Chapter Ten American Naturalism
?II. Theodore Dreiser ?III. Sherwood Anderson
?IV. Other authors: ?Frank Norris
?Edwin Arlington Robinson ?Jack London ?O'Henry & his works ?Upton Sinclair
?I. Naturalism ? A. Background ? B. Emergence ? C. Naturalism defined ? D. Major features ? E. American naturalists
From Realism to Naturalism
?I. The age of realism 1865-1910 ?1.1. The civil war ?The war led many to question the assumptions shared by the Transcendentalists: ?natural goodness ?We are not good, and god is unkind. ?the spirit of self-reliance ?Lust for money and power ?The war marked a change of American moral values.
?1.2. The industrial revolution ?Commerce took the lead in the national economy. ?Covement away from the farm ?(By 1880 half the population in east lived in towns) ? Golden Age? ?Gilded Age? ?The age of romanticism and transcendentalism was over ?William Dean Howells, Mark Twain and Henry James began to publish.
?II. As a literary movement realism came in the latter half of the nineteenth century as a reaction against romanticism and transcendentalism. ?It expressed the concern for the world of experience, of the commonplace, and for the familiar and the low. ?Theme: representation of life should be the main object of the novel. ?Style: gentility and graceful prose Vs. vernacular diction, rough and ready frontier humor ?Realism became a major trend in the seventies and eighties
?1.Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was an English naturalist and author. His Origin of Species (1859) exerted a strong impact in the history of Western thought. Darwinism, or Darwin's theory , indicates that the origin of species is derived by descent, with variation from parent forms through the natural selection of those best adapted to survive in the struggle for existence. Hence several key terms were on people’s lips at that time: the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, and natural selection.
?2.Natural selection: refers to a process in nature resulting in the survival and perpetuation of only these forms of plant and animal life with certain favorable characteristics that best enable them to accept to a specific environment. ? 3. Herbert Spencer(1820-1930) : Darwin developed these ideas to talk about biological organism. Herber Spencer grafted Darwin’s biological thesis onto a social model and developed the theory of social Darwinism— the weak and stupid would fall victim in the natural course of events to economic forces.
? Emile Zola (1840-1902) wrote in the late 19th century that the purpose of a novelist was to be a scientist, to place his characters in a situation and then to watch the influences of heredity (遗传) and environment destroy them, or if they were good enough, to watch them overcome the inimical (敌意的) force of heredity and environment. Therefore, heredity and environment had an influence over human ability to survive. The idea was picked up by French writers, read by other people around the world and applied in American literature as well. In the last decade of the 19th century in America, some intelligent writers began to see that human beings were no longer free of heredity and environment. They held that Howellsian realism (W.D. Howells) was too restrained and genteel in tone to reveal the harsh reality of American life. Under the French influence, they ushered in a literary movement called Naturalism in America.
C. Naturalism defined
? Naturalism is a more deliberate kind of realism in novels, stories, and plays, usually involving a view of human beings as passive victims of natural forces and social environment. As a literary movement, naturalism was initiated in France by Jules (1830— 1870 ） and Edmond de Goncourt (1822—1896) Goncourt with their novel Germinie Lacerteux (1865) (《杰米尼．拉舍特》) , but it came to be led by Emile Zola, who claimed a 'scientific' status for his studies of impoverished characters miserably subjected to hunger, sexual obsession and hereditary defects. Naturalist fiction aspired to a sociological objectivity, offering detailed and fully researched investigations into unexplored corners of modern society.
? Naturalism applies the principles of scientific determinism to fiction. It views human beings as animals in the natural world responding to environmental forces and internal stresses and drives, over none of which they have control and none of which they fully understand. ? 1. Humans are controlled by laws of heredity and environment. ? 2. The universe is cold, godless, indifferent and hostile to human desires. ? 3.The literary naturalists have a major difference from the realists. The naturalists also describe real life, the way things really are. They do not escape into a world imagination. But they dismiss the realists as far too "genteel." The naturalists look at a different spot to find real life. They don't look at the average, but at the violent, sensational, sordid, unpleasant, and ugly aspects of life. Instead of going to a middle-class neighborhood and writing about middle-class life, the naturalists would go to the slums and write abut the life of poverty and crime. This is fits their theory that they have adopted by applying Darwinian techniques to the behavior of humans.
D. Major features
E. American naturalists
? American naturalistic writers were not as pessimistic about life as the French. Naturalism was not conducive to the optimistic American temper in general. The reason for this is Americans' innocent youthfulness and the Americans romantic tradition.
Let’s conduct a comparative study:
A. Literary career ? Maggie: A Girl of the Street ? The Red Badge of Courage B. Major features: Crane's writing has been called realistic, naturalistic, and impressionistic. He presented incomplete characters and a broken world. 1. He understood the significance of isolated immediate moments. He did not write fiction with a highly complex plot where one event causes another event, and the reader can trace the chain of cause and effect. 2. He emphasized the feelings that exist in immediate experience. 3. His syntax is direct and simple. 4. He used symbols and irony. 5. Crane was very much influenced by impressionistic painters. 6. He was very careful in choosing narrative point of view. 7.His writing is also characteristic of vivid color, animal imagery, stereotyped characters, colloquial English, and simple and straightforward narration.
? A. Literary career ? The Financier ? Sister Carries ? B. Dreiser's style Dreiser's stories are always solid and intensely interesting with their simple but highly moving characters. Dreiser is good at employing the journalistic method of reiteration to burn a central impression into the reader's mind. His interest in painting is reflected in his taste for wordpictures, sharp contrast, truth in color, and movement in outline. ? C. Major features ? 1.As a naturalistic writer, Dreiser stressed determinism in his novels which deal with everyday life, often with its sordid (肮脏的)side. ? 2.He developed the capacity for photographic and relentless （残酷的）observation, there truthfully reflecting the society and people of his time. 3.His narrative method is natural and free from artifice。
The study of the selected reading
? ? ? ? ? ? A. The Badge of Courage B. The Octopus C. Sister Carrie D. Martin Eden E. An American Tragedy F. Death in the Woods