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About the author
William Dean Howells was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio in 1837. The son of an itinerant newspaper editor, he began printing and typesetting work at an early age. In 1866 he started as an assistant editor for The Atlantic Monthly, becoming editor by 1871, a position he held until 1881. His own literary reputation took off a year later with the 1882 publication of the realist novel A Modern Instance. The Rise of Silas Lapham, Annie Kilburn, and A Hazard of New Fortunes followed. A close friend of Mark Twain and Henry James, he also wrote criticism and essays supporting such authors as Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Stephen Crane, and Emily Dickinson. He was one of seven chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1904, and later became its president. He died in 1920.
Unless she was out of her mind there was no way of accounting for her behavior...
Nowhere in the prodigious output of William Dean Howells is there an example more poignant of his heart-felt dedication to the realist movement than this achingly suspensfull novella.
The story centers on a young "alienist"—a psychologist—who meets a young woman who, at subsequent encounters, has no recollection of him. The doctor launches a psychological investigation that appears to be based upon the most painful memories of the author himself—Howells had recently experienced the loss of a beloved adult daughter (from what appears to have been anorexia) and the institutionalization of another for "emotional collapse."
The story's surprising ending reveals not only the author's deft sense of craftsmanship, but speaks movingly to his enduring faith in the sublime power of literature.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the ART OF THE NOVELLA series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
; November 2012
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Title: A Sleep and a Forgetting
Author: William Dean Howells
In the press
"I wanted them all, even those I'd already read."
—Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer
—Time Out London
"[F]irst-rate…astutely selected and attractively packaged…indisputably great works."
—Adam Begley, The New York Observer
"I’ve always been haunted by Bartleby, the proto-slacker. But it’s the handsomely minimalist cover of the Melville House edition that gets me here, one of many in the small publisher’s fine 'Art of the Novella' series."
—The New Yorker
"The Art of the Novella series is sort of an anti-Kindle. What these singular, distinctive titles celebrate is book-ness. They're slim enough to be portable but showy enough to be conspicuously consumed—tiny little objects that demand to be loved for the commodities they are."
—KQED (NPR San Francisco)
"Some like it short, and if you're one of them, Melville House, an independent publisher based in Brooklyn, has a line of books for you... elegant-looking paperback editions ...a good read in a small package."
—The Wall Street Journal