Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Background for Topics 40 and 48: Realism and Naturalism.

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.

Other Sources

Flajšar, Jiří. Semináře: Americká literatura 2. ZS 2004/05.


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