With the Procession

With the Procession (1895) was Henry Blake Fuller‘s fourth novel, a realist work of fiction set in Chicago like his previous book, The Cliff-Dwellers. It follows the prosperous Marshall family, one of Chicago’s original settler families, who struggle to keep up “with the procession” of Chicago’s growth, industrialization, and modernization as a global city at the turn of the century. It was Fuller’s first book not to be serialized in a magazine before publication as a finished volume, and the first not to feature illustrations. The New York Times lauded With the Procession as “the human comedy of the United States at the close of the nineteenth century.”

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Characters

David Marshall. The 60-year-old founder of the Marshall & Co. (later Marshall & Belden) grocery empire. Husband of Eliza Marshall and father of Jane, Truesdale, and Rosy Marshall. He is overly serious and tall, with blue eyes and reddish hair turned white. He built the Marshall homestead along Lake Street near the onset of the Civil War in 1861, “a low, plain, roomy building with a sort of belvedere and a porch or two.”

Eliza Marshall. The elderly wife of David Marshall and mother of Jane, Truesdale, and Rosy Marshall. Fuller describes her as “a kind of antiquated villager—a geologic survival from an earlier age,” whose “Chicago was the Chicago of 1860, an Arcadia which, in some dim and inexplicable way, had remained for her an Arcadia still—bigger, noisier, richer, yet different only in degree, and not essentially in kind.”

Jane Marshall. The eldest daughter of David and Eliza, in her mid-30s. She is “clever and intellectual,” but in keeping with Fuller’s misogyny, is thus necessarily ugly. “I guess I’ll give up trying to be beautiful,” she says, looking in a mirror, “and just be quaint.”

Richard Truesdale Marshall. The 23-year-old middle child of the Marshall family, a worldly traveler devoted to arts and culture instead of business. At the novel’s onset he has returned from a four-year grand tour of Europe, not unlike Fuller’s own travels in his 20s.

Rosamund “Rosy” Marshall. The youngest Marshall sibling, described as innocent and naive. “[A]ll that she knows of life she has learned from the broadcast cheapness of English story-tellers and from a short year’s schooling in New York.”

Theodore Brower.

Summary

TK

Contemporary Reviews

“What Mr. Henry B. Fuller is doing is to plow a broader social field than has been hitherto attempted. His is not a mere surface skimming. He turns up the subsoil, and not that of a limited section of this country. Mr. Fuller has wonderful gracefulness of touch, and, combined with tact, the gift of making high comedy. Without these qualities, how could such a story as this of American social conditions have been produced? … Quick are Mr. Fuller’s criticisms on art, music, books, social conditions. Some only will see the flash of them, and not be conscious how strong is the lightning stroke. Sooner than we could have thought possible, a man has come to write the human comedy of the United States at the close of the nineteenth century, and we venture to assert that the particular impress of this man’s hand is likely to be a permanent one in American literature. Yet many a long year may pass before Mr. Fuller is thoroughly understood or appreciated. He will, however, be listened to, because he has no fad.” —The New York Times, Saturday, May 11, 1895 (no byline)

Editions

  • First edition (1895), Harper & Brothers, New York.
  • Harris edition (1965), University of Chicago Press, Chicago. New introduction by Mark Harris. Cover art.

Links

  • “Art in Chicago: Fuller’s With the Procession” by G. Thomas Couser, JSTOR, 1980

Sources

  • The Henry Blake Fuller Papers, Newberry Library
  • Henry Blake Fuller: A Critical Biography by Constance M. Griffin
  • Henry Blake Fuller by John Pilkington Jr.
  • A Varied Harvest: The Life and Works of Henry Blake Fuller by Kenneth Scambray
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