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This edition of The Rise of Silas Lapham reprints the text established by Walter J. Meserve and David J. Nordloh for A Selected Edition of W. D. Howells.Extensive historical annotations have been added to the text of this Norton Critical Edition.
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The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) is Howell’s best-known work, and this elegant tale of Boston society and manners is rightly regarded as a subtle classic of its time. Silas Lapham inherits his father’s paint business, from which he makes a great deal of money, and moves his family from rural Vermont to cosmopolitan Boston. Attempting to break into the city’s sophisticated society he becomes bent on the acquisition of both money and social position. Howells contrasts "old" and "new" money, presenting the representatives of both sympathetically and portraying the attempts of the self-made man to break into the world inhabited by those from "established" families with humour and delicacy.From the Back Cover:
Silas Lapham is a rough-hewn entrepreneur who has made his fortune in mineral paint. Socially ambitious for their daughters, Lapham and his wife encourage the suit of Tom Corey, son of an aristocratic Boston family, whose own parents are appalled by his consorting with vulgar upstarts. But which Lapham girl does Tom really love: the pretty blonde Irene or her bookish sister Penelope? As the romantic confusion is sorted out, Lapham suffers calamities that threaten both his financial and personal integrity. His rise is ultimately a moral one. The first major American novel to centre on a businessman, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) explores the capitalist ethos of the American Gilded Age. It is also a brilliant novel of manners that shows the comic confrontation of old wealth and new riches.
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