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Background Information: • Civil War has just ended; slaves freed • Industrial Revolution was forcing people into urban areas. • There was more focus on factory production rather than agriculture. • Immigrants were coming to the U.S. to take advantage of new urban opportunities. • A time of sweeping economic, social, and political changes
Characteristics of Realism: • While the nation was healing during this post-war period, those in literary circles were fighting amongst themselves. Realists were opposed to romantics. • Romantic, Realist, and, later, Naturalist writers all had different opinions of how characters should be developed: • Romantic writers believed characters should be god-like. • Realist writers believed characters should represent real people in real circumstances. • Naturalist writers believed characters are helpless objects who are at the mercy of their surroundings.
Characteristics of Realism: • Writing during this time period was very regional because writers wanted to preserve the “local color” before it was lost to the hustle and bustle of the “new,” more industrialized America. They often incorporated regional dialects and folk tales to make their stories true to those areas and people. • Realists also wrote about the new realities Americans were facing: the breakdown of moral values, the struggles of the urban poor, etc. • Readers were appreciative of the realist way of writing because they could “see” themselves in print.
Characteristics of Realism: • In addition to fictional stories that were true to real life experiences, this time period also saw a rise in investigative journalism, muckrackers, and photography as a way of preserving evidence of actual events. • Characters in realist stories and novels often face complex ethical choices, are clearly defined by a social class, and experience situations that readers can easily relate to.
Famous Realist Authors: • Henry James • (1843-1916) • Wrote: • The Ambassadors (1903) • The Turn of the Screw (1898) • The Portrait of a Lady (1881) "Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had?” --from the Preface of The Ambassadors
Famous Realist Authors: • Harriet Beecher Stowe • (1811-1896) • Most well-known for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) and giving a personal face to slavery. “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” --Harriet Beecher Stowe
Famous Realist Authors: • Frederick Douglass • (1818-1895) • Wrote three autobiographies: • ~A Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) • ~My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) • ~Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881) “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.” --Frederick Douglass
Famous Realist Authors: • Jack London • (1876-1916) • Wrote The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906) “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” --Jack London
Famous Realist Authors: • Mark Twain • (1835-1910) • Wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1885) • Ernest Hemingway wrote “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.” --Mark Twain