Download e-book for iPad: American literary realism by Phillip Barrish

By Phillip Barrish

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

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Where’s the battle? 5 But at least in those moments where his writing is most directly involved with developing realist taste – an aesthetic preference whose valence I will further explain below – the exclusionary lines that Howells draws seem directed not primarily against “the other half,” but against blocs of readers belonging to the very same urban middleand upper-class groupings with whom recent critics have taught us to align his work. 6 Arnold’s middle-class aliens are still, socioeconomically speaking, philistines, but their rigorous aesthetic commitments separate them from philistinism.

By contrast, for Tom Corey, to mean business is not to stand for or to signify business, but to intend business, to choose it without being reduced to equivalence with it. The novel and Tom himself will continue to hold in sight the differences between Tom’s correct English and Silas’s vernacular as well as between the two men’s modes of relating to business. But what I wish to stress is the more subtle distinction that emerges between Tom’s and his father Bromfield’s taste responses to the general “rawness,” the “rude, native flavor,” that both the Corey father and son take Silas and his vernacular speech to represent (p.

33 The enjoyable charge that Tom and Penelope share here derives from their merely picturing together the juxtaposition of their respective parents’ vastly different aesthetics. In these moments, Tom and Penelope’s realist taste opens into a sort of “meta-taste,” a taste for tastes. Just such a proclivity for the juxtaposition of different taste universes was – and is – virtually a prerequisite for finding pleasure in the late nineteenth-century American novel of manners (the plural is crucial), which characteristically displays the confrontation of new cultures with longer-standing ones.

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