Hamlin Garland Essay

The thesis of this paper is: Hamlin Garland uses the critical theory of veritism and other social ideas to describe the vicissitudes of pioneering and modern life. Chapter Two The purpose is to prove Hamlin Garland played a major role in describing the ideas of the vicissitudes of pioneering and modern life, by providing various examples from his essays, novels, and travels to the Great Plains. Chapter ThreeThere are key words which are necessary to be defined before proving the thesis. Pioneering means, one who opens up new areas of thought. Gish 24). Veritisim means, presenting life and landscape as personally perceiving them. (Pizer 232) Realism is, the truthful statement of an individual impression corrected by reference to the fact. (Holloway 189).

Impressionism means, A theory or style of painting originating and developed in France during the 1870’s, characterized by concentration on the immediate visual impression produced by a scene and by the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light. Bookshelf). Aesthetic Individualism is, the individualism of beauty in artistic paintings. (Pizer 154). Chapter FourDuring his eighty years of his life (1860-1940), Hamlin Garland was intimately involved in the major literary, social, and artistic movements in American culture. Garland’s interests extended to nearly all aspects of American society.

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To his credit he was a Pulitzer prize-winning author of over 40 books, campaigner for humane treatment of native Americans, proponent of impressionism in art, unabashed advocate of literary and cultural elitism, dabbler in research on psychic phenomena: Hamlin Garland is remembered most for his innovative collection of short stories, two most recognized Main-Travelled Roads (1891), and his memoir A Son of the Middle Border (1917).

To prove that Hamlin Garland uses the critical theory of veritism and other social ideas to describe the vicissitudes of pioneering and modern life should be depicted with literary background as well as biographical works to show where ones social criticism came from. Holloway writes Unquestionably Garland s literary reputation must rest upon a sprinkling of short stories and a volume or two of autobiography. (Holloway VII). In Virgin Land, Henry Nash Smith cites Hamlin Garland’s work as representative of the increasingly realistic portrayal of rural existence that surfaced in literature about the West in the late 19th century.

Garland’s story dramatizes the tension between struggling individual farmers and the speculators who controlled the Western lands. (Smith 89) Chapter Five Throughout his career Garland never deviated from his advocacy of “local color” as a distinctive feature of the fiction he admired in the 1880s and 1890s. Garland best describes it as an essay entitled “Local Color in Art,” published in Crumbling Idols (1894), a collection of his essays about American literature: Local color… means that the writer spontaneously reflects the life which goes on around him.

It is natural and unrestrained art. (CI 52) Local color in a novel means that it has such quality of texture and background that it could not have been written in any other place or by any one less than a native. (CI 53) Garland distinguishes between local color that is added on and from that which comes from the writer’s experience: “local color must not be put in for the sake of local color. It must go in, it will go in, because the writer naturally carries it with him half unconsciously, or conscious only of its significance, its interest to him” (CI 54).

So Garland’s perspective is, like that of many realists, that one writes of what one knows. In “Literary Prophecy, another essay collected in Crumbling Idols, Garland notes that The realist or veritist is really an optimist, a dreamer. He sees life in terms of what it might be, as well as in terms of what is; but he writes of what is, and, at his best, suggests what is to be, by contrast. He aims to be perfectly truthful of his relation to life, but there is a tone, a color, which comes unconsciously into his utterance, like the sobbing stir of the muted violins beneath the frank, clear song of the clarinet.

Chapter Six One of Garland’s contributions to the development of late nineteenth-century literary theory was his use of the term “veritism” to describe his method of composing fiction. For Garland, veritism was a form of realism that blended the realist’s insistence upon real detail with the impressionist’s tendency to paint objects as they appear to his individual eye. The veritist differed from the realist, Garland claimed, in his insistence upon the centrality of the artist’s individual vision: the artist should paint life as he sees it (and not try to paint it as it should be or as it seems to others).

Garland’s most distinct definition of the term appeared as follows: “My own conception is that realism (or veritism) is the truthful statement of an individual impression corrected by reference to the fact” And he explained in an 1893 letter to the Chicago journalist Eugene Field that The veritist does not write up things as they are, but of things as he sees them: which is the whole width of art and the world from the position ascribed to him.

So, the distinction between veritism (or impressionism or local color) and realism, as Garland defines it, is that while the realist attempts to depict things as they are photographic, as contemporary critics derived, Garland infuses the vision of the individual artist into the work. In practice, there really isn’t that much difference: the methods of the realist are those of the local colorist, with one notable exception is that the local colorist tends to focus on a specific geographical region and depicts the manners, customs, and character of its inhabitants.

The realist tends to portray the average, the typical, with a fidelity to average life and experience the objectivity demanded by science. Chapter Seven Garland’s writing of the 1890s is also notable for its adaptation of techniques borrowed from Impressionist painting. In 1893 Garland attend to World s Colombian Exhibition in Chicago where he had met many of the American followers of the French Impressionists, the most notable of which was John Enneking, who became a friend.

He was quite motivated by what he saw and quickly connected the pioneering movement of local color in American Literature. In his love for this impressionism he embarked on a campaign to promote the movement. He began to lecture on the art and soon drew parallels between painting and fiction, and drafted many essays in the process, mostly in a book none as Crumbling Idols(1894). The fundamental idea of the impressionists, as I understand it, isthat a picture should be a unified impression.

It should not be a mosaic, but a complete and of course momentary concept of the sense of sight. It should not deal with the concepts of other senses, nor with judgments; it should be stayed and reproduced effect of a single section of the world of color upon the eye. (CI 44) Two characteristics of impressionism which led Garland to endorse it were its supposed scientific accuracy and its aesthetic individualism. It appeared to him that impressionistic light and color techniques were in accord with advances in scientific knowledge in these fields.

The French landscapes of the impressionist period were far from the laws of optics and color and had no previous scientific meaning. By 1890 ,Garland placed impressionistic painting into his critical system. Impressionism was similar to the true sense of literary realism. In both there was the representation, not of objective reality, but of objective reality as the author sees it. (McCullough 139) Garland later explained of himself as being an impressionist rather than a realist.

Garland also believed himself as a deliberate and self-conscious craftsman who campaigned relentlessly on behalf of the developing realistic movement. As a professional lecturer and essayist, as well as a writer of fiction and poetry, he clarified his goals and ambitions in this letter he offered. I am… an impressionist, perhaps, rather than a realist. I believe, with Monet, that the artist should be self-centered, and should paint life as he sees it. If the other fellow doesn’t see the violet shadows on the road, so much the worse for him.

Chapter Eight Through essays, critics, and Hamlin Garland, it can be obviously seen that Hamlin Garland played a major role in describing the ideas of the vicissitudes of pioneering. The many social criticisms of Hamlin Garland are clearly shown in his writings and actions in life. Donald Pizer, a critic wrote:Neither an outstanding artist nor an original mind, he had rather the capacity to reflect the most cogent intellectual, social, and aesthetic ideas of his own day while concomitantly representing the continuity of American radical individualism. (Pizer 1)