Foreword: What a Writer Does Best

Foreword: What a Writer Does Best foreword ) What a Writer Does Best any years ago, as a graduate student, I read all the fiction published in the Atlantic Monthly between 1885 and 1895. During that time, the American literary scene was finally catching up with the British. American writers such as William Dean Howells, Mark Twain and Henry James were producing some of their best work, and Atlantic was arguably the finest American magazine of the day. Novels were still being done in serial form then, so it was a chance to read some of the most memorable American novels in their original publication. However, local color was very "in" in the writing of the 1880s, with regional dialects, phonetic spelling and caricatures that on occasion went overboard. Carl van Doren put it nicely when he wrote that local-color fiction at times suffered from "the contagion of triviality." But even then literary fashion could fade surprisingly quickly, as this sort of story declined from over half of Atlantic's fiction in the 1880s to a negligible percentage by the mid 1890s. As an editor, I've witnessed the rise and sudden waning of equally enthusiastic trends in literary fiction. The minimalist story, reminiscent of such http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Missouri Review University of Missouri

Foreword: What a Writer Does Best

The Missouri Review, Volume 29 (2) – Sep 11, 2006

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Publisher
University of Missouri
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by The Curators of the University of Missouri.
ISSN
1548-9930
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

foreword ) What a Writer Does Best any years ago, as a graduate student, I read all the fiction published in the Atlantic Monthly between 1885 and 1895. During that time, the American literary scene was finally catching up with the British. American writers such as William Dean Howells, Mark Twain and Henry James were producing some of their best work, and Atlantic was arguably the finest American magazine of the day. Novels were still being done in serial form then, so it was a chance to read some of the most memorable American novels in their original publication. However, local color was very "in" in the writing of the 1880s, with regional dialects, phonetic spelling and caricatures that on occasion went overboard. Carl van Doren put it nicely when he wrote that local-color fiction at times suffered from "the contagion of triviality." But even then literary fashion could fade surprisingly quickly, as this sort of story declined from over half of Atlantic's fiction in the 1880s to a negligible percentage by the mid 1890s. As an editor, I've witnessed the rise and sudden waning of equally enthusiastic trends in literary fiction. The minimalist story, reminiscent of such

Journal

The Missouri ReviewUniversity of Missouri

Published: Sep 11, 2006

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