Naturalism (literature)  

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L'Absinthe (1876) by Edgar Degas
L'Absinthe (1876) by Edgar Degas

"I do not object to the latrine; hospital; and workshop vocabulary of naturalism. For one thing, the subject matter requires some such diction. Again, Zola, in L'Assommoir, has shown that a heavy-handed artist can slap words together hit-or-miss and give an effect of tremendous power. I do not really care how the naturalists maltreat language, but I do strenuously object to the earthiness of their ideas. They have made our literature the incarnation of materialism--and they glorify the democracy of art!"--Là-Bas (1891) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

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Naturalism is a movement in literature that seeks to capture a believable everyday reality "warts and all" and in doing so often portrays the darker side of human nature.

Naturalism originated as a French movement in literature, the naturalistic writers being influenced by Darwinism and the ideas of Hippolyte Taine. They believed that one's heredity and social environment decide one's character. Whereas realism seeks only to describe subjects as they really are, naturalism also attempts to determine "scientifically" the underlying forces (i.e. the environment or heredity) influencing these subjects' actions. They are both opposed to romanticism, in which subjects may receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment.

Émile Zola wrote several texts considered today as the manifesto of naturalism. His works had a frankness about sexuality along with a pervasive pessimism which exposed the dark harshness of life, including poverty, racism, prejudice, disease, prostitution, filth, etc. They were often very pessimistic and frequently criticized for being too blunt.

Naturalism is the outgrowth of Realism, a prominent literary movement in late 19th-century France and elsewhere.



French Naturalism


Hauptmann, Holz and Anzengruber

The Netherlands

Marcellus Emants and Frans Coenen


Cyriel Buysse and Stijn Streuvels

United States

American Naturalism

In the United States, the genre is associated principally with writers such as Jack London, Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser. The term naturalism operates primarily in counter distinction to realism, particularly the mode of realism codified in the 1870s and 1880s, and associated with William Dean Howells and Henry James.


See Naturalism (theatre)

In theatre, naturalism developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It refers to theatre that tries to create a perfect illusion of reality through detailed sets, an unpoetic literary style that reflects the way real people speak, and a style of acting that tries to recreate reality (often by seeking complete identification with the role, as advocated by Stanislavski).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Naturalism (literature)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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