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American Naturalism by Harold Bloom

By Harold Bloom

Determinism and self-reliance have been the various features American authors sought to painting within the novels of this literary interval, reflecting a extra sensible view of the rustic with the increase of industrialism within the overdue nineteenth century. This identify, American Naturalism, a part of Chelsea condominium Publishers' Bloom's interval reviews sequence, incorporates a number of severe essays examining 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 notice written by way of Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the arts, Yale college.

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Dreiser, of course, was firmer than the intellectual culture that accepted him. He meant his ideas, at least so far as a man can mean ideas who is incapable of following them to their consequences. But we, when it came to his ideas, talked about his great brooding pity and shrugged the ideas off. We are still doing it. ” Just what kind of logic this is we learn from Mr. Elias’s further statement. ” Whether or not Dreiser was following the logic of his own life, he was certainly following the logic of the liberal criticism that accepted him so undiscriminatingly as one of the great, significant expressions of its spirit.

We have only to set his book beside any work in which mind and heart are made to serve religion to know this at once. Ivan Karamazov’s giving back his ticket of admission to the “harmony” of the universe suggests that The Bulwark is not morally adequate, for we dare not, as its hero does, blandly “accept” the suffering of others; and the Book of Job tells us that it does not include enough in its exploration of the problem of evil, and is not stern enough. 3 The Bulwark is the fruit of Dreiser’s old age, but if we speak of it as a failure of thought and feeling, we cannot suppose that with age Dreiser weakened in mind and heart.

It is Dreiser who lacks the sense of colloquial diction—that of the Middle West or any other. If we are to talk of bookishness, it is Dreiser who is bookish; he is precisely literary in the bad sense; he is full of flowers of rhetoric and shines with paste gems; at hundreds of points his diction is not only genteel but fancy. ” Colloquialism held no real charm for him and his natural tendency is always toward the “fine”: ... Moralists come and go; religionists fulminate and declare the pronouncements of God as to this; but Aphrodite still reigns.

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