Naturalism Historical Context

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Realistic Period in American Literature

Realism preceded Naturalism in American literature, and the two are closely related. Both aim for realistic portrayals of everyday life, and both incorporate a great deal of detail. Realism arose after the Civil War, a traumatic period in history in which Americans fought one another over basic issues such as unity and freedom. After the Civil war, Americans were less idealistic and more interested in politics, science, and economics. A new kind of American fiction had to emerge in the wake of widespread disillusionment.

The expansion of education created a broader readership, and new laws helped protect copyrights. These developments meant that more writers could enjoy viable careers. Authors of fiction found ready audiences for their unsentimental works. Within Realism, minor movements such as pragmatism and historical novels emerged. The prominent authors during the realistic movement included Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, and...

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This section contains 535 words
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Buy the Naturalism Study Guide
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Literary Movements for Students
Naturalism from Literary Movements for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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