Polemics and Social Change in Literary Naturalism
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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Title Page, Editorial Board, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes
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Many of the arguments that follow will attempt, in one way or another, to extricate the Ameri can naturalists from the dense web of “his tori cal deter-minism” that they themselves spun. Any merit granted to these arguments, however, could never be extricated from their own his tori cal context. I con-sider myself exceptionally fortunate to have been able to write these chapters ...
Naturalism: A Polemical Introduction
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...“There are many strong arguments for keeping creative writers out of poli-tics,” exclaimed V. S. Pritchett in 1938, “and Mr. George Orwell is one of them” (qtd. in Atkins 51). Today, when literary critics are increasingly committed to demonstrating the po liti cal salience of their scholarship— to bolstering the ties between literary- criti cal praxis and an all encompassing “radical cri-...
Chapter 1: An Education
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One day in the spring of 1927, a scrawny, nineteen- year- old employee of the Ameri can Optical Company slipped away during his lunch break to visit the Memphis Public Library. Richard Wright had never before attempted to check out a library book for himself— he had, in his capacity as “messenger boy,” occasionally fetched reading material for others— but that was something he ...
Chapter 2: The Polemical Nature of Naturalism in America
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From the moment they were first uttered by English speakers in the seven-teenth century, the words “naturalism” and “naturalist” have emerged from snarling lips. In 1642, the English cleric Richard Montagu warns his readers of the “atheists or men . . . who will admit of nothing but Morality, but Natu-ralismes, and humane reason.” As early as 1612, one finds evidence of “those ...
Chapter 3: Against the Grain: Ecology, Environmentalism, and Frank Norris’s 'The Octopus'
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Every generation, it is sometimes observed, gets the artists it deserves. Some-thing similar might be said about nature. Today, we seem to exist in a pro-foundly neurotic natural environment.1 Twenty- first- century climatologists and environmental activists have successfully created an image of the climate sys tem as fragile, perishable, twitchy. Climate change, as we know, is exacer-...
Chapter 4: Crimes of Art and Nature: An American Tragedy and the Problem of Abortion
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In April of 1927, Donald Friede, a senior vice president at Horace Liveright’s publishing firm in New York, was dispatched to Boston on a polemical er-rand. Friede was going to have himself arrested for selling a costly, two- volume, thousand- page naturalistic novel to an officer of the law. Artistic re-pression and censorship— “Comstockery,” as it was derisively known— was ...
Chapter 5: “What I Killed for, I Am” : Domestic Terror in Richard Wright’s America
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In 1937, as Richard Wright was undertaking what would become his first published novel, a highly polemical fiction about a black boy driven to mur-der by the profoundly oppressive social conditions in the slums of Chicago, the international community was coming to terms with a new menace. Fol-lowing the assassination of Yugoslavian King Alexander I and a French for-...
Epilogue: Why Norman Mailer Hates Plastic
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Midway through a 2001 French television documentary on Norman Mailer, an unseen interviewer pushes the author to elaborate on the 1960 incident in which he stabbed his sec ond wife, Adele Morales.1 The seventy- eight- year- old Mailer, squirming perceptibly in his seat, says something about how the incident revealed to him that he lacked a “clear path through to philosophy.” ...
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Abu- Lughod, Janet L. Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los AnAhnebrink, Lars. The Beginnings of Naturalism in Ameri can Fiction: A Study of the Works of Hamlin Garland, Stephen Crane, and Frank Norris, with special referAllott, Daniel. “The Fallacy of ‘Personally Opposed, But . . .’” Ameri can Spectator. 30 April, 2007. Available online at http://spectator.org/archives/2007/04/30 ...
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Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalism
Series Editor Byline: Gary Scharnhorst