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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 232

to the problem of the freedman. Henry Adams in Democracy (1880) drew a caustic picture of society and politics in Washington—a city strangely neglected in American literature, which can hardly point to a dozen political novels of any merit whatever. John Hay’s The Bread-Winners (1884) made a sensation by its defense of the old economic order against the increasing claims of labor. Margaret Deland’s John Ward, Preacher (1888), like the exactly contemporary Robert Elsmere of Mrs. Humphry Ward, aroused wide controversy by its account of a husband and wife so divided on doctrinal grounds that their lives are shattered. In the American novel it is the husband who is orthodox and the wife who is latitudinarian, but here as in the English book stress falls upon the consequences to love of such a difference. Though no civilized human being can now do more than stare at the zeal which impels John Ward in his efforts to save his wife’s soul by teaching her to believe in the fires of hell, by no means all the passion of the book has faded out. In the same year with John Ward appeared a work of fiction which caught the immediate public as hardly any book of its theme had ever done before. The book was Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward 2000–1887, and the theme was communism. Hundreds of thousands of copies were sold with a tumult of acclamation; the book went round the world; a political party—the Nationalist party—was founded on Bellamy’s doctrines. Howells’s A Hazard of New Fortunes and his Altrurian writings bear witness to the influence Bellamy exerted in literary circles. Reversing the scheme of The Connecticut Yankee Bellamy allows his narrator to sleep until the year



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