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By Phillip Barrish

Targeting key works of late-nineteenth and early- twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish strains the emergence of latest methods of gaining highbrow prestige--that is, new methods of gaining a point of cultural popularity. via prolonged readings of works via 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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At least until the book’s closing scenes, Howells and the roots of realist taste  Silas and business have a one-to-one correspondence; Silas and business mutually signify each other. By contrast, for Tom Corey, to mean business is not to stand for or to signify business, but to intend business, to choose it without being reduced to equivalence with it. The novel and Tom himself will continue to hold in sight the differences between Tom’s correct English and Silas’s vernacular as well as between the two men’s modes of relating to business.

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.

58 Consider Basil March’s interest in the violent streetcar strike that occurs in the last portion of A Hazard of New Fortunes. ” In the first weeks of the strike, March returns in office conversations to the spectacle of the State Board of Arbitration admitting itself unable to resolve the strike. When asked what he himself would do, March laughs: “Do? Nothing. ” (pp. ‒). Later, March spends an afternoon wandering the streets not because he is drawn toward observing the “war” between the strikers and management but because he “interested himself in the apparent indifference of the mighty city” (p.

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