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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.
Born in New Orleans in 1844, George Washington Cable began his writing career as a columnist and reporter for local newspapers. A talent scout from Scribners Monthly "discovered" the writer, and the nations appetite for the exotic scenes and characters of the remnants of Creole civilization helped to make him popular. His first collection of Creole tales, Old Creole Days, was hailed as the equal of Hawthornes tales of New England; Cable's first novel, The Grandissimes, was constantly in print during his lifetime. He died in 1925.
Michael Kreyling is a professor of English at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches Southern literature and American literature. He has written two books: a study of the fiction of Eudora Welty, Eudora Weltys Achievement of Order, and a literary-cultural study of Southern fiction from the 1820s to the 1970s, Figures of the Hero in Southern Narrative.