Sharing similarities with the fiction of his friend Henry James, a number of William Dean Howells' novels focus on culture clashes between Americans and Europeans. In the novel Indian Summer, a disgruntled journalist gives up the business and tries to recapture the magic of his youthful sojourn in Italy.
Set in Ohio in the early 1800s, William Dean Howells' final novel The Leatherwood God is a dramatic look at religious fervor. It tells the story of Joseph Dylks, a charismatic character who builds a following among his fellow churchgoers and eventually begins his own schismatic sect.
With its original publication in 1882, the novel A Modern Instance created a scandal, as it was one of the first American novels ever to depict divorce as a viable -- and sometimes even logical -- possibility. The marriage between Marcia and Bartley Hubbard is slowly torn apart as Bartley is gradually consumed by greed.
A significant figure in American literature, William Dean Howells was a proponent of social realism, and he grapples with issues of class and cultural clashes in the novel Annie Kilburn. After many years abroad, a family tragedy brings Annie back to her small hometown in New England. She finds that her experiences in Europe have opened her eyes to the harsh truth about poverty in the United States, and she resolves to do something about it.
After having been orphaned at a young age, Lydia Blood has been shuffled between relatives for much of her life. At the age of 19, she is being sent to live with an aunt who lives in Venice, where Lydia hopes to find success as a singer. But her plans are swayed after a life-changing encounter on the journey to Italy.
William Dean Howells' novel A Foregone Conclusion is set in Venice, where Howells himself served as an American consul for several years. It follows a clash of cultures and mores that arises between an American artist and diplomat and a local priest.
In this engaging novel from "Dean of American Letters" William Dean Howells, a sheltered young woman from the Midwest makes her way to New York to pursue a career as an artist. Once there, she experiences a vertiginous degree of culture shock as she falls in with a crowd of counterculture intellectuals.
Throughout his career, author and editor William Dean Howells made it a point to deal with emerging social issues in his novels, often causing controversy and scandal upon their publication. In Dr. Breen's Practice, he introduces readers to Dr. Grace Breen, a working woman navigating the challenges of a professional career long before such a life path was commonplace.
Though it did not achieve the popular success of novels like The Rise of Silas Lapham, critics regard William Dean Howells' The Landlord at Lion's Head as a masterpiece of literary naturalism. It follows amoral antihero Jeff Durgin as he transforms his humble family farm into an upscale resort property.
Nicknamed "The Dean of American Letters," author and editor William Dean Howells was staunchly committed to realism in fiction. However, rather than reverting to gritty naturalism, Howells' novels are rich in psychological complexity and keenly observed insights into human behavior and foibles, such as the toxic relationship between budding writer Philip Verrian and his mother that is at the center of the short novel Fennel and Rue.
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