PAL: Perspectives in American Literature - A Research and Reference Guide - An Ongoing Project

© Paul P. Reuben

Chapter 6: (Hannibal) Hamlin Garland (1860-1940)

Page Links: | Primary Works | Crumbling Idols: Garland's Manifesto | Garland's Veritism | Garland and Impressionism | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present | Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Site Links: | Chap 6: Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page | October 28, 2011

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Source:
Garland in Virgin Land

Primary Works

Main Travelled Roads, 1891; Jason Edwards, 1892; Crumbling Idols, 1894; Rose of Dutcher's Cooly, 1895; A Son of the Middle Border, 1917; The Book of the American Indian, 1923; Hamlin Garland's Diary, 1968.

Main travelled roads, with introd. by W. D. Howells. NY: London, Harper 1899. PS1732 .M31

Hesper; a novel, by Hamlin Garland. NY: London, Harper 1904 1903. PS1732 .H44

Rose of Dutcher's coolly. NY: Harper, 1899. PS1732 .R6

Cavanagh, forest ranger; a romance of the mountain West by Hamlin Garland. NY: London, Harper 1910. PS1732 .C34

A daughter of the middle border. NY: The Macmillan Company, 1922 1921. PS1733 .A42

A son of the middle border, edited with an introduction by E. H. Kemper McComb. NY: Macmillan, 1923. PS1733 .A4

The book of the American Indian; pictured by Frederic Remington. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1923. Folio E77 .G23

Trail makers of the middle border; illustrated by Constance Garland. NY: Grosset and Dunlap, 1926. PS1733 .A39

Roadside meetings, by Hamlin Garland ... decorations by Constance Garland. NY: Macmillan, 1930. PS1733 .A45

Companions on the trail; a literary chronicle, Decorations by Constance Garland. NY: Macmillan, 1931. PS1733 .A47

My friendly contemporaries; a literary log, by Hamlin Garland... decorations by Constance Garland. NY: The Macmillan company, 1932. PS1733 .A48

Afternoon neighbors; further excerpts from a literary log, by Hamlin Garland ... NY: Macmillan, 1934. PS1733 .A483

Boy life on the prairie. Introd. by B. R. McElderry, Jr. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1961. PS1732 .B6

Hamlin Garland's observations on the American Indian, 1895 1905. compiled and edited by Lonnie E. Underhill and Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1976. E78 W5 G37

| Top | Crumbling Idols: Garland's Manifesto

Themes:
"Life is always changing and literature changes with it. It never decays; it changes."

1. The inadequacy of the old masterpieces as models for modern literature; "to weaken the hold of conventionalism upon the youthful artist."

2. A demand for originality; "to be constructive, by its statement and insistent restatement that American art, to be enduring and worthy, must be original and creative, not imitative."

3. A demand for Americanism.

"I believe in the living, not the dead. The men and women around me interest me more then the saints and heroes of other centuries. . . . Youth should be free from the dominion of the dead; therefore I defend the individual right of the modern creative mind to create in the image of life, and in the image of any literary master, living or dead." - HG

According to Ahnebrink (listed above), this advocacy of freedom from masters and insistence on creativity and on a distinctly American literature, Garland echoed Emerson's ideas in "The American Scholar' - the famous address known as the American declaration of intellectual independence.

"The American realist should stand for a liberated art. If this means emancipation from Shakespeare, or Scott, or Hugo, very well; but we should not argue for a change of masters. We should condemn with equal severity imitation of a living master like Ibsen.

Garland's Veritism

In his treatment of the people and the conditions of the West, Garland's tone was harsher than Howells' treatment of the "smiling aspects of life." But at the same time it was not the brutal naturalism of Zola. In order to avoid the confusion, Garland used the words "veritism" and "veritist." Ahnebrink quotes from a letter to Eldon C. Hill, dated February 14, 1939, in which Garland explained how he came to use the word "veritism":
"You ask about my use of the word veritist. I began to use it in the late nineties. Not being at that time a realist in the sense in which the followers of Zola used it, I hit upon the word veritist which I may have derived from Veron. In truth I was an impressionist in that I presented life and landscape as I personally perceived them but (since) I sought a deeper significance in the use of the word, I added which subtended verification. I sought to verify my impressions seperated by an interval of time. I thought to get away from the use of the word realism which implied predominant use of sexual vice and crime in the manner of Zola and certain German novelists. For the most part, the men and women I had known in my youth were normal, hardworking and decent in work and action. Their lives were hard, unlovely, sometimes drab and bitter but they were not sexual perverts. As a veritist I argued that one could be as real and as true in presenting the average man and woman as in describing cases of incest, adultery and murder. I found as Whitman told me he had found in the life of the average American a certain decorum and normality. As a veritist I have recorded my perceptions."

The function of a veritist:

"I use the word veritist because the word realist no longer suffices. The veritist chooses for his subject the probable, not the normal."

Moreover, the veritist portrayed native themes and was not interested in historical romances nor in superficial love stories. Not shrinking from the sordid elements of life, the veritist stated truth and nothing but the truth.

"Write of those things of which you know most, and for which you care most. By so doing you will be true to yourself, true to your locality, and true to your time."

Inscription found on Garland's copy of Eugene Veron's Aesthetics: "This book influenced me more than any other work on art. It entered into all I thought and spoke and read for many years after it fell into my hands about 1886."

Garland and Impressionism

According to Ahnebrink, Garland was one of the first novelists to use impressionistic technique in his work (Crane was another). According to his own statement. He received his "first idea of colored shadows from reading One of Herbert Spencer's essays ten years ago. I then came to see blue and grape-color in the shadows on the snow. By turning my head top-side down, I came to see that shadows falling upon yellow sand were violet, and the shadows of vivid sunlight falling on the white of a macadamized street were blue, like the shadows on the snow.

Garland's theory of veritism shows that he was substantially a realist - not a naturalist - and a realist very much after the manner of Howells. in practice, however, Garland went a step further beyond Howells realism toward naturalism. (Ahnebrink, 149-50)

| Top | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Joseph, Philip. American Literary Regionalism in a Global Age. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2007.

Lutz, Tom. Cosmopolitan Vistas: American Regionalism and Literary Value. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2004.

Nagel, James. ed. Critical Essays on Hamlin Garland. Boston: Hall, 1982.

Newlin, Keith. Hamlin Garland: A Bibliography, with a Checklist of Unpublished Letters. NY: Whitston, 1998.

- - -. ed. Selected Letters of Hamlin Garland. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1998.

- - -. Hamlin Garland: A Life. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2008.

Pizer, Donald. American Naturalism and the Jews: Garland, Norris, Dreiser, Wharton, and Cather. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2008.

- - -. ed. Hamlin Garland, Prairie Radical: Writings from the 1890s. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2010.

Silet, Charles L. P. and others. eds. The Critical Reception of Hamlin Garland 1891-1978. Troy, NY: Whitston, 1985. 

Study Questions

1. Compare and contrast Garland's portrait of the women in Under the Lion's Paw with Freeman's in The Revolt of "Mother." How does each author present women's ability to confront poverty?

2. Garland's narrator views his characters from the outside. Analyze specific scenes in the story to show how this outsider's view predetermines the reader's understanding of the characters' actions.

3. Are the characters in Under the Lion's Paw individuals or types? Compare the story with Howells's Editha. Does the use of types or stereotypes limit the effect of realism?

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 6: Hamlin Garland." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL:http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap6/garland.html (provide page date or date of your logIn).
 

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