By Professor Phillip Barrish
Concentrating on key works of late-nineteenth and early- twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish strains the emergence of recent methods of gaining highbrow prestige—that is, new methods of gaining some extent of cultural attractiveness. via prolonged readings of works by way 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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Extra resources for American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995
Directly quoting Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (initially published in ), she has recast her family’s “natural” relation to country dialect as a citational – and here explicitly a literary – relation to it. After their first encounter, Penelope worries that Tom may be a little “too good,” that is, that Tom’s taste preferences may be too inflexibly genteel. But Howells in the very next scene shows Tom concluding to his father, Bromfield Corey, that “I don’t believe .
30 Tom’s dry response to Irene’s list of Shakespearean works – “those are the ones they usually play,” he says – indicates Howells’s assumption that realist taste could and should go hand in hand with a high-culture recognition of Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre as literary monument, rather than simple entertainment. Realist taste should be recognized, Howells wants to suggest, as one element in the period’s developing repertoire of culturally prestigious aesthetic preferences. Tom’s quiet indication that he, at least, recognizes a difference between, in John Quincy Adam’s phrasing, “the true Shakespeare,” whom one read, and that “spurious Shakespeare often exhibited upon the stage,”31 is part of the novel’s insistence that Tom and Penelope, the figures the novel privileges for their realist taste, are loyal readers of the emergent high-culture canon – the same “standard authors” who are explicitly endorsed by Bromfield Corey (p.
Bromfield’s only way of taking some incidental pleasure in Silas Lapham relied on facile picturesquing gestures. ” Bromfield goes so far as to arrange for Barker to live in his house and to read novels out loud to him, including such writers as the American regionalist Bret Harte. Bromfield “liked to hear Lemuel talk, and he used the art of getting at the boy’s life by being frank with his own experience” (p. ). 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.