American literary realism by Phillip Barrish

By Phillip Barrish

Concentrating on key works of late-nineteenth and early- twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish strains the emergence of latest methods of gaining highbrow prestige--that is, new methods of gaining a point of cultural attractiveness. via prolonged readings of works by means of Henry James, William Dean Howells, Abraham Cahan, and Edith Wharton, Barrish emphasizes the variations among realist modes of cultural authority and people linked to the increase of the social sciences.

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Although at first he “could not repress some twinges at certain characteristics of Lemuel’s accent,” Bromfield soon “seemed, in a critical way, to take a fancy” to Barker’s voice. ” Meanwhile Charles Bellingham enthusiastically explores a hospital in Boston’s South End where Lemuel becomes a patient, explaining that “he had found it the thing to do – it was a thing for everybody to do; he was astonished that he had never done it before” (p. ). In short, several of the facets of the realist taste that Tom and Penelope had modeled in Howells’s  novel seem, even by the  The Minister’s Charge, already to have become more generally accessible among representatives of Boston’s upper-middle classes.

14 I believe, however, that in concentrating on how literary dialect may have helped to emphasize differences between clearly dominant and clearly subordinate groups, we risk losing sight of subtler ways in which the framing of literary dialect played a role in what Christopher P. ”15 Howells’s critical discussions of dialect in American literature exemplify the complexity of literary realism’s role in these internecine middle-class struggles over modes of style, taste, and aesthetic experience.

At the book’s end, when Tom and Penelope move for a few years to Mexico, where they will work to open Latin American markets for the large US paint corporation of which Tom has become an executive, Nanny says she hopes that when Penelope “comes back she will have the charm of not olives, perhaps, but of tortillas, whatever they are: something strange and foreign” (p. ). Nanny’s desire to exoticize Penelope’s flavor serves here as the opposite of an aesthetically disciplined gesture in its unashamed ignorance (“tortillas, whatever they are”) as well as in its almost boastful lack of interest in separating different aesthetic qualities and effects from each other.

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