Various Emerging Literary Genres During the 1900's

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Henry James (1843-1916) was a psychological realist rather than a photographic realist who was of the view that the duty of the artist is to represent life, not to produce it. His best works include The American, Roderick Hudson, The Portrait of a Lady, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl. Robert Shulman says that “the first-generation realists and their successors did justice to the surfaces of American life through the conventions of presentational realism—plausibly, rendered speech, recognizable settings and recognizable characters facing everyday problems all open to the interpretation of a middle-class, predominantly feminine audience. American realists also penetrated beneath the surface to engage with the underlying energies of men, women, and society in the Golden Age” (16). Naturalism in American fiction aimed at a detached, scientific objectivity in the treatment of natural man. It is attune with the philosophy of Determination. It means man is controlled by his instincts or passions, or by his socio-economic environment. According to the Naturalists, man has no free will, therefore, the writers should not attempt to comment on or judge the behaviour of his characters. Susan Mizruchi points out that “Naturalist literature provided an analytical yet voyeuristic view into the low life. Both senses of this perspective—the detached and the compulsive—are important. Even when naturalist narrators betray overt hostility (a naturalist trademark), toward their pre-civilized characters, there is still room for identification with them” (202). Naturalism has a tendency to take its subject matter from lower-class situations and characters, particularly in its determin... ... middle of paper ... ...tainty principle in the book. But the conventions of this fiction does not allow for the open, inconclusive ending. This is a crucial difference between modernism and postmodernism. In the age of hypertext and the instant sound bite even fragments appear to be suspiciously holistic. Paranoia or the threat of total engulfment by somebody else’s system is keenly felt by many of the dramatis personae of postmodernist fiction between 1960 and 1990. This is a result of an indirect mimetic representation of the climate of fear and suspicion that prevailed throughout the cold war. The protagonists of postmodernist fiction often suffer from what Tony Tanner calls in City of Words (1971) ‘a dread that someone else is patterning your life, that there are all parts of invisible plots afoot to rob you of your autonomy of thought and anchor, that conditioning is ubiquitous’.

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