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Harold Frederic: The Damnation of Theron Ware

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9781452827001: Harold Frederic: The Damnation of Theron Ware
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"The Damnation of Theron Ware" starts out as a quietly damning portrait of small-town piety, but slowly gains momentum until, 'til the ending hits like a sledgehammer. The title character, a naive, self-satisfied young Methodist minister, is cautionary figure for us all. Introduced tentatively to a world of sophistication, he loses faith in all the old verities of his life, without much to replace them. Even at the end, as he tries to make a new start, his self-delusion is breathtaking. Harold Frederic's novel is the painfully realistic story of a preacher who discovers that there is another world outside his previously sheltered existence-a discovery which leads him to reject all the good things about his old life and build fantasy castles in the air of his imagination. In his increasingly desperate attempt to escape into a fantasy life, he leaves behind many of his values and ethical standards, in addition to his responsibilities to those he loves. "The Damnation of Theron Ware" will hit a sensitive nerve for many readers, many of whom will identify with Ware and realize only too late, as Ware did, he had embarked on an illusory and self-destructive quest. Harold Frederick constructed both the plot and the character of Ware perfectly, making "The Damnation of Theron Ware" an exceptional book that readers will mull long after they close the cover. "The Damnation of Theron Ware" should be included as required high school reading along with other great novels such as Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, and Huckleberry Fin. Harold Frederic had the misfortune to die at 42, just as he was starting to hit his stride as a novelist. Had he lived to write even another 10 years, he might be a household name today.

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Harold Frederic (1856–1898) was an Anglo-American journalist and novelist. Frederic was born in Utica, New York to Presbyterian parents. After his father was killed in a train accident when Frederic was 18 months old, the boy was raised primarily by his mother. He finished school at fifteen, and soon began work as a photographer. For four years he was a photographic touch-up artist in his hometown and in Boston. In 1875 he began work as a proofreader for the Utica Herald and then the Utica Daily Observer. Frederic later became a reporter, and by 1882 he was editor of the Albany Evening Journal. Two years later he went to live in England as London correspondent of the New York Times, and was soon recognized for his ability both as a writer and as a talker. He wrote several early stories, but it was not until he published Illumination (1896), better known by its American title, The Damnation of Theron Ware, followed by Gloria Mundi (1898), that his gifts as a novelist were fully realized. Jonathan Yardley called Damnation "a minor classic of realism". Frederic married Grace Green Williams in 1877, and they had five children.

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