Article

The Grotesque City, the City of Excess, and the City of Exile

James R. Giles

in The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195368932
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195368932.013.0019

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Grotesque City, the City of Excess, and the City of Exile

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This article focuses on the relationship between American literary naturalism and the American city. American literary naturalism, to a significant extent, emerged in the 1890s in response to the phenomenon of the new American city. Like other Americans, the classic naturalists reacted to it in quite different ways; but they were, above all, determined not to ignore it. Stephen Crane and Frank Norris were two of the first American naturalists to treat the city, and their responses to it reflected the complex national view of urban America. For Crane and Norris, of middle- and upper-class backgrounds, respectively, the city was both fascinating and disturbing in its foreignness. Both perceived intuitively that this new American space could not be approached from the perspective of the realism associated with William Dean Howells and Henry James, that on a crucial level it was inherently and profoundly irrational.

Keywords: American naturalists; cities; American literary naturalism; Stephen Crane; Frank Norris

Article.  8420 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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