Years of My Youth (Illustrations) by William Dean Howells

Years of My Youth (Illustrations)

byWilliam Dean Howells

Kobo ebook | October 9, 2014

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WHENEVER I visit the region of a famous man’s youth I have the feeling that I ought to discover there some clue to the secret of his greatness; for I cannot help fancying that the environment must have molded him and been an essential element in the development of his individuality and power. It was with such expectations that I recently went to Ohio, just as spring was verging into summer, to see the land where Mr. Howells spent the years of which he has made so frank and appealing a record in this volume. In the middle of the last century the State retained much of the crude primitiveness of the frontier, and I wondered what stimulus this could have offered in creating a genius so broad in his views and so sensitive to impressions, and in whose expression there is such fine imagination, humor, sympathy, and wisdom.
I began my journey in Mr. Howells’s native State where he began his life’s journey eighty years ago, at Martin’s Ferry. The place is two miles up the Ohio River from Wheeling, West Virginia, on the western bank of the stream. By the water-side are big, ugly factories belching smoke and steam, and in their vicinity are railroad tracks, cinders, and other litter, and dingy, ramshackle buildings, among which are numerous forlorn little dwellings and occasional saloons. A sort of careless prosperity is in evidence, but not much of the charm of neatness, or concern for appearances. The rest of the town overspreads the steep slopes that border the river, and pushes back into the nooks among the adjacent upheaval of big hills. It is rather chaotic, but improves in quality the farther it recedes from the smoke and din of the manufacturing strip along the river.
The small brick Howells house stood close to the stream, where grime and squalor most abound at present. However, the railroad was not there then, and Martin’s Ferry was a village that had in some respects real rural attraction.
During the period of about twenty-five years which this book covers the Howells family lived in seven different places, many of them widely separated, but all within the confines of Ohio; and they seldom stayed long in any town without occupying more than one residence. Naturally, there have been marked changes in the aspect of most of the places where they dwelt. Perhaps Jefferson has changed least. In the old days it had six hundred inhabitants. Now it has three or four times that number, but it is still serenely rustic, and every one knows every one else, and the wide, tree-shadowed streets and the rich, gently rolling farm country that environ the town are delightful.

 

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Title:Years of My Youth (Illustrations)Format:Kobo ebookPublished:October 9, 2014Publisher:HARPER & BROTHERSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN:9990046028933

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