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The Shadow World   By: (1860-1940)

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The Shadow World, written by Hamlin Garland, is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that takes readers on a profound journey through the contrasting realms of reality and imagination. Set in the late 19th century, Garland skillfully crafts a narrative filled with complex characters and vivid descriptions that offer a captivating exploration of the human psyche.

The story follows the protagonist, Richard Garstin, a struggling writer plagued by personal demons and the desperate search for his own artistic voice. Garland masterfully delves into Garstin's inner turmoil, brilliantly intertwining his relentless pursuit of literary success with his confounding encounters with various societal influences. Through Garstin's eyes, readers are exposed to the multifaceted layers of the human condition, including themes of isolation, passion, and the ever-present battle between dreams and reality.

One of the most notable aspects of The Shadow World is Garland's exquisite prose. With his evocative language and meticulous attention to detail, he effortlessly transports readers into Garstin's world, skillfully immersing them in the darkest corners of his mind. The author's ability to seamlessly shift between different narrative perspectives grants the story a unique depth, allowing readers to experience the story from multiple angles and connect with diverse range of characters.

Garland's portrayal of the artistic struggle is nothing short of masterful. Through Garstin's interactions with other writers, critics, and creators from different walks of life, the novel offers an introspective examination of the sacrifices artists undertake to achieve greatness. The book's exploration of the fine balance between ambition and disillusionment adds a layer of relatability to Garstin's journey, capturing the essence of every aspiring individual seeking validation in their chosen field.

Furthermore, Garland's astute observations on the societal realities of the late 19th century inject the narrative with a compelling historical backdrop. The author seamlessly weaves in the social conflicts of the era, such as the tension between tradition and progress, to emphasize the internal and external pressures confronting Garstin and other characters.

While The Shadow World is undeniably an engaging and emotionally resonant novel, some readers may find the pacing to be slightly uneven. At certain points, Garland offers deeply introspective passages, which, while beautifully written, may slow down the narrative's momentum. However, for those who appreciate introspective literature, these moments offer valuable insight into the psychological depths of the characters.

Overall, The Shadow World is a captivating tale that delves into the complexities of human existence, artistry, and the dichotomy between the physical and metaphysical. Hamlin Garland's skillful writing and compelling storytelling make this novel a worthwhile read for those seeking a thought-provoking and introspective exploration of the human spirit.

First Page:




Author of "The Captain of the Gray Horse Troop" "Money Magic" etc.

New York and London Harper & Brothers Publishers MCMVIII

Copyright, 1908, by Hamlin Garland. Copyright, 1908, by the Ridgway Company. All rights reserved.

Published September, 1908.


This book is a faithful record, so far as I can make it, of the most marvellous phenomena which have come under my observation during the last sixteen or seventeen years. I have used my notes (made immediately after the sittings) and also my reports to the American Psychical Society (of which I was at one time a director) as the basis of my story. For literary purposes I have substituted fictitious names for real names, and imaginary characters for the actual individuals concerned; but I have not allowed these necessary expedients to interfere with the precise truth of the account.

For example, Miller , an imaginary chemist, has been put in the place of a scientist much older than thirty five, in whose library the inexplicable "third sitting" took place. Fowler , also, is not intended to depict an individual. The man in whose shoes he stands is one of the most widely read and deeply experienced spiritists I have ever known, and I have sincerely tried to present through Fowler the argument which his prototype might have used... Continue reading book >>

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