№11 2021

УДК / UDK: 821.111

Author: Donald Pizer
About the author:

Donald Pizer, PhD, Pierce Butler Professor of English Emeritus at Tulane University, 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118, Louisiana, USA.

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Donald Pizer’s personal retrospective also embraces history of American literary naturalism studies from the early1950s up to nowadays. From his earliest seminar in American literature D. Pizer was deeply drawn to the writers of the 1890s. As a student he was assured by the standard historical and critical studies of the period that naturalists had failed in this effort to apply a scientific accuracy and detachment to fictional representation, their novels were therefore both untrue and inept and naturalism was in effect a regrettable false step in the "development" of American literature. Since the 1960s being engaged in close study of the early naturalists — Norris, Crane, Garland, Dreiser — Pizer had to confront these conventional attitudes. When looked at closely as a fictional representation of beliefs about human nature and experience, the naturalistic novel appeared to be far more complex than it was believed to be. Pizer sought in a series of books and essays to describe and thus to redefine American naturalism as a whole. Rather than a mindless adoption and crude dramatization of deterministic formulas, he found in naturalistic fiction the conflict between old values and new experience, which usually resulted in a vital thematic ambivalence. It was this very ambivalence, rather than the certainties of the convinced determinist, which was the source of the fictional strength of the naturalistic novel of the period. There has been much recent interest in the American naturalist movement and its texts. It seems, as long as American writers respond deeply to the disparity between the ideal and the actual in our national experience, naturalism will remain one of the major means for the registering of this shock of discovery.

Keywords: Donald Pizer, American literary naturalism, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Hamlin Garland, Stephen Crane, intellectual history, literary studies.
For citation:

Pizer, Donald. “The Study of American Literary Naturalism: A Personal Retrospective.” Literature of the Americas, no. 11 (2021): 424–436.  


Cargill 1941 — Cargill, Oscar. Intellectual America: Ideas on the March. New York: Macmillan, 1941.

Conder 1984 — Conder, John J. Naturalism in American Fiction: The Classic Phase. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.

Cowley 1947 — Cowley, Malcolm. “‘Not Men’: A Natural History of American Naturalism.” Kenyon Review 9, no. 3 (1947): 414–435.

Kaplan 1981 — Kaplan, Harold. Power and Order: Henry Adams and the Naturalist Tradition in American Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Michaels 1987 — Michaels, Walter B. The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism: American Literature at the Turn of the Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Mitchell 1989 — Mitchell, Lee C. Determined Fictions: American Literary Naturalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

Pizer 1977 — Pizer, Donald. American Literary Naturalism: The Example of Dreiser. Studies in American Fiction 5, no. 1 (1977): 51–63. Reprinted in Pizer, Theory and Practice, 1993.

Pizer 1978 — Pizer, Donald. “American Literary Naturalism and the Humanistic Tradition.” Andrew W. Mellon Lecture. New Orleans: Graduate School of Tulane University, 1978.

Pizer 1985a — Pizer, Donald. “American Naturalism in Its ‘Perfected’ State.” In Edith Wharton: New Critical Essays, edited by A. Bendixen, A. Zilversmit, 27–41. New York: Garland, 1985.

Pizer 1955 — Pizer, Donald. “Another Look at The Octopus.Nineteenth Century Fiction 10, no. 3 (1955): 217–224.

Pizer 1985b — Pizer, Donald. “Contemporary American Naturalism.” In Myth and Enlightenment in American Literature: In Honor of Hans-Joachim Lang, edited by D. Meindl, 415 –432. Erlangen: Erlangen University, 1985.

Pizer 1991 — Pizer, Donald. Dreiser and the Naturalistic Drama of Consciousness. Journal of Narrative Technique 21, no. 2 (1991): 202–211.

Pizer 1962 –1963 — Pizer, Donald. Frank Norris’s Definition of Naturalism. Modern Fiction Studies 8, no. 4 (Winter 1962 –1963): 408–410.

Pizer 1960 — Pizer, Donald. Hamlin Garland’s Early Work and Career. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960.

Pizer 1988 — Pizer, Donald. John Dos Passos’s “U. S. A.”: A Critical Study. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1988.

Pizer 1964 — Pizer, Donald, ed. The Literary Criticism of Frank Norris. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964.

Pizer 1976a — Pizer, Donald. “Nineteenth-Century American Naturalism: An Approach through Form.” Forum (Houston) 13 (1976): 43–46.

Pizer 1965 — Pizer, Donald. “Nineteenth-Century American Naturalism: An Essay in Definition.” Bucknell Review 13, no. 3 (1965): 1–18. Reprinted in Pizer, Theory and Practice, 1993.

Pizer 1966 — Pizer, Donald. The Novels of Frank Norris. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966.

Pizer 1976b — Pizer, Donald. The Novels of Theodore Dreiser: A Critical Study. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976.

Pizer 1993 — Pizer, Donald. The Theory and Practice of American Literary Naturalism: Selected Essays and Reviews. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Pizer 1982 — Pizer, Donald. Twentieth-Century American Naturalism: An Interpretation. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982.

Schorer 1948 — Schorer, Mark. Technique as Discovery. Hudson Review 1, no. 1 (1948): 67–87.

Thorp 1960 — Thorp, Willard. American Writing in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960.