Lecture Week 7
Hawthorne. Poe .Chopin .De Maupassant. Joyce . Mansfield .Faulkner.
What you’ve read in the past few weeks are stories indicative of certain literary periods – Hawthorne and Poe in the period of Romanticism which began in Europe in the 1700s and lasted in the U.S. until late in the 1860’s -- Chopin and de Maupassant as part of the Naturalist period, a kind of extension of the Realist period. This week we’ll look at the work of some of the major writers in the short story genre during the period of Realism, which began roughly in the last part of the 19th century.
Let’s put these writers and their stories in the context of the periods in which they wrote:
Romanticism: This movement was expressed in art and literature as a kind of reaction against the Enlightenment, which stressed reason, rationality, intellect, order, balance, harmony. Romantic writers, alternatively, emphasized and celebrated the irrational, sensational, emotional, and subjective. Their subjects might be exotic or extreme (Aylmer, anyone? Montressor?) Many writers of this period were idealists. This period includes the sub-category of the transcendentalists (think Emerson and Thoreau).
Here’s some explanation from Merriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature:
Among the characteristics attitudes of Romanticism were a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature; a general exaltation of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect; a turning in upon the self and a heightened examination of human personality; a preoccupation with the genius, hero, and the exceptional figure; a new view of the artist as a supremely individual creator, whose creative spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures; an emphasis upon imagination as a gateway to transcendent experience and spiritual truth; a consuming interest in folk culture, national and ethnic cultural origins, and the medieval era; and a predilection for the mysterious,...