1. Christopher MacGowan

Published Online: 24 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

How to Cite

MacGowan, C. (2011) Introduction, in The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 21 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405160230

Online ISBN: 9781444393675



  • history, including history of a century's literature - being never so tidy;
  • ideas of the nineteenth century - spill over into the twentieth, in the history of American fiction;
  • writers and the prevailing ideas - influencing early history of the American Institute of Arts and Letters;
  • Howells, Twain, James, and Adams, major figures - yet arguably, all but Adams had his best work behind him by 1905;
  • Twain's work, becoming darker in his last years - death in 1910, an unfinished novel, The Mysterious Stranger;
  • Henry Adams, in The Education of Henry Adams - ill prepared for the twentieth century by his nineteenth-century education and experience;
  • Adams, little place for the literary - or literary imagination in a new century, dominated by powerful and ever-growing world of science;
  • early history of Institute of Arts and Letters - a useful touchstone to academic ideas of the canon;
  • Dreiser's experience, making him a hero for writers - whose ideas of realism, clashing with those of the more genteel tradition;
  • international scope of American literature - continuing in the 1920s, by writers who felt United States was a country and a culture to observe from a distance