By Professor Phillip Barrish

Targeting 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 a point of cultural reputation. 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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But the Marches’ complex of tastes also includes specifically realist tastes that help them – especially Basil, as I will argue below – to stand out even from those who share their Europeanized appreciation of high art, such as, for example, the socialite Mrs. Horn, who always invites a well-chosen selection of artists to her parties, or Kendricks, the young literary reviewer from a good family. When Fulkerson, in A Hazard of New Fortune’s opening paragraph, says to March, “You ain’t an insurance man by nature.

If I could only have reached him where he lives, as our slang says! But do what I would, I couldn’t find any common ground where we could stand together. We were as unlike as if we were of two different species . . We understand each other a little if our  American Literary Realism circumstances are similar, but if they are different all our words leave us dumb and unintelligible. (p. ” The gap, he frustratedly admits, is one no mastery of American colloquialisms could help him to close. After emphasizing the gap’s unyielding, irreducible nature, the central question that Sewell must then negotiate, however, is how to bear himself in relation to it.

This “crude taste” that the Laphams have, their unfailing attraction to what the narrator dubs “obstreperous pretentiousness” (pp. , ), correlates with, for instance, a vulgar bookkeeper’s animalistic appetite for overly complicated figures of speech: “Walker began to feed in his breaded chop with the same nervous excitement with which he abandoned himself to the slangy and figurative excesses of his talk” (p. ). Yet Tom Corey shifts his habitual dining hour so as to be able to lunch with and listen to this bookkeeper.

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