Study Guide

Naturalism Timeline

How It All Went Down

1859: Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

Darwin drops a bomb on us: we might actually be descended from monkeys.

1867: Émile Zola publishes Thérèse Raquin

In the preface to this book, Zola announces that he's writing a new type of novel. The scientific novel. There is a method to his madness: the scientific method.

1880: Émile Zola publishes Nana

Smallpox gets Nana in this uplifting musical comedy—nope, oops, this grueling depressing novel about poverty and prostitution.

1895: Stephen Crane publishes The Red Badge of Courage

Internal and external battles tear apart Private Henry Fleming during the Civil War.

1899: Frank Norris publishes McTeague

This isn't just a novel about a quack dentist (or a sadistic, singing dentist), it's a novel about the struggle for survival.

1900: Theodore Dreiser publishes Sister Carrie

Even after achieving stardom as an actress, Carrie finds that she's miserable. Didn't we tell you those Naturalists love unhappy endings?

1905: Edith Wharton publishes The House of Mirth

Even rich ladies have it rough sometimes. Lily Bart certainly does in this novel.

1911: Edith Wharton publishes Ethan Frome

Poverty and the cold New England winters are too much for poor Ethan Frome. Throw some star-crossed love in there, and he's a shell of a man.

1925: Theodore Dreiser publishes An American Tragedy

It's a story about one man's fall from grace… and into the electric chair. Uh-oh.

1940: Richard Wright publishes Native Son

It's a study of American racism and how it warps one young black man's life.