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Exercises for American Literature (I)

Exercises for American Literature (I)

Exercises for American Literature (I) - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The Realistic Period

A. Each of the statements below is followed by four alternative answers. Choose the one that would best complete the statement and put the letter in the brackets. 1. The three dominant figures of the American Realistic Period are William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and ______. A. C. 2. A. B. C. D. 3. A. C. 4. A. C. 5. Emily Dickinson Theodore Dreiser The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Gilded Age Life on the Mississippi ______, in his McTeague, describes the relations of a crude dentist, who is compared to a Theodore Dreiser Henry James B. D. Frank Norris Mark Twain B. D. Henry James Ezra Pound

______is called by Hemingway the one from which "all modern American literature comes.”

draft-horse, a dog, a bear, with a superficially refined German-American girl.

Theodore Dreiser's forgiving treatment of the career of his heroine in ______ also draws heavily McTeague Sister Carrie B. D. An American Tragedy The Genius Mencken considers "the true father of our

upon the naturalistic understanding of sexuality.

______is a great giant of American, whom H. L. B.

national literature.” A. Henry James C. 6. A. B. C. D. 7. A. B. C. D. 8. A. C. 9. A. C. Mark Twain Washington Irving D. Theodore Dreiser

______is an account of American tourists in Europe which pokes fun at the pretentious, decadent The Adventures of Tom Sawyer A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Innocents Abroad Roughing It ______is usually regarded as a classic book written for boys about their particular horrors and joys. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Innocents Abroad Life on the Mississippi ______explores the scrupulous individualism in a world of fantastic speculation and unstable Innocents Abroad Roughing It Tom Sawyer Jim B. The Gilded Age

and undemocratic Old World in a satirical tone.

values, and gives its name to the get-rich-quick years of the post-Civil War era. D. The Middle Years B. Huckleberry Finn D. Tony

______is described by Mark Twain as a boy with "a sound heart and a deformed conscience. "

10. A. C. 11. A. C. 12. A. C.

______was the first American writer to conceive his career in international terms. Washington Irving Ezra Pound B. D. T. S. Eliot Henry James

______, a novella about a young American girl who gets "killed" by the winter in Rome, The American The Portrait of a Lady ______ is The Financier considered to B. D. An American Tragedy B. D. be Daisy Miller The Europeans Theodore Sister Carrie The Titan Dreiser's greatest work.

brought its author international fame for the first time.

B. Complete each of the following statements with a proper word or a phrase according to the textbook. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. C. 1. As a genre, naturalism emphasizes ______and ______as important deterministic forces shaping Henry James is generally regarded as the ______of the 20 th century "stream-of-consciousness" The American tells a story about a young and innocent American confronting the complexity of With the publication of The Man That Corrupted Hadleybury and The Mysterious Stranger, the The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is usually regarded as a boy's book specially written for The impact of Darwin's evolutionary theory on the American thought and the influence of the One of the most familiar themes in American Naturalism is the theme of human "______. " While Mark Twain seems to have paid more attention to the "life" of the Americans, Henry James The American naturalists accepted the more ______implications of Darwin's evolutionary theory. Artistically naturalistic writings are usually unpolished in ______, lacking in academic skills, Closely related to Dickinson's religious poetry are her poems concerning death and ______, "I'm ceded—I've stopped being theirs," "I'm 'wife'—I've finished that—" are but a few examples Decide whether the following statements are true or false and write your answers in the Naturalism is evolved from realism. individualized characters who are presented in special and detailed circumstances. novels and the ______ of psychological realism. the ______ life. change in Mark Twain from an ______ to an almost despairing ______ can be felt. the______. 19th century ______ literature on the American men of letters gave rise to American Naturalism.

has apparently laid a greater emphasis on the "______" of man.

and unwieldy in______. ranging over the physical as well as the psychological and emotional aspects of death. to show Dickinson's confusion and doubt about the role of ______ in the 19 th century America. brackets. 2. Philosophically, the naturalists believe that the real and true is always completely hidden from the understanding of the individual or beyond his control. 3. Naturalism is no more than a different philosophical approach to reality, or to human existence. 4. Life on the Mississippi tells a story of Henry James's boyhood ambition to become a riverboat pilot up and down the Mississippi.
5. 6. Daisy Miller is generally considered to be Henry James's masterpiece. Henry James adopts international themes in his three literary periods.

7.

Henry James's literary criticism is an indispensable part of

his contribution to literature. 8. 9. 10. 11. Emily Dickinson's poems are usually based on her own experiences, her sorrows and joys. Each of Emily Dickinson's poems has a well-chosen title. Emily Dickinson's poetry is unique and unconventional in its own way, covering love, death and nature. Theodore Dreiser is greatly influenced by Darwinism and it is not surprising to find in his fiction a world of

jungle, where "kill or to be killed" is the law. 12. In "This is my letter to the World" Dickinson expresses her reluctance to communicate with the outside

world. D. Name the author of each of the following literary works. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. E. 1. 2. 3. 4. F. A) For each of the quotations listed below please give the name of the author and the title of the literary work from which it is taken and then briefly interpret it. 1. "Her Message is committed To hands I can not see — For love of Her — Sweet — countrymen — Judge tenderly — of Me" 2. "With Blue — uncertain stumbling Buzz — Between the light — and me — And then the Windows failed — and then I could not see to see —" 3. " To fit it's Ribs Life on the Mississippi The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Portrait of a Lady The Ambassadors "The Art of Fiction" "I like to see it lap the Miles—" "I heard a Fly buzz — When I died —" "Because I could not stop for Death" An American Tragedy Sister Carrie Daisy Miller 70 Define the literary terms listed below. The Age of Realism Naturalism Darwinism Local Colorism

And crawl between Complaining all the while In horrid — hooting stanza — Then chase itself down Hill — And neigh like Boanerges — Then — prompter than a Star

Stop — docile and omnipotent At it's own stable door —" 4. "We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess — in the Ring — We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain — We passed the Setting Sun — "

B)

Read the quoted parts carefully and answer the questions in English.

1. "We dasn't stop again at any town, for days and days; kept right along down the river. We was down south in the warm weather, now, and a mighty long ways from home. We begun to come to trees with Spanish moss on them, hanging down from the limbs like long gray beards. It was the first I ever see it growing, and it made the woods look solemn and dismal. " A. B. C. Identify the author and the title of the work from which the passage is taken. Whom does the word "we" refer to? What is the name of river mentioned in the passage?

2. "But it seemed that both his audacity and his respect were lost on Miss Daisy Miller. 'I guess mother wouldn't go — for you,' she smiled. 'And she ain't much bent on going, anyway. She don't like to ride round in the afternoon. ' After which she familiarly proceeded; 'But did you really mean what you said just now — that you'd like to go up there? 'Most earnestly I meant it,' Winterbourne declared. " A. B. C. Identify the author and the title of the novel from which the passage is taken. Where are they going to visit? Where is this part of the novel set?

3. "It is when the feet weary and hope seems vain that the heartaches and the longings arise. chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel. " A. B. C. 1. 2. 3. 4. 6. 7. 8. 9. H. 1. 2. Identify the author and the title of the work from which the passage is taken. What does the rocking-chair symbolize? How do you classify this novel? Who are the three dominant figures of the American Realistic Period and what are their literary Analyze Mark Twain's language. Briefly comment on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Analyze Henry James's international themes. What is Henry James's narrative "point of view"? Discuss the theme in Emily Dickinson's poetry. Discuss Emily Dickinson's poetic style. Discuss Theodore Dreiser's naturalistic tendency in relation to Sister Carrie. Short essay questions. Write an essay on Mark Twain's literary career. Summarize Henry James's literary creation and literary achievement.

G. Give brief answers to the following questions. differences?

5. Briefly introduce Henry James's theory of literary criticism.

Answers to Chapter 2
A. l. B 7. A B. 1. 4. 7. 10.
C.

2. A 8. B

3. B 9. B

4. C 10. D 2.

5. C 11. B

6. C 12. A 3. European

heredity, environment optimist, pessimist bestiality 8. language, structure 2. F 8. T Mark Twain Henry James 3. T 9. F 2. 5. 5.

forerunner, founder 6. 9. negative

adults 11. immortality 5. F 11. T 3. 6.

French 12. women

inner world

l. T 7. T D. 1. 4. 7. 10. E.

4. F 10. T

6. F 12. F Henry James Emily Dickinson 9. Theodore Dreiser

Mark Twain Henry James 8. 11.

Emily Dickinson Theodore Dreiser

Emily Dickinson Henry James

1. The Age of Realism The literary climate after the Civil War proved to be quite different . A new generation of writers, dissatisfied with the Romantic ideas in the older generation, came up with a new inspiration. This new attitude was characterized by a great interest in the realities of life. It aimed at the interpretation of the realities of any aspect of life, free from subjective prejudice, idealism, or romantic color. So writers began to describe the integrity of human character reacting under various circumstances and picture the pioneers of the Far West, the new immigrants and the struggles of the working classes. This literary interest in the "reality" of life started a new period in American literature known as the Age of Realism. 2. Naturalism The impact of Darwin's evolutionary theory on the American thought and the influence of the 19th century French literature on the American men of letters helped another school of realism; American naturalism take root in America. The American naturalists accepted the more negative interpretation of this theory and used it to account for the behavior of those characters in literary works who were regarded as more or less complex combinations of inherited attributes, their habits conditioned by social and economic forces. Naturalism is evolved from realism when the author's tone in writing becomes less serious and less sympathetic but more ironic and more pessimistic. It is no more than a gloomy philosophical approach to reality, or to human existence. 3. Darwinism The term comes from Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory. Darwinists think that those who survive in the world are the fittest and those who can not adapt themselves to the environment will perish. They believe that man has evolved from lower forms of life. conditions and have passed on social reality. Humans are special not because God created them in His image, but because they have successfully adapted to changing environmental their survival-making characteristics genetically. Influenced by this theory, some American naturalist writers apply Darwinism as an explanation of human nature and

4.

Local Colorism

The particular concern about the local character of a region is called "local colorism," a unique part of American literary realism. Major local colorists include Hamlin Garland, Mark Twain, etc. Generally, their writings are concerned with the truthful color of local life. The characteristic setting is the isolated small town. Local colorists were consciously nostalgic about a vanishing way of life and tried to record a present that faded before their eyes. They dedicated themselves to minutely accurate descriptions of the life of their regions. They worked from personal experience to record the facts of a local environment and suggested that the native life was shaped by the curious conditions of the locale. F. A) 1. From Emily Dickinson's "This is my letter to the World". Here the poet is eager to communicate with the outside world and nature. 2. From Emily Dickinson's "I heard a Fly buzz — when I died —". This stanza is a description of the moment when the speaker is dying. The sight of the speaker becomes dim and listening becomes weak. 3. From Emily Dickinson's "I like to see it lap the Miles —". "It" refers to the train. This part personifies the train and describes the rhythm of its fast movement and its magnificence. 4. From Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death —". The term "we" refers to the speaker and death. Here "the School" stands for youth, "the Field" for maturity, and "the Setting Sun" for the end of life. Following the beckon of death, one spends his whole life and dies, thus embraces immortality. In the poet's mind, death leads to immortality. B) 1. A. From Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. B. C. 2. A. B. C. 3. life. C. G. 1. The three dominant figures of the period are William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and Henry James. Though the three prominent writers all worked for realism they had different understanding of the "truth.” While Mark Twain and Howells seem to have paid more attention to the “life" of the Americans, Henry James has apparently laid a greater emphasis on the "inner world" of man. He is a realist of the inner life. Though Twain and Howells both share the same concern in presenting the truth of the American society, the} have each of them different emphasis. Howells focuses his discussion on the rising middle class and the way they live, while Twain deals with his own region and people of the lower class of society at the forefront of his stories. James writes mostly of the upper reaches of American society. It is a naturalistic novel. . A. B. The word "we" refers to Huck and Jim. The Mississippi river. From Henry James's Daisy Miller. They are going to visit an old castle. This part is set in Switzerland. From Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. It symbolizes that Carrie's fate is unstable and she is unable to control her own course of

2. One striking feature of Mark Twain's works is his magic power with language—his use of vernacular. His words are colloquial, concrete and direct in effect, and his sentence structures are simple, even ungrammatical, which is typical of the spoken language. And Twain skillfully uses the colloquial style to portray his protagonists in their everyday life. What's more, his characters, confined to a particular region and to a particular historical moment, speak in the speech of uneducated Americans, which is true of his local colorism. Besides different characters from different literary or cultural back grounds talk differently, as is the case with Huck, Tom, and Jim. Indeed, with his great mastery and effective use of vernacular, Twain has made colloquial speech an accepted, respected literary medium in the literary history of the country. 3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, being a boy's book specially written for the adults, is Twain's most representative Work, describing a journey down the Mississippi undertaken by an outcast and a runaway slave, Huck and Jim. Their dramatic encounters present a sample of the small-town world of America and a survey of the social world from the band of the river that runs through the heart of the country. The book proved to be a monumental work in American literature and finally established Twain's position in the literary world. The profound recreation of Huckleberry Finn is another great contribution of the book to the legacy of American literature. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is best known for Mark Train's of wonderful characterization "Huck," a typical American Boy whom its creator describes as a boy with "a sound heart and a

deformed conscience. " The book is also remarkable for the raft's journey down the Mississippi river, which Twain uses both realistically and symbolically to shape uis book into an organic whole. Through the eyes of Huck, the innocent and reluctant rebel, we see the pre-Civil War American society fully exposed and at the same time we are deeply impressed by Mark Twain’s thematic contrasts between innocence and experience, mature and culture, wilderness and civilization. The book is also significant in its use of vernacular. As a sequel to Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn marks the climax of Twain's literary creativity. Hemingway once describes the novel the one book from which "all modern American literature comes.” 4. Jame's fame generally rests upon his novels and stories with the international theme. These novels are always set against a larger international background, usually between Europe and America. James’s novels are centered on the meeting of the two different cultures with two different groups of people representing two different value systems. his or her destiny. The typical pattern of the conflict between the two betrayed, cruelly Marriage and cultures would be that of an American young man or an American girl who goes to Europe and affronts The unsophisticated boy or girl would be beguiled, wronged at the hands of those who pretend to stand for the highest possible civilization.

love are used by James as the focal point of the confrontation between the two value systems: American moral innocence and European decadence. The protagonist usually goes through a painful process of a spiritual growth, gaining knowledge of good and evil from the conflict. 5. Henry James's literary criticism is an indispensable part of his contribution to literature. It is both concerned with form and devoted to human values. The theme of his essay "The Art of Fiction" He also advocates the freedom of the artist

clearly indicates that the aim of the novel is to present life.

to write about anything that concerns him. He should include the disagreeable, the ugly and the commonplace in his work. The artist should be able to "feel" the life, to understand human nature, and then to record them in his own art form. 6. One of James's literary techniques is his narrative "point of view.” As the author, James avoids the artificial omniscience as much as possible and makes his characters reveal themselves with minimal

intervention of the author. So in his novels we usually learn the main story by reading through one or several minds and share their perspectives. This narrative method proves to be successful in bringing out his themes. 7. The themes of Emily Dickinson's poetry cover religion, death, immortality, love and nature. In some of her poems she writes about her doubt and belief about religious subjects. While she desires salvation and immortality, she denies God's plan for an after-life in paradise. Although she believes in God, she sometimes doubts His benevolence. Closely related to Dickinson's religious poetry are her poems concerning death and immortality. The themes rang over the physical as well as the psychological and emotional aspects of death. She looks at death from the point of view of both the living and the dying. Love is another subject Dickinson dwells on. One group of her love poems depicts the suffering and frustration love can cause. The other group of love poems focuses on the physical aspect of desire, in which Dickinson deals with, allegorically, the influence of the male authorities over the female. The poet stresses the power of physical attraction and expresses a mixture of fear and fascination for the mysterious magnetism between sexes. More than five hundred poems Dickinson wrote are about nature, in which her general skepticism about the relationship between man and nature is well-revealed. On the one hand, as her romantic and transcendental predecessors she believes that a mythical bond between man and nature exists and that nature reveals to man things about mankind and universe. On the other hand, she feels strongly about nature's indifference to the life and interests of human beings. Dickinson sees nature as both benevolent and cruel. 8. Dickinson's poetry is unique and original in its own way. Her poems have no titles, thus are always Her poetry sometimes quoted by their first lines. In her poetry there is a particular stress pattern, in which dashes are used as a musical device to create cadence and capital letters as a means of emphasis. sounds familiar, communal, and sometimes irregular and obscure. Dickinson’s irregular and inverted sentence structure, her choice of words and even her spelling are not conventional. However, her poetic idiom is noted for its laconic brevity, directness and plainness. Her poems are usually short, rarely more than twenty lines, and many of them are centered on a single image or symbol and focused on one subject matter. Dickinson frequently uses personification to vivify some abstract ideas. Dickinson's poetry is remarkable for its variety, subtlety and richness; and her limited private world has never confined the limitless power of her creativity and imagination. 9. The effect of Darwinist idea of "survival of the fittest" on Dreiser is shattering. Dreiser describes earthly existence as "a welter of inscrutable forces," man as a "victim of forces over which he has no control," and life as "so sad, so strange, so mysterious and so inexplicable.” No wonder the characters in his books are often subject to the control of the natural forces—especially those of environment and heredity. It is not surprising to find in Dreiser's fiction a jungle struggle, in which "kill or to be killed" is the law. Dreiser's naturalism finds reflection in almost every book he wrote. In Sister Carrie Dreiser expresses his naturalistic pursuit by illustrating the purposelessness of life and attacking the conventional moral standards. After a series of incidents and coincident, Carrie obtains fame and comfort while Hurstwood loses his wealth, social position, pride and eventually his life. Sister Carrie best embodies Dreiser's naturalistic belief that while men are controlled and conditioned by heredity, instinct and chance, a few extraordinary and unsophisticated human beings refuse to accept their fate wordlessly and instead strive, unsuccessfully, to find meaning and purpose for their existence. Carrie is merely a cipher in a cold and harsh world. She is driven to move like a mechanism by desire for a better existence. H.

1. Mark Twain is a great literary figure of America. With works like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi Twain formed the world's view of America. He made a more extensive combination of American folk humor and serious literature than previous writers had ever done. All his masterworks drew upon the scenes and emotions of his boyhood and youth. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is usually regarded as a classic book written for boys about their particular horrors and joys. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a boy's book specially written for the adults, is Twain's most representative work. These two books, especially the latter, proved to be the milestone in American literature, and thus firmly established Twain’s position in the literary world. Huckleberry Finn marks the summit of Twain's literary creativity. Hemingway once described the novel the one book from which "all modern American literature comes.” The language of the book is simple, direct, lucid, and faithful to the colloquial speech. The profound characterization of Huckleberry Finn is another great contribution of the book to the legacy of American literature. Twain is also known as a local colorist who preferred to present social life through portraits of the local characters of his regions. He wrote about the lower-class people. He successfully used local color and historical settings to illustrate shed light on the contemporary society. With his great mastery and effective use of vernacular, Twain has made colloquial speech an accepted respectable literary medium in the literary history of the country. His style of language influenced many later writers like Hemingway and so on. Twain's humor is remarkable, too. However, his humor is not only of witty remarks mocking at small things or of farcical elements making people laugh, but a kind of artistic style used to criticize the social injustice and satirize the decadence of romanticism. 2. Henry James was the first American writer to conceive his artistic work in international themes. The literary career of Henry James is generally divided into three periods. In the first period (1865-1882), James took great interest in international themes. Among works of this period, Daisy Miller (1878), a novella about a young American girl who gets "killed" by the winter in Rome, brought James international fame for the first time. The Portrait of A Lady (1881) is generally regarded as his masterpiece, which treats the conflict between the Old World and the New in the life journey of an American girl in a European cultural environment. James experimented with different themes and forms in his middle period. But his works of this period were not very successful. In his last and major period, James returned to his "international themes. " From 1895 to 1900, he wrote some novellas and stories dealing with childhood and adolescence, the most famous of which is What Maisie Knows (1897). After that, he successively created the following great books : The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl. These demanding novels are widely considered to be James's most influential contribution to literature. Jame's fame generally rests upon his novels and stories with the international theme. These novels are always set against a larger international background, usually between Europe and America, and centered on the clashing meeting of the two different cultures with two different groups of people representing two different value systems. Henry James's literary criticism is an essential part of his contribution to literature. It is both concerned with form and devoted to human values. The theme of his essay "The Art of Fiction" clearly indicates that the aim of the novel is to present life. Moreover, James's realism is characterized by his psychological approach to his subject matter. His fictional world is concerned more with the inner life of human beings than with overt human actions. This emphasis on psychology and on the human consciousness proves to be a big contribution to novel writing and has great influence on the coming generations. That is why James is generally regarded as the forerunner of the 20th century "stream-of-consciousness" novels and the founder of psychological realism. One of

James's literary techniques is his narrative "point of view.” As the author, James avoids the authorial omniscience as much as possible and makes his characters reveal themselves with minimal intervention of the author. Henry James is thematically one of the most important realists and technically one of the most expert stylists of his time.


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