Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Synopsis

What is human? What is a machine? How do they differ? Or do they? In these 15 stories about robots and androids, Philip K. Dick asks these questions. The answers differ with each story- in the fictional world and in the exploring mind of Dick the only certainty is change- but the author establishes some guidelines: "To be human, one must maintain his intellectual and spiritual freedom at all costs. He must refuse obedience to any ideology; he must remain unpredictable, unfettered by patterns and routines."

Excerpt

This book attempts to answer two major questions: how can one best describe realism and naturalism in nineteenth- century American fiction, and what is the relationship between the literary criticism of the age and the emergence and nature of realism and naturalism? The first ten chapters deal more or less directly with these questions. Although the last six chapters of the book are devoted primarily to independent interpretations of particular works of fiction, these interpretations indirectly support the conclusions reached earlier. My method is therefore that of a selective and frequently incomplete examination of particular works of fiction and literary criticism. I wish to suggest some of the basic tendencies in late nineteenth-century American fiction and criticism rather than to attempt a description of the period as a whole.

Perhaps I can best summarize my ideas about these tendencies by beginning with the clichés that the literature of the age combined the old and the new and that it looked both backward and forward. The old consisted of a faith in man's . . .

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