Summer 1956 • Vol. XVIII No. 3 Nonfiction |

Cable and His “Grandissimes”

George Washington cable is remembered, if at all, as a local colorist who wrote quaint, pathctic, and humorous tales about Creole life in Louisiana, and who sometimes gave his characters a dialect speech too irksome to read. People who have gone beyond the tales and sketches in Old Creole Days to Cable's novels remember them as being rather incoherent, charming perhaps, but marred by sentimentality and a facetious humor. On the whole these notions about Cable are true. Up to a point, they are even true about The Grandissimes (1880). But in this novel about life in New Orleans in 1803 Cable transcended his usual limitations and wrote a minor masterpiece. Reading this novel today one can see that there were good reasons why in the early 1880's Cable was regarded as the peer of Henry James, Howells, and Mark Twain, why in 1883 Matthew Arnold—an unlikely reader of Cable, it would seem—proclaimed himself "perfectly delighted" with Cable's books. And the fact is that there are thi

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Richard Chase (1914-1962) was a literary critic and a Professor of English at Columbia University. He is known for his work The American Novel and Its Tradition.

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George Washington cable is remembered, if at all, as a local colorist who wrote quaint, pathctic, and humorous tales about Creole life in Louisiana, and who sometimes gave his characters […]

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