The Rise of Silas Lapham

Paperback | April 28, 1983

byWilliam Dean HowellsIntroduction byKermit VanderbiltEditorKermit Vanderbilt

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William Dean Howells' richly humorous characterization of a self-made millionaire in Boston society provides a paradigm of American culture in the Gilded Age. After establishing a fortune in the paint business, Silas Lapham moves his family from their Vermont farm to the city of Boston, where they awkwardly attempt to break into Brahmin society. Silas, greedy for wealth as well as prestige, brings his company to the brink of bankruptcy, and the family is forced to return to Vermont, financially ruined but morally renewed. As Kermit Vanderbilt points out in his introduction, the novel focuses on important themes in the American literary tradition: the efficacy of self-help and determination, the ambiguous benefits of social and economic progress, and the continual contradiction between urban and pastoral values.

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Silas Lapham is a rough-hewn entrepreneur who has made his fortune in mineral paint. Socially ambitious for their daughters, Lapham and his wife encourage the suit of Tom Corey, son of an aristocratic Boston family, whose own parents are appalled by his consorting with vulgar upstarts. But which Lapham girl does Tom really love: the pr...

From the Publisher

William Dean Howells' richly humorous characterization of a self-made millionaire in Boston society provides a paradigm of American culture in the Gilded Age. After establishing a fortune in the paint business, Silas Lapham moves his family from their Vermont farm to the city of Boston, where they awkwardly attempt to break into Brahmi...

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Silas Lapham is a rough-hewn entrepreneur who has made his fortune in mineral paint. Socially ambitious for their daughters, Lapham and his wife encourage the suit of Tom Corey, son of an aristocratic Boston family, whose own parents are appalled by his consorting with vulgar upstarts. But which Lapham girl does Tom really love: the pr...

William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio. His father was a printer and newspaperman, and the family moved from town to town. Howells went to school where he could. As a boy he began learning the printer’s skill. By the time he was in his teens he was setting type for his own verse. Between 1856 and 1861 he worke...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 7.73 × 5.09 × 0.7 inPublished:April 28, 1983Publisher:Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140390308

ISBN - 13:9780140390308

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Silas Lapham is a rough-hewn entrepreneur who has made his fortune in mineral paint. Socially ambitious for their daughters, Lapham and his wife encourage the suit of Tom Corey, son of an aristocratic Boston family, whose own parents are appalled by his consorting with vulgar upstarts. But which Lapham girl does Tom really love: the pretty blonde Irene or her bookish sister Penelope? As the romantic confusion is sorted out, Lapham suffers calamities that threaten both his financial and personal integrity. His rise is ultimately a moral one. The first major American novel to centre on a businessman, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) explores the capitalist ethos of the American Gilded Age. It is also a brilliant novel of manners that shows the comic confrontation of old wealth and new riches.