Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Philosophy of Jack London

Last Sunday Marcel brought in an excellent printout that gave an overview of the philosophies that influenced Jack London. Here is a brief excerpt and the link that will take you there: http://london.sonoma.edu/Essays/philosophy.html

In a September 7, 1915 letter Jack London wrote, "As a boy, the first heroes that I put into my Pantheon were Napoleon and Alexander the Great. Later on I destroyed this Pantheon and built a new Pantheon in which I began inscribing names such as David Starr Jordan, as Herbert Spencer, as Huxley, as Darwin, as Tyndall."
In this brief excerpt, Jack London mentions most of the men who influenced his often complex, and sometimes contradictory, philosophy. Major figures not mentioned in this particular letter are: Karl Marx, Ernst Haeckel, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Definitions of Realism and Naturalism

Here is an excerpt from www.wsu.edu defining Realism and it’s relation to Naturalism
The full article can be found at this link: http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/realism.htm

Broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality" or "verisimilitude," realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing. Although strictly speaking, realism is a technique, it also denotes a particular kind of subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class life. A reaction against romanticism, an interest in scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy all affected the rise of realism. According to William Harmon and Hugh Holman, "Where romanticists transcend the immediate to find the ideal, and naturalists plumb the actual or superficial to find the scientific laws that control its actions, realists center their attention to a remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence" (A Handbook to Literature 428).
Many critics have suggested that there is no clear distinction between realism and its related late nineteenth-century movement, naturalism. As Donald Pizer notes in his introduction to The Cambridge Companion to American Realism and Naturalism: Howells to London, the term "realism" is difficult to define, in part because it is used differently in European contexts than in American literature. Pizer suggests that "whatever was being produced in fiction during the 1870s and 1880s that was new, interesting, and roughly similar in a number of ways can be designated as realism, and that an equally new, interesting, and roughly similar body of writing produced at the turn of the century can be designated as naturalism" (5). Put rather too simplistically, one rough distinction made by critics is that realism espousing a deterministic philosophy and focusing on the lower classes is considered naturalism.

This excerpt, also from www.wsu.edu, further defines Naturalism.
The full article can be found at this link: http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/natural.htm

The term naturalism describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings. Unlike realism, which focuses on literary technique, naturalism implies a philosophical position: for naturalistic writers, since human beings are, in Emile Zola's phrase, "human beasts," characters can be studied through their relationships to their surroundings. Zola's 1880 description of this method in Le roman experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880) follows Claude Bernard's medical model and the historian Hippolyte Taine's observation that "virtue and vice are products like vitriol and sugar"--that is, that human beings as "products" should be studied impartially, without moralizing about their natures. Other influences on American naturalists include Herbert Spencer and Joseph LeConte.
Through this objective study of human beings, naturalistic writers believed that the laws behind the forces that govern human lives might be studied and understood. Naturalistic writers thus used a version of the scientific method to write their novels; they studied human beings governed by their instincts and passions as well as the ways in which the characters' lives were governed by forces of heredity and environment. Although they used the techniques of accumulating detail pioneered by the realists, the naturalists thus had a specific object in mind when they chose the segment of reality that they wished to convey.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Welcome to The Jack London Powerpoint Blog

Hey Everybody,
Well, here it is. Just go ahead and post any info. that you think will be helpful for our Jack London Powerpoint.  Hopefully this will work well as a central hub for all of us to share our ideas.  Keep in mind that the cool thing about a blog is that when you want to expand on any particular topic you can simply comment on an individual post as opposed to creating an entirely new post.  This should help us keep the info. posted on here fairly well organized.