However, the stories added after the first edition occasionally weaken the impact and unified vision of midwestern life that informs the first edition. The main-travelled road in the West as elsewhere is hot and dusty in the summer, and desolate and drear with mud in fall and spring, and in winter the winds sweep the snow across it; it does sometimes cross a rich meadow where the songs of the larks and the bobolinks and blackbirds are tangled.
Follow it far enough, it may lead past a bend in the river where the water laughs eternally over its shallows. Mainly it is long and wearyful and has a dull little town at one end, and a home of toil at the other. Like the main-travelled road of life, it is traversed by many classes of people, but the poor and the weary predominate. Critical reaction to Main-Travelled Roads was immediate. Reviews indicate both the popular reception of his books and the critical terms on which they were received; they also helped to establish Garland's reputation as a writer and called attention to his subsequent volumes.
Garland's friends in Boston and elsewhere in the East were quick to heap praise on Main-Travelled Roads. Flower, in the Arena July , called it "one of the most valuable contributions to distinctive American literature which has appeared in many years. Harte, in the New England Magazine August , concluded that the stories in the volume were "as realistic as anything written by Ibsen; but at the same time, they have a more dramatic quality, and are besides relieved with an undercurrent of humor, which makes the realism, true realism.
Western American Literature
In a far-ranging review in which several of the stories came in for specific comment, Howells observed:. These stories are full of the bitter and burning dust, the foul and trampled slush of the common avenues of life: the life of men who hopelessly and cheerlessly make the wealth that enriches the alien and the idler, and impoverishes the producer.
If anyone is still at a loss to account for that uprising of the farmers in the West, which is the translation of the Peasants' War into modern and republican terms, let him read Main-Travelled Roads and he will begin to understand, unless, indeed, Mr. Garland is painting the exceptional rather than the average.
The stories are full of those gaunt, grim, sordid, pathetic, ferocious figures whom our satirists find so easy to caricature as Hayseeds, and whose blind groping for fairer conditions is so grotesque to the newspapers and so menacing to the politicians. They feel that something is wrong, and they know that the wrong is not theirs.
The type caught in Mr. Garland's book is not pretty; it is ugly and often ridiculous; but it is heart-breaking in its rude despair.
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Not all critics were so warm in their praise of Garland's work. Many criticized the balance and tone of his stories, while others questioned their accuracy and representativeness.
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Still others felt that he too often emphasized the negative. Even Howells cautioned that Garland "still has to learn that though the thistle is full of an unrecognized poetry, the rose has poetry too, that even overpraise cannot spoil" p. A reviewer in The Nation 13 August argued: "There is no doubt that power of observation and of rendering the results with exactness is disclosed in these stories; but they lose by a successive reading.
Descriptions of the same uninviting interiors, the same birds and insects, finally produce an impression of monotony and mannerism. Garland would doubtless disclaim any intention of showing the whole truth in his stories, and put them forward only as dashes of shadow to modify the general picture of rural life in America. Despite the many positive reviews of his work during this period, Garland was distressed by the negative reaction, especially from critics and reviewers in the West. He later recalled, in A Son of the Middle Border:. I had the foolish notion that the literary folk of the West would take local pride in the color of my work, and to find myself execrated by nearly every critic as "a bird willing to foul his own nest" was an amazement.
Editorials and criticisms poured into the office, all written to prove that my pictures of the middle border were utterly false. Statistics were employed to show that pianos and Brussels carpets adorned almost every Iowa farmhouse. Tilling the prairie was declared to be "the noblest vocation in the world, not in the least like the pictures this eastern author has drawn of it. The stories in Main-Travelled Roads contain a number of themes, including daily lives spun out in hopeless toiling tragedy against the backdrop of natural glories, the irrelevancy of romantic love when set against the drudgery of farmwork, the ambivalence of isolation and companionship, the desire to leave the land versus the resulting guilt of leaving loved ones behind, the gap between those who have and those who have not, and loss of innocence.
Garland's focus on these themes, especially the theme of lost innocence, is significant for a number of reasons.
Main Travelled Roads Chords by Doll By Doll | Songsterr Tabs with Rhythm
For one, it seems clear by his own admission in the foreword to his edition of the collection that his stories represented a deeply personal exploration of his own lost innocence, in his return after several years of living in the East to his parents' South Dakota home. For another, Garland increasingly saw his own loss of innocence mirrored in the passing of a more innocent time in America. His exploration of this theme consistently reflects his newly acquired beliefs after his exposure to the works of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer , and his conclusions therefore carry a weight that is at once literary, sociological, and political in his implied understanding that survival for his characters must include not simply a loss of innocence but acceptance of the reality that it may be necessary to leave a hostile environment rather than attempt often in futility to adapt to it.
Interestingly, however, Garland often is as concerned with his own version of "remembrance of things past" as he is with what will happen after the loss of innocence to the characters and to the land. While some of the stories that comprise the original edition of Main-Travelled Roads contain flaws, the book as a whole is a powerful and evocative treatment of western farm life. In it, Garland uses the apt metaphor of the western road as the symbolic structural center, providing a prefatory statement to the book itself that sets the dominant tone and hints at what is to come, followed by epigraphs before each story to achieve unity.
In story after story, including "The Return of a Private," "A Branch Road," "Up the Coulee," and "Under the Lion's Paw," one sees characters on the move, sometimes attempting to establish a better life somewhere else, sometimes returning to the land they left.
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Occasionally the journey is merely one for a few days' respite from the toils of farm life, as in "Mrs. Ripley's Trip" or "A Day's Pleasure" added in the edition. But Garland makes a central point in all of this movement: a life of numbing hardship inevitably awaits the travelers if their destination is the farm. While several stories, particularly "Up the Coulee," "A Branch Road," and "The Return of a Private," suggest that inequities in the economic system are responsible for the farmers' plight, "Under the Lion's Paw," the best-known and most widely reprinted story in the collection, is the only one that explicitly makes use of the single-tax doctrine.
The story was written as an illustration of Henry George 's thesis of the harmful social effects of the unearned increment, and Garland habitually used the text when he was lecturing and campaigning for Populist candidates in In the story, the Haskins family, forced to settle in Kansas because of the high price of land in the East, is plagued by grasshoppers and forced to move again. Aided by a hospitable family, they rent a farm in Iowa from Jim Butler, a villainous land speculator. After three years of hard labor, Haskins is ready to buy, but Butler doubles the price because of the improvements Haskins himself made upon the land.
The banker, who has done nothing, will profit, and an enraged Haskins determines to murder Butler. Seller Inventory NEW More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Signet Classics, Mass Market Paperback.
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Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory n. Items related to Main-Travelled Roads. Main-Travelled Roads. Hamlin Garland. Publisher: Signet Classics , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title This book challenges the concept of the American dream.
From the Back Cover : Main-Travelled Roads contains eleven stories in this expanded and revised edition of an undisputed American classic. Buy New Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Belt P Nabu P