Despite efforts at revival by John Updike and others, William Dean Howells still remains in the shadows of his close friends Mark Twain and Henry James. This book works against decades of unfavorable comparisons with these literary giants. William Dean Howells and the Ends of Realism helps us to see him as a writer very much aware of his limitations and of his enormous importance in the development of an American literary tradition. A close look at his late works gives us a richer understanding of this powerful moment of transition in American literature, a moment when Howells and his venerable friends were inspiring and anointing a new generation of writers and taking a long, hard look at their own legacies and contributions.
Paul Abeln received his Ph.D. American and Comparative Literature from Washington University in 2000.