American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary

American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary

American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary

American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary

Synopsis

This reference includes alphabetically arranged biographical and critical entries for more than 120 American Realistic and Naturalistic novelists, including Henry Adams, Sherwood Anderson, Saul Bellow, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, and Jack London. Each entry includes basic biographical information and a narrative overview of the writer's educational background, professional career, and published works. These works are briefly discussed to show how they fit within the Realistic and Naturalistic traditions.

Excerpt

(1838–1918)

Henry Brooks Adams was one of the first writers who realistically examined politics and religion in American society.

Adams was born on February 16, 1838, to Abigail Brown Adams and Charles Francis Adams. The great-grandson of John Adams and the grandson of John Quincy Adams, Adams lived in Boston during the winters and in Quincy, Massachusetts, during the summers.

An avid reader, he enjoyed the works of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. He also enjoyed the volumes of history that filled the shelves of his father’s library. Adams attended Mr. Dixwell’s School, then enrolled at Harvard College (Harvard University), where James Russell Lowell influenced him. Adams and Lowell had lengthy conversations about various subjects, including civil law.

In 1858 Adams went to Berlin, Germany, where he did postgraduate work in civil law. Within months he grew tired of studying a subject that was taught by faculty who spoke German, a language that he did not fully understand. In 1860 he toured Europe, and later wrote letters to the Boston Courier in which he described his meeting with Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Later that year Adams returned to Boston, then worked as his father’s secretary in Washington, D.C. He enjoyed Washington, particularly the political scene.

In 1861 he returned to Boston, where he studied law until the South fired on Fort Sumter. Although his brother Charles Francis and numerous friends volunteered for the army, Adams worked as his father’s secretary in London. He desired to serve in the army, however, so he asked his brother to help him get a commission. His brother refused, informing him in no uncertain terms that he was not suited for the army. Adams soon grew disillusioned with life. He was in his twenties and he did not have a career. His father persuaded him to so-

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