The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XI. The Later Novel: Howells

§ 20. Altruria

Howells’s Tolstoyanism appears still more frankly in his two Utopian tales, A Traveller from Altruria (1894) and Through the Eye of the Needle (1907), in which he compares America with the lovely land of Altruria, where all work is honourable and servants are unknown, where capital and interest are only memories, where equality is complete, and men and women, in the midst of beauty, lead lives that are just, temperate, and kind. The stern tones of Tolstoy Howells never learned, or at least never used, for he could not lose his habitual kindness, even when he spoke most firmly. It was kindness, not timidity, however, for though he held steadily to his art he did not keep silence before even the most popular injustices. He plead for the Chicago “anarchists” and he condemned the annexation of the Philippines in clear, strong tones; no good cause lacked the support of his voice. He was extraordinarily fecund. After 1892 he succeeded George William Curtis in “The Easy Chair” of Harper’s and wrote monthly articles which, less exclusively literary than the “Editor’s Study” pieces, carried on the same tradition. His most significant critical writings, chiefly concerned with the art he himself practiced, are found in Criticism and Fiction (1891), Heroines of Fiction (1901), and Literature and Life (1902).