mardi 11 octobre 2011
William Dean Howells, THE WORLD OF CHANCE, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1893, 375 pages.
He could not define the peculiar attraction that the novel seemed to have, even when frankly invited to do so by a vivid young girl who wrote New York letters for a Southern paper, and who came to interview him about it. The most that he could say was that it had struck a popular mood. She was very grateful for that idea, and she made much of it in her next letter; but she did not succeed in analyzing this mood, except as a general readiness for psychological fiction on the part of a reading public wearied and disgusted with the realism of the photographic, commonplace school. She was much more precise in her personal account of Ray; the young novelist appeared there as a type of manly beauty, as to his face and head, but of a regrettably low stature, which, however, you did not observe while he remained seated. It was specially confided to lady readers that his slightly wavy dark hair was parted in the middle over a forehead as smooth and pure as a girl's. The processed reproduction of Ray's photograph did not perfectly bear out her encomium; but it was as much like him as it was like her account of him. His picture began to appear in many places, with romanced biographies, which made much of the obscurity of his origin and the struirsdes of his early life. When it came to be said that he sprang from the lower classes, it brought him a letter of indignant protest from his mother, who reminded him that his father was a physician, and his people had always been educated and respectable on both sides. She thought that he ought to write to the papers and stop the injurious paragraph; and he did not wholly convince her that this was impossible.