Nonfiction > Carl Van Doren > The American Novel > Subject Index > Page 123
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD · SUBJECT INDEX

Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 123

from the presses which labored to bring forth enough of them as fast as they were written.
  The greatest, however, and practically the ultimate victory over village opposition to the novel was won by Ben-Hur (1880), a book of larger pretensions and broader scope than any of Roe’s or Holland’s modest narratives, the only American novel, indeed, which can be compared with Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a folk possession, and one so popular that as recently as 1913 an edition of a million copies was called for and distributed. Its author, General Lew Wallace (1827–1905), an Indiana lawyer, a soldier in both the Mexican and the Civil Wars, had already published The Fair God (1873), an elaborate romance of the conquest of Mexico which recalled the earlier concerns of Irving and Prescott and Robert Montgomery Bird. A chance conversation with the notorious popular skeptic Robert G. Ingersoll led Wallace to researches into the character and doctrines of Jesus which not only convinced him of the essential truth of Christianity but bore fruit in a tale, grandiose and ornate, which thousands have read who have read no other novel except perhaps Uncle Tom’s Cabin and have hardly thought of either as a novel at all, and through which still more thousands know the geography, ethnology, and customs of first-century Judea and Antioch as through no other source. Without doubt the outstanding element in the story is the sufficiently un-Christian revenge of Ben-Hur upon his false friend, Messala, a revenge which takes the Prince of Jerusalem through the galleys and the palæstra and which leaves Messala, after the thrilling (and to the popular taste, the classic) episode of the chariot race, crippled and stripped



CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD · SUBJECT INDEX
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors