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At the center of this novel is a stirring story of two lovers from feuding Creole families in early nineteenth-century New Orleans. The romance of The Grandissimes - the masked ball at the beginning of the story, the charming conversations in patois, the scenes between reluctant but eventually blessed lovers, the colors of the Creole spring and the French Quarter - helped make George Washington Cable famous in America during the 1880s. But in contrast to the idealized romance is Cable's accurate, unflattering portrait of Creole gentility and his arguments for racial equality. This tension gives the novel a compelling power. Through the years, critics and readers have seen Cable as a romanticist, a realist, social dissenter, inspiration for the Civil Rights movement, and even dismissed him as an unimportant local New Orleans writer. But The Grandissimes has stood the test of time and its many interpretations make it one of the richest novels in American literature.
Setting forth formidable arguments for racial equality, Cable’s novel of feuding Creole families in early nineteenth-century New Orleans blends post–Civil War social dissent and Romanticism.