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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - Study Guide "William Dean Howells" (1983) Summary & Analysis

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Republication by the Library of America of four novels by William Dean Howells, peripatetic novelist, newspaperman and literary critic of the late 1800s, provides an occasion for commentary by Vidal on the literary merits of Howells himself, as well as ruminations on the state of American literacy and public education.

Although Vidal applauds the intent of the Library of America, founded by the critic Edmund Wilson as a way of bringing important works before a public who would otherwise probably never encounter them, he bemoans the decline of readership in general and trembles at the onslaught of visual media such as movies and TV that compel writers to work "harder and harder to write simply enough for people who don't really know how to read."

The clear danger of this kind of illiteracy is not...

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This section contains 668 words
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Buy the United States: Essays 1952-1992 Study Guide
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