Novelist Harold Frederic (1856-1898) played a critical role in the development of realistic American fiction. His best work analyzes the narrow-mindedness of small towns of his native upstate New York. Frederic's most famous novel, The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896), chronicles the life of a young Methodist minister who, as he falls under the influence of progressive ideas, becomes a skeptic. He comes to regard his old religion as morally and spiritually bankrupt, but in the process is nearly destroyed for his unbelief. Frederic's depiction of intolerance, and of the darker side of human nature, is comparable to the works of Emile Zola and Sinclair Lewis.