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Selected Short Stories William Dean Howells

1 rating: 5.0
A book by William Dean Howells

A lovingly annotated sampling of stories by the prolific Howells (18371920), now best known for his many novels and for his unstinting efforts to champion realism in American literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bardon provides both … see full wiki

Author: William Dean Howells
Genre: Short Stories
Publisher: Ohio University Press
1 review about Selected Short Stories William Dean Howells

A Singular Voice

  • Dec 2, 2008
Rating:
+5
It's hard to believe that Howells was a contemporary of Mark Twain. They seem to belong to different centuries: Twain to ours and Howells to Abraham Lincoln's. Howell's voice sounds necessarily a bit strange to a modern reader, but that strangeness gives him a special power.

He is inclined to narrate things from a distance. Even the agonies of a woman who has lost her lover in a war are told at a remove. In extreme cases, the narrator is telling the story as it was told by someone else who is relating events in the past. This style costs some immediacy, but it also keeps us from being totally distracted by personality. We don't root for these protagonists, but we listen to them.

And these are stories that are meant to get our ears. They demand our attention by their lack of polemic and the graceful nature of the narrative. Howells is a master.

Lynn Hoffman

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