Thursday, July 21, 2016
William dean Howells is by no means a great writer but some of the scenes in his novel the rise of Silas Latham are amusing - in particular I like the scenes of the Corey family at home. They're the old money family trying to come to terms w the fact that their son tom has apparently fallen in love w one of the daughters of the nouveau rich paint manufacturer Latham - the mistakenly think he's fallen for the beautiful younger daughter while it's obvious to all readers that he 's in love w the wry, witty older daughter, Penelope. (It's a reprise of the Bennet daughters for pride and prejudice w ages reversed) to watch them struggle w this issue and w the very idea that Theo son is working for a living is pretty good entertainment - especially the dry remarks of the father bro field who's never worked a day in his life. Howells sees himself as the chronicler of the modern man no doubt but he's much sharper and more acerbic in depicting the old money. The plot kind of chugs along but half way thru the novel we've seen neither lapham's rise nor fall. It's evident that he's in too deep with the house he's building on beacon street and he makes some kind of shady investment that will probably do him in but altogether Howells spends an amazing amount of time establishing characters before he allows them to do anything. If his social scope were broader he might be the american Balzac but as it is these seem like quaint figures from long ago - the men at least.