An article on Hamlin Garland

I belatedly added another article to my “academic articles” page.  It came out at the end of last year.

“Art and Toil in Hamlin Garland’s ‘Up the Coulee’ The Explicator (Winter 2014): 337:341.

Here’s the first paragraph:

In Hamlin Garland’s short story “Up the Coulee,” from his collection Main Travelled Roads (1891), the reunion of two brothers turns into a strained and troubled process of reconciliation. Their conflict unfolds within the frame of two similar episodes in which the brothers stand “face to face.” In the first, Howard has just returned from a ten-year absence, and his younger brother Grant declines shaking hands, claiming he is too dirty. Thirty-five pages later, at the story’s end, Grant finally shakes his brother’s hand. Yet this is a very unsettling reconciliation because the initial conditions of their conflict seem to remain intact. Nothing is solved. Grant, convinced that he is broken and ruined beyond redemption, will still continue to plod on in drudgery on the farm. Howard, thwarted in his attempt to purchase his family a better life, will return to the artificial glitter of the city. As a Realist writer, Garland idealizes neither the city nor the country, but rather he allows each to hold a mirror to the other, in order to reveal the deleterious effects of a larger capitalist system that contains them both. On one hand, the farmer reads the economic forces with clear eyes, but he loses his sensuous capacity for aesthetic appreciation. On the other hand, wealth affords the urbanite the time and leisure for art, but he remains ideologically blind to economic realities.



Michael James Rizza has an MA in creative writing from Temple University in Philadelphia and a PhD in American Literature from the University of South Carolina. He has published academic articles on Don DeLillo, Milan Kundera, Harold Frederic, and Adrienne Rich. His award winning novel Cartilage and Skin was published by Starcherone Books in November 2013. His short fiction has appeared in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, Switchback, and Curbside Splendor. He has won various awards for his writing, including a fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction. His scholarly monograph entitled The Topographical Imagination of Jameson, Baudrillard, Foucault, is forthcoming with Davies Group, Publishers. He is currently at work on a funny, fast paced, literary novel called Domestic Men’s Fiction. He teaches at Kean University. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Robin and their son Wilder, who was named after a character in DeLillo’s White Noise.

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