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By Harold Bloom

Determinism and self-reliance have been a number of the features American authors sought to painting within the novels of this literary interval, reflecting a extra reasonable view of the rustic with the increase of industrialism within the past due nineteenth century. This name, American Naturalism, a part of Chelsea condo Publishers' Bloom's interval experiences sequence, encompasses a number of serious essays studying the writers and works that outlined this era. as well as a chronology of vital cultural, literary, and politcal occasions, this article contains an advent and editor's observe written through Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the arts, Yale college.

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Reflect a moment upon his choice of subject and character and episode. The Rougon-Macquart live in a world of their own; they are not of our lives any more than are the Don Juans, the Jean Valjeans, the Gil Blases, the Marmions, or the Ivanhoes. We, the bourgeois, the commonplace, the ordinary, have no part nor lot in the Rougon-Macquart, in Lourdes, or in Rome; it is not our world, not because our social position is different, but because we are ordinary. To be noted of M. Zola we must leave the rank and the file, either run to the forefront of the marching world, or fall by the roadway; we must separate ourselves; we must become individual, unique.

He has traits that make for survival—a Balzacian grip on the machinery of money and power; a prosiness so primary Notes on the Decline of Naturalism 45 in texture that if taken in bulk it affects us as a kind of poetry of the commonplace and ill-favored; and an emphatic eroticism which is the real climate of existence in his fictions—Eros hovering over the shambles. Sinclair Lewis was never a novelist in the proper sense that Zola and Dreiser are novelists, and, given his gift for exhaustive reporting, naturalism did him more good than harm by providing him with a ready literary technique.

And in any culture there are likely to be certain artists who contain a large part of the dialectic within themselves, their meaning and power lying in their contradictions; they contain within themselves, it may be said, the very 30 Lionel Trilling essence of the culture, and the sign of this is that they do not submit to serve the ends of any one ideological group or tendency. It is a significant circumstance of American culture, and one which is susceptible of explanation, that an unusually large proportion of its notable writers of the nineteenth century were such repositories of the dialectic of their times— they contained both the yes and the no of their culture, and by that token they were prophetic of the future.

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