Howells Queries: Who was the “single guest” who laughed at the Whittier Birthday DInner Speech?

[Reposting to include replies.]

Dear William Dean Howells Society:

I am writing about John Greenleaf Whittier’s 70th birthday party, at which Mr. Howells was the toastmaster, and at which Samuel Clemens gave his controversial speech.

In Mr. Howells’ account of that speech, he says that the silence “…deepened from moment to moment, and was broken only by the hysterical and blood-curdling laughter of a single guest, whose name shall not be handed down to infamy.”

My question is, is it known, now, who that guest was? I’m wondering if it showed up in any of his correspondence or personal notes.

Sincerely,

Stephen Sakellarios

[leave suggestions in the comments]

Would it have been Howells himself?

All best,

Owen Clayton
[reposted from howells-l]

It was Longfellow! See here.

http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/onstage/whitnews.html

Scroll down untill you get to the description of the “eccentric” speech and you will see the record of Longfellow’s behavior.

Rosslyn Elliott

From Tom Wortham:

I’m in the process of reorganizing my library, and so I can’t find Henry Nash Smith’s MT: The Development of a Writer (1962), but I seem to recall that having noticed that the Boston newspaper report indicated [laughter] at several places during its account of the speech, Smith argued that perhaps Howells’ own discomfort that evening caused him to misremember the audience’s reaction to the talk.

Tom Wortham

Francis James Child, the collector of English historical ballads and folk balladry, is suposed to have been the person who laughed at the back of the audience, probably becuase his work in folk resources allowed him to “get” the humor of what Twain was doing in pretty much the spirit Twain intended. Child, I believe, continued to think that the audience was unreasonably cool to the speech, long afterwords. I cannot supply the source of this information, though, since I noticed it in passing.

Dave Sloane

It was Mathew Franklin Whittier, younger brother of the birthday boy, John Greenleaf Whittier. He had ghost-written the story for Clemens, probably setting it in New England, and Clemens had reworked it so as to set it in California. It was Mathew’s practical joke and birthday present to his brother. I have quite a bit of background evidence–e-mail me if you’re interested.
ssake-at-goldthread-dot-com
Stephen Sakellarios

Howells Queries: Compendium of reviews?

Hello, all. I’ve been searching without much luck to see if anyone has compiled reviews of William Dean Howells’ works as they came out, similar to Routlege’s Critical Heritage series, or the kind of appendices common to Broadview and Norton Critical editions. Aside from some contemporaneous reviews included amongst the longer critical pieces in Edwin Cady’s The War of the Critics over William Dean Howells, I don’t find any such animal. The Selected Edition has plenty of good textual notes, but no critical appendices, so far as I can see. Does anyone here know if any such resource has been put together, in print or online? 

David Wright

Seattle Public Library

CFP UPDATED AND DEADLINE EXTENDED: The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism (Deadline 2.17.21)

UPDATED AND DEADLINE EXTENDED: 

Call for proposals  

The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism 

Editors: Kenneth K Brandt and Karin M Danielsson 

At the end of the 19th century, American authors such as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London were influenced by new advances in science—notably the idea of evolution. Nature and the nonhuman were crucial for these writers, whom scholars   most often group under the rubric of American literary naturalists. Traditional scholarship on American literary naturalism has closely attended to various environmental pressures in urban and wilderness settings, but scholars have paid much less attention to the naturalists’ investigations into the nonhuman, such as animals, plants, landscapes, houses, or weather. To extend and deepen our understanding of this under-researched field, we propose a volume of essays that offers a wide variety of innovative critical approaches to the nonhuman in American naturalist literature. We welcome studies based in ecocriticism, animal studies, new materialism, narrative theory, or ethics. We are receptive to essay proposals focused on the core naturalists from around 1900 as well as more contemporary writers in the naturalist tradition. Proposals may focus on authors including Crane, Norris, London, Wharton, Garland, Dreiser, Chopin, Dunbar, Sinclair, Twain, Glasgow, Frederic, Cather, O’Neill, Steinbeck, Wright, Hemingway, Petry, Dos Passos, Larsen, Farrell, Hammett, Cain and others. More recent writers may include Oates, Vonnegut, DeLillo, Morrison, McCarthy, Wilson, Pynchon, and others. The editors are particularly interested in proposals on Larsen, Dreiser, Wright, Twain, Petry, and authors in the SF, cyberpunk, and biopunk traditions.  

Possible topic areas might include but are not limited to: 

  • Animal agency    
  • Anthropomorphism 
  • Nonhuman sentience 
  • Ecology 
  • Ethology 
  • Evolution 
  • Farming 
  • Forests, trees, plants 
  • Houses and other structures 
  • Human–nonhuman intersubjectivity 
  • Landscape and place 
  • Physical or environmental transformations   
  • Posthumanism 
  • Speciesism 
  • Technology’s intersections with the nonhuman 
  • Weather and climate 
  • Wild, feral, and domestic nonhumans 

The Lexington Books Ecocritical Theory and Practice series editor has expressed a strong interest in the project and has requested a full proposal. It is the publisher’s wish that authors or at least one co-author holds a PhD. 

We invite essay proposals of a maximum of 500 words on any topic relating to the nonhuman in American literary naturalism by the deadline of 17 February, 2021. Please include a title, a maximum of five key words, and a brief biography. We aim to reply to respondents by 25 February 2021, and full drafts of essays (5000–8000 words) will be due 1 September 2021. Please send a 500-word maximum proposal and a brief biography to karin.molander.danielsson@mdh.se and kbrandt@scad.edu by 17 February, 2021. 

CFP: The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

Call for proposals

 The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

Editors: Kenneth K Brandt and Karin M Danielsson

At the end of the 19th century, American authors such as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London were influenced by new advances in science—notably the idea of evolution. Nature and the nonhuman were crucial for these writers,
whom scholars   most often group under the rubric of American literary naturalists. Traditional scholarship on American literary naturalism has closely attended to various environmental pressures in urban and wilderness settings, but scholars have paid much
less attention to the naturalists’ investigations into the nonhuman, such as animals, plants, landscapes, houses, or weather. To extend and deepen our understanding of this under-researched field, we propose a volume of essays that offers a wide variety of
innovative critical approaches to the nonhuman in American naturalist literature. We welcome studies based in ecocriticism, animal studies, new materialism, narrative theory, or ethics. We are receptive to essay proposals focused on the core naturalists from
around 1900 as well as more contemporary writers in the naturalist tradition. Proposals may focus on authors including Crane, Norris, London, Wharton, Garland, Dreiser, Chopin, Dunbar, Sinclair, Twain, Glasgow, Frederic, Cather, O’Neill, Steinbeck, Wright,
Hemingway, Petry, Dos Passos, Larsen, Farrell, Hammett, Cain and others. More recent writers may include Oates, Vonnegut, DeLillo, Morrison, McCarthy, Wilson, Pynchon, and others.

Possible topic areas might include but are not limited to:

  • Animal agency  
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Nonhuman sentience
  • Ecology
  • Ethology 
  • Evolution
  • Farming
  • Forests, trees, plants
  • Houses and other structures
  • Human–nonhuman intersubjectivity
  • Landscape and place
  • Physical or environmental transformations
  • Posthumanism 
  • Speciesism 
  • Technology’s intersections with the nonhuman
  • Weather and climate
  • Wild, feral, and domestic nonhumans

 

The Lexington Books Ecocritical Theory and Practice series editor has expressed a strong interest in the project and has requested a full proposal. It is the publisher’s wish that authors or at least one co-author holds a PhD.

We invite essay proposals of a maximum of 500 words on any topic relating to the nonhuman in American literary naturalism by the deadline of the
8 January 2021. Please include a title, a maximum of five key words, and a brief biography. We aim to reply to respondents by 25 February 2021, and full drafts of essays (5000–8000 words)
will be due 1 September 2021. Please send a 500-word maximum proposal and a brief biography to karin.molander.danielsson@mdh.se and
kbrandt@scad.edu by 8 January, 2021.

July 25, 2020: Performance of Howells’s The Smoking Car

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Metropolitan
Virtual
Playhouse
Presents


The perils of doing a good deed

The Smoking Car
by William Dean Howells

Saturday, July 25
8 pm


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Mr. Roberts is entrusted with a priceless package
by a stranger on his train: her infant child.
She is particularly anxious, and her tale is not particularly
convincing, but he’s barely paying attention.
What could possibly go wrong.

In the Rail Car Series of WD Howells’s plays (such as The Parlor Car, read on May 9),
AND an Edward Roberts/Willis Campbell story–a series in which Howells developed his trenchant satire–
The Smoking Car is a light-hearted alert to the dangers of coming to the aid of a fellow human being.

Lest we forget!

Watch by Zoom or YouTube
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or
or tune in to

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WBAI Radio 99.5 FM


Directed by John Long

featuring
Howard Pinhasik
Marlaina Powell
Jennifer Reddish
Hannah Sharafian
Blaine Smith


Please Consider a Contribution to Metropolitan Playhouse
to help us help the artists keeping the spirit of the theater alive
from their homes to yours.

Learn more about supporting artists during the pandemic
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or make a donation right now

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Thank you very much.

PLEASE STAY SAFE!
Practice Social Distancing.
Love One Another.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Thank you very much. We look forward to seeing you you back at the theater!

Howells in the News: On Civil War Monuments

An alternative history of American Civil War monuments

https://www.apollo-magazine.com/american-civil-war-monuments/

In the spring of 1866, William Dean Howells wondered what monuments to the American Civil War would look like. Howells, who later became the celebrated ‘Dean’ of American literary realism, had served as American Consul in Venice for the war’s duration, and his hopes for commemorative statuary in the triumphant North betray the remove from which he experienced the war’s emotional and physical ferocity. His vision was progressive and productive: instead of mourning the dead, he contended, public monuments to the war should have the power to reform the communities that encountered them.

With the full force of northern victory and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation behind him, he told the readers of the Atlantic Monthly that ‘[t]he idea of our war seems to have interpreted itself to us all as faith in the justice of our cause, and in our immutable destiny, as God’s agents, to give freedom to mankind; and the ideas of our peace are gratitude and exultant industry.’ Commemorating war from a position of peace, he maintained, involved building on the war’s gains rather than dwelling on its devastation and losses; in proving their ‘right to citizenship’ in a Union freshly dedicated to freedom, commemorative architecture and sculpture must prove ‘themselves adequate to express something of the spirit of the new order we have created here’.

Howells’ suggestive invocation of the new ‘rights to citizenship’ granted to emancipated and self-emancipated African Americans drives his point home: to earn their place in the post-war public sphere, monuments to the war must work collectively to bring the ‘new order’ declared by the Emancipation Proclamation into being. [read the rest at the link to Apollo Magazine.]

Howells’s “The Parlor Car” radio drama online May 9, 2020

From the Metropolitan Playhouse, specializing in reviving 19th and early 20th century plays, a WDH play, for your delectation:

Trouble viewing this email? Read it online
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Metropolitan
Virtual
Playhouse
presents

Make your Reservation on

THE PARLOR CAR
a farce of isolation in motion, by the “Dean of American Letters”
William Dean Howells

(but no reservation is needed)

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Saturday, May 9, 2020
8:00 pm

(running time: 45 minutes, with chatter to follow)


Watch the way you wish…

Right on our Webpage
or
YouTube Channel: Metropolitan Playhouse
or
Zoom

and, for those who don’t like to watch…

Broadcast on Radio WBAI 99.5 FM

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www.wbai.org

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www.MetropolitanPlayhouse.org/virtualplayhouse

Virtual Lobby Open starting at 7:55.
Reading at 8:00 pm
(to allow for traffic we start a little late, it’s true)

Miss Galbraith and Mr. Richards, recently separated lovers
find themselves confined to the same compartment
of a railway car on the way to Schenectady.
Mortifying though it may be,
it is also a chance to look a little more closely
at the reason for their spat.
And when the car is de-coupled from its train,
stranded on the lonesome track…
well, who knows what may happen.

One of a series of his “railway car” farces, The Parlor Car is
filled with Howells’s distinctive wit and feel for polite niceties,
and his impatience for socially mandated confusions.
This one is particularly close to the circumstance of a socially distancing audience.
Originally published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1876,
the play is also particularly well suited to a “static” presentation,
though it throws down a particular gauntlet to the “Zoom drama” technique
that Metropolitan is only too glad to pick up in its evolving exploration of online drama.

Largesse
Metropolitan is delighted to present these readings as a small way of keeping the theater’s pilot lit.
They also serve to help us compensate performing artists, so particularly struck by this long “pause.”
If you would like to contribute to the fund supporting these gifted and generous friends,
click here to learn about Metropolitan Artist Relief
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Or here, simply to make a contribution.

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PLEASE STAY SAFE!
Practice Social Distancing.
Love Your Neighbors.

For current information about the virus and disease, visit the Center for Disease Control website:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

Thank you very much. We hope to see you at the theater soon!

Metrpolitan Playhouse
220 E 4th Street
New York New York 10009
United States

ALA canceled for 2020

Updated Message (March 20, 2020)

ALA Conference and Coronavirus:

I deeply regret to inform you that we have had to cancel the ALA conference scheduled for May 21-24, 2020 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. The current situation in California and much of the rest of the country has made it impossible for us to hold this conference.  The hotel is suspending normal operations and has agreed to allow us to cancel without penalty.

Please cancel your travel plans and your hotel reservations. [Read the rest at http://americanliteratureassociation.org/ala-conferences/ala-2020-and-covid-19/]

CFP: W.D. Howells panels at ALA 2020

The William Dean Howells Society welcomes proposals for two sessions at the 31st annual conference of the ALA in San Diego, CA from May 21-24, 2020.

HOWELLS OUT WEST

Though born and raised in Ohio, William Dean Howells is often considered the prime shaper and protector of what Nancy Glazener terms the “northeastern urban bourgeoisie” because of his stewardship of the elite east coast literary magazines The Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s. Inspired by our transition from Boston back to the West Coast for ALA 2020, for this panel we seek presentations on Howells’s equally important relationship with the American West, broadly construed.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Howells’s upbringing in the Midwest (or the “Old Northwest”).
  • Howells’s personal and professional relationships with Western writers like Mark Twain and Bret Harte.
  • The representation of Western characters in his novels (their dialect, their worldviews, etc.).
  • Comparisons between Howells’s east coast realism and the naturalism of California writers like Frank Norris and Jack London.
  • Readings of Western settings in his novels, such as the divorce sequence in A Modern Instance, or a discussion of Howells’s lesser-known The Leatherwood God, which Edwin Cady figured as “his only true Western novel.”

 

READING W.D. HOWELLS (1837-1920) A CENTURY LATER

With the 100th anniversary year of William Dean Howells’ death falling a few weeks before this year’s ALA conference, the William Dean Howells Society welcomes submissions on any aspect of Howells’ life, career, influence, and writing, including but not limited to his novels, short stories, plays, poems, travel writing, and literary and cultural criticism. Papers that situate their particular topics within the history and possible futures of the reading and study of Howells are especially welcome.

 

Please send 250-500 word proposals to jsampso5@jhu.edu by *January 30 2020. *Please note if you will require A/V for your presentation.