Naturalism in Literature

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<p>Naturalism in LiteratureNaturalism,in literature, an approach that proceeds from an analysis of reality in terms of natural forces, e.g., heredity, environment, physical drives. The chief literary theorist on naturalism was mileZola, who said in his essayLe Roman exprimental(1880) that the novelist should be like the scientist, examining dispassionately various phenomena in life and drawing indisputable conclusions. The naturalists tended to concern themselves with the harsh, often sordid, aspects of life. Notable naturalists include theGoncourtbrothers, J. K.Huysmans,Maupassant, the English authors GeorgeMooreand GeorgeGissing, and the American writers TheodoreDreiser, FrankNorris, StephenCrane, James T.Farrell, and JamesJones. In the drama, naturalism developed in the late 19th cent. By stressing photographic detail in scene design, costume, and acting technique, it attempted to abolish the artificial theatricality prominent in 19th-century theater. The movement was most closely associated with the Thtre Libre (founded 1887) of AndrAntoine, with the Freie Bhne (founded 1889) of OttoBrahm, and with the Moscow Art Theatre (founded 1898) under the direction ofStanislavsky. Notable naturalistic dramatists includeBecque, Brieux,Hauptmann, andGorky.</p> <p>Read more:naturalism, in literature | Infoplease.com in literature was a branch of Realism, that began from 1865-1900. Let's see more about this important era in literature, through the following write-up..."Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." - C.S. Lewis, a British novelist and scholar.The definition states that, 'Naturalism in literature was a literary movement, that began in the late nineteenth century (1865-1900) in film, art, literature and theater that portrays common values of an ordinary individual.' Naturalism was a literary movement that suggested the involvement of environment, heredity and social conditions in shaping the human character. Naturalism or literary naturalism, originated as a French movement, where the naturalistic writers were influenced by the theory of evolution of Charles Darwin and the ideas of Hippolyte Taine, a philosopher. Naturalistic writers wrote stories that adopted the perspective that a person's character is determined by one's lineage and environment. The term 'naturalism' was coined by Emile Zola, an influential French writer. He was also an important contributor towards the development of theatrical naturalism. Some other famous writers associated with naturalism are Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Jack London and Theodore Dreiser.Features of NaturalismThere are four main characteristics of naturalism. They are listed as under: The main characteristic of literary naturalism is pessimism, where a character tends to repeat a phrase having a pessimistic outlook, which sometimes emphasizes the inevitability and quality of death. Detachment from the main story is another characteristic of literary naturalism. The author tries to maintain an objective tone and sometimes achieves detachment or change by introducing nameless characters. This focuses mainly on the plot and character rather than focusing on the character only. This method was more common among modernist writers like Ernest Hemingway. In determinism, which is the third characteristic of naturalism, the notion that individual characters have a direct influence on their lives is replaced by a focus on fate or nature and is the opposite of the belief of free will. The author makes the reader believe that the fate of the character has already been predetermined by certain factors, specially environmental factors and he can do nothing to change it. One common characteristic of literary naturalism is the surprising twist at the end of the plot. There is a strong sense in the naturalist stories and novels that nature is not affected by human struggle. The key themes, survival, determinism, violence, and taboo, have been ideally portrayed in all the works of this literature genre.Realism vs Naturalism in LiteratureThough naturalism and realism are inter-related, they are two different genres of literature. Here are a few differences between realism and naturalism: The history of naturalism can be traced back to the nineteenth century where this movement was supposed to be the extreme form of realism. As compared to romanticism and realism, naturalism is a more recent movement in the literary cycle. The focus of realism is on literary technique, whereas naturalism connotes a philosophical pessimism, where writers apply scientific method to their writings and depict human beings as an objective and impartial character. Realism portrays things the way they might appear to be, while naturalism shows a deterministic view of a person's life and actions. This can be seen in Stephen Crane's The Open Boat and The Blue Hotel Realism shows that a person's decision is based upon his response to the situation, whereas naturalism concludes that a person's decision is predetermined by natural forces that make him act in a certain way.Examples of Naturalism in Literature:Naturalism in literature involves understanding the natural conditions of life that shape a person's character. These conditions may be pessimistic and sordid at times. Examples of naturalism involve the issues of racism, disease, political corruption, moral corruption, violence, prostitution, and poverty. In order to understand how the person's character was shaped, these areas are explained for the audience. Naturalism was popular in literature from the 1880s to the 1940s. It was influenced by the writings of many prominent scientists and theorists of the time.Some Naturalist Writers and their Works:There are many renowned writers who have created mesmerizing novels, short stories and the like using this writing style. Given below are a few authors and their famous masterpieces, for which they are quite well-known in the world of literary art: Ambrose Bierce - The Fiend's Delight (novella), Cobwebs from an Empty Skull (short story collection) Abraham Cahan - The Making of an American Citizen Don DeLillo - Americana (novel), The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories (short story collection), The Engineer of Moonlight (play) Ernest Hemingway - "Indian Camp, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber E. W. Howe - The Story of a Country Town, The Mystery of the Locks, The Moonlight Boy Edith Wharton - The House of Mirth Edward Eggleston - The Hoosier School-Master Ellen Glasgow - Barren Ground Frank Norris - McTeague , The Octopus: A Story of California, and The Pit Hamlin Garland - Rose of Dutcher's Coolly Harold Frederic - The Damnation of Theron Ware Harriet Arnow - The Dollmaker Henry Blake Fuller - The Cliff-Dwellers Hubert Selby, Jr. - Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream Jack London - Call of the Wild and White Fang (novels), To Build a Fire, An Odyssey of the North, and Love of Life (short stories) James T. Farrell - Studs Lonigan John Dos Passos - U.S.A. Trilogy, The 2nd Parallel and The Big Money John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath Joseph Kirkland - Zury: The Meanest Man in Spring County, The McVeys, The Captain of Company K Joyce Carol Oates - Black Water, What I Lived For, Blonde Kate Chopin - The Awakening Nelson Algren - The Man with the Golden Arm Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead Paul Laurence Dunbar - The Sport of the Gods Rebecca Harding Davis - Life in the Iron Mills (novella) Richard Wright - Native Son, Black Boy Robert Herrick - The Memoirs of an American Citizen Saul Bellow - The Adventures of Augie March Sherwood Anderson - Winesburg, Ohio, Many Marriages Stephen Crane - Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, The Red Badge of Courage and George's Mother Theodore Dreiser - Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy William Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying and Light in August William Styron - Lie Down in Darkness Upton Sinclair - The JungleNaturalism is a literary movement that is derived from Realism, which not only depicts real life but also probes deeper to seek the characteristic reminiscent of Romanticism. Naturalism in the world of literature has an identity of its own due to the philosophical inclination in its naturalistic writings.</p> <p>Naturalism &amp; the American Novel:Although its origins were European, naturalism was an important movement in American literature from the 1890s until the 1920s. While it is strongly associated with realism, in the shared emphasis on depicting surface reality, naturalism is more than a literary technique, involving as it does the philosophy of determinism. Naturalism is antiromantic in emphasizing the limited ability of humans to impose will upon their own destiny, and also in devaluing the imagination's embellishment of reality. For the naturalist, it is the duty of the writer to present to the reader reality without illusion, to offer a scientific, detached view of it rather than to adorn or mislead or simply please the reader. The writer is also seen to have a diagnostic function, scrutinizing the ills of society, and the scientific element of naturalism has its origins in the theories of Darwin and, after Marx, in the development of the social sciences during the nineteenth century. American naturalism developed broadly in two directions, one examining the social and political dynamics of American urban life and the other examining the biological aspects of deterministic thought. The influence of Marx is frequently evident in the former branch and that of Darwin in the second.This diagnostic element of naturalism derives directly from the French novelist mile Zola, the most important figure in the development of literary naturalism. American writers, notablyStephen Crane, endorsed this view of the writer's responsibility to analyze, and Crane's novel MAGGIE, A GIRL OF THE STREETS (1893) is a classic of American naturalism. In it he shows that "environment is a tremendous thing in the world, and frequently shapes lives regardless." The novel presents the process of the disruption of Maggie's family, her descent into prostitution, and her eventual suicide, and considers this process as an inevitable consequence of the limited choices offered by the poverty of her New York environment. MAGGIE exemplifies much American naturalistic writing in its use of an urban setting, its refusal to condemn or sentimentalize Maggie's prostitution, its depiction of slum life, and its objective focus on scandalous or immoral subjects. The supposedly immoral nature of naturalistic writing should not be underestimated; as in France, much naturalistic writing in the United States was considered scandalous and liable to censorship or prohibition. Although Crane later moved away from classic naturalism, his work maintained its diagnostic anti-illusionist element.The naturalistic emphasis on how economic and social forces determine human behavior was developed by novelists such asW. D. Howells(1837-1920),Frank Norris, andTheodore Dreiser, while elements of naturalism are present in the works ofUpton Sinclair(1878-1968) andJohn Steinbeck(1902-68), who both brought a progressive socialist political commitment to the movement. The novels of Dreiser, notablyAN AMERICAN TRAGEDY(1925), and of Norris (MCTEAGUE[1899], THE OCTOPUS [1901], VANDOVER AND THE BRUTE [1895/1914]) were particularly significant in exploring the fate of the individual during the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the United States; naturalist writing is closely linked to American social change during a period of dramatic capitalist growth and the rise of big business. Social Darwinism forms an important part of naturalism at the end of the 19th century.The deterministic concern with biological forces is generally less evident in American writing than it is elsewhere, although it emerges in the 1890s novels ofMark Twain(especially PUDD'NHEAD WILSON [1894]) and in some women's writing. For example, in spite of the romantic tradition in which she wrote,Kate Chopinexplored naturalistic ideas. This is especially so inTHE AWAKENING(1899), in which she expresses through the character Dr. Mandelet the naturalist view that romantic love is an illusion damaging to women's social status since it determines for them the biological role of motherhood. The illusion of love, he says, is "a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race." In spite of this, Chopin's heroine, Edna Pontellier, maintains a romantic view of experience and her suicide, in sharp contrast to that of Crane's Maggie, is a triumphant expression of individual will over circumstance. Other writers associated with naturalism includeJack London(1876-1916), who often explored the Darwinian contiguity between humans and animals and how the otherwise buried animalistic survival instinct surfaces in extreme circumstances. This is exemplified in THE SEA-WOLF (1904), but is frequently a theme in London's Klondike stories, and distinctions between human and animal behavior were often blurred in his writing, as inTHE CALL OF THE WILD(1903) and WHITE FANG (1906).Although naturalism was most influential in the period 1890-1925, aspects of it survived into modernism; Hemingway's early work, for instance, often uses the naturalistic concept of the individual who is being tested by extreme circumstance and learning to live without self-delusion, and realist writers such asSherwood Anderson(1876-1941) andSinclair Lewis(1885-1951) made use of naturalistic idioms in their analyses of human motivation and circumstance. </p> <p>Jack London's Naturalism:The Example ofThe Call of the WildbyEarl J. WilcoxBOTH JACK LONDON'S intentions and his accomplishments inThe Call of the Wildaccount for the artistic success of the book. For the story which London intended to writeabout a dog who merely reverts to the wilddeveloped into a full, 32,000 word novel. And the simplicity intended in the implicit atavism in the dog's reversion also became a more complex discussion than London apparently bargained for. But a fortuitous combination of events led London to produce the most popular and the best piece of fiction he ever wrote. Thus while he gauged his audience accurately in writing a popular account of Darwinian literature, at the same time the novel gave him an opportunity to explore the philosophical ideas which had been fermenting in his mind but which he had not found opportunity to express in full in his fiction.Joan London reports her father as saying that he did not recognize the human allegory in the dog's life-and-death struggle to adapt himself to a hostile environment.1And even after he had reread his story several times, he allegedly said, I pl...</p>