Study Guide

Naturalism Texts

Naturalism Resources

Primary Resources

Émile Zola, Thérèse Raquin (1867)
Sex and murder are at the center of this classic novel by Zola.

Émile Zola, L'Assommoir (1877)
You won't find a happy ending in this story about the slums of Paris.

Émile Zola, Nana (1880)
The story of the rise (and fall—this is Naturalism) of a prostitute.

Émile Zola, Germinal (1885)
Coal miners go on strike, and all kinds of problems ensue.

Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)
Maggie's a good girl, but she's poor. This is her story.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
War is rough. And the Civil War? Yikes! "Rough" doesn't begin to capture how awful it is. This novel takes us into the heart of it.

Frank Norris, McTeague (1899)
Greedy McTeague gets what's coming to him in this novel about the three M's: money, murder, and mayhem.

Frank Norris, The Octopus: A Story of California (1901)
No, it's not a story about an actual octopus. It's a story about a railway company.

Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900)
Nope, she's not a nun. She's an actress. This is the tale of her rise to stardom.

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
Even rich people have it rough sometimes. Lily Bart, the heroine of this novel, sure does.

Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)
The cold of Massachusetts gets into Ethan Frome's bones and, um, his life is ruined.

Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy (1925)
Oh no! Clyde Griffiths is on his way to the electric chair. Why? You'll have to read it to find out.

John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (1937)
The tragic tale of two migrant workers, caught in the jaws of the Great Depression.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
The Joad family just can't seem to survive against all the forces pitted against them.

Richard Wright, Native Son (1940)
We'll learn all about how racism messes us up in this study of discrimination.

Secondary Resources

Brian Nelson, ed. Naturalism in the European Novel: New Critical Perspectives (1992)
A collection of essays exploring, you guessed it, Naturalism in the European novel.

Keith Newlin, ed. The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism (2011)
In these twenty-eight critical essays, you'll find the most cutting-edge research on American Naturalism.

Richard Lehan, Realism and Naturalism: The Novel in the Age of Transition (2005)
A nice study of the relationship between Realism and Naturalism.

Hannah Thompson, Naturalism Redressed: Identity and Clothing in the Novels of Émile Zola (2004)
Lookin' good there, Zola characters. We'll learn all about fashion, and the symbolism behind fashion, in this study of Zola's work.

Christophe Den Tandt, The Urban Sublime in American Literary Naturalism (1998)
Naturalism's connections to Romanticism and Gothic literature.