Realism and Naturalism in American Literature.
R e a l i s m ( 1 8 4 0 s – 9 0 s )
- attempted from the oldest time
- orig. in Fr. (Flaubert, Balzac, & oth.), prominent in the 1840s – 90s
- portrays life with fidelity: no idealisation, no rendering things as beautiful when they are not, or in any way presenting them in any guise as they are not
- aims at the interpretation of the actualities of any aspect of life, free from subjective prejudice, idealism, or romantic colour
- the realist should be conc. with the here and now, everyday events, his own environment, and the political and social movements of his time
( a ) P s y c h o l o g i c a l R e a l i s m ( e a r l y 2 0 t h c . )
- aims at fidelity to truth in depicting the inner workings of the mind
- analyses thought and feeling, focuses on the consciousness of an individual: presents the nature of character rather than action
( b ) L o c a l C o l o u r R e a l i s m ( c a 1 8 6 0 s + )
- the 1st local colour story: B. Harte’s “The Luck of the Roaring Camp”
- prominent after the Civil War (1865 +)
- emphasises the setting
- concentrates upon a detail peculiar to a particular region and environment to add interest and authenticity to a narrative: the landscape, habits, customs, costumes, dialect, music, etc.
- puts more stress on capturing the atmosphere than on the psychological features
- for the most part decorative: when it becomes an essential and intrinsic part of the work >> regionalism
( c ) R e g i o n a l i s m ( c a 18 6 0 + )
- emphasises the setting
- concentrates upon the history, manners, and folkways shaping the lives and behaviour of the characters
- puts more stress on the psychological features (philos. or sociological distinctions) than on the peculiarities of landscape, habits, customs, costumes, dialect, music, etc.
N a t u r a l i s m ( 1 8 9 0 s – e a r l y 1 9 0 0 s )
- developed out of realism, orig. in Fr. (Zola), and prominent in the 1890s
- genre: mainly fiction, also drama, and poetry
- uses realistic methods and subjects to convey the philos. that everything that exist is a part of nature and can be explained by natural and material causes x not by supernatural, spiritual, or paranormal causes
- emphasises the social environment
- concentrates on the deficiencies of society, and on the shortcomings of human beings: puts excessive stress on the impoverished, underprivileged, ugly, and diseased
- introd. scandalous taboo subjects: violence, the lower working class, the uneducated, the unemployed, etc.
< C. Darwin’s biological theories of the evolution and the survival of the fittest both in nature and society > the plight of an individual x nature = a force indifferent to the individual’s struggle both in a natural (J. London) or urban setting (S. Crane’s slums in Maggie)
< K. Marx’s theories of classless society > the class struggle and the exploitation of workers (U. Sinclair’s The Jungle)
< F. Nietzsche’s loss of faith in God (‘God is dead’) and of the satisfaction with the old traditional believes > pessimism
< S. Freud, the psychoanalysis father > an examination of the unconscious motives of human behaviour
< E. Zola’s determinism = man’s lives and actions pre-determined by environment and heredity > the writers’ detachment from the object of study
< A. Einstein
- incl. the 1st generation: J. London, S. Crane, F. Norris, T. Dreiser, U. Sinclair
- the later generation: N. Mailer (The Naked and the Dead), W. Styron (Sophia’s Choice), & oth.
Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.
Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.
McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.
Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.
Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.