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But, then again, I would not assign a star rating to symphonies or jazz records. My music is lowbrow, but at least I know it. Unlike children's books, like Harry Potter, or trashy works that suit those who would rather watch a movie than read, such as Stephen King's books, this book is subtle and complex. Because the serious novel has been relegated to college classroom force-feedings to students who have no idea how to approach a novel that lacks gore and sex, Howells has joined Lewis, Galsworthy, Sinclair, and Dos Passos in the the bin of novelists whose journalism and sociology make them easily understood by lazy readers and literature professors alike.
Hence, Howells's most commonly available and most well known work is the Rise of Silas Lapham, a weaker work than A Hazard of New Fortunes; the former is short and straight forward. If there's one thing our fellow readers can tolerate less than subtlety it's length.
Feb 05, Bob Newman rated it really liked it. Despite attempts to show a panorama of New York life, his perspective is blinkered by middle class, middle range male values and experiences. Jul 11, Heidi rated it liked it Shelves: No,the reading habits and tastes of educated Americans have died a slow and painful death. Inspires nostalgia, sometimes laughter, and a great deal of investment in the characters, who come to feel more like friends than fiction.
Unless of course the long book is full of self-indulgent nonsense and literally meaningless phrases- for examples see, Rushdie, Salman. There is, as some readers who apparently failed to get past page 70 have noted, there is a somewhat tedious account where the protagonist and his wife search for an apartment in New York. This takes up about 30 pages, and seems to mar the books otherwise symmetrical structure.
Howells is almost always dismissed today as prude and a prig because his stories refer to sexual desire and sexual impropriety in the most oblique fashion imaginable. He is more circumspect than then even the stodgiest Victorian writers. However, is he is neither a overly modest school marm nor a member of Granny's Bible study class. He is a critic as sophisticated as any of the great European writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Although one will find a literary analysis by a professor of literature that will likely tell you that Hazard simply recalls the political tensions that that boiled over into violence, and Lit Prof, whose name will be Leonard Tancock or Dick Morris real intro writing lit profs, mind you , will tell you that Marsh and his wife are Bostonians thrown into and force to confront a harsher and more sophisticated reality. Or perhaps a sociologist named Kazin or whatever will tell you about identity, politics, class, and economic disparities. And then, if this is an intro and not an afterward, you will decide that what you are about to read is nothing but a dry exposition on such subjects.
Well, the literature classroom is all too often the place where the joy of reading of reading goes to die; great fiction was not meant to be the subject of formal study; we owe that late innovation to the literature professors who we ought to call fictionologists.
Instead of the Fictionologists dull world, a careful reader will find a humanizing work that brings to life members of opposing political worlds in a way that no modern author is capable of.
It is quite the difficult thing to do. In fact, the fictionologist labors to deconstruct literature, which, according to their untested assumptions, conveys the ideological trappings of false social consciousness. And the fictionologists wonder why they labor in obscurity. Moreover, like the his European counterparts, who Howells was responsible for familiarizing the American public with, Howells humanizes his subject. There are no easily decided moral questions in his universe, contrary to the liberal paradigm of the fictionologist, which is intellectually shallow.
Instead, the primary characters are forced to compromise and make terms with the external world. Neither fictionologists nor movie-watching-Harry-Potter-reading dullards can appreciate. This is the third novel by Howells that I have read, and I have enjoyed it the most. It grabbed my attention immediately, and overall was quite interesting. It is the longest one that I have read, but it was much better than The Rise of Silas Lapham, which is significantly shorter. The final chapters are a bit weak, but not to any great detriment to the overall tale.
Dec 26, Lucy rated it really liked it. I do enjoy a good long novel with lots of interacting characters. This didn't quite reach 5 stars for two reasons: I gave up after pages. Aug 01, Loes M. The book basically sets two completely different people against one another: We experience the story mostly through the viewpoint of a third, and neutral man called Basil March.
We first meet Basil and his family in Boston. A friend of the family, the idealistic Fulkerson, has made himself quite wealthy and has the idea to start a new literary magazine in New York. He wants Basil to come to New York and be the editor for The book basically sets two completely different people against one another: He wants Basil to come to New York and be the editor for this magazine that he will be leading.
The Basils do not jump at the opportunity. Mr and Mrs Basil go to New York where they spent the first few chapters looking for the perfect apartment. Once they've settled for something, Mrs Basil goes back to Boston to prepare the family for the move while Basil stays behind, having decided to take the job as editor of the magazine.
Fulkerson, being the idea-man, doesn't really concern himself much with the magazine, named Every Other Week. He is happy to leave it in the capable hands of Basil who used to work in insurance but always had literary ambitions. The publisher of the magazine is Conrad, son of the rich self-made man Dryfoos who is funding this magazine as a way to keep his son out of politics. Dryfoos found gas on his farm and used it to get rich - further ensuring his wealth on Wall Street afterwards. They have also hired an artist to be the artistic director and Lindau, an old friend of Fulkerson and American Civil War veteran, who will be translating German war stories for the literary magazine.
The way that they will be funding the magazine is quite ground-breaking: March's editorial prowes and the art director's work make the magazine a success and in the beginning everyone is happy. But then March starts clashing with Dryfoos who, together with his friends, is trying to have a bigger say in what should and should not be published. They interfere in such a way that the original editorial ideas behind the magazine are threatened and things escalate. On top of that, Fulkerson and March start spending more and more on editorial costs in order to attract writers that will make them stand out - which makes the writers earn less and less.
Combined with Dryfoos' meddling, the magazine is in trouble. More in-depth reviews on my blog: I give this novel 3 starts because I did, indeed, like it, but it was nothing more than that. I can easily say that I respect this novel for being so untypical in two main points that stood out to me: The central character is a city rather than a person and 2.
Howells gives the people in the novel such distinct and refreshingly realistic views about the world and doesn't give our favorite characters romantic ideals that they claim to live by to please his readers. Having New York be the central I give this novel 3 starts because I did, indeed, like it, but it was nothing more than that. Having New York be the central character was a bit weary to me; I couldn't relate to the feeling of a city being the force that moves people's motives and ideas, and it was a bit dense.
Sure, people behave based on their surroundings, but the novel seemed to imply that it was New York, and not any other city, that could do this. But I must admit that this was an interesting way to note the realities of the American experience during that time period. On the other hand, I loved how complex the characters were.
Not a single character had only one trait to define them; nobody was just "good" or just "bad" and nobody was only "nice" or only "mean. People's principles, of course, was an interesting topic to explore in this novel--to compare what people thought they believed in versus what they acted upon.
All in all, I'm not sure I would have read this if it hadn't been a class assignment, but I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the complexities of the characters and Howells' originality in examining the central themes of the novel. Apr 19, Kim rated it liked it Shelves: I had to read this book for my Realism class at university and safe to say that this is one of my least favourite writing "trends" sorry, can't think of a better words These books just ooze boredomness with its long descriptions and unexciting themes. I do see why some people would like this, but it just is not my cup of tea.
This book was actually the one that I could get through without sighing every 10 seconds. In any other context I would have rated it no higher than 2 stars but compared to I had to read this book for my Realism class at university and safe to say that this is one of my least favourite writing "trends" sorry, can't think of a better words These books just ooze boredomness with its long descriptions and unexciting themes.
In any other context I would have rated it no higher than 2 stars but compared to all the other books I had to read for this class, this one did not bother me as much. The first part of the story focuses on a family searching for an apartment in New York after our main character has decided he wants to move there for a job opportunity. Even though he is not a very interesting character, you could kind of feel for him and he does meet a lot of other people from every slice of life, so that was a little interesting.
I think this book might have been very interesting at the time it was written since it does describe a lot of the city and makes it appear very modern. Of course, reading this today makes it very dated. In fact you could use these books to learn more about every day life near the turn of the century. There might be a second reason why I like this book. I just found out that this is the second book in a series?!
Not going to read the other books though: Sep 27, Don rated it really liked it. Written in , this is generally regarded as one of the best, if not the best, portrayals of middle class life in New York City in the late 19th Century. What I found most interesting about this novel is Howells' principal female character; they seem quite modern to me.
Isabel March is both fully supportive of her husband, and at the same time clearly his intellectual equal and influential in the decisions he makes. Although they clearly love and respect each other, the relationship is not port Written in , this is generally regarded as one of the best, if not the best, portrayals of middle class life in New York City in the late 19th Century.
Although they clearly love and respect each other, the relationship is not portrayed as dreamily romantic but very much as a modern partnership. Alma Leighton, a secondary character, is a refreshingly independent young women with artistic talent. Near the end, when her mother frets that she will become an old maid, she responds "Well, mamma, I intend being a young one for a few years yet; and then I'll see.
If I meet the right person, all well and good; if not, not. But I shall pick and choose, as a man does; I won't merely be picked and chosen. Jun 23, joseph rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Sep 22, Rose rated it really liked it. Like Thackery, he's a skilled ironist who creates a broad social canvass out of a small collection of characters who define an era. Unlike Thackery, Howells is aware of the existence of a working class as something other than the pit you fall into when you make the wrong -- the unvirtuous -- life choices.
Howells is also able to give a surprising amount of agency to a new sort of woman, one with skills and talents o This novel could be the American retort to Vanity Fair and Howells our Thackery. Howells is also able to give a surprising amount of agency to a new sort of woman, one with skills and talents of her own who is able to survive in the world without either marrying money or sleeping with it. And his handsome cad is no gambling, womanizing army officer but an artist who, in the end, is more destructive to himself than anyone else.
Of course, the two novels are separated by a span of about fifty years. But more than anything, it is the American social landscape that that provides Howells' characters with a measure of liberty.
Becky Sharp might have thrived here. Oct 04, Humphrey rated it it was amazing Shelves: This deserves the shortlist for best American novel. Its scope is daring; its prose is masterful; its innovations in form and plot are provoking; its message for the reader is both critical and hopeful. At its core, Howells' novel explores the relation of parts and wholes. What is the place of regions in the American nation? Is multiculturalism a sum of its cultural parts, or does it form its own new cohesive part, incapable of actually embracing the whole?
What must be sacrificed to transmit o This deserves the shortlist for best American novel. What must be sacrificed to transmit or circulate over divisions of opinion or origin?
Can individuals actually change their circumstances? Is there a stable order that is achieved, on a higher level, through ground-level heterogeneity? Mar 07, Sandro rated it did not like it. I actually didn't even finish this book. It was too painful to get through. The moment of despair came when, in the beginning of the novel, the couple began looking for an appartment in New York, which went on for about 50 dreadfully boring and nearly unbearable pages. She encourages Conrad to try to end the strike by telling all sides to desist.
While attempting to stop a policeman from beating the aged and disabled Lindau, Conrad is fatally shot. March emerges from a streetcar to see the fallen men lying on the street next to each other. Dryfoos grieves the loss of his son. After further amputation of his already disabled arm, Lindau dies with Margaret Vance at his side.
Dryfoos sells the magazine to Fulkerson and March for an extremely low price and takes his remaining family to Europe. Fulkerson moves into the apartment above the magazine with his new wife, Colonel Woodburn's daughter. The Marches pass Margaret Vance on the street; she has become an Episcopalian nun.
Basil March and his wife are characters who were first introduced in Howells 's Their Wedding Journey. Basil's age is never given, nor is his role in the American Civil War. However, it can be inferred from A Hazard of New Fortunes that Basil was old enough to participate in the war, based on his conversation with Lindau in the restaurant. He earned his position for writing a campaign biography for Lincoln. His time abroad kept him from experiencing the war first-hand. Conscription , or the act of finding someone to replace you or paying a fee, was used in the Civil War by rich men who did not want to fight.
Dryfoos chose conscription, or substitution, to avoid leaving his family. Both novels also contrast class and social differences between these self-made millionaires and upper-class establishment families. The novels both feature romance plots, but in A Hazard of New Fortunes one of the major romance plots involving Angus Beaton fails to resolve itself into a marriage.