Lapham assume he is attracted to Irene, the beautiful younger daughter. Corey joins the Lapham's paint business in an attempt to find his place in the world, rather than rely on the savings of his father, Bromfield Corey. When Tom Corey begins calling on the Laphams regularly, everyone assumes his interest in Irene has grown, and Irene takes a fancy to him. Corey, however, astounds both families by revealing his love for Penelope, the elder, more plain-looking, but more intelligent daughter who possesses an unusual sense of humor, a sophisticated literary passion, and a sensible but inquiring mind.
Though Penelope has feelings for Tom Corey, she is held back by the romantic conventions of the era, not wanting to act on her love for fear of betraying her sister.
Silas Lapham's former business partner Milton K. Rogers reappears in his life, asking for money for a series of schemes. Lapham urges her husband to support the man, whom he had pushed out of the paint company in what was deemed an inappropriate manner. Lapham's dealings with Rogers, however, result in a substantial financial loss.
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His major asset, the new home on Beacon Street, burns down before its completion. The Laphams are humbly forced to move to their ancestral home in the countryside, where the mineral paint was first developed.
Howells had moved to Massachusetts in the s and became influential as the editor of the Atlantic Monthly , a role he held until The s proved to be an extremely prolific period for him; in that decade, Howells published nine novels, a novella, several magazine articles, and a few plays. Historian Francis Parkman had difficulty understanding the realism of the book and judged it by his more romantic standards and sought a didactic purpose for the story.
As he wrote, "It is an admirable portraiture, realistic in the best sense of the word. It must touch the consciousness of a great many people; and as we descendants of the Puritans are said to be always on the lookout for a moral — it will teach the much needed lesson that money cannot do everything. Historian Scott E. Casper suggested that The Rise of Silas Lapham was partly a satire on contemporary biography conventions.
Howells, who had written a campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln , attacked the formulaic style of biographies of the day, including the "rise" from early adversity to later success. Howells emphasized this early in the book where Lapham is interviewed by Bartley Hubbard a character revived from his novel A Modern Instance who interjects while his subject tells his life story with assumptions of his romanticized life.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Rise of Silas Lapham First edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, A man that had saved you! No, you had got greedy, Silas. Society at this time was sometimes holistic, but it was also dirty. When society was preserved, the baser aspects of human life were overcome with reason. Everything was about keeping up appearances, but there was never anything to back up the facade that was put on. There was no straight black and white; shades of gray and murky ethics dominated during this period of realism known historically as The Gilded Age.
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Project MUSE - For Love or Money: Courtship and Class Conflict in Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham
Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note : All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Feb 25, Jan-Maat added it Shelves: novel , 19th-century , usa. My curiosity led me into reading this book because of review which said that it was unusual because the plot was resolved by means of double entry book-keeping.
As it turns out this is not the case. This is not the great accountancy novel, set in post American Civl War Boston that we have all been waiting for, in which dastardly book-keeping is resolved by some forensic analysis and a last-minute audit. Other points of interest the Romantic role of woodshavings, and civil war veteran novels, the My curiosity led me into reading this book because of review which said that it was unusual because the plot was resolved by means of double entry book-keeping. Other points of interest the Romantic role of woodshavings, and civil war veteran novels, the imagery of house building in the modern novel View all 9 comments.
Nov 14, Chrissie rated it liked it Shelves: read , classics , audible-uk , usa , 2-itunes-library. I recommend this book to those of you who like American Realism - "a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people.
The movement began in literature in the midth century. William D I recommend this book to those of you who like American Realism - "a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people. William Dean Howells saw the value of the ordinary in everyday life.
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He sought a shift from the romanticism and idealism characterizing earlier literature. This is not to say that love and romance is absent from this book. Nor is this to say that morality is not a central theme. There is a love affair and morality is in fact its central theme. Morality in business and morality in love. What makes this a book of American Realism is how the story is drawn. Characters are not drawn in black or white but rather each character is splotched with black and white and gray. Each character is good and bad, makes mistakes, sometimes learns from a mistake and sometimes doesn't.
I like this and the lives described felt very real too me. There is humor. Tell me, how many times have you had to go to a party you did not want to go to?! The hassle of the proper clothes to wear, the talk at the party and falling into the trap of too much alcohol. The time setting of this book is in the s, but not that much has changed since then! Still today, many tie themselves in knots to be accepted into the right social group.
That is another theme of this book. The setup is a family that has become successful in the sale of a unique kind of paint and they have moved themselves from Vermont to Boston. What happens then? The plot has not just one but several elements that all tie together - business deals, a triangle love affair, disputes within marriages and a fire. It is the plot, how the different parts fit together and how the sum of the parts are so realistically drawn that is the attraction of this book.
When I closed the book, I marveled at its realism, but I must also acknowledge that I never became all that engaged in any of the characters' private dilemmas. I observed from the outside. Each character may have been well drawn, but in my heart, I felt for none of them. The audiobook is narrated by Grover Gardner. What can I say? He always gives a very good performance. He reads clearly and with feeling but doesn't over-dramatize. Feb 13, Werner rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Fans of serious literature.
Shelves: books-i-own , classics. Recently, I was looking over some of my old notes on classics that I've read; that list isn't as long as I'd like, but it was also startling to note how few of the books on it I've actually reviewed on Goodreads. I try to make time to do a book review roughly every week, and if I'm not reviewing a book I've just finished, I take the opportunity to review one that I've already read; but those number in the hundreds, and the choice of which one to review is often rather random. So I've decided, fo Recently, I was looking over some of my old notes on classics that I've read; that list isn't as long as I'd like, but it was also startling to note how few of the books on it I've actually reviewed on Goodreads.
So I've decided, for the rest of this year, to try to concentrate my "retrospective" reviews on the classics as much as I can. Maybe that will partly make up for flopping royally, as I surely will, on my classics reading challenge for ! Critics reckon Howells as one of the three leading masters of Realist fiction in the era between the Civil War and World War I, the other two being Twain and Henry James; but he tends to be the least well known and read of that triumvirate today.
That's a shame, because based on what I've read of all three his literary gifts were at least the equal of either of the others. And in this novel, which isn't nearly as well-known as it deserves to be I read it only as background reading for teaching American Literature when we were homeschooling our girls; and I regret that I waited so long to read it!
The Rise of Silas Lapham by Willaim Dean Howells | Summary & Study Guide
There's a lot for the fan of serious "mainstream," or descriptive, fiction to enjoy here: good storytelling that demonstrates that regular life can be the stuff of absorbing fiction; sharply-drawn characters both male and female, though the focus is more on the former who aren't stereotypes, and who come very much alive to the reader; a keen authorial eye for social foibles, without being harshly condemning of the characters; and a strong sense of place --Howells wasn't born or bred in Boston, but he lived there long enough to be familiar with it and to evoke it well.
This is a tale of family dynamics, of romance with an unexpected twist, of the social conflicts between old and new money in that time and place; a "novel of manners" that succeeds in making that type of fiction more interesting than the conventional label for it sounds. All this is delivered in literate, smooth prose that despite the publication date didn't strike me as noticeably stilted nor convoluted it really shouldn't be daunting for any intelligent modern reader.
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But the deepest dimension of truly great fiction is its moral dimension, a core message that bears witness to the bedrock truth that the most important earthly thing in our lives is how we treat each other; and it's here that this novel really shines.