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The book, which takes place in late 19th century New York City, tells the story of Basil March, who finds himself in the middle of a dispute between his employer, a self-made millionaire named Dryfoos, and his old German teacher, an advocate for workers' rights named Lindau. The main character of the novel, Basil March, provides the main perspective throughout the novel. He resides in Boston with his wife and children until he is persuaded by his idealistic friend Fulkerson to move to New York to help him start a new magazine, where the writers benefit in a primitive form of profit sharing. Considered by to be author's best work, the book is also considered to be the first novel to portray New York City. In this novel, Howells primarily deals with issues of post-war "Gilded Age" America, like labor disputes, the rise of the self-made millionaire, the growth of urban America, the influx of immigrants, and other industrial-era problems. Also, Howells here portrays a variety of people from different backgrounds. The book was well-received for its portrayal of social injustice. William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was an American realist author, literary critic, and playwright. He was the first American author to bring a realist aesthetic to the literature of the United States. His stories of Boston upper crust life set in the 1850s are highly regarded among scholars of American fiction.