The Early Essayists: A Study in Context: Realistic Period. (Late 19 th -Early 20 th Century)

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1 The Early Essayists: A Study in Context: Realistic Period (Late 19 th -Early 20 th Century)

2 Realistic Period ( ) Britain Late Victorian Age ( ) Matthew Arnold T.H. Huxley Walter Pater Oscar Wilde Edwardian Age ( ) George Bernard Shaw G.K. Chesterton

3 Realistic Period ( ) America Realistic Period ( ) Mark Twain Naturalistic Period ( ) George Santayana Edmund Wilson

4 Late Victorian Age ( ) Rise of British imperialism Growth in British cosmopolitanism Significant impact of scientific revolution (Newton, Darwin) Increased interest in foreign writers Growing antagonism to Victorian earnestness/standards of morality

5 Late Victorian Age ( ) Advent of Realism Fidelity to actuality in its representation Relativistic truth (pragmatic) Discernible consequences Verifiable by experience Belief in democracy Common, everyday, average Attention centered on immediate, here and now

6 Edwardian Age ( ) Death of Victoria World War I Anticipation of a new century dictated need for change Critical and questioning Growing distrust of authority in religion, morality, and art Basic doubt of conventional virtues Need to examine existing institutions

7 Edwardian Age ( ) Spirit of economic/social revolt Anti-Victorian Age Hypocrisy of moral earnestness Narrow-mindedness False modesty Empty respectability Callous complacency More self-indulgent doctrine Rights of women, especially suffrage

8 Edwardian Age ( ) Age of prose (mostly fiction) Rejection of literature as pleasure Discrimination between good and bad literature = priority of a culture Naturalism advanced steadily Belief that all acts of will are result of causes that determine them (determinism) Biological, socioeconomic, subconscious Amoral view of human struggle Pessimistic about human capabilities

9 Realistic Period in America ( ) The Gilded Age Idealized progress/self-made man Era of millionaire manufacturer Industrialist-capitalist democracy created turbulence Social Darwinism Severe labor disputes Influx of cheap immigrant labor Economic depression

10 Realistic Period in America ( ) Growing disillusionment, skepticism, and alienation Promise of America betrayed Scientific revolution at variance with older religious views Passing of the physical frontier Enormous audience for authors Rapid growth of education Rise of mass-circulation magazines International Copyright Act

11 Realistic Period in America ( ) Realism Movement Believers in pragmatism Pluralistic (democratic) Attentive to context (common, average) Relativistic truth and value Immediate consequences to specific actions High premium on conduct and ethical concerns Ultimate of middle-class art Bourgeois life and manners

12 Realistic Period in America ( ) Impact on prose Great concern with ethical issues High value placed on the individual Characterization=central Chief subject matter=middle-class society Comic, often satiric tone Way of speaking truth and exploding wornout conventions Liberating voice Society can be corrupting

13 Naturalistic/Symbolistic Period in America ( ) Naturalism French literary movement (1840s) Honoré de Balzac Examined seamy underside of society (divorce, sex, adultery, poverty, crime) Literary expression of determinism Denies religion as motivating force in the world Perceives the universe as a blind machine, godless and out of control

14 Naturalistic/Symbolistic Period in America ( ) Post-World War I Growing international awareness Disillusionment with American idealism Sensitivity to European literary models Steadily developing interest in symbolism Lost Generation attitude Urbanization Awareness of the importance of large economic/social forces

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