By Michael Spindler
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Additional resources for American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller
The Puritan mentality, implanted early in life by family and church, socialised the individual to observe inflexible, life-long moral principles. It was impressed upon him that he stood alone before his Maker and that the Puritan God did not ask for single good works but for a life of good works combined into a unified system, for the decision Chosen or Damned was based on performance in the never-ending struggle between good and evil. 'There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice', Thoreau wrote, and Franklin conceived the project of achieving moral perfection by ordering his life according to thirteen virtues.
These played down the significance of form and fashioned a coarse-grained prose that corresponded well with the rough , coarse-grained texture of their subjects. The Bossism of Chicago city-politics, the scheming of speculators , the crushing power of the big trusts , the bitter strikes and harsh conditions did not require the delicate nuances of Jamesian prose but a new rhetoric suitable to the thrusting crudity and angularity of industrial society. If their rhythms now read as too strident and some passages as too close to bombast we must remember that industrialism with its arrogance and inhumanity tended to provoke a certain high-pitched rhetoric , for it is a tone we meet in Carlyle and Marx as well as in Norris, Dreiser and Sinclair.
William Dean Howells claims through Basil March in A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890) that the urban-industrial scene as instanced in the New York elevated railroad demands a new aesthetic and is a The Literary Response (i) 37 ripe subject for Art. Theodore Dreiser uses the rapid growth of Philadelphia and Chicago to provide the narrative opportunities for , and much of the sense of dynamism of , Frank Cowperwood's entrepreneurial career in The Financier (1912) and The Titan (1914). Curtis Jadwin's rise and fall in Norris's The Pit (1903) are centred on Chicago and its Board of Trade.
American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller by Michael Spindler