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Undoing the Naturalistic Novel: Don DeLillo's Libra
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Undoing the Naturalistic Novel:
Don DeLillo's Libra
Paul Civello
University of California, Los Angeles
Paul Civello

Paul Civello received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1991. He is currently working on an essay concerning the relationship between post-Darwinian scientific discourse and Frank Norris's theories of naturalism and the naturalistic writer.


1. For a clear exposition of systems theory, see Bertalanffy's General System Theory.

2. Indeed, such a science has been discovered: the new science of "chaos," or "chaos theory." For a background, see Gleick. For a study of the relationship between chaos theory and contemporary literature, see Hayles's Chaos Bound.

3. Bertalanffy, as might be expected, disagrees with this view of history, arguing that "great men" did not cause history, but acted only as "'leading parts,' 'triggers,' or 'catalyzers' in the historical process" (116).

Works Cited

Bertalanffy, Ludwig von. General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications. New York: Braziller, 1968.
DeLillo, Don. Libra. New York: Viking, 1988.
———. "'An Outsider in This Society': An Interview with Don DeLillo." With Anthony DeCurtis. South Atlantic Quarterly 89 (1990): 281-304.
Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Penguin, 1987.
Hayles, N. Katherine. Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990.
———. The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies in the Twentieth Century. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984.
Heisenberg, Werner. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science. New York: Harper, 1958.
LeClair, Tom. In The Loop: Don DeLillo and the Systems Novel. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.
Walcutt, Charles Child. American Literary Naturalism, A Divided Stream. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1956. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1973.
Zola, Emile. L'Assommoir. 1877. Trans. Leonard Tancock. New York: Penguin, 1970.
———. The Experimental Novel and Other Essays. 1880. Trans. Belle M. Sherman. New York: Haskell, 1964.

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