A Man's Game
Masculinity and the Anti-Aesthetics of American Literary Naturalism
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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In 1904, one year before the publication of The House of Mirth would establish her as a commercially successful novelist, Edith Wharton published a volume of short fiction, The Descent of Man and Other Stories. The book’s title story tells of a dedicated entomologist, Professor Samuel Linyard, who,quite by accident, becomes the best-selling author of a pseudoscientific monograph...
1. Inside and Outside the Ring: The Establishment of a Masculinist Aesthetic Sensibility
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The emergence of spectator sports at the end of the nineteenth century—as commercial enterprise, masculine performance, and nascent profession—offers a paradigmatic lens through which to understand the artistic ethos of those writers commonly adjoined under the rubric of American literary naturalism. ...
2. “Subtle Brotherhood” in Stephen Crane’s Tales of Adventure: Alienation, Anxiety, and the Rites of Manhood
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If, as Edwin Cady suggests, “the trope basic to Crane’s vision was that of the game” (103), then the stories collected in volume 5 of the University of Virginia edition of Stephen Crane’s works offer the most comprehensive view of the author’s foremost artistic device. The recurrence of games and the rules of sportsmanship throughout these stories helps link them thematically...
3. “Beauty Unmans Me”: Diminished Manhood and the Leisure Class in Norris and Wharton
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In a 1927 essay entitled “The Great American Novel,” published during the height of her fame and fortune as an author, Edith Wharton elevates Frank Norris’s McTeague, David Graham Phillips’s Susan Lenox, and Robert Grant’s Unleavened Bread to the status of “not only ‘great American novels,’ but great novels” (Uncollected Critical Writings 152–53). ...
4. “A Man Only in Form”: The Roots of Naturalism in African American Literature
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“How does it feel to be a problem?” This is the question posed by W. E. B. Du Bois near the beginning of The Souls of Black Folk (1). Writing at the turn of the twentieth century, Du Bois addresses the conditions of African Americans at the point known among historians as the “nadir” of American race relations,1 the period following the collapse of Reconstruction noted for the strict codification of Jim Crow segregation...
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An enlightening contrast to the lynching scene in The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and an evocative complement to the aesthetic argument behind James Weldon Johnson’s narrative can be found in a short story by Theodore Dreiser entitled “Nigger Jeff.” As the grating title makes clear, this story concerns the “making of a man into less than a man,”...
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Publication Year: 2004