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The Rise of Silas Lapham

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  • United States
  • English

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The Rise of Silas Lapham is the most widely read of W.D. Howells’ novels. An example of literary realism, the story is about a farmer (Silas Lapham) who launches a very successful paint business, and moves his family up the social ladder of Boston. Lapham, however, is not one of the new types of American businessman, the ruthless plutocrat, rather he is the old-fashioned trustworthy Yankee trader, and the story deals with how he fares in the industrial capitalist environment. It is also a novel of manners, telling the story of the courtship of a daughter, and the difficulties the family deals with in attempting to move from one social class to another. (Summary by Margaret Espaillat)
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