SETH'S BROTHER'S WIFE: A STUDY OF LIFE IN THE GREATER NEW YORK. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887. Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi-vii [viii]  2-405 [406-408: blank] [409-416: ads], flyleaves at front and rear, original decorated tan cloth, front panel stamped in brown, spine panel stamped in brown and gold, light brown coated endpapers. First edition. Variant issue with cancel title leaf and author's name on front cover flanked by ornamental hollow dots. The author's first book. 3000 copies printed. "It was not till the end of the eighties that the bitterness of the frontier began to creep into literature. Its slackness and drab poverty had got into the pages of [Edward Eggleston's] THE HOOSIER SCHOOLMASTER, as its neighborliness had got into Riley; but in these earlier studies there was no brooding sense of social injustice, of the wrongs done the Middle Border by unjust laws, of the hardships that are increased by the favoritism of government. In the year 1887, however, came a significant change of temper. Three very different writers -- Harold Frederic, Joseph Kirkland, and Hamlin Garland -- turned to the theme of farm life, and dealt with it in a mordantly realistic vein. It was the first conscious literary reaction to the subjection of agriculture to capitalistic exploitation and it was marked by the bitterness of a decaying order. SETH'S BROTHER'S WIFE, by Harold Fredric, is a drab tale of farm life in upper [New] York State, as bitter as any tale of the western border. It is a story of defeat, of flight from country to town. The blight of failure is upon the farming community -- a blight that embitters old and young; and the sketches of country louts, of soured lives, of broken men and women, do not make pleasant reading. No gentle idyllic light rests on the landscape such as Sarah Orne Jewett discovers on the fields and villages of New England ... Harold Fredric quite evidently hates this countryside that bred him. He will not, like Hamlin Garland, take up the battle for it against the town. He sees no hope in political programs; he is no Populistic agrarian fighting for justice; he wants only to escape from it into the city." - Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought: The Beginnings of Critical Realism in America 1860-1920 Completed to 1900 Only, pp. 288-9. BAL 6266 (noted state A). Wright (III) 2023. Several faint stains to spine panel else a clean, bright, nearly fine copy. Uncommon in this condition. (#77880).