realism and naturalism

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realism and naturalism

    American Realism and Naturalism1865-1914

    I. Historical Background

    ; The Civil War (1860 1865)

    ; Industrialization & capitalismproduced extremes of wealth and poverty

    ; A deterioration of American moral valuesadmiration for driving ambition,

    a lust for money and power

    ; Closing Frontierdisillusionment and frustration were widely feltGilded


    2.The Age of Realism

    ; A major trend in the seventies and eighties of the nineteenth century ; A reaction against the lie of romanticism and sentimentalism,

    ; Expresses the concern for the commonplace and the low, and offers an objective

    rather than an idealistic view of human nature and human experience. ; Features

    ; Representative writers: William Dean Howells(1837-1920)genteel R, Mark

    Twain(1835-1910)local colorism, Henry James(1843-1916)psychological R


    ; “verisimilitude” of detail derived from observation !细节真实性,

    ; The effort to approach the norm of experiencea reliance on the representative in

    plot, setting, and character!人物、情节与背景的代表性,

    ; To offer an objective rather than an idealized view of human nature and experience.


    ; Definition Realism is, in its broadest sense, simply fidelity to actuality in its

    representation in literature. Realistic movement arose in the nineteenth century,

    at least partially in reaction against Romanticism, which was centered on the

    novel and dominant in France, England, and America from roughly

    mid-century to the closing decade, when it was replaced by Naturalism.

    Realism defines a literary method, a philosophical and political attitude, and a

    particular range of subject matter. It depicts the familiar, ordinary aspects of

    life in a matter-of-fact, straightforward manner designed to reflect life as it

    actually is, and treats the subject matter in a way that presents careful

    descriptions of everyday life. The surface details, the common actions, and the

    minor catastrophes of a middle-class society constituted the chief subject

    matter of the movement. Authors like Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Jane

    Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Balzac, Tolstoi, Mark Twain, John

    Galsworthy, and Sinclair Lewis are considered as realistic writers.

    4.William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

    ; 1.Editor of The Atlantic Monthly

    ; 2. Powerful critical writings & generous patronage

    ; 3.First president of AAAL

    ; 4.Made for the triumph of realism of A. Lit.

    ; 5. write/criticize/help younger

    A prolific writer, Howells is regarded as "the father of American Realism." Although

    not an exciting writer, he broke new grounds which led to the achievements of Mark Twain and Henry James. In Howells' view, writing should be "simple, natural, and honest" and should not delve into "romantic exaggeration." His famous definition of the function of a writer indicates his limitations as a Realist writer and of Realism as he conceived of it: "Our novelists, therefore, concern themselves with the more smiling aspects of life, which are the more American, and seek the universal in the individual rather than the social interests."

    Major works

    ; A Modern Instance 一个现代的例证

    ; The Rise of Silas Lapham

    ; A Hazard of New Fortunes 新财富的危机

    ; A Chance Acquaintance 偶然结识

    ; Criticism and Fiction elucidates his literary-aesthetic ideas

    ; Literature and Life

    Features of His Works

    ; a. Optimistic tone

    ; b. Emphasis on ethics

    ; c. Lacking of psychological depth

    ; Limitations: evilslight; passionrestrained; triumphsfew. Jamesrefinement,

    Mark Twainhumor . Smiling brand of realism

    5.Henry James

    ; Life (1843-1916):

    ; Born in a wealthy cultured family of New England.

    ; Father: Henry James Senior.

    ; Brother: William James. Never worried about money.

    ; Influenced by William Dean Howells, George Eliot, Turgenev, Flaubert, and


    ; An expatriate/Settled down in London in 1876 and became a British citizen in 1915. ; Psychological analysis, forefather of stream of consciousness

    ; Psychological realism

    ; Highly-refined language

    ; Literary career: three stagesa:

    a.1865~1882: international theme (American innocence vs. European sophistication).

    The American/ Daisy Miller/ The Portrait of a Lady

    b. 1882~1895: tales of subtle studies of inter-personal relationships and some plays (years of failure)

    The Bostonians/ The Princess Casamassima/ The Tragic Muse

    c. 1895~1916: novellas and tales dealing with childhood and adolescence, which was a revival of his earlier theme of innocence in a corrupted world

    summit / the major phase/ back to “the international theme

    The Turn of the Screw, When Maisie Knew, The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove


    he Golden Bowl

    The Ivory Tower

    The Sense of the Past

    Aesthetic ideas/The Art of Fiction

    a. The aim of novel: represent life/ Art must be related to life.

    b. Advocates an immense increase of freedom in novel writing and argues for inclusion of the disagreeable, the ugly, and the commonplace.

    c. Advocates psychological description

    Avoiding omniscient point of view

    Point of view

    Signifies the way a story gets toldthe mode/modes established by an author by

    means of which the reader is represented with the characters, dialogue, actions, setting, and events which constitute the narrative in a work of fiction.

    Limited point of view

    The narrator tells the story in the third person, but stays inside the confines of what is perceived, thought, remembered and felt by a single character (or at most by very few characters) within the story. Henry James, who refined this narrative mode, described such a selected character as his focus, or “mirror”, or “center of consciousness”. Later writers

    developed this technique into stream-of-consciousness narration.

    Style/ A stylist

    a. Language: highly-refined, polished, insightful, accurate

    b. Vocabulary: large

    c. Construction: complicated, intricate

    A Man Said to the Universe

    ; A man said to the universe: "Sir I exist! "However," replied the universe, "The fact

    has not created in me .A sense of obligation." -- Stephen Crane

    ; Cold, indifferent, and essentially Godless world

    American Naturalismpessimistic realism/ determinism

    1. Background

    ; 1) The emergence of Modern America

    ; Industrialism and science and the new philosophy of life——create the

    economic, social, and cultural transformations of the country

    ; 2) New ideas about man and mans place in the universe began to take root in


    ; Darwin: evolution; Spencer: social evolution

    ; The survival of the fittest & the human beast

    ; 3) the change of the literary climate

    ; Realists : too old French naturalism

    2. Representatives: Stephen Crane, Norris and Theodore Dreiser


    Naturalism is the attempt to achieve fidelity to nature by rejecting idealized portrayals of life. In literature naturalism may be further defined as a technique of presenting an objective view of man or a mood with complete accuracy and frankness. Naturalistic writers hold that mans existence is shaped by heredity and environment,

    over which he has no control. Novels and plays in this movement, emphasizing the animal nature of man, portray characters engrossed in a brutal struggle for survival.

    Emile Zola, founder of the French school of naturalism, held that a novelist should dissect and analyze his subjects with dispassionate and scientific accuracy. Representative writers of naturalism are Theodore Dreiser, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene ONeill, and William Faulkner.

    4.Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

    Major Works:

    ; 1893: Maggie: A Girl of the Streetsfirst A. naturalistic work

    ; 1895: The Red Badge of Courage (war novel)& The Black Riders ( book of poems)

    ; 1898: The Open Boat and Other Stories

    ; A precursor of Imagist poetry

    5. Frank Norris(1870-1902)

    Major Works

    ; McTeague1899 the manifesto of A. naturalism

    ; A trilogy on the production, distribution, and consumption of wheat:

    ; The Octopus (1901

    ; The Pit 1903

    ; The Responsibilities of the

    ; Novelist

    6. Other Authors of the Period

    ; 1. Edwin Arlington Robinson(1860 1935)

    ; 2. Jack London (1876 1916)

    ; 3. O. Henry(1862 1910)

Read your textbook on P151-153

    Genre American Author Perceived the individual as... Romantics Ralph Waldo Emerson a god

    Realists Henry James

     William Dean Howells simply a person

     /Mark Twain

    Naturalists Stephen Crane /Frank Norris a helpless object

     /Theodore Dreiser

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