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


Page 265

of rococo romance—indeed, more or less as a protest against it. Theodore Dreiser with Sister Carrie (1900) initiated his powerful, vexed career. Edith Wharton wrote her early short stories with caustic irony and without sentimentalism; Stewart Edward White in The Blazed Trail (1902) escaped from civilization to the thrilling rigors of Michigan lumber camps. Brand Whitlock, titularly a disciple of Howells, in The 13th District (1902), and Alfred Henry Lewis in The Boss (1903), exposed the mean crafts of politics; Robert Herrick, particularly in his Memoirs of an American Citizen (1905), hated the rose-color and fatuous optimism of conventional fiction; Charles D. Stewart in The Fugitive Blacksmith (1905) produced a strangely neglected and yet a singularly diverting picaresque tale; Upton Sinclair, romancer in Manassas (1904), turned in The Jungle (1906) to his fierce warfare upon the abuses of modern industrial America; William Allen White in his volume of stories In Our Town (1906) touched critical notes not always apparent in his work. All these writers are still living.
  One writer associated with them, David Graham Phillips (1867–1911), calls for especial mention. Like most of the others a Middle Westerner and a journalist, he emerged from the era of public muck-raking and carried his assault into the private lives represented in his novels. He believed—and proposed his doctrines in The Reign of Gilt (1905)—that democracy is essentially more decent and more efficient than aristocracy; that most of the confusions and distortions of American life arise from the restricting hand which various forms of privilege lay upon it; that it is the duty as well as the natural



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