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Naturalism In American Literature Essay Exam

In the wake of Parrington’s attempt to reconcile the rise of realism and naturalism with an essentially romantic tradition (Parrington 1930), interest in the rise of these movements has occurred in waves. In particular, efforts to provide large-scale summaries reflect the attention to social problems in 1960s, and the influence of—and reaction to—post-structuralism and cultural criticism in the 1980s. In all cases, however, comprehensive hypotheses about the nature of realism and naturalism remain grounded, to a large extent, in the political, economic, and cultural history of the late 19th century. Berthoff 1965, Pizer 1984, and Lehan 2005 represent attempts to accommodate the horizons established by Parrington’s definition of the study of literary form. Kaplan 1988, Borus 1989, and Bell 1993 each make valuable contributions to the new historicist reexamination of naturalism. Murphy 1987 offers one of the few comprehensive accounts of realism within dramatic literature.

  • Bell, Michael Davitt. The Problem of American Realism: Studies in the Cultural History of a Literary Idea. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

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    Provides compelling readings of the canonical authors, suggesting little common ground beyond the fact that both realism and naturalism explicitly reject the conventional dictates of artistry and dominant notions of style. Unified in their attraction to “reality” as an abstraction, Howells, Twain, James, Norris, Crane, Dreiser, and Jewett each constructed radically unique responses to a common “revolt against style” (p. 115)

  • Berthoff, Warner. The Ferment of Realism: American Literature, 1884–1919. New York: Free Press, 1965.

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    Suggests that realism as a category may be best understood though an examination of practice, rather than through the study of principles or theories. In this light, establishes forceful reading of realist novels as varied statements of outrage and opposition to the increasing materialism, disorder, and perceived moral decay in the years leading up to World War I.

  • Borus, Daniel H. Writing Realism: Howells, James, and Norris in the Mass Market. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

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    Draws on concerns of new historicism, yet emphasizes the process of literary publication and reception itself. Explores Howells, James, and Norris in detail, with some attention to other writers, including compelling discussions of the publishing industry, literary celebrity, and rise of the political novel.

  • Kaplan, Amy. The Social Construction of American Realism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

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    Includes a concise summary of earlier critical debates about realism (including and subsuming naturalism) and describes the cultural work in novels of Howells, Wharton, and Dreiser to construct social spaces that contain and defuse class tensions emerging in the late 19th century. Among the more influential new historicist interventions.

  • Lehan, Richard Daniel. Realism and Naturalism: The Novel in an Age of Transition. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.

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    Resolutely formalist overview of realism and naturalism as literary modes. Describes the philosophical and cultural assumptions that helped shape these movements and traces their development throughout the 20th century. At times polemical in its dismissal of post-structuralist or materialist rereadings (see, for example, Kaplan 1988; Howard 1985 or Michaels 1987, both cited under Philosophy, History, and Form), nonetheless immensely useful and readable synthesis of key ideas.

  • Murphy, Brenda. American Realism and American Drama, 1880–1940. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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    A treatment of realism in American theater, tracing the development of realist ideas about dramatic representation and their subsequent influence on American dramatists of the 20th century, including Eugene O’Neill, Elmer Rice, and others. Addresses the scant attention paid to the theater in the scholarship on realism.

  • Parrington, Vernon Louis. The Beginnings of Critical Realism in America, 1860–1920. Vol. 3, Main Currents in American Thought. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1930.

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    Though left incomplete at Parrington’s death, offers what would become the dominant view of realism and naturalism for much subsequent criticism. Sees these movements as antitheses of idealism represented by the Emersonian tradition, providing a needed corrective to “shoddy romanticism” that threatened to consume the American literary tradition.

  • Pizer, Donald. Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Rev. ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.

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    Revision of essential 1966 work, offering a comprehensive formal theory of realism and naturalism, linked by adherence to an ethical idealism that informs, restructures, and complicates the diversity of themes and topics, the often bleak subject matter, and the presence of a deterministic worldview. Collects a variety of essays that construct a coherent portrait of the movements and their defining tensions.

  • Realism and Naturalism in American Literature Stories Essay

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    There are two dominate aspects of Realism (Social Rules & Morality), and two dominate laws of Naturalism (Environment & Determinism), that comes into play in the American Literature stories of Daisy Miller ,Frank James, and Jack London. According to one authoritative source (Britannica), realism in its basic form in Literature is a literary style in which the author describes the reality of persons (people) in detail to resemble their actions, emotions, and environment. The strengths and weaknesses are blended in with the characteristics of their flawed personalities by not being completely good or evil, weak or strong. The characters in the stories attempt to make their way through their social environment often coming into conflict with…show more content…

    It was more enjoyable to choose one’s way and be happy then to follow the social rules and be damned. Daisy began to walk a thin line between Lady and Tramp in the eyes of the gentlemen from Geneva, Mr Winterbourne, who was from an incredibly disciplined Calvinistic background. In his eyes he was being practical and hesistant to bring moral condemnation on the beautiful and expressionate Daisy Miller. The Judges of High Society, to include Mrs Costello, decided to pass ethical judgement when Daisy’s number of male associates began to climb. Futhermore, the élite bore more proof to condemn; they had “Gossip”, and a woman of that day was to carry herself in such a way as to avoid such claims. This is an example of the doctrine of realism, when one goes against the grain of the philosopy of the day.
    Daisy blew off the warnings of Mr. Winterbourne that she would be soon shunned by all the élite class. When Daisy refused to come out the dangerous night air of shame and disgust, Mrs Costello signed her moral death call for. In her eyes this flaunting young whoring flirt could not be saved. Yet, it was Daisy choice to enjoy the moon, the night air, and her friend in spite of the consequences to come. This was an example of the novel of manners that produced moral tensions. Why should she leave her friend and ride in judgement and appeasement? This was not rational. Realist are pragmatic and in this instance so was Daisy.
    In Jack London’s To Build a

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