Literature and Life (Complete)

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Author: William Dean Howells

Puritanism in American Fiction

The question whether the fiction which gives a vivid impression of reality does truly represent the conditions studied in it, is one of those inquiries to which there is no very final answer. The most baffling fact of such fiction is that its truths are self-evident; and if you go about to prove them you are in some danger of shaking the convictions of those whom they have persuaded. It will not do to affirm anything wholesale concerning them; a hundred examples to the contrary present themselves if you know the ground, and you are left in doubt of the verity which you cannot gainsay. The most that you can do is to appeal to your own consciousness, and that is not proof to anybody else. Perhaps the best test in this difficult matter is the quality of the art which created the picture. Is it clear, simple, unaffected? Is it true to human experience generally? If it is so, then it cannot well be false to the special human experience it deals with.

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Chicago: William Dean Howells, "Puritanism in American Fiction," Literature and Life (Complete), ed. Davis, Charles Belmont, 1866-1926 in Literature and Life (Complete) (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1909), Original Sources, accessed January 20, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7Q95H8F8245CYN.

MLA: Howells, William Dean. "Puritanism in American Fiction." Literature and Life (Complete), edited by Davis, Charles Belmont, 1866-1926, in Literature and Life (Complete), Vol. 22, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1909, Original Sources. 20 Jan. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7Q95H8F8245CYN.

Harvard: Howells, WD, 'Puritanism in American Fiction' in Literature and Life (Complete), ed. . cited in 1909, Literature and Life (Complete), Doubleday, Page & Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 January 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7Q95H8F8245CYN.