in the romanticism of the last four or five years, and has now begun to evolve itself in examples which it is the pleasure as well as the duty of criticism to deal with.

About William Dean Howells

See more books from this Author
William Dean Howells was born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio on March 1, 1837. He dropped out of school to work as a typesetter and a printer's apprentice. He taught himself through intensive reading and the study of Spanish, French, Latin, and German. He wrote a campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Lincoln appointed him U.S. consul in Venice, Italy in 1861 as a reward. After returning to the U.S. several years later, he became an assistant editor for The Atlantic Monthly, later becoming editor from 1871 to 1881. He also wrote columns for Harper's New Monthly Magazine and occasional pieces for The North American Review. As an editor and critic, he was a proponent of American realism. Although he wrote over a 100 books in various genres including novels, poems, literary criticism, plays, memoirs, and travel narratives, he is best known for his realistic fiction. His novels include A Modern Instance, The Rise of Silas Lapham, A Hazard of New Fortunes, The Undiscovered Country, A Chance Acquaintance, An Imperative Duty, Annie Kilburn, and The Coast of Bohemia. He received several honorary degrees from universities as well as a Gold Medal for fiction (later renamed after him as the Howells Medal) from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He died from pneumonia on May 11, 1920.
Published May 12, 2012 by Intl Business Pubns USA. 150 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Fiction

Rate this book!

Add Review