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The Rise of Silas Lapham is a novel written by William Dean Howells in 1885 about the materialistic rise of Silas Lapham from rags to riches, and his ensuing moral susceptibility. Silas earns a fortune in the paint business, but he lacks social standards, which he tries to attain through his daughter's marriage to the aristocratic Corey family. Silas's morality does not fail him. He loses his money but makes the right moral decision when his partner proposes the unethical selling of the mills to English settlers.

Howells is known to be the father of American realism, and a denouncer of the sentimental novel. The love triangle of Irene Lapham, Tom Corey, and Penelope Lapham highlights Howells' views of sentimental novels as unrealistic and deceitful. It is believed that Howells's own daughter suffered from anorexia and depression, ending in her death by heart attack in 1889. This was supposedly because of her interest in just such sentimental novels, which glorified unrealistic heroes and heroines.

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review by . August 14, 2012
Less well known than the classics of his contemporaries, Howells' Silas Lapham stands as strong,vital, and timeless as Twain's Gilded Age and Dickens' Our Mutual Friend   In fact, in comparison to those other novels, Silas Lapham may be the more powerfully American (even than the immortal Twain) and purely moral (even than the inimitable Dickens).      Silas Lapham is a wealthy self-made man, still rough around the edges even as he flaunts his million dollar …
review by . June 17, 2010
Mineral Paint and the Self Made Man
The novel follows the life of self made man Silas lapham and his family.  Silas is a mineral paint man who constructed a paint industry for himself based on his unique paint type almost single handedly.  Silas and his wife Persis and their daughters must maneuver socially during the early nineteenth century, a time where manners and graces are observed very carefully and factor significantly into a persons social statues.  Silas has a hard time dealing with socialites as he …
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