The Rise of Silas Lapham

The Rise of Silas Lapham

Introduction by:

Mass Market Paperback
  • Mass Market Paperback
  • ISBN 9780451528223
  • 384 Pages
  • Signet
  • Adult


“Let fiction cease to lie about life; let it portray men and women as they are, actuated by the motives and the passions in the measure we all know.”—William Dean Howells

The Rise of Silas Lapham, first published in book form in 1885, was the first important novel to center on the American businessman and the first to treat its theme with a realism that was to foreshadow the work of modern writers. In his story of Silas Lapham—one of the millionaires who flourished with the expanding industrialization of the post-Civil War years—William Dean Howells probed the moral and social conflicts that confronted a self-made man who attempted to crash Boston’s old-guard, aristocratic society. Silas Lapham is a man of conscience who fully realizes his folly. But he is also an ambitious man who knowingly lets his aspirations lead him to hazard both his fortune and his family’s happiness for status in a society that can never accept him. “His perceptions were sure, his integrity was absolute,” wrote Henry Seidel Canby of William Dean Howells, whom he credited as being “responsible for giving the American novel form.”


“[Howells’s] perceptions were sure, his integrity was absolute.” Henry Seidel Canby