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A Modern Instance

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  253 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews

A Modern Instance explores the deterioration of what could
have been an otherwise healthy marriage through industrial enterprise and
capitalistic greed.

- Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

ebook, 0 pages
Published November 17th 2010 by MobileReference (first published 1883)
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Aug 11, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A Modern Instance" is a novel written by William D. Howells. The novel was serialized in Century Magazine in eleven installments between December 1881 and October 1882; it was published in book form in Boston by James R. Osgood and Company in October 1882. Howells got the idea for the novel after he saw a performance of "Medea" in Boston in 1875. When he witnessed on the stage the recreation of Medea's love for Jason, her husband who betrays her, and how her love changes to hatred, as Howells h ...more
Christopher Sutch
Jan 26, 2013 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinarily entertaining read. It's a strange hybrid of moral narrative and broad comedic satire. While the moral purpose of the novel will mean little to most people today, the satire and the plot events kept me interested and engaged. Howells's interest in developing "realistic" fiction ("naturalistic" as literary critics would say) is strongly apparent in this work, in which the two main characters' "love" and marriage are shown to take the courses they do because of the two pa ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Kwame rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid read. I enjoyed it. I think it accurately describes both the mechanics and the ethos of American journalism. To wit: Bartley Hubbard, a newspaperman blessed with "no more moral nature than a baseball," serves as the prototype of the glib and smiling journalist familiar to the audiences of Nightline or Washington Week.
Jun 22, 2016 Humphrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Modern Instance, like many a Howells novel, seems to start slowly: as becomes clear around the halfway mark, however, this is only becauae the reader didn't know what patterns to be looking for. Howells' prose is subtle; one of his greatest achievements as a realist is that he doesn't flag things as significant beforehand, instead forcing the reader - like real life - to recognize significance retrospectively. The farther into Modern Instance one gets, the farther the novel forces them to think ...more
review of
William Dean Howells's A Modern Instance
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 25, 2013

WARNING: This review has spoilers but is hopefully written in such a way that even if you read it thru it won't actually spoil yr enjoyment of reading the novel b/c the review doesn't give you the plot as much as it does my meta-take on the plot.

Ah.. yes, yet-another "too long" review of mine. For the full thing go here:

It seems almost inevitable to me tha
Knowing the two characters are going to divorce from the beginning made me look for clues to the relationship's dissolution in the early stages of their relationship. While her parent's bemoan the fact that she loves Bartley more than he loves her as being the main problem, that and her pride and jealously, the real problem is the abusive nature of the relationship.

The 'adorable' flirting at the beginning had a disturbing taste to it, Bartley holds Marcia's wrists until she acedes to what he wan
Sep 16, 2010 Mia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the first few chapters alone was worth it because of the insights provided into the character of Bartley Hubbard. I first "met" Bartley in Howells' novel "The Rise of Silas Lapham" and thought him cynical, but likable (except for the way he treated his wife). "A Modern Instance" is Bartley's story and finding out that he was an orphan and a self-made man wannabe really shows how despicable he was during his interview with Silas Lapham in the aforementioned book. Howells very deftly lets ...more
Karen Chandler
I can see the historical importance of the novel: its careful focus on characters' psychology, its treatment of the largely man's world of journalism, its concern with changing estimations of religion are hallmarks of nineteenth-century realism. Yet I was bothered by Howells' assumptions about women's psychological and cognitive weakness and regional differences. As a champion of regional fiction, he might have been more sophisticated about people from outside the urban cultural centers. Yet Edi ...more
Jordan Davidson
Jun 22, 2015 Jordan Davidson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
This novel is an expose of the doomed marriage (and, eventually and blessedly, divorce) between the jealous, overemotional Marcia Gaylord and her selfish, manipulative egomaniac of a husband, Bartley Hubbard. For some reason, this book was absolutely fascinating despite the fact that it portrays two deeply unlikeable people making each other miserable. Case in point: at one point while reading this I fell down the staircase in my house because I couldn't put the book down long enough to pay atte ...more
Melanie Daves
A Modern Instance was an interesting read. I enjoyed how easily I could feel for the characters. I was angry with Marcia for being such a deluded idiot and I melted when Ben revealed that the picture he held on to was really a picture of Marcia. It is interesting that when I read the beginning, I actually liked Bartley, but by the end of the novel I detested him. I think Howells did that by changing Bartley's physical appearance towards the end. Howells could not be biased since he decided to wr ...more
May 26, 2015 Johnathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a better understanding of what the title means in relation to the book and now. Naming the book A Modern Instance might seem a bit presumptuous but the story does relate well a hundred years later, which shoes that this the theme of the book is indeed a modern one that still plagues us. I really like how I was able to see that this book was relatable to things like The Princess Bride or "The Dark Night" and it was easier to see how it could relate to my life. I definetly enjoyed this more ...more
Nov 14, 2010 Dale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I liked it more, and I understand the novelty and shock of the theme, but my humble opinion is that it never got the reader there - what's common today, if then was an aberration, should still hit the modern reader like a blow, and the book just...treaded water, or rather did a dead man's float, all the way through. I was unmoved, untouched, and really didn't care at the end, even though Howells did create most of the characters as fully three-dimensional people.
As I grow older, I become more aware of how the seemingly peaceful "days gone by" were, in truth, filled with many of the same mistakes and frustrations that society and individuals still face today. Hence, while culture described in the story was very different from the culture I live in, the characters and their views felt very familiar.
Dec 01, 2014 Kristi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Howell’s depiction of character flaws, failing marriage, and the corruption of individual isolation in modern, industrial, and capitalistic America, is one of heartrendingly desolation, reflecting a shift in American literature to realism.
May 30, 2012 Noah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the dynamic of the love triangle but, like every book by Howells that I have read, the characters are unbelievably dramatic about everything that happens to them. I thought this was supposed to be realistic, but then again, maybe I don't really know what "American realism" is.
Mar 28, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a moving book.
It just goes to show how ambition and jealousy can threaten to destroy a marriage and how the innocent party would be looked on by a society where divorce was shunned.
An excellent read.
Mar 08, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This old-fashioned style of American Realism is probably not for everyone, but I loved this story of "love", abandonment, and divorce during the end of the 1800's. I was definitely born too late.
Feb 09, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a Literature class that I took at Snow College. If I remember correctly, I liked it. It's been awhile. I probably aught to read it again.
Love it! Wonderful look at a marriage gone wrong. Ruins all those ideas that divorce is something our modern society struggles with....
Corey Pellerin
Corey Pellerin rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2014
Cameron rated it really liked it
Oct 05, 2010
Ryan rated it really liked it
May 04, 2008
Top rated it it was amazing
Oct 23, 2015
Scott Ginger
Scott Ginger rated it it was ok
Jan 24, 2010
Jean rated it liked it
May 28, 2014
Joseph rated it it was amazing
Jan 26, 2008
Brittney Lynn
Brittney Lynn rated it did not like it
Nov 19, 2015
Becky rated it really liked it
Sep 29, 2011
Natalie Moore Goodison
One of the lesser-read American novels.
Dave rated it really liked it
Aug 16, 2012
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Willam Dean Howells was a novelist, short story writer, magazine editor, and mentor who wrote for various magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Magazine.

In January 1866 James Fields offered him the assistant editor role at the Atlantic Monthly. Howells accepted after successfully negotiating for a higher salary, but was frustrated by Fields's close supervision. Howells was made e
More about William Dean Howells...

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