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William Dean Howells: Criticism and Reviews

The Internet Public Library features links to criticism about William Dean Howells.

The William Dean Howells Society has a list of books and articles of criticism on Howells.

The New Criterion online has an article titled "William Dean Howells & the Practice of Criticism" by James W. Tuttleton.

PAL: Perspectives in American Literature features an article about Howells.

Criticism and Fiction a book by Howells, is online at the Literature Classics web site. The book is said to sum up Howells's literary convictions.

The Kingwood College Library has literary criticism on The Rise of Silas Lapham.

Bartleby.com has an article about Howells and his style of writing.

Georgetown University has an overview of Howells's literary works.

An overview of Howells and nineteenth century regional writing in the United States.

Houghton Mifflin College Division has a teaching approach to Howells and his main concepts.

William Dean Howells and his themes are reviewed in a commentary by Karen Bernardo.

Additional criticism and review of William Dean Howells's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

"William Dean Howells: Overview."
Critic: George N. Bennett.
Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd ed., edited by Jim Kamp, St. James Press, 1994.

"William Dean Howells's literary career was remarkable not only for its length and variousness but for its continuous and conscientious productivity…"

"The Rise of Silas Lapham: Overview."
Critic: Perry D. Westbrook.
Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd ed., edited by Jim Kamp, St. James Press, 1994.

"The Rise of Silas Lapham, the most widely read of William Dean Howells's many novels, is an excellent example of its author's theory of literary realism, which he set forth in his essay Criticism and Fiction (1891)…"

"William Dean Howells."
Critic: Mark Twain.
Harper's Monthly Magazine, Vol. CXIII, No. DCLXXIV, July, 1906

"It is true that the sun of a man's mentality touches noon at forty and then begins to wane toward setting? ...I can point him to a case which proves his rule. Proves it by being an exception to it. To this place I nominate Mr. Howells…"

"A Typical Novel."
Critic: Hamilton Wright Mabie.
The Andover Review, Vol. IV, No. XXIII, November, 1885, pp. 417-29. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 41.

"In The Rise of Silas Lapham Mr. Howells has given us his best and his most characteristic work; none of his earlier stories discloses so clearly the quality and resources of his gift or his conception of the novelist's art…"

"William Dean Howells."
Critic: Henry James.
Harper's Weekly, Vol. XXX, No. 1539, June 19, 1886.

"As the existence of a man of letters (so far as the public is concerned with it) may be said to begin with his first appearance in literature, that of Mr. Howells...dates properly from the publication of his delightful volume on Venetian Life -- than which he has produced nothing since of a literary quality more pure -- which he put forth in 1865, after his return from the consular post in the city of St. Mark which he had filled for four years…"

"Sharp Criticism of Mr. Howells."
Critic: Ambrose Bierce.
The New York Times, May 23, 1892, p. 5. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 7.

"The master of (the detestable realistic) school of literature is Mr. Howells.… He can tell nothing that he has not seen or heard… Yet, tell it he must, and, having told, defend."

"Told You So."
Critic: Bernard Shaw.
The Saturday Review, London, Vol. 80, No. 2093, December 7, 1895), in his Dramatic Opinions and Essays, with an Apology, Vol. 1, Brentano's, 1907, pp. 258-66. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 7.

"I have discovered, quite by accident, an amusing farcical comedy ('The Garroters'). Somebody told me that there was a farce by Mr. W. D. Howells at the Avenue Theatre. I looked in the daily paper, but could find no mention of the name of Mr. Howells. However, it was evidently quite possible that the management had never heard of Mr. Howells… the American novelist could write the heads off the poor bunglers to whom our managers generally appeal when they want a small bit of work to amuse the people who come at eight…"

"Mr. Howells As a Poet."
Critic: Harry Thurston Peck.
The Bookman, New York, Vol. II, No. 6, February, 1896, pp. 525-27. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 7.

"Mr. Howells is so universally admitted to hold the primacy among living American men of letters as to make his appearance in a new field of effort an event of peculiar interest. That he should turn to poetry [in Stops of Various Quills] is particularly certain to excite both…"

"'A Dream': Howells's Early Contribution to the American Short Story."
Critic: Robert F. Marler, Jr.
The Journal of Narrative Technique, Vol. IV, No. 1, January, 1974, pp. 75-85.

In his essay, "Marler cites 'A Dream' as Howells's first successful attempt at realistic fiction and relates it to his unpublished novel Geoffrey Winter."

"Psychic and Psychological Themes in Howells's 'A Sleep and a Forgetting.'"
Critic: John W. Crowley and Charles L. Crow.
ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1977, pp. 41-51.

In their essay, "Crowley and Crow explore psychological, psychic, and autobiographical themes in Howells's 'A Sleep and a Forgetting.'"

"'His Apparition': The Howells No One Believes In."
Critic: Charles Feigenoff.
American Literary Realism, Vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring, 1980, pp. 85-9.

"In 'His Apparition' William Dean Howells shrewdly manipulates the ghost story so that the emphasis is on the real rather than the supernatural. He does this by giving us a ghost story without a ghost. …Because he plays down the spectral, Howells can devote himself to the psychological; he can examine the effect of the apparition on the lives of his characters…"

"'A Difficult Case': W. D. Howells's Impression of Mark Twain."
Critic: Lawrence I. Berkove.
Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 31, No. 4, Fall, 1994, pp. 607-15.

In his essay, "Berkove assesses Mark Twain's influence on Howells's work."

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