By Ryan Simmons
A huge exam of Charles Chesnutt as a practitioner of realism. With the discharge of formerly unpublished novels and a contemporary proliferation of severe reviews on his existence and paintings, Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932) has emerged as a big American author of his time—the age of Howells, Twain, and Wharton. In Chesnutt and Realism, Ryan Simmons breaks new flooring by way of theorizing how understandings of literary realism have formed, and will proceed to form, the reception of Chesnutt’s work. Although Chesnutt is sometimes stated because the such a lot well-liked African American author of the realist interval, little recognition has been paid to the important query of this examine: what does it suggest to name Chesnutt a realist? A author whose occupation used to be circumscribed by way of the dismal racial politics of his period, Chesnutt refused to comply to literary conventions for depicting race. Nor did he use his imaginitive abilities to stay away from the realities he and different African americans confronted. relatively, he experimented with methods of portraying truth which can elicit a suitable, proportionate reaction to it, as Simmons demonstrates in prolonged readings of every of Chestnutt’s novels, together with very important unpublished works which were ignored through prior critics. Chesnutt and Realism additionally addresses a interestingly overlooked topic in American literary studies—the courting among American literary realism and race. by means of taking Chesnutt heavily as a contributor to realism, this ebook articulates the suggestions through which one African American highbrow helped to outline the discourses that stimulated his fate.
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Extra resources for Chesnutt and Realism: A Study of the Novels (American Literary Realism and Naturalism)
In comparison to A Business Career, in which characters are largely static (although new facets are revealed by changing circumstances), The Rainbow Chasers uses external events not only to reveal elements of its protagonist’s personality but to dramatize its evolution. Chesnutt has taken his pursuit of realistic narrative one important step forward. Like other works of the realist era, the novel responds to what Alan Trachtenberg describes as “the emergence of a changed, more tightly structured society with new hierarchies of control,” which Trachtenberg calls “the incorporation of America” (3–4).
The discovery, upon its perfection, is sure to make Quilliams celebrated and rich; thus he feels assured of two sources of wealth within a matter of weeks. Again like Howells’s Olney, as a result of straitened circumstances Quilliams must ¤nd inexpensive lodging, and he ends up in a working-class neighborhood as a boarder of Julia Gray, a young working woman who supports her blind mother and her lame younger brother, Jimmie. In this setting, Chesnutt puts the good-natured but remote Quilliams in productive contact with various types of people he would not normally encounter: the Grays, an honest but simpleminded carpenter named Bowles, a rector named Jordan with “six motherless children,” a midlevel machine politician named Nutter, and others.
With the encouragement of her mother, Evelyn reluctantly agrees to become engaged to Cushing; although she feels favorably toward him, she is not certain she loves him and believes she has not yet experienced enough of the world to marry. Into this situation arrives Hugh Manson, a brash and promising young architect who has not yet made his fortune. Although Evelyn’s mother, Alice, prohibits Evelyn from meeting with Hugh, he secretly courts her; meanwhile, Cushing fears that Evelyn’s heart will stray and pushes for a prompt wedding.