Naturalism Handout Spring 08

Naturalism Handout Spring 08 - American Lit, Stephen Crane...

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American Lit, Stephen Crane (and beyond) Literary Naturalism Literary Naturalism is an outgrowth of Literary Realism. It emerged at the end of the 19 th century, in the 1890s, as a movement that sought to incorporate the latest ideas about man, science, and society. Its immediate predecessor, Realism, was always a rather tame phenomenon; realism was predicated upon the idea that there was an average, rational norm in society and that individuals could make the correct decisions about how to live their lives. Realism held that middleclass life was the norm, and that average middleclass Americans could, using reason, arrive at sane, healthy decisions. As examples of such texts, see works by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and Edith Wharton. In each, their characters solve their problems so that the greatest good is available to the greatest number of characters in the stories (“A New England Nun” and “The Other Two”). But in the 1890s a new, younger generation of writers took issue with the very tameness of the Realist worldview. Frank Norris, for example, called Realism “the tragedy of a tea- cup” (and you will notice in the Realist stories cited above, inevitably, the taking of tea is an important moment in each story). Such a quiet world of manners and morals is certainly absent from the violent stories inherent in the Naturalistic tradition, in such texts as Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets , 1893; The Red Badge of Courage , 1895; and “The Open Boat,” 1897); Frank Norris’s McTeague , 1899; Jack London’s The Sea Wolf , 1900, and An American Tragedy , 1925). In these works, reason fails, animal appetites prevail, and the world is a dark,
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This note was uploaded on 09/22/2010 for the course E 33965 taught by Professor Berry during the Spring '09 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Naturalism Handout Spring 08 - American Lit, Stephen Crane...

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