"e;The Rise of Silas Lapham"e; was the first important novel to center on the American businessman and the first to treat its theme with a realism that foreshadowed the work of modern writers. In his story of one of the millionaire industrialists who flourished in the post-Civil War years, William Dean Howells probes the moral and social conflicts that confront a self-made man trying to crash Boston's old-guard aristocracy. Silas Lapham is a man of conscience who fully realizes his folly; but he is also an ambitious man who lets his aspirations lead him to risk both his fortune and his family's happiness for status in a society that will never truly accept him.
"e;His perceptions were sure, his integrity was absolute,"e; wrote Henry Seidel Canby of William Dean Howells, whom he credited as being "e;responsible for giving the American novel form."e;
The Rise of Silas Lapham