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English 125D, Week 4 Notes

by: Ali Lafferty

English 125D, Week 4 Notes 125D

Marketplace > University of California Berkeley > English > 125D > English 125D Week 4 Notes
Ali Lafferty
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About this Document

We've finally finished Zola's La Bete Humaine and started Dreiser's Sister Carrie!
The 20th Century Novel
Professor Donna Jones
Class Notes
english, dreiser, 20th-century, Literature, American-literature
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ali Lafferty on Saturday September 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 125D at University of California Berkeley taught by Professor Donna Jones in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see The 20th Century Novel in English at University of California Berkeley.


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Date Created: 09/24/16
Zola’s legacy: closing on on La Bete Humaine A dispassionate view of social relations Zola develops on the level of methodology, but also on the level of passions, understanding them scientifically, and nobody else is doing this at this point Eventually these methods fall apart during the trial scene! Which means we have skepticism even of these methods, nothing is as it seems Chapter VII: shift in several factors of the novel We see duality of certain persons, and passion is likened to violence Focus is on the keeping of stasis, but things like Jacques’ “hereditary crack”—his lust to kill someone—disrupt this stasis (aesthetic of the pressure cooker) Fetishes come from neurotic energies and projecting them onto objects, which explains Jacques’ obsession with La Lison (he’s trying to displace his lust for homicide) Flore interacts with different social classes that she sees on the train finally, she carries Severine home and realizes these people are not what she expected This is an unnostalgic chapter: we’re all off the train, but we can’t go back to being stagnant in our provincial home lives, we must keep moving forward into modernity despite the interlude We are forced to come to grips with relative time, and interludes are simply provisional The trainwreck is representation of the truly catastrophic Starting Sister Carrie Dreiser is traditionally read as a sociological experiment, we’re horrified by his prose, and if you look at the conclusion of the book, this prose is real bad Dreiser is a journalist so in writing a novel he’s sort of an auto-didact, he’s self-taught in novel form, which might be why his prose lacks in irony and is super straight-forward American naturalism Lack of refinement, attention to detail, status of objects, post-Civil-War American fiction Some of the main writers: Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Jack London Norris and London are Californians! They reflect on their prose style, thinking about realism This is a literary response to 3 phenomena: industrialization, urbanization, and the violent conclusion of Manifest Destiny For example, Jack London’s narratives deal with the pushing of frontiers, they’re very masculinist The sense of clarity we get throughout this novel is in fact naturalist Sister Carrie is an anti-marriage plot! We get pulled away from inventions of manners and ideals We get how things are, not how they’re supposed to be Carrie runs into like three men immediately upon descending from the train in Chicago and doesn’t die of syphilis! How revolutionary! Dreiser also doesn’t buy into pecuniary indecency: he talks about money freely and openly This novel is framed with seduction, but it’s the seduction of the ity (the “magnet” in the first chapter title) This breaks with the normal marriage plot of the female bildungsroman Sister Carrie was new and revolutionary for the time Nobody was talking about money and women doing things that weren’t getting married at the time, but since this is our social world now, we look back and don’t see this work as so novel Dreiser breaks with social norms but is simultaneously reliant on archaic manners, or “hackneyed chivalry” He also breaks the fourth wall to give us weird little know-it-all mediations on life, so he creates a world that is a “provisional totality”


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