Susan I. Gatti
A bold, imaginative work, The Star Rover demonstrates Jack London’s inventive approach to the social-protest genre. London mixes in the typical problem-novel ingredients: gritty, realistic details; sympathetic, downtrodden victims; greedy capitalist villains and their muscle-headed henchmen; brisk, often violent, action; outraged invective; individual and collective resistance; and radical action for precipitating change. But, in the process of exposing conditions within American prisons, London deviates sharply and creatively in The Star Rover—not only from the conventions of protest writing but also from the type of writing that normally assured him of good sales and positive reviews.
This article examines George Gascoigne's prose writing. Gascoigne's modern reputation rests principally upon four works: the prose fiction A Discourse of the Adventures passed by Master F.J., one of the earliest important texts in the history of the novel in English; his prose play Supposes, a source for Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew; his frequently anthologised poem, ‘Gascoignes wodmanship’; and ‘Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse or ryme in English’, the earliest essay on English composition. Three of these have significant prose elements: Master F.J. is partly prose and partly verse; Supposes is a prose comedy; and ‘Certayne Notes of Instruction’ is a prose essay on the art of versification. The sheer range of Gascoigne's prose work is extraordinary, but his longest prose works are all translations.
This article examines the features of African American naturalism. As a literary approach, naturalism attempts to represent and explore the themes, questions, and tensions associated with the explosive growth of science and social science in the late nineteenth century, as well as the limits and consequences of formal and philosophical determinism, and few writers or readers had more at stake regarding these issues than did African Americans. If naturalist fiction often chronicles the limitations and restrictions imposed on individual freedom, there can be no stronger example of the denial of free will than that imposed by the system of chattel slavery in the United States and the concurrent linkage of a slave's ontological status with legal subservience and inferiority. Beginning in the 1890s, the most prominent and influential African American intellectuals and artists, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sutton Griggs, and James Weldon Johnson, participated in the creation of seminal naturalist texts that responded to immanent social and political conditions and that together offer a more diverse and inclusive portrait of naturalism itself.
This article examines sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century dialogue. It considers why so many writers chose to convey opinions or explore ideas in works laid out as conversations. The pervasiveness of the form is apparent in the sheer gamut of topics discussed ‘dialogue-wise’: subjects range from worshipping saints to the proper behaviour of women; from music to the art of warfare. Dialogue comes in many guises: descriptors on printed title-pages range from the neutral ‘colloquy’ or ‘discourse’ to the more formal ‘debate’ and ‘dispute’. In choosing to convey their ideas and opinions in a dialogue, early modern writers selected a form that had ideological resonances; it was a form which gestured towards the debate and verbal interaction that they believed should lie at the heart of successful governance and a healthy society — for many dialogues, the very solution lies in talking.
One of the major expressions of American literary naturalism occurred in the cycle of Hollywood films made during the 1940s and 1950s commonly referred to as film noir. These films revisit and adapt nineteenth-century naturalist narratives via characters constrained by the forces of material environments, past experiences, instinctual urges, and mysterious fates. This article presents a close analysis of two of the most central and critically acclaimed films noirs, The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Double Indemnity (1944). These films blend naturalist narrative conventions with key cinematic devices: environmental constraints, emphasized through staging, high-contrast lighting, and low-angle cinematography; instinctual urges, emphasized through dialogue, costuming, blocking, and close-ups; and fate as a determining force, emphasized through dialogue, voiceover, and flashbacks. These conventions and devices find concrete expression in the thoughts and actions of the films' protagonists, who negotiate their desires for money and sex in the contexts of harsh environments, such as the criminal underworld, the private-detective business, an unsatisfying job, or a failed marriage. These negotiations often conclude with the characters succumbing to their greed and sinking into depravity or death; on rare occasions, however, these negotiations end with a hazy yet significant glimmer of hope. In each case, these movies attest not only to the power of film noir but also to the richness of cinematic naturalism.
Stephen C. Brennan
This article considers five important naturalistic works, published between 1895 and 1925, that reveal the diversity of psychological themes during naturalism's classical age. These are Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895) and Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1900) for the pre-Freudian period and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919), Ellen Glasgow's Barren Ground (1925), and Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1925) for the early Freudian period. If there is an implicit thesis in the discussions that follow, it is that America's naturalists read psychology not to depict mindless puppets in the hands of implacable forces or animals snared in the trap of circumstances but to portray convincingly the often undecided struggle for dignity at that intersection of inner and outer reality, the human consciousness.
This article examines the relationship between American literary naturalism and sexuality. By the close of the 1890s, American literary naturalism had established itself decisively as the first American genre committed to the direct representation of heterosexuality and its discontent. Defying conventions governing the depiction of sexuality in public discourse, naturalist writers emphasized the power of sexual desire to shape human experience. The complexity of naturalism's engagement with sexual issues during the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century period derives from the heated debate over the social meanings of sexuality between feminist and masculinist factions taking place then in the American progressive movement. Entering this polemical fray, naturalist writers produced works of fiction emphatically inflected toward either masculinist or feminist sexual politics and thereby created a genre divided along its authors' gender lines.
Jeff P. Turpin
This article focuses on how writers seemed to anticipate developments that science would not “discover” for another half-century. Modern studies of sexual selection and reciprocal altruism, when applied to works like Edith Wharton's Roman Fever (1934) and John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939), reveal some surprising, prescient aspects of the works. These authors were not just dramatizing the theories handed to them by evolutionary science, but they were extending the evolutionary hypotheses well beyond the reach of their contemporaries. In Wharton's case, retrospective evolutionary analysis shows that, contrary to traditional criticism, some of her more famous female characters were radically empowered, subtle, and competent survivors. In Steinbeck's case, that the author cut directly across contemporary ideas about altruism to both complicate theories of human morality and advocate for true morality and true selflessness.
M. O. Grenby
This essay investigates the conservative, loyalist fiction published in Britain during the French Revolution and its aftermath. A substantial number and a wide variety of these novels were published: long and short, propagandistic and philosophical, for adults and children and by obscure and well-known authors. The essay identifies and analyses the principal structures and themes of anti-Jacobin fiction, and closely examines a representative sample. It assesses their contribution to the ‘war of ideas’ and considers how they fit into larger histories of the novel.
This article examines the works of Washington Irving within the broad framework of global narratives. It analyzes how geographical variables enter into the writings of Irving and how as an author he played self-consciously with the contours of cultural mapping. The article suggests that the reflexive nature of Irving's work speaks to a meta-geographical dimension which was common to many American writers in the antebellum period, who were concerned in one way or another with how the national domain might be mapped.