2History: Influences on Literature. Slavery divides the nation “A house divided against itself cannot stand”--Abraham Lincoln.The struggle between the North and South—leads to The Civil War, 1861.When the war ended in , 618,000 men died —nearly equal to the combined death toll of all other wars that the U.S. has fought.Lincoln is assassinated, 1865.
3Literature: Rise of Realism Americans in the postwar period embraced freedom and unity. The emphasis was on the united interests of all.They lost their taste for romanticism after being confronted with harsh realities of war. They became a somber nation.Writing became more honest, unsentimental, and sarcastic.No longer were writers interested in glorifying nature, or exploring the emotions of the individual; instead they explored the reality of the world. These are tales of war and slavery.As writing moved from romanticism to realism, a new breed of authors emerged--writers included soldiers, former slaves, groundbreaking poets, famous public figures, and everyday people.
4Differences in Romanticism and Realism Romanticsunique/unusualnon-conventionalfocus on individuallife as it could beappreciation of naturehopefulemotionalRealistsordinary/averagetypicalfocus on societylife as it isnature as hostileskepticalacceptance of fate
5Realism WritingSlave narratives revealed the true nature of slavery and made readers care.Diaries and letters gave personal responses to historical events.Public documents influenced a large audience.Fiction moved toward realistic events."… In most of us colored folks was the great desire to [be] able to read and write. We took advantage of every opportunity to educate ourselves. The greater part of the plantation owners were very harsh if we were caught trying to learn or write. It was the law that if a white man was caught trying to educate a negro slave, he was liable to prosecution entailing a fine of 50 dollars and a jail sentence. We were never allowed to go to town and it was not until after I ran away that I knew that they sold other things to slaves beside tobacco, and whiskey. Our ignorance was the greatest hold the South had on us. We knew we could run away, but what then? An offender guilty of this crime was subjected to very harsh punishment. …"
6Characteristics of Realist Fiction Focus on complex charactersinner thoughtspersonal concernsmundane events of lifePortray ordinary settingssociety and cultureDepict true-to-life dialoguecaptures dialects and idioms of conversationsDetached narrationsounds unbiased and distant, recording facts of storyallows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions“A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.”---Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.
7Realism Defined— Writing that offers an accurate and detailed portrayal of actual life.
8Authors for this Unit Stephen Crane Ambrose Bierce Harriet Jacobs Abraham LincolnFrederick DouglassWalt Whitman