Every three months I enter a new phase of world literature where I learn to contrast different periods and decide what it is they were trying to communicate to their readers. For so long I’ve looked down on the suggestion that writers strongly meant for a bowl or a particular hue to represent something, and it is us, the critics, teachers and students who have united into a great force to keep ourselves busy by dissecting what was never meant to be studied with such precision and in such detail. Because I think to myself, aren’t great works of literarure written after getting the famous flash of inspiration that is often spoken about? Who sits down to draw schemes and decide that he would write in a way that portrays romanticism or medieval culture or realism? Studying these periods where literature has been famously grouped helps to dissuade me of my fixed mindset and I can now agree that there is a methodology to writing.
The fickleness as I would call it and the cry for something new by these literary creatures is something I would compare to the jews struggle for dominance with God. It’s a weary situation as can be seen by the discarding of all ideas and adopting of new ones with the hope that this time around, man would be changed, society would be reformed and we would be rid of what makes us so base and artificial. Romanticism which idolized the simple man and the peasants and nature failed and realism was adopted in the mid nineteeth century . Naturalism was one of the branches of this movement whose aim was to depict things just as they were. The basic idea of this movement was that we were unable to change the course of our lives. Whichever way it was headed had already been predetermined by our genes, environment and social conditions and so we were not in any way authors of our destiny. The idea of fatality and determinism. This must sound familar already and you must be thinking Darwin. Social Darwinism is what this was called in the time when it’s founder Emile Zola, the French Novelist set the ball rolling.
The Americans more than others had a lot of influence with gaining momentum and incorporating all the coldness of a laboratory dissection to human society without any sentimentality. Men were creatures, more correctly beasts and were ruled by instincts which could not be understood. The universe usually was not kind to them :
A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.” –Stephen Crane
Aweblue, studying naturalism —which is very much a breath of fresh air because for once I do not have to read about the oppresion of the feudal lords or of gods or the bourgeois , and only have to settle into the inner world of man as he moves in a way that could be quantified experimentally and described as mere reaction to this and that disturbance— is interesting. It brings up questions like free will and how much of it is dependent on us, on nature verus nurture, on predestination and honesty , because here we don’t mince words. Nothing is doused in the flowery hyper romanticisaton of the romantic period and here we find that God is dead.