Stephen Crane American Literature Analysis
Crane might best be regarded as an inexplicable literary phenomenon: a brief, bright comet, brilliantly distinct from every other writer of his time. Such an approach, however—metaphorically throwing up one’s hands and standing back in wonder—is not very satisfying to literary critics, who have expended vast amounts of energy attempting to fit Crane into various pigeonholes. Thus the student of Crane will soon wander into a bewildering maze of theory: The author is referred to as naturalist, realist, impressionist, and ironist. It may be useful to discuss these concepts, then, before examining Crane’s principal theme and the lasting value of his fiction.
Literary naturalism was imported to the United States from Europe, mainly by way of the French novelistÉmile Zola, and found its chief American expression, around the beginning of the twentieth century, in the novels of Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris. It is a literary concept based on the idea that the physical world is all that exists; it denies the supernatural. The novelist’s approach is that of the scientist: to examine phenomena, rigorously and objectively, with a view to proving a thesis about the human condition. Typically, this thesis is that people are indistinguishable from animals—that their lives are strictly governed by heredity and environment, making them essentially victims of biological and social forces which they are helpless to oppose.
Probably the most...
(The entire section is 5871 words.)
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