Naturalism in Literature

naturalism (in literature)

naturalism, in literature, an approach that proceeds from an analysis of reality in terms of natural forces, e.g., heredity, environment, physical drives. The chief literary theorist on naturalism was Émile Zola, who said in his essay Le Roman expérimental (1880) that the novelist should be like the scientist, examining dispassionately various phenomena in life and drawing indisputable conclusions. The naturalists tended to concern themselves with the harsh, often sordid, aspects of life. Notable naturalists include the Goncourt brothers, J. K. Huysmans, Maupassant, the English authors George Moore and George Gissing, and the American writers Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, James T. Farrell, and James Jones. In the drama, naturalism developed in the late 19th cent. By stressing photographic detail in scene design, costume, and acting technique, it attempted to abolish the artificial theatricality prominent in 19th-century theater. The movement was most closely associated with the Théâtre Libre (founded 1887) of André Antoine, with the Freie Bühne (founded 1889) of Otto Brahm, and with the Moscow Art Theatre (founded 1898) under the direction of Stanislavsky. Notable naturalistic dramatists include Becque, Brieux, Hauptmann, and Gorky.

See studies by J. Howard (1985) and W. B. Michaels (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Naturalism in Literature: Selected full-text books and articles

Reading the American Novel 1865-1914 By G. R. Thompson Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Nature of Naturalism: Definitions and Backgrounds"
What Was Naturalism?: Materials for an Answer By Edward Stone Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1959
Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature By Donald Pizer Southern Illinois University Press, 1984 (Revised edition)
Documents of American Realism and Naturalism By Donald Pizer Southern Illinois University Press, 1988
American Literary Naturalism: A Divided Stream By Charles Child Walcutt Greenwood Press, 1956
Form and History in American Literary Naturalism By June Howard University of North Carolina Press, 1985
Twentieth-Century American Literary Naturalism: An Interpretation By Donald Pizer Southern Illinois University Press, 1982
FREE! Naturalism in English Poetry By Stopford A. Brooke E. P. Dutton, 1920
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.