Title The Rise of Silas Lapham (Norton Critical Edition)
Author W. D.Howells, Editor: Paul R. Petrie
ISBN 9780393922424
List price USD 15.95
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 576
Book size 127 x 216 mm
Publishing year 2018
Original publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
About the book


“In a time of financial and political anxiety, Paul Petrie has reestablished the power of one of the great realist novels of business and ethics. This new edition of The Rise of Silas Lapham deserves to be read and reread for the messages it can deliver about our own morality.”

Daniel J. Mrozowski, Trinity College


“Petrie’s inspired edition of Howells’ masterwork about middle-class mores, manners, and morality in the Gilded Age has lost none of its relevance today. A must-read for anyone who has been tempted to put self-interest above ethical conduct.”
Susan Goodman, University of Delaware


“I love teaching The Rise of Silas Lapham because it is a rich opportunity to examine humor, American Dream ideology, and realism (and sentimentalism) in American literature. It’s always worked well in my classes as a text that helps expand and clarify my students’ literary theoretical understanding of realism.”

Gregory Eiselein, Kansas State University



This Norton Critical Edition includes:

  • The text of the novel as it first appeared (serialized in 1884–85), with explanatory annotations by Paul R. Petrie.
  • A wealth of contextual materials, including maps of contemporary Boston, correspondence about the novel’s composition, excerpts from Howells’s essays on literary realism, and readings carefully chosen in order to help students understand American society during the Gilded Age.
  • Over a dozen reviews of the novel and letters from Howells’s early readers.
  • Twelve modern essays exploring the novel’s style and themes.
  • A Chronology of Howells’s life and a Selected Bibliography.


About the Series

Read by more than 12 million students over fifty-five years, Norton Critical Editions set the standard for apparatus that is right for undergraduate readers. The three-part format—annotated text, contexts, and criticism—helps students to better understand, analyze, and appreciate the literature, while opening a wide range of teaching possibilities for instructors. Whether in print or in digital format, Norton Critical Editions provide all the resources students need.


A Note on the Text
Engraving of W. D. Howells in 1886

The Text of The Rise of Silas Lapham

A Note on Contexts

Composition and Publication
Edwin H. Cady • [The Professional Man of Letters at Work] • W. D. Howells • The Rise of Silas Needham • W. D. Howells • The “Savings Bank” Notebook •
W. D. Howells • Letter to Richard Watson Gilder (July 31, 1884) • Letter to William Cooper Howells (August 10, 1884) • Letter to Mark Twain (August 10, 1884) • Letter to Henry James (August 22, 1884) • Roswell Smith • Letters to W. D. Howells (March and April, 1885)

Controversial Passages And Textual Variants
Textual Variants: Dynamite • Richard Watson Gilder • Letter to W. D. Howells (February 18, 1885) • Roswell Smith • Letter to W. D. Howells (February 18, 1885) • Textual Variants: Portrayal of Jews • The American Hebrew • “Silas Lapham” and the Jews • Cyrus L. Sulzberger • Letter to W. D. Howells (July 12, 1885) • W D. Howells • Letter to Cyrus L. Sulzberger (July 17, 1885) • Cyrus L. Sulzberger • Letter to W. D. Howells (July 19, 1885) • W. D. Howells • Anachronism

Howells, Literary Realism, And American Literary History
W. D. Howells  From Henry James, Jr. • W. D. Howells W D. Howells • From Editor’s Study • [Classicism, Romance, and Realism] • [The Russian Novel, Realism, and Humanism] • [Popular Fiction and the Test of Truth] • [Fiction and the “Unthinking Multitude”] • [The Ideal and the Real Grasshopper] •
W. D. Howells • From Novel-Writing Novel-Reading • Susan Goodman • [Howells’s Influence, Importance, and Public Reputation]

American Society In The Gilded Age
Jay Martin • From The Massing of Forces—The Forging of Masses • Jackson Lears • [Capital and Speculation in the Gilded Age] • Richard Grant White • From Class Distinctions in the United States • Thorstein Veblen • [The Culture of Conspicuous Consumption] • Anonymous • [Dishonesty in Commerce] Anonymous • Business Gambling • Robert Tomes • From The Bazar Book of Decorum • W. D. Howells • From Review of The Bazar Book of Decorum

Silas Lapham’s Boston
Map of Boston, 1875 • Detail of Map of Boston, Showing Places Relevant to The Rise of Silas Lapham • View of Boston, July 4, 1870 • Photograph of Beacon Street (Howells Residence 1884-87) • Elif S. Armbruster • From A Crowning Achievement: 302 Beacon Street, 1884-1887

A Note on Criticism

Edwin H. Cady • [He Moved a Great Audience with Him] • Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson • [Popularity, Influence, and Appeal]

Correspondence With Early Readers
John Hay • Letter to W. D. Howells (April 2, 1885) • Henry Norman • Letter to W. D. Howells (April 14, 1885) • William James • Letter to W. D. Howells (March 5, 1885) • Harold Frederic • Letter to W. D. Howells (May 5, 1885) • Owen Wister • Letter to W. D. Howells (May 21, 1885) • Henry James • Letter to
W. D. Howells (May 23, 1885)

Contemporary Reviews
Anonymous • [Really Too Much Realism] • F. E. Chase • The Rise of Silas Slap ‘Em. by W. D. Howls • “Droch” [Robert Bridges] • From A Thoroughly American Success • Anonymous •  From Mr. Howells’s “Rise of Silas Lapham” • Anonymous •  From Mr. Howells’s Last Story • Anonymous • [A Great Moral Drama] • Edmund W. Gosse • A Great American Novel • Anonymous • [A Want of Perception As to Climax] • Anonymous • [Without Any Final Thrill of Delight] • William Morton Payne • [The Business Man’s Novel] • Horace Scudder • [A Problem Worth Solving] • Anonymous • [Characteristically American] • Anonymous • [A Literal, Merciless Representation] • Anonymous • [Tenderness and True Pathos] • Anonymous • From Novel-Writing as a Science • Hamilton Wright Mabie • From A Typical Novel • Henry James • From William Dean Howells • “Droch” [Robert Bridges] • Social Contempt in Fiction •
W. A. Rogers • Cartoon of “The Modern Novel”

Modern Criticism
Brenda Murphy • From Howells and the Popular Story Paradigm • G. Thomas Tanselle • From The Architecture of The Rise of Silas Lapham • Donald Pizer • The Ethical Unity of The Rise of Silas Lapham • Fritz Oehlschlager • From An Ethic of Responsibility in The Rise of Silas Lapham • Patrick Dooley • From Nineteenth Century Business Ethics and The Rise of Silas Lapham • Wai Chee Dimock • From The Economy of Pain: The Case of Howells • Brook Thomas • From The Risky Business of Accessing the Economy of Howells’s Realism in The Rise of Silas Lapham • Geordie Hamilton • [Howells’s Narrator and Narrative Polyphony] • Hildegard Hoeller • From Capitalism, Fiction, and the Inevitable, (Im)possible, Maddening Importance of the Gift • Joel Porte • [Republican Individualism and Social Class] • Alfred Habegger • [Gender, Humor, and Penelope Lapham] • Dawn Henwood • From Complications of Heroinism: Gender, Power, and the Romance of Self-Sacrifice in The Rise of Silas Lapham

W. D. Howells: A Chronology
Selected Bibliography

About the Editor:

Paul R. Petrie is Professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University. He is the author of Conscience and Purpose: Fiction and Social Consciousness in Howells, Jewett, Chesnutt, and Cather, and of essays on Howells, Wharton, Chestnutt, Jewett, Cather, and Hawthorne. He has also edited the Broadview edition of W. D. Howells’s An Imperative Duty.

Target Audience:

Students and academicians of English literature.


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