英米文学概論Realismについて(Revised on 6/8/98.)


Mark Twain


William Dean Howels


Henry James



Frank Norris


McTeague, novel by Frank Norris published in 1899.

McTeague, a strong but stupid San Francisco dentist, marries Trina Sieppe, having met her through Marcus Schouler, her cousin and his friend. Trina wins $5000 in a lottery, and by careful saving, investment, and shrewd deception increases the sum. Schouler, who formerly hoped to marry Trina, feels that he has been cheated of this fortune. In revenge he exposes McTeague's lack of either diploma or license, so that, forbidden to practice, he becomes mean and surly. Trina, grown miserly, refuses to let him use her money, and they sink into poverty. Greed, the motive underlying these events, also dominates the two figures of the subplot, Maria Macapa, a mad charwoman, and Zerkow, a Jewish junk dealer; fascinated by her obsession with a set of gold plate, he marries her, becomes insane, kills her, and commits suicide. Meanwhile McTeague has deserted Trina, stealing some of her savings. In an attempt to obtain the remainder, he murders her. Fleeing, he tries to cross Death Valley, where he is apprehended by Schouler. McTeague kills his captor, but before he dies the latter manages to handcuff their wrists together, so that McTeague is doomed to die of thirst, locked to the body of his enemy.


Naturalism, critical term applied to the method of literary composition that aims at a detached, scientific objectivity in the treatment of natural man. It is thus more inclusive and less selective than realism, and holds to the philosophy of derterminism. It conceives of man as controlled by his instincts or his passions, or by his social and economic environment and circumstances. Since in this view man has no free will, the naturalistic writer does not attempt to make moral judgements, and as a determinist he tends toward pessimism. The movement is an outgrowth of 19th-century scientific thought, following in general the biological determinism of Darwin's theory, or the economic determinism of Marx. It stems from French literature, in whicl Zola emphasizes biological determinism, and Flaubert economic determinism. The Russian novelists also added their influence to the trend. American leaders of the naturalistic movement are considered to include Crane, Norris, Herrick, London, and Frederic, and later such significant figures as Dreiser, Dos Passos, and Farrell.

Stephen Crane

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, novel by Stephen Crane, privately issued (1893) under the pseudonym Johnston Smith, but not regularly published until 1896.

Maggie Johnson and her brother Jimmie are the maltreated and neglected children of a brutal workingman and his dipsomaniac wife. Maggie, attractive though ignorant and ill cared for, somehow preserves an inner core of innocence in her miserable, filthy environment. She finds work as a collar maker in sweatshop, while Jimmie become a truck driver, typically hard-boiled and fight-loving. Their mother, now widowed, is constantly drunk and has achieved a lengthy police record. Maggie falls in love with Jimmie's tough friend Pete, a bartender, who easily seduce her. For a brief time she lives with Pete, having been melodramatically disowned by her mother. Jimmie offers only the questionable assistance of administering a beating to his former friend. Pete abandons Maggie, who become a prostitute for a few months. Then heartbroken and unable to succeed in this uneasy, exacting occupation, she commits suicide. Her mother makes a great display of grief, sends Jimmie to fetch home the body, and allows herself to be persuaded by her drinking companions to "forgive" her "bad, bad child."

The Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War, novel by Stephen Crane, published in 1895. This psychological study of a soldier's reactions was written before Crane had ever seen a battle. His knowledge was derived from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, and the unnamed battle of the novel has been identified as Chancellorsville.

Henry Fleming, generally called simply "the youth" or "he", is an ordinary, inexperienced soldier, "an unknown quantity," torn between a "little panic-fear" and "visions of broken-bladed glory" as he faces his first battle. He begins with the state of mind of the raw recruit who is anxious to get into battle so that he may show his patriotism and prove himself a hero. He swaggers to keep up his spirit during the delay that precedes his suddenly being thrust into the slaughter. Then he is overcome by unthinking fear, and runs from the field. He is ashamed when he joins the wounded, for he has not earned their "red badge of courage," and then he becomes enraged when he witnesses the horrid dance of death of his terribly maimed friend, Jim Conklin. Later, by chance, he gets a minor head wound in a confused struggle with one of the retreating infantrymen of his own army. The next day, when his pretense is accepted that the wound is the result of enemy gunfire, he suddenly begins to fight frantically, and then automatically seized the regiment's colors in the charge that re-establishes its reputation. He moves through this sultry nightmare with unconscious heroism, and emerges steady, quiet, and truly courageous.


Theordor Dreiser

Sister Carrie, novel by Dreiser. The first edition was printed in 1900 but is said to have been withheld from circulation by the publisher because of its supposed immorality. It was reissued in 1912.

Carrie Meeber, penniless and "full of the illusions of ignorance and youth," leaves her rural home to seek work in Chicago, and becomes acquainted with Charles Drouet, a salesman who impresses her by his worldliness and affluence. In Chicago she lives with her sister and brother-in-law, and works for a time at jobs that pay little and oppress her imaginative spirit. After a period of unemployment and loneliness, she allows Drouet to establish her as his mistress, and finds temporary happiness with him. She become aware of his inferiority, however, and during his absences falls under the influence of his friend George Hurstwood, middle-aged, married, and comparatively intelligent and cultured, who is the manger of a celebrated bar. They finally elope, first to Montreal and then to New York, where he opens a saloon, and they live together for more than three years. Carrie grows in intellectual and emotional stature, while Hurstwood, away from the atmosphere of success on which his life has been based, steadily declines. When they are impoverished, their relations become strained, until Carrie goes on the stage and begins to support Hurstwood, rising from the chorus to minor acting parts. At last she deserts him, feeling that he is too great a burden, since he has not tried to obtain work except for a brief time as a strike-breaker during a trolley strike. Carrie becomes a star of musical comedies, but in spite of her success she is lonely and dissatisfied. Without her knowledge, Hurstwood sinks lower and lower, and after becoming a beggar, commits suicide.

An American Tragedy, novel by Dreiser, published in 1925 and dramatized by Patrick Kearney in 1926. The plot is based on an actual New York murder case.

Clyde Griffiths, son of the street evangelists in Kansas City, desires to escape his family's drab life and to win wealth and social position. Becoming a bellboy in a hotel, he plunges into the worldly society of his fellow employees, but this life ends as the result of an automobile accident for which he is legally culpable. Providentially he meets his wealthy uncle, Samuel Griffiths, who is attracted by the youth's engaging manner and employs him in his collar factory in New York State. Here Clyde enters into a liaison with Roberta Alden, working girl, and almost simultaneously falls in love with Sondra Finchley, who seems to him to represent the dazzling "four hundred" of the small town. Roberta discloses that she is pregnant and demands that Clyde provide for her. In a frenzy he plans to murder her, and takes her to a deserted lake resort. They row out on the lake, where, though Clyde lacks the courage to complete his plan, the boat is overturned, possibly by accident. He swims away, leaving Roberta to drown. After a lengthy trial, he is condemned to death.