Nobody's expecting Wharton to ever be as popular as Jane Austen. After all, Wharton had a much more jaundiced view of life than Austen did, and she's unlikely to be hijacked as a writer of romances, the way Austen has been.
Can the phrase "Great American Novel" only be applied to realistic novels that attempt to capture the mainstream American experience? Or can it be applied to other novels that are more diverse in terms of either subject matter or literary approach?
On a family vacation from Wisconsin to Dauphin Island, Alabama, we stopped at Lincoln's home in Springfield, IL to take a tour. In the front parlor there was a photograph of Honest Abe hanging on the wall.