Queries and Replies 2004


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Student Queries

(Combined with the Queries pages)





Familiar Spanish Travels

QUESTION: I'm a doctoral candidate in Spain, and I am working on Familiar Spanish Travels. So far I have been uable to find anything regarding this book, I mean books, reviews, articles or anything related to it. I don't know if you could help me, but if so, I would be very grateful. Thank you very much in advance.
Antonio Vicente vicenteazofra@telefonica.net 11/30/04

Brenni lists three reviews of Familiar Spanish Travels:
Bookman 38:387, Dec. 1913
Nation 97:567, Dec. 11, 1913
New York Times Book Review 18:679, Nov. 30, 1913

Firkins has a single complimentary paragraph, speaking in general terms of the value of WDH's mature return to the subject matter.

Gary Culbert gculbert at echs.bellevue.wa.us


Source of Sarah Orne Jewett Quotation

I'm looking for the source of the following literary allusion: "It is the higher nature that yields, because it is the most generous."  A Google search will yield only the text in which the allusion occurs (Sarah Orne Jewett's novel A Country Doctor) and a previous posting of mine with the same query.  It's possible that she's quoting inexactly, from memory, or that it's an English translation of a line whose source is in another language.  Any help in tracing this line to a source will be most appreciated.

Frederick Wegener, fwegener at csulb.edu



Howells Quotation on Novels

QUESTION: I am looking for the source of a quotation attributed to Howells: "We were travellers before we were novellers".  Any suggestions?

Charles Baraw baraw63 at mac.com 10-3-04


Howells and Alexander Black

QUESTION: I am looking for any documentation of acquaintance between Howells and Alexander Black.  Correspondence or Howells's reviews of Black's work (i.e. _Miss Jerry_) would be helpul to my project.

Kaveh Askari



Images of Howells

I am trying to obtain an image (and permission to use it) of William Dean Howells. I am hoping to use this image in a book I am designing called "To Be Young In America: Growing Up With the Country 1776-1940". The book is being published by Little, Brown & Company Books for Young Readers. A chapter in this book focuses on Howells' childhood, and an image of him would nicely complement the text. Any ideas on who might have such images & own the rights to them?William J. Kelly Jr.


The Houghton Library at Harvard University has a large Howells collection, including many images, and would be an excellent place to start.
Quotation help needed
QUESTION: I need the correct rendering of a statement or quote from Boys Town.  Cannot seem to find my copy of this recently acquired book, but the quote seems to be apopros for raising two teenage sons:

"There is a time appointed between childhood and adulthood, the product of which is boyhood."

thanks,  glenn klein tmt@gnv.fdt.net
"Wild little Canadian watering-place"

QUESTION: I'm working with _The Rise of Silas Lapham_, and I'm interested in whether or not anyone has identified the "rather wild little Canadian watering-place on the St. Lawrence, below Quebec" where Anna Corey and her daughters meet Irene and Persis Lapham.  I'm interested, especially, in what vacationing there would mean economically, given the Corey family's dwindling fortune and the Lapham family's conspicuous consumption.

Fred Johnson
Ball State University 7/19/04

Howells's Essay on Charleston, SC

I am a reference librarian trying to answer a reference question regarding Howells in a collection that does have a bibliography of Howells.

I am trying to find the publication information regarding Howells' essay on the city of Charleston, SC. Two travel books published in 1917 by other authors quote from it.

My searching so far has turned up no answer. Any help you can supply will be greatly appreciated. I do know that John Mead Howells did live for a while in Charleston, or visited extensively.

Harlan Greene
Special Collections
Charleston County Public Library
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC  29401 email: greeneh at ccpl.org


According to Gibson and Arms' _Bibliography_ (1948), p. 154, "In Charleston," "a travel sketch," was first published in _Harper's Monthly_, October 1915 (Vol. 131), pp. 747-757.

So far as I can tell, it was not reprinted by Howells in a later collection.

Terry Oggel
"The Shadow of a Dream": Translation Question

QUESTION: I am currently advising a Japanese graduate student about her translation of "The Shadow of a Dream" (which, if it is published, would be the first-ever translation of a Howells work in Japanese). We solved most of the problems, but the very last sentence of the novel confused both of us:
"My wife [Isabel March] does not permit it to be said, or even suggested, that our feelings are not at our bidding, and that there is no sin where there has been no sinning."
This seems contradictory to the entire tenor of the novel's concluding chapter. Throughout the book, Isabel has always indignantly refuted the notion that Hermia and Nevil were consciously in love before Faulkner's death. One would have expected "She does not permit it to be said . . . that there has been sin where there has been no sinning."
Did the double negative ("does NOT permit to to be said . . . that there has been NO sin . . .") throw Howells for a loop, or, more likely, am I missing something?

James N. Westerhoven

In order to give you some feedback, here is the comment by Carrington in PLOTS AND CHARACTERS IN THE FICTION OF WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS:
"The Marches feel that Faulkner's dream had power over his widow and his friend only because they were completely guiltless.  March thinks that even if Nevil had lived he and Hermia would never had married.  Isabel feels that if they had married, they couldn't have kept their self-respect for each other.  March wonders whether their suffering had a purpose or was simply their fate: he clings to the former belief.  Neither of the Marches is willing to admit the hypothesis that perhaps Faulkner's dream was based on fact, that perhaps Hermia and Nevil really were in love with each other while Faulkner was still alive" (pp.173-174).
I would read the line in question pretty much as it initially appears, though the longer one looks at it the less clear it is.  Isabel believes we are responsible for our our feelings(i.e., we are culpable for the feelings we allow ourselves to have).  Consequently, one need not have an actual act to be be involved in sin (Don't say that).  The feeling is enough.  The irony here could be that the potential lovers are so punctilious that the dream itself (rather than their actual feelings) could create a sense of guilt.  Perhaps, then, the sense of guilt could create the sin, rather than the reverse.  In any case, these two people are in an impossible moral quandary (perhaps caused only by Faulkner's dream).  WDH was, too, and he solved the problem by use of the convenient railway post.  This is probably the least fair authorial trick to solve a problem in all of his work, and it is always good for a laugh when one thinks of how he was inspired to get out of the book by this weird deux ex machina.
Interesting question and interesting insight into Isabel's moral rigidity.

Gary Culbert 2-25-04

Howells's poem "Thanksgiving"

QUESTION: I have a poem called "Thanksgiving" written out and signed by Howells. He has dated the poem to New York, 1865, although this copy was written and dated Boston, Oct 29, 1886. I've not had any luck finding this in his published works. What do I have here?
Bob J.
Bob Johnson
skanderbeg50 at hotmail.com

first few lines are as follows:

Lord, for the erring thought
Not [u/i]nto evil wrought:
Lord, for the wicked will
Betrayed and baffled still;


The poem "Thanksgiving" was published in Nation (1:708) on December 7, 1865. It was republished several times in anthologies as recently as 1948. Publishing history is available in Brenni (p. 40).

The poem was not published in WDH's collected poetry volumes.

Gary Culbert (gculbert at echs.bellevue.wa.us.)


Howells's poem "Thanksgiving" first appeared in a "Minor Topics" column in the Nation, 7 Dec. 1865, and was reprinted in Poems (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1873) and in the later editions of that collection.

A google search on the first line shows the poem was published at least once in 1919. See:




Comments to campbelld at wsu dot edu.