The Affinity between the Grotesque and Naturalism in the Works of Stephen Crane and Frank Norris


When nineteenth century Naturalism emphasized the grotesque and sordid side of life as one of its characteristics, many critics and readers strongly objected to this presentation, wondering why anyone would wish to expose this unattractive phenomenon. What they may not have realized was that the grotesque was an integral part of the movement—one that could not be ignored or falsely beautified. For Stephen Crane and Frank Norris, two American naturalists of the fin-de-siècle, the grotesque became an integral part of their works, both as a result of the new subject matter which they attacked and as an attempt to achieve their didactic purpose of drawing the attention of the refined genteel readers, who preferred to ignore anything distasteful in literature, to the illusive concepts of their age. This article discusses the way the grotesque becomes a tool in the hands of Norris and Crane as they deliberately apply it to their writings in order to portray the reality of human nature as it really exists, rather than the grotesque merely existing as an element of this dark and pessimistic movement.


Ghada Daham




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