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_ Naturalism, Zola and Germinal I.i Introduction: Naturalism Naturalism is a movement in fiction that began in France in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Revolting against the subjectivism and imaginative escapism that seemed to characterize the romantic school, the naturalist writers followed the biological theories of Darwin, the social and economic determinism of Taine and Marx. The new movement sought to depict human society and the lives of people who compose it as objectively and truthfully as the subject matter of science is handled. Naturalism is a further stage of Realism on a large scale; its predecessors were Stendhal, Balzac, and Flaubert. The Goncourt brothers, Maupassant, Daudet, and, above all Zola formulated the principles and engaged in the practises of the movement. In technique, their work was marked by an objective, detached method of narration, meticulous accuracy of detail, and scholarly care in the documentation of the historical background. The subjects of Naturalism were drawn from the lower strata of society with a hairsplitting account of their sordid, unhappy lives. The naturalists put emphasis on the social environment of the characters and the totally subordinate relation of the individual human being to it. In the naturalistic novel, there is a pervading control over the actions and destinies of the characters by impersonal, social and economical and biological forces. Human free will is shown as weak and almost completely ineffectual. Despite similarity of method, there is vast area of difference among the naturalists. Zola, on his part, employs both his technique and his subject matter in the service of his passionate zeal for social reform.1 I.ii The Affiliations of Naturalism: Comte Auguste Comte (1798-1857) is a French philosopher. Known as the founder of positivism, Comte sought to apply the methods of observation and experimentation used in the sciences to philosophy, social science, and even religion. He hoped that, through the use of such methods, rather than through idealistic appeal to absolute principles, social reforms could be achieved. The philosophy of positivism admits only knowledge gained by the scientific method as real or positive. Cours de philosophie positive (1830-42) is Comte's basic formulation of the doctrine.2 I.iii Taine, Marxism and Darwinism

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Hippolyte Taine had, much earlier than Marx, discussed and formulated the determining forces in society in quite similar, if not identical, terms. Taine (1828-1893), a French philosopher, literary critic, and historian, was influenced by Hegel, the positivism of Comte, and the English Utilitarians. He is known for his emphasis on the role of scientific determinism in literature and history, particularly as exemplified in hereditary and environmental influences. One of Taine`s most famous doctrines is that of the "faculte maitresse," or dominant trait, from which the critic hoped to deduce an author`s career geometrically. His other significant theory is that of race, milieu, the moment, which links Taine with the naturalistic school. Essentially, it is the proposition that a literary or historical figure might be fully understood by considering the three forces that compose his biological inheritance: environment, the configuration of tradition. Among Taine`s works are La Philosophie de l`art (1865-69), Historie de la france contemporaine (1875-94), and De l`intelligence (1870).3 According to Taine's theory in History of English Literature, moment is to be defined as the acquired speed or the impulsion of the historical process. Moment, according to Taine, is identified with speed, on the analogy of mechanics. Thus, it, combined with mass, would make up the resultant force. The term means something very different: the age, the Zeitgeist. The passage in the introduction seems to suggest another related meaning: the position of a work of art in tradition; distinguishing between a precursor or a successor. Moment as a period when a particular conception of man prevails points to the unitary spirit of a time or to the pressure of a literary tradition. Its main function is to serve as a reminder that history is dynamic while milieu is static. Milieu is a catch-all term for the external conditions of literature: it includes not only the physical environment, e.g. soil, climate, but also political and social conditions. Race in Taine is not open to the usual objections: it is not a fixed, mysterious biological factor: Taine does not preach the purity or superiority of a race. Every nation, to him, is a moral person. A race exists having acquired its character from the climate, the soil, the food and the great events that it underwent at its origin. Race, he recognizes, does not explain an individual. Race with Taine is simply the French mind or the English character. Taine, in bewildering profusion, ascribes to the English race the most diverse and often contradictory characteristics: stoic energy and basic honesty, heroic severity, a somber and passionate imagination, a sense of the real and the sublime, a love of solitude and the sea, an instinct of revolt, depth of desires, gravity and vehemence, concentrated passion, sensibility. In short, Taine was basically Hegelian. We have abundant evidence of his close study of the Hegelian works on aesthetics, history, philosophy and politics. Taine's view of history is Hegelian in its emphasis on dynamic change, though far less consistently than Hegel's, seen in terms of dialectical oppositions, and in triads of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. It is Hegelian also in its view that mind or mental change is the motive power of history, which is

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thought of as a sequence of periods which are organic unities and which manifest a complete parallelism of all human activities. Like hegel, Taine believes that history moves in cycles, but has too pessimistic a view of the nature of man. Taine treats literature as a symptom of an age or nation, or the individual mind, and dissolves the work of literature into an assemblage of characters. The poet is an unconscious sociologist, copying his contemporaries in spite of himself. Marx, on the other hand, considers literature as reflecting the values of the dominant ideology. Taine combines Hegelianism with naturalistic physiology, a historical sense with an ideal Classicism, a sense of individuality with universal determinism. Marxism opposes naturalists such as Zola as reactionary simply because Zola works in his ouvre like a reporter recording the historical incidents and making them into novels or like a physiologist with nature being his open laboratory. In fact, it is here that Naturalism and Marxism clash: the former demands objectivity and simple observation or "photographic representation" as Lukacs will call it later disparagingly; the latter, on the other hand, demands the changing of history, and dislocation of it for its own advantage. A sense of individual detail, of the small significant fact often oddly clashes with the general structure of bold generalization.4 Taine resolutely and systematically applies to the study of literary history the approach and general principles of natural science. The three criteria by which he undertakes to analyze and classify a work are "race, moment, and milieu" that is to say, national character, the age of period, and the general social environment. The work of art, in fact, become almost a by-product of these forces. This determinism of Naturalism Marxism turns into that of economic forces.5 Taine's determinism appears as essentially an intensive application of the intellectual curiosity of his age. Hence his value is that of any writer who systematically opens up and begins to explore a fruitful approach to a subject. A further value lies in his courageous application of his aproach so intensively that its limitations--as a single and exclusive method of interpreting literature--are conceretely and profitably disclosed, thus suggesting literatureare concretely and profitably disclosed, thus suggesting the need for a more experimental and subtle revision of that approach. Marxism, on the other hand, operates, under the disguise of socialist realism, to find followers for its own ideology, though at the cost of being unrealistic by less strict and less ideology-oriented standards. II.iv Marxism, Darwinism and Naturalism Many of the main tenets of Marxism do not originally belong to Marx himself. One can easily trace his ideas about the state and equality of human beings to Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, even ultimately to the Old Testament, in which Marx was immersed. We cannot, due to the limited scope of this paper, treat in detail of them here. To provide more recent

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examples, however, Marxism has close affiliatians with Naturalism and Darwinism, and the sociology of Durkheim. It is usually in his laconic and direct formulations of the problems that Marx's originality lies. Marx's A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, which contains perhaps the best statement of his philosophy of history, appeared in the same year (1859) as Origin of Species. According to Girvetz, his rejection of reductionism antedates his reading of Darwin. Marx was so much impressed by the Origin that he offered to dedicate his magnum opus, Capital, to Darwin (who politely refused).6 "Darwin's book is very important," he writes to a socialist, Ferdinand La Salle, "and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history."7 Marxist philosophy has strong affiliations with Naturalism, too, especially with Taine. The materialist conception of history starts from the principle that production, and with production the exchange of its products, is the basis of every social order; that every society is determined by what is produced and how it is produced, and how the product is exchanged. Accordi