AMERICAN WRITERS IN REBELLION by H. Wayne Morgan

AMERICAN WRITERS IN REBELLION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The five writers surveyed here were each in rebellion against the sentimental fiction which dominated the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were Twain, Howells, Garland, Norris and Dreiser. In each of these men, except perhaps Howell, Morgan detects what he calls a ""bifurcated vision."" In this situation the writer's abilities and sensibilities are mismatched, so much so that the writer will produce perhaps only two masterpieces in a fairly long life. With Twain there was a life-long clash between the gadget-loving, frontier, optimism of his youth and the grim pessimism which eventually consumed him. Howells was a steady, seemingly uninspired craftsman who, as literary dictator, championed realism but avoided the darker insights of naturalism. Naturalism is based on biological determinism and obscure historical forces to which man becomes a victim; realism depends more upon recording the daily minutiae of life. Garland, however, was such a fierce realist that he finally sold out. The Norris essay is sorely needed, while the Dreiser essay is tender and sympathetic. The strongest writing here is on Twain, clear-cut and even inspiring. Professor Morgan did the earlier (1963), comparable Writers in Transition.

Publisher: Hill & Wang