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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

§ 33. Contemporaries

A real, however narrow, gulf separates London from such colleagued naturalists as Richard Harding Davis, better in short stories than in novels, and often romantic, or even from David Graham Phillips (1867–1911), whose bitter war upon society and “Society” culminated in the two volumes of Susan Lenox (1917), the only extended portrait of an American courtesan No one of them all had quite London’s boyish energy, quite his romantic audacity in naturalism. And the tendency of fiction is just at present away from the world of “elemental” excitement to more civil phases of life, a newer form of realism having succeeded alike the episode of naturalism and the antithetical episode of historical romance. At the same time there are still novels of many types: domestic and sentimental romances; tales of wild adventure; stories written to exploit a single character in the tradition of F. Hopkinson Smith’s Colonel Carter of Cartersville (1891), Edward Noyes Westcott’s David Harum (1898), and Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1905); a few records of exotic life at the ends of the earth; narratives, nicely skirting salaciousness, of “fast” New York; affectionate, idealized portrayals, as in the work of James Lane Allen for Kentucky, of particular states or neighbourhoods. But no tendency quite so clearly prevails as romance in the thirties, sentimentalism in the fifties, realism in the eighties, or naturalism at the turn of the century.