Student Queries 1999-2002


2007 2006





Student Queries

2007 2006





The questions and requests for help posted to this page are those that were originally posted to Howells-L or to the website. 
If you would like to respond to one of the questions on this page, please use the Query and Reply Form.  Thank you.

Howells's Essay on Veblen

QUESTION: I have been looking for an "e-copy" of William Dean Howells'essay on Veblen's The Theory of the Working Class. Could the Society send me a copy? Thanks.

All the e-texts we have available are listed on the Works page; if it's not there, the Society doesn't have a copy. Anyone who has an e-copy is invited either to send it directly to this individual or to forward it for posting (with due credit given, of course) to the WDHS site for posting.
Howells and the City

How did Howells view the American City?  And also, how did he present it in A Hazard of New Fortunes?   I would Like to see more information on Hazard on this web site.

Thank you!     Lynnette         10/30/00

Answers to general questions like this one can best be found in the many books and articles written on Howells. Check the list of Recommended Works on Howells and the Recent Work on Howells bibliographies for other suggestions.  The reports of conference papers can also be helpful.    As this site develops, bibliographies on these topics will be available.

For now, you might want to check some of the critical essays written on _Hazard_.  Also, there's an interesting essay by Carrie Tirado Bramen in the Spring 2000 issue of _Massachusetts Quarterly_ in which she discusses Howells's views about cities.

Rise of Silas Lapham 

     I am a grad student doing research on _The Rise of Silas Lapham_ and would like to know if anyone has info regarding the use of economic v. moral and social speech in the novel. My contention is that the divorcing of these forms
of speech is what leads to the "fall" in the Rise. Please respond via e-mail
address  listed with the query. Thanks in advance!

Donovan S. Braud, Loyola University Chicago            11/08/00

Have you looked at Elsa Nettels's _Language and Gender in American Fiction: Howells, James, Wharton, and Cather_?  There's a discussion of class as well as gender in that book that may be helpful to you.

NAME: taojianjun


QUESTION: I want some comments on William's article---Editha.


You should look at the books listed under "Recommended Works," for some of them discuss "Editha." Here are some articles on Howells's famous short story "Editha":
  • Bellamy, Michael O. "Eros and Thanatos in William Dean Howells's 'Editha'." American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 12 (1979): 283-87.
  • Engelhart , Carl W. "Howells' 'Editha' - Toward Realism." Americana-Austriaca:Beitrage zur Amerikakunde. Ed. Lanzinger Klaus. Wien and Stuttgart: Braumuller, 1974. 3-9.
  • Free, William J. "Howells' 'Editha' and Pragmatic Belief." Studies in Short Fiction 3 (1966): 285-292.
  • Furia, Philip. "'Editha': The Feminine View." American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 12 (1979): 278-82.
  • Harris, Susan K. "Vicious Binaries: Gender and Authorial Paranoia in Dreiser's 'Second Choice,' Howells' 'Editha,' and Hemingway's 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber'." College Literature 20.2 (1993): 70-82.
  • Humma, John B. "Howells 'Editha': An American Allegory." Markham Review 8 (1979): 77-80.
  • Piacentino, Edward J. "Arms in Love and War in Howells' 'Editha'." Studies in Short Fiction 24.4 (1987): 425-432.
"Editha" and Realism
On Wed, 24 Jan 2001, Donald Foster wrote:

> Hello
>     I Junior at Ronald E. Mcnair High School doing research on realism. Could You point me in the right direction in comparing the relationship between Editha and George in "Editha"?  How is their relationship depicted more realistically than romantically? 

You might want to think about how people in love are usually represented and then think about how Howells depicts George and Editha.  Is Editha in love with George, or is she in love with the whole romantic idea of being in love?  Does George see their relationship in the same way?  How does the story show that he sees both the war and their relationship in a clearer way than Editha does?  You might also want to think about why George is shown as having a sense of humor (often associated in Howells's day with realism--think about Mark Twain). To have a sense of humor about something, you need to be able to see it clearly and realistically, and Howells draws on this in his depiction of George. 

The questions on this page might help you:
D. Campbell

QUESTION: Greetings,
I´m currently writing a paper on Howells´ literary criticism with a special
focus on Spanish literature, especially Cervantes, at Kiel University,
Germany. Could you name me some articles/links on this subject? Did Spanish novelist Palacio Valdés ever comment on Howells in a critical essay? Is there
anything to be found on the Spanish Influence on American literature on the net?
Thanks in advance for your help!  Jan Uelzmann


NAME: Talia Chang

QUESTION: I am a second-year university student doing a paper  on "Editha." I am wondering about the ironies and/or contradictions in Howells' characterization of the media and their readers, given the fact that "Editha" was first published in a magazine.
Thanks so much!

NAME: cary bertoncini


QUESTION: I'm currently studying Howells' "The Rise of Silas Lapham" in a graduate class.  It seems to me that the character of Silas is very derivative of Samuel Clemens, but I can find no commentary on this anywhere.  Some of the causes for my thinking are:  1.  Their names - Colonel Silas Lapham/Samuel Langhorne Clemens (CSL/SLC - anagram),  2.  The fact that both build
somewhat garish mansions at the peak of their wealth costing approx. $100K
just before financial collapse,  3.  They both have daughters and are
devoted to their wives,  4.  Both are most comfortable when smoking a cigar and
Silas behaves embarrassingly at the Corys' dinner, similar to Clemens' famous
drunken performance that Howells' witnessed,  5.  Silas is in paint and
one of Clemens' most famous scenes from his own writing is the fence painting
scene from "Tom Sawyer."  There are others, too, but these are my primary
motives for pursuing Howells' intentions thusly.

Any suggestions or comments?

Many thanks,


Literary Criticism on Howells and by Howells 
NAME: Emre Demirel

I was searching for an essay or a critique about Criticism And Fiction by W.D.
Howells but i could not find yet.Could you help me to find?It is so
urgent.Thanks from now...

NAME: Kt :)

QUESTION: I am a junior at Broadalbin-Perth High School in New York and i was inquiring about where i could find some literary criticisms of Willian Dean Howells.... i need them for a research project for english 11... any assistants u could give me would be much appreciated....

You can find literary criticism BY William Dean Howells online.  Howells's comments from his "Editor's Study" column and other essays are available as links from our Howells's Works page at


If you are looking for literary criticism by other authors on Howells's works, you can look through the recent bibliography and the recommended books lists at


We don't have articles here at the site.  You'll need to go to a library to get them, or you can try sites such as

Howells and Religion

QUESTION: I need to know William Dean Howell's attitudes toward

Here are the results of an MLA search on Howells and religion: 
Arms, George. "Some Varieties of Howells' Religious Experience." The American Self: Myth, Ideology, and Popular Culture. Ed. Sam B. Girgus. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1981. 76-87. 
Frederick, John T. The Darkened Sky: Nineteenth-Century American Novelists and Religion. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 1969.
See also the two-volume biography by Edwin H. Cady, The Road to Realism and The Realist at War, Kenneth Lynn's biography of Howells, Thomas Wortham's The Early Prose Writings of William Dean Howells, and John W. Crowley's The Black Heart's Truth. Howells's would also be a useful source.
Howells's Moral Vision
What is Howells's moral vision and why is it incompatible with the realist stance he claims to adopt in The Rise of Silas Lapham? The module I'm doing is American Realism.
Tracy Bleach,
Editha as a violent woman

 NAME: Nicky

QUESTION: Hello. I am a high school student in Los Angeles. I am writing a paper on how male authors portray "violent" women. I am using Editha as evidence, and  could use some help on analysis. thanks

Howells's Knowledge of Mark Twain's Position on Religion

NAME: David Stroud,

 QUESTION: Seeking information on Howells' knowledge of Mark Twain's position on religion.




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