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Drawing upon Georg Lukcs's theory of the novel and Ernst Mandel's periodization of capitalism, Fredric Jameson argues that realism, corresponding to early capitalism, could represent the social totality transparently, while modernism (and its predecessor, naturalism) and postmodernism, respectively produced in the age of monopoly and late capitalism, were doomed to fragmentary representations of reality without being able to discern the social totality. Written in the early stage of monopoly capitalism, William Dean Howells’s A Hazard of New Fortunes throws in bold relief the difficulty of mapping out the social totality of modern America. Basil March, the protagonist, initially tries to come to grips with modern American society, teeming with social fragmentation and class division, from an aesthetic point of view. After witnessing a labor strike and recognizing his own subjection to the power of the capitalist, Jacob Dryfoos, he is momentarily divested of aesthetic distance and briefly glimpses the socio-economic contradictions of American society. But he finally resorts to Christian charity and envisions a harmonious America without developing his glimpse into a deeper perception. His momentary glimpse into a disintegrated American society, however, ultimately renders his final middle class vision of American harmony superficial and factitious. If his misfired attempt to represent the unrepresentable totality of American society marks the failure of Howells's realism, this effect of debunking the middle class ideology of a harmonious America betokens the achievement of his realism.