By Harold Bloom
Determinism and self-reliance have been a number of the features American authors sought to painting within the novels of this literary interval, reflecting a extra life like view of the rustic with the increase of industrialism within the overdue nineteenth century. This identify, American Naturalism, a part of Chelsea apartment Publishers' Bloom's interval reports sequence, contains a collection of serious essays studying the writers and works that outlined this era. as well as a chronology of significant cultural, literary, and politcal occasions, this article contains an advent and editor's be aware written by means of Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the arts, Yale collage.
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Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson were for the most part remarkably colloquial—they wrote, that is, much as they spoke; their prose was speciﬁcally American in quality, and, except for occasional lapses, quite direct and simple. It is Dreiser who lacks the sense of colloquial diction—that of the Middle West or any other. If we are to talk of bookishness, it is Dreiser who is bookish; he is precisely literary in the bad sense; he is full of ﬂowers of rhetoric and shines with paste gems; at hundreds of points his diction is not only genteel but fancy.
No one, I suppose, has ever represented Dreiser as a masterly intellect. It is even commonplace to say that his ideas are inconsistent or inadequate. But once that admission has been made, his ideas are hustled out of sight while his “reality” and great brooding pity are spoken of. ) Why has no liberal critic ever brought Dreiser’s ideas to the bar of political practicality, asking what use is to be made of Dreiser’s dim, awkward speculation, of his self-justiﬁcation, of his lust for “beauty” and “sex” and “living” and “life itself,” and of the showy nihilism which always seems to him so grand a gesture in the direction of profundity?
And in any culture there are likely to be certain artists who contain a large part of the dialectic within themselves, their meaning and power lying in their contradictions; they contain within themselves, it may be said, the very 30 Lionel Trilling essence of the culture, and the sign of this is that they do not submit to serve the ends of any one ideological group or tendency. It is a signiﬁcant circumstance of American culture, and one which is susceptible of explanation, that an unusually large proportion of its notable writers of the nineteenth century were such repositories of the dialectic of their times— they contained both the yes and the no of their culture, and by that token they were prophetic of the future.