Cover image for Documents of American realism and naturalism
Documents of American realism and naturalism
Pizer, Donald.
Publication Information:
Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xiv, 470 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1430 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
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PS374.N29 D63 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Donald Pizer presents the major critical discussions of American realism and naturalism from the beginnings of the movement in the 1870s to the present. He includes the most often cited discussions ranging from William Dean Howells, Henry James, and Frank Norris in the late nineteenth century to those by V. L. Parrington, Malcolm Cowley, and Lionel Trilling in the early twentieth century. To provide the full context for the effort to interpret the nature and significance of realism and naturalism during the periods when the movements were live issues on the critical scene, however, he also includes many uncollected essays. His selections since World War II reflect the major recent tendencies in academic criticism of the movements.

Through introductions to each of the three sections, Pizer provides background, delineating the underlying issues motivating attempts to attack, defend, or describe American realism and naturalism. In particular, Pizer attempts to reveal the close ties between criticism of the two movements and significant cultural concerns of the period in which the criticism appeared. Before each selection, Pizer provides a brief biographical note and establishes the cultural milieu in which the essay was originally published. He closes his anthology with a bibliography of twentieth-century academic criticism of American realism and naturalism.

Author Notes

Donald Pizer, Pierce Butler Professor of English at Tulane University, is the author of eight books, compiler of a Dreiser bibliography, and editor of twenty-four volumes. Decidedly the authoritative voice in American literary realism and naturalism, Pizer has authored Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Twentieth- Century American Literary Naturalism: An Interpretation, and The Theory and Practice of American Literary Naturalism: Selected Essays and Reviews.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Encompassing more than 120 years of American literary criticism (1874-1995), this well-selected collection is a model of editing by an eminent critic of American literature. Pizer (Tulane Univ.) divides the volume into three sections: pre-WW I men of letters (e.g., W. D. Howells and Charles Dudley Warner); the leading critics of the 1920s and '30s (Malcolm Cowley, Alfred Kazin, Lionel Trilling); and the most influential of the academic critics of the past 40 years (including Richard Chase, Alfred Habegger, F. J. Hoffman, and Eric Sundquist). The volume includes both classic texts--such as Henry James's "The Art of Fiction" and Frank Norris's essays on naturalism--and essays reprinted for the first time (by G.P. Lathrop, R.W. Gilder, Maurice Thompson, H.H. Boyesen, Hamlin Garland, among others). Pizer's substantial introductions, establishing the theoretical and historical framework for the essays, effectively illuminate the social and political conflicts underlying the controversies over the definition and value of realism and naturalism; document the central role of Howells in the ongoing debate; and define differences among recent critics. The volume contains more than 30 essays not included in Documents of Modern Literary Realism, ed. by George J. Becker (1963), or American Realism, ed. by Jane Benardete (1972). The biographical notes and extensive bibliography enhance this valuable resource. Highly recommended to all undergraduate students and scholars of American literature. E. Nettels formerly, College of William and Mary

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
Editorial Notep. xv
Part 1 the Critical Debate, 1874-1950p. 1
The Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, 1874-1914p. 3
Notesp. 16
1 the Novel and Its Futurep. 18
Notep. 32
2 Modern Fictionp. 33
3 the Art of Fictionp. 45
4 a Typical Novelp. 60
5 Selections from the "Editor's Study"p. 70
6 Realism and Romancep. 99
7 Certain Tendencies in Current Literaturep. 104
8 the New Battle of the Booksp. 115
9 Selections from the Ethics of Literary Artp. 122
10 Realism in Literature and Artp. 132
11 the Progressive Realism of American Fictionp. 144
Notep. 150

p. roductive Co

13 the New Story-Tellers and the Doom of Realismp. 159
14 Three Essays on Naturalismp. 167
15 the Responsibilities of the Novelistp. 175
16 True Art Speaks Plainlyp. 179
Notesp. 186
17 he Naturalism of Mr. Dreiserp. 188
18 the Art of Theodore Dreiserp. 197
19 William Dean Howells and the Realism of the Commonplacep. 201
Notep. 210
20 Naturalism in American Fictionp. 211
Notep. 214
21 the Opening Struggle for Realismp. 215
Notesp. 223
22 "Not Men" a Natural History of American Naturalismp. 225
23 Reality in Americap. 239
Notesp. 250
24 Some Observations on Naturalism, So Called, in Fictionp. 251
Notesp. 260
Part 2 Modern Academic Criticism, 1951-1995p. 261
Introductionp. 263
25 Taine in Americap. 270
Notesp. 275
26 New Ideas in the Novelp. 277
27 Norris Historically Viewedp. 296
28 Mark Twain and the Earlier Realismp. 301
Nottesp. 308
29 American Realism Definedp. 309
Notesp. 320
30 "Realism": Toward a Definitionp. 324
31 from Document to Symbol: Zola and American Naturalismp. 336
Notesp. 343
32 American Literary Naturalism: The Example of Dreiserp. 344
33 Realismp. 355
Notesp. 362
34 the Country of the Bluep. 366
Bibliographical Notep. 383
Bibliographical Notep. 384
35 Preface and Casting Out the Outcast Naturalism and the Brutep. 386
Notesp. 402
36 Realism and "Absent Things in American Life"p. 404
Notesp. 414
37 Black and White Strangersp. 418
Notesp. 433
38 Expanding the Canon of American Realismp. 435
Bibliography Indexp. 453
Bibliographyp. 455
Indexp. 459