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A New Legacy of American Realism Drama: The Sleeping Car (1883), One-act ‘Parlor’ Farce

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2023, 36(2), pp.5-32
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : July 3, 2023
  • Accepted : August 7, 2023
  • Published : August 31, 2023

Jungman Park 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

William Dean Howells was an American novelist, playwright, and literary critic active from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. He was noted for prolific writing in all genres and his role as a literary critic was also remarkable. While introducing many European realist writers to the United States through literary reviews, he theorized his own views on literary realism. Howells pursued the ‘first-handed’ truth as experienced ‘by accident’ and ever-changing like humans, not as the ideal and absolute truth. Through this, he reached an insight into ‘equivocation and duplicity in truth’. Howells also wrote about 20 farces with his unique light strokes, among which is the one-act ‘parlor’ farce The Sleeping Car (1883). This dramatic piece faithfully reflects the writer’s tendency toward literary realism. Moreover, presented to the world ahead of his well-known novels in time, this farce has an important meaning as a germinating work predicting the author’ direction toward the maturity of literary realism. The purpose of this study is to follow the tendency of the literary realism pursued and practiced by Howells to materialize in terms of the form and theme of the farce The Sleeping Car, and to reveal that this tendency constitutes and gives birth to the literary heritage of American realism as being differentiated from that of Europe.

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