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 hair-splitting 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
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 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 literature-are 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 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. According to this conception, the ultimate causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in the minds of men, in their increasing insight into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the mode of production and exchange; they are to be sought not in the philosophy but in the economics of the epoch concerned. What Marxism affirms is that economic factors, that is to say, the "forces of production" and the "relations of production" determine the direction of social change and with this form and content of all our other institutions--familial, political, religious, educational--not to mention our aesthetic and moral ideals and even our science (Girvetz 387).8
II.i Zola and His Poetics
The definition of art as nature seen through a temperament, if not originally, belongs to Zola. He, under the influence of Claude Bernard, further expressed his belief that true artistic originality can best be achieved only by a rejection of tradition and a total submission to the life of one's own times, and he has conceived that science offers the writer a superior method of approaching reality. In 1868, armed with these ideas, he submitted to his publisher the plan for a group of novels, Les Rougon-Macquart, portraying the fortunes of a family under the Second Empire and through this frame the whole turmoil of his age.
At first limited to ten, the series ultimately comprised twenty volumes ranging in subject from the world of peasants and workers to the imperial court, and in type from shocking exposes to lyrical fantasies and sustained epics. Yet, although he liked to astonish the public with his virtuosity, his method of composition changed little over the years. First methodically assembling his research data, plot ideas, and character sketches under separate analytical headings, he then combined all this material in chapter plans with a complex art anticipating the techniques of film montage. Finally, with this scenario to guide him in the writing stage, he was free to concentrate on his style, which was remarkable for frequently rhytmic repetition, visual impressionism, and force.
Starting with the publication of L'Assommoir (1877), a tragic study of life in the Paris slums, Zola became world- famous, bought an estate at Medan, and attracted imitators and disciples. From 1879 to 1882, to consolidate his success, he waged a lively publicity campaign supporting Naturalism. Inspired by Claude Bernard's Introduction a la medicine experimentale (1865), he even wrote a treatise (Le Roman experimental, scientific observer following his fictional human guinea pigs through lifelike situations and thereby verifying certain psychological and hypotheses. Yet despite such efforts to build a public image of himself as a scientist, he was at his best, not when trying to apply specific or psuedoscientific theories, but when giving imaginative expression to the new subjective vision of reality that modern science and technology had helped shape.
Essentially, like other great realists, Zola was an illusionist who excelled at imposing his intuition of the world under the guise of plain, unvarnished fact. This method may be seen in Germinal (1885), generally considered one of his finest works. The first major novel on a strike, it may be appreciated either as a factual social document or as a prose epic, a lurid yet sublime poem, in which his research notes on class warfare ans labor conditions in the coal mines grow into dreamlike symbols and Dantesque descriptions often bordering on hallucinations.
As elsewhere in his novels, objects are brought to monstrous life, animals assume human traits, crowds become forces of nature, and individual characters are transformed into types, allegories, and symbols. Underlying his synthesis of realism and symbolism, which is the triumph of Zola's art, are the poetic themes which provide the Rougon-Macquart novels with their deepest unity: above all, a sense of cosmic upheaval, of world destruction and renewal involving a cyclical view of history and a materialistic philosophy in which little remains of the Christian humanist tradition.
After the enormous Rougon-Macquart project, Zola undertook to expound his social gospel based on a creed of hard work and justice in a triology (Les trois villes, 1894-98) and an unfinished tetralogy (Les quatre evangiles, 1899-1903) but never again attained the power of such masterpieces as L'assommoir and Germinal. On Jan. 13, 1898, he went to te defense of Captain Alfred Dreyfus trial and making charges that practically forced the government to prosecute him, in expedient that achieved its purpose in reopening the Dreyfus case and led to the complete vindication of that officer.
In February 1898 a verdict imposing imprisonment and fine was brought against Zola, but it was quashed by the court on April 2. A second trial was called and Zola, his purpose accomplished, decided not to appear and went to England, where he remained until an amnesty permitted his return to France. He died of asphyxiation caused by fumes from a blocked chimney in the bedroom where he was sleeping.
Zola had been repeatedly refused admission to the Academy, and after his condemnation in 1898 he was removed from the roll of the Legion of Honor, but in 1908 his remains were transported to the Pantheon. Although still famous chiefly as the main exponent of literary Naturalism, he has undergone since about 1950 a general critical reevaluation emphasizing his powerful imaginative qualities.9
II.ii Germinal: Philosophy and Thematics
To comprehend the ideological and thematic function of Germinal would naturally require a scrutiny of Zolaeque philosophy as operating in the novel. In his tedious articles entitled "The Experimental Novel" and "Naturalism in the Theatre," Zola asserts that he seeks to study "temperament, not character." He is an observer who sets down the facts. He chooses characters completely dominated by their nerves and their blood, deprived of free will, pushed to action of their lives by the fatality of their flesh. Inspired by C. Bernard's Experimental Medicine, Zola claims that he is scientific, and writes out of "pure scientific curiosity," employs scientific analysis. In his view, men's lives and actions are determined by environment and heredity and it is the business of the novel, whose method is clinical, like that of a pathologist or physiologist, to dissect, to perform and autopsy on life.
Although his philosophy has its roots in the ancient Greek literature, the most immediate influence on Zola can be traced to Darwin's biological theories, Comte's application of scientific ideas to the study of society (no supernatural, spiritual or paranormal causes) and Taine's application of deterministic theories to literature (race, milieu, and moment). According to the Zolaesque version, Naturalism in letters is equally a return to nature and to man: it is the direct observation, exact anatomy, the acceptance and depiction of what is. The writer and the scientist have to replace abstractions with realities. There will no more abstact characters, the absolutes but real characters with true histories; it is the idealists who invent types.10
Although it would be an "intentional fallacy" to posit all that Zola says, with him the imagination has no longer a function since intrigue is of little importance to the novelist. The novel is impersonal, and attempts all subjects, writes history and treats of physiology and psychology, politics and the social economy etc. Zola is clearly suggesting a kind of camera mode, inspired perhaps bt the invention of photography in the early nineteenth century, as well as by such realistic writers as Balzac and Flaubert.
Germinal focuses fundamentally on the conflict between the conflict or fragmentation between capital or labor, and is based on an actual strike that took place in France in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, as Smethurst points out in his Zola:Germinal Zola draws a lot on documentation and observation in the novel. The emotions and movements of the masses of people are, however, so naturalistically depicted that the characters turn out to be mere results of the pressure of the events around them. The idera of socialsim and the nature of those who uphold it is a principal theme here. Yet the fact is that the novel is not a manifesto of socialism in spite of its social sympathies.11
II.iii The Documentation and Method
Germinal was published as a serial in the newspaper Gil Blas from 26 November 1884 to 25 February 1885, and soon after in book form. It is the thirteenth novel of twenty which appeared between 1870 and 1893 under the generic title Les Rougon-Macquart: histoire naturalle et sociale d'une famille sous le second Empire. At this point Zola encounters the problem of having had an illustrious predecessor working in the same field--Balzac. Balzac, too, had created a unity out of a series of separate works and published them under the generic title of La Comedie Humaine. He, too, had developed a detailed and comprehensive system of social categories, and had tried to provide an overall picture of society and its influence on the individual. Zola reacts by determining to concentrate his efforts on the study of one family, and by subordinating the social study to the scientific. As a final difference, Zola depicts Balzac as writing in the light of his political and religious persuasions and prejudices, whereas he, Zola, wishes to appraoch his subject impartially, scientifically (Smethurst 11). Part of the fame Zola has been based on is his reputation as the novelist of the working class, be it the peasantry or the industrial proletariat. What is surprising is that this aspect of his work developed relatively slowly and filled only a small role in the initial plans for the Rougon-Macquart series.
That Germinal Started seven years later is evidence that a whole series of influences in the intervening period have culminated in the desire to tackle head-on what was then called "la question sociale" the "problem" of the working class, and to deal with in in a typical and enduring situation rather than the extraordinary and temporary situation of the Commune. The novel retains nevertheless some of the attitudes of fright and pity which for Zola had first crystalized round his experience of the Paris Commune. Indeed Germinal can be seen as Zola's novel on the Commune transported into a more everyday register.
Documentation plays, of course, an important part in Zola's conception of his role as a scientific novelist. In his critical study Le Roman Experimental Zola indicates it as the raw material on which the novelist starts to carry out his experiments. The term document is used broadly by Zola to mean both written sources and personal observation or inquiry. In the case of Germinal the written sources range from medical studies on illnesses in the mining industry to history of socialism and newspaper clipping on strikes and court cases arising from them; the personal observation comes from a visit to Anzin in 1884 and is transcribed in the dossier which Zola entitled "Mes Notes sur Anzin" (Smethurst 15-16).
Close study of the prepatory dossiers for the novels has led many recent commentators, reacting against the view propagated by Zola himself and by early students of his works, to place higher value on imaginative intuition than on documentation. A more satisfying solution, and the one that comes nearest to the facts of the composition of Germinal, is to see the novel as resulting from a fruitful interpenetration of the two, the one testing, influencing, transforming or eliminating the other.
Zola's own neurotic horrors and fears, particularly those concerned with body functions, are similarly brought under control by his "scientific" method, his use of documentation. The final picture is still of a "realite saignante," but instead of overwhelming the obsever it has now been brought into focus and understood, and serves to testify to the enduring qualities of life. The notion that Zola'a documentation is simply a sort of journalistic reportage slipped into his works is inadequate. Evidence of varying weight has been produced suggesting that Zola was familiar with a long series of strikes in most of the mining aeas of France from 1861 through to 1884, and that echoes from several of them sound through the pages of Germinal. Much of the topography of the novel points to Montsou being based on Anzin and partially on Denain, near Valenciennes, a few kilometres from the Belgian border. Zola visited Anzin and took copious notes during the course of a long strike there in 1884, at the very period when he was composing the sketch for Germinal. This visit is thus part of the conscious documentation. However, this was by no means the first strike at Anzin which has occured in 1866, the precise date of the strike in Germinal. Zola's dossiers for the novel refer clearly to other strikes at La Ricamarie, Aubin, Le Creusot and Montceau-les-mines, which had taken place at various dates before and after the collapse of the Second Empire (Smethurst 16-9).
Upon the examination of Zola's use of free indirect speech [FID], it is easy to prove that the novelist is not creating "types," a point which Lukacs condemns, and instead lets the reader have different perspectives of both the proletariat and bourgeoise. To begin with, I will analyse the beginning pages of the novel to see the function of FID and its relation to the protagonist [P], and the theme of the work.12
Etienne Lantier sets out to walk from Marchiennes to Montsou looking for a job. The season is spring; and the narratorial discourse informs the reader that he had left Marchiennes at "about two o'clock...unemployed and homeless, he could think of one thing--that perhaps the cold would be less sharp after sunrise" (Zola 5). After giving an introductory description of the setting, which foreshadows the future events and reflects the mood of the P, the narrator wants to shy away from the narrative. "The starless sky as thick and black as ink," the use of the similes, and the uncertain "about two o'clock," however, imply that the narrator [N] and the P are alternating their impression and the point of view. The reader observes the reader, who in his turn observes the P. This is evidenced by the fact that, on the one hand, the N begins to telescope the setting and zooming over the P. The "about" informs the reader of the presence of the N, which proves that the N is not omniscient because it implies uncertainty (Zola 6).
As the reader moves on, the N permeates and reflects the impression of the environment on the P, using the latter's senses: first, that of sight in "here and there a light came out from a grimy window." Then, put into motion is the P's sense of hearing which perceives the "heavy, labored breathing of an unseen exhaust pump. The frequent use of the adjectives to describe the pump gears in the psychology of the P as well because his intellectual faculty is processing the P's impression of the milieu. This interpretation is reinforced by the following sentence: "the man saw it was a coal mine. He was overcome by shame: why bother?--ther would not be any work." Therefore, following his feeling of shame, the P engages in a pre-verbal stage of thought, then comes FID which divulges his thoughts within. Banfield refers to this process as "represented speech and thought" [RST]. Although she accepts that there is a pre-verbal stage before the thought is vocalized in the process of communication. Nonetheless, that she refers to FID as RST is both plausible and wrong; plausible, because FID, as she admits involves a pre-verbal stage, thus comes first, and then the speech. It must, therefore, be called the represented thought and speech, and not the reverse.
As has already been examplified above, FID represents not only the thought, but also the sensory experiences, and perceptions, inferences of the characters. As a matter of fact, the expression "...why bother?" represents Etienne's thought of the inner unvocalized speech, thus letting the reader see his thought, whereas "the repairing shift must have worked [emp. mine] late-waste material was still being carried out." refers to a logical deduction on the P's part. Furthermore, while the N sometimes disappeares, leaving the reader with the P alone, it is not only the P who observes the others, as Strether in Ambassadors, he is, too, observed through shifting of the perspective and the impression the miners have of Etienne: "The light showed him to be about twenty-one, dark, handsome, and strong in spite of his thin build (Germinal 6)."
In the last pages of the novel, to provide some more examples, FID serves a similar function. One can observe an amalgam of the narrator's discourse and the P's RTS. In subsequent sentences, for instance, while "he thought of himself and ...." clearly belongs to the N, the R's way is paved for the P's thought through RTS on page 425 of the novel: "His education was setting out armed, a fully aware soldier of revolution who had declared war on society after seeing it and condemning it for what it was...." Etienne is mulling over the past events and their possible outcome in the following: "He could already see himself on the speaker's platform, sharing the people's triump--if only the people did not devour him." Although the P seems to nourish hope about the future, he has reservations about it as well; he failed in the past to provoke the laborers to strike--his ultimate goal. The seed of socialism, has seen sown, but their growth has been hampered by both the power of the bourgeois and Etienne's oppurtunistic self-fulfillment.
While the "last of the night mist" symbolizes the removal of doubt of the future, Etienne's oscillation is still there because "the small red clouds [which may refer to socialism and is associated with his comrades] "were melting into the limbid blue, and they seemed vaguely like the faces of Souvarine and Rasseneur." Here figural discourse penetrates into Etienne's perception, recollection and thoughts, but in the folowing it is RST: "yes, there could be no doubt about everything went to pieces when each man rambled for persoanl power. There is self criticism here; Etienne is trying to figure out the causes of the failure, while re-evaluating his undigested notion of socialism: "that famous international... was crumbling into impotence.... True, they had been defeated, they had left the field littered with their savings and their dead, but Paris would have to remember the rifle shots" (Zola 425-6).
As for the denouement of the novel, I do not think there is a clearcut end to the novel in the classical sense, because, as Zola himself states, he is not providing any [themetic] denouement but an open-ended question. The laborers have to turn back to the mines, with many dead workers left behind, and a lot of suffering; their plight has even worsened than ever before. Zola has Etienne reminesce: "Yes, La Maheude's solid good sense had enabled her to understand, next time they would do it right: they would organize calmly, learn to know one another, bound together in unions whenever the law allowed" [emphasis mine]. Since people are determined by "race, milieu, moment", there is no good change in the situation of the workers, and Etienne, having fallen from popularity, has to leave Anzin to join Pluchart, who is also an outsider.
The closing lines, "And soon this germination would sunder the earth" seems to be a still utopian reflection on Etienne's part. While Zola appears to be sympathizing with the workers, he implies that this is not the way to fight against misery; an orderly and more rational way of tackling it is crucial. This common sense of Zola's material is shown in the portrayal of the inner relationships among three characters, as Howe observes in his "Afterward" to Germinal:
Rasseneur, the most cautious and experienced, clearly on the way to becoming a classical social democrat; Souvarine, also a classical figure, though of the anarchist-terrorist kind who declares the need to destroy everything... no more nations, governments... no more God or religion and then to return to the primitive and formless community," and Etiennes, the sincere, unformed worker,
open to a wide range of
possibilities but determined--his aspiring intellectuality prods his ambition--to make a place for himself.
The reader has thus witnessed a scene from a life of heteroglossiac kind, has seen the clash of two economically polar opposites.
II.v Marxism criticism on Zola and Germinal
If Naturalism is a rigidigication of Realism in the nineteenth-century France, then the Marxist (or socialist) Realism is the rigidification of what is retrospectively called "the critical realism" of certain nineteenth-century realists in the USSR, particularly Tolstoy. By critical realism is meant, as Grant observes, "a depiction of contemporary reality which is not aloof or neutral... but informed by some moral belief."13 The "moral belief" would imply to the Marxist the ideology of Marxism. Georg Lukacs makes it clear that socialist Realism is founded on a rigorous distinction between the falsification of subjectivity and the rectification of the subjective-objective dialectic. "Absence of meaning reduces art to naturalistic description." The vision, thus, must inform the vision of a socialist society. For Lukacs, therefore, a correct understanding of social and historical reality is "the precondition of realism."14
Marxist Realism is considered to be a continuation and development of bourgeois realism at a higher level. Writers are judged by the extent to which their writings reveal insights into the social developments of their time. The Soviet hostility to modernist works can best be understood in this context. Modernist writers, according to them, have abandoned the project--of depicting man in a entire network of relations as a Marxist would have it--they have inherited from writers such as Balzac, Dickens, G. Eliot and, Stendhal, and begun to reflect a fragmented image of the world, often pessimistic and intraverted.
Georg Lukacs, a Hungarian, is one of the most outstanding Marxist critics. He leans towards the Hegelian side of Marxism by treating litarary works as reflections of an unfolding system. A realist work, according to him, must reveal the underlying pattern of contradictions in a social order. Rejecting the down-to-earth Naturalism of the then European novel, he returns to the old realist view that the novel reflects reality, not by rendering its mere surface appearance, but by giving us a truer, more complete, more vivid and more dynamic reflection of reality. To reflect, according to Lukacs, is to frame a mental structure transposed into words. Lukacs would say that a reflection may be more or less concrete. A novel may conduct a reader "towards a more concrete insight into reality," which transcends a merely common-sense apprehension of things. A literary work reflects not individual phenomena in isolation, but "the full process of life." However, the reader is always aware that the work is not itself reality but rather "a special form of reflection of reality."15
A "correct" reflection of reality, therefore, according to Lukacs, is actually a refraction of reality, and involves more than the mere rendering of external appearances. His view of reflection undermines at the same time both Naturalism and Modernism. The randomness can be seen either as a property of reality or of perception. Either way, Lukacs rejects such merely "photographic" representation. The truly realistic works are those which give us a sense of the artistic necessity of the images presented; they possess an intensive totality which corresponds to the extensive totality of the world itself.
Reality, for Lukacs, is neither a mere flux, nor a mechanical collision of fragments, but possesses an "order," which the novelist renders in an "intensive" form. The writer does not impose an abstract order upon the world, but rather presents the reader with an image of the richness and complexity of life, from which emerges a sense of the order within the complexity and subtlety of live experience. This will be achieved if all the contradictions and tensions of social existence are realised in a formal whole. Development in history is not random or chaotic, nor is it a straightforward linear progression, but rather a dialectical development. In every social organization, the prevailing mode of production gives rise to inner contradictions which are expressed in class struggle. While the mode of production was socialised, the ownership of the means of production was privatized. The "dialectical" resolution of the contradiction is always already implied in the contradiction itself: if people are to re-establish control over their labour power, the ownership of the means of production, including art must also be socialised.16
Lukacs attacks Zola pretty harshly and unjustly. In his novel Zola does not aver that rich are bad because of their wealth; nor are the members of the working class neccessarily angels. He leaves the reader with the charactes and let him think and decide for himself. As a matter of fact, this is why G. Lukacs is lambasting Zola: that he does not participate in the struggles of his time, that the writer is reduced to the role of a mere spectator and chronicler of public life, and that he is never conscious of this degradation of the writer. Ironically enough, these are all the qualities in which Zola takes pride.
The failure, according to Lukacs, to perceive human existence as part of a dynamic historical environment infects the whole contemporary Modernism as well, as reflected in the works of writers such as Kafka, Beckett and Faulkner. These writers, argues Lukacs, are preoccupied with formal experiment--with montage, inner monologues, the technique of "stream of consciousness," the use of reportage, diaries, etc. All this formalistic virtuosity is the result of a narrow concern for subjective impressions, a concern which itself stems from the advanced individualism of late capitalism. Instead of an objective realism we have an angst-ridden vision of the world, and the fullness of history of absurd existences. This "attenuation of actuality" is contrasted to the dynamic and developmental view of society to be found in the 19th century precursors of socialist Realism, who achieve what Lukacs calls "Critical Realism."
Lukacs seems unable to accept that in rendering the improverished and alienated existence of modern subjects some modernist writers achieve a kind of realism, or at any rate develop new literary forms and techniques which correspond to modern reality, whatever that may be. Insisting on the "reactionary" nature of modernist writing, he refuses to recognize the literary possibilities of naturalist and modernist narratology. Because he thinks the content of Modernism is reactionary, he treats modernist forms as equally unacceptable.
It is obvious that modernist writers such as Eliot and Joyce, through a new form-oriented poetics, want to create a new technique, thus rejecting the then-in-tact forms, and argues for the necessity of a modern cultural and artistic sensibility adequate to the present age. Utopian and nostalgic in essence, Hegelian in treatment, Lukacs, however, hankers to see the novel functioning like an epic. Favoring the traditional epic, he asserts that the essence of the novel is a quest for one's self or self-consciousness.
Although he appreciates that the novel has discourse and is a conglomerate of the other genres, Lukacs condemns the modern narratology as anti-realist, excessively concerned with formal criteria, especially in his "The Ideology of Modernism."16 According to him, "it is the view of the world, the ideology/weltanschauung underlining the writer's work that counts." It is, thus, the writer's attempt to reproduce this view of the world which constitutes his "intention," and which is the formative principle. Therefore, the style ceases to be formalistic; it is rooted in content that determines the form.
In favor of conventionality, diametrically opposite to the actually dynamic traditionality of Eliot, Lukacs regards "interior monologue," as an unconventional stylization, "although with Joyce it is no mere stylistic device, however unconventional the presentation." Joyce's compositional principle, according to him, is that of the traditional epic in the way the pace is controlled and the transitions and the climaxes are organized; the ancient rules of the epic are faithfully observed. On the other hand, he rejects interior monologue in the novel, "abandoned by God," on the grounds that the individual experience is presented as confined to "momentary sense impression."
Since an exclusive emphasis on formal matters will lead to "serious misunderstanding" of the character of an artist's work, the literature of Realism--of the Lukacsian sort--aiming at a reflection of reality must demonstrate the total picture, whatever that is. The individual and the general are inseparably united. The general is "concrete and real" because it is based on a profound understanding of what is "typical".
The narrator examining the subject is in motion; the examined reality is "static." As a result, interior monologue as materializing within the individual, not the social, "the abstract," is a deviation from the norm, both in stylistics and personae, whereas a gifted writer will have to compromise with the demands of historicity and the social environment. The chief conceptual opposition within all of Lukacs's examination of literature takes place in the familiar Hegelian one of the concrete and the abstract. Another Marxist critic, Fredric Jameson, writes in Marxism and Form that the most characteristic Marxist use of this opposition is one according to which society itself is seen "as the ultimate source of the concreteness or the abstractness of individual existence." In other words, this means that society is conceived of, at any given historical moment, as that preexistent and indeed preformed raw material which ultimately determines the absractness or the concreteness of the works of art created within it. Two basic characteristics of concreteness in art, accordingly, are that (1) its situations are such as to permit us to feel everything in them in purely human terms, in terms of individual human experience and individual human act and that (2) such work permits life and experience to be felt as a totality.18
Moreover, Lukacs thinks, the potentiality seen abstractyly and subjectively is richer than actual life whereas concrete potentiality is concerned with the dialectic between "the individual's subjectivity and objective reality." The literary representation of of the latter thus implies "a descripton of actual persons inhibiting a palpable, identifiable world. Literature, he concludes, must be deprived of "perspective," because the direction in which the characters develop is determined by perspective; man is thus reduced to a sequence of unrelated experimental fragments; he is inexplicable to others as to himself. Lukacs accepts that variations in style reflect the change in the society, but the particular as opposed to the general, which this lack of hierarchic structure may take, is not decisive for him. Consequently, the apprehension of reality is rooted in ideology itself.
Lukacs is in many ways like Plato in that he never shuns making binary oppositions, which are always on a par with each other: being/becoming, individual/social, conventional/modern, ideal/real, abstract/concrete, working class/bourgeois, etc. There seems to be no in-between for him. He is also biased in some ways as a result of his own ideology, while he condemns the ideology of modernist tendencies; wrong in his thinking that the epic is the norm, and that the novel has some sort of "essence." The chief conceptual opposition within all of Lukacs' examination of literature takes place, as stated above, in the familiar Hegelian one of the concrete and the abstract.
As Jameson says, Hegel had already felt the novel to be a modern replacement of the epic, in Lukacs' sense. But for him, "the fulfillment of art lies not in any form but in the self-transcendence," in the transformation of art into philosophy: what human beings at first naively projected in religion, what they then made visible to themselves in artistic creation, they ultimately bring to self-consciusness only in philosophy itself. The novel as a form is the attempt in modern times to recapture something of the quality of epic narration as reconciliation between matter and spirit, between life and essence. It is a substitute for the epic, under life conditions which henceforth make the impossible (Jameson 171-2).
Unlike what Lukacs claims, the epic, his favorite genre, is not the norm or "essence." The individual does not have to sacrificed for the society, and vice versa. The kind of novel he is demanding of the writers is a pulpit of his ideology. As long as there is a dialogue, there is dialogism. The modern reader cannot be forced to believe in an ever-controlling, monological omniscient author of Platonic type. Human beings are not simply types; the general is radiating from and constituting and being constituted by the particular. There naturally will be a fragmentation of each mosaic tessellation, from drastic to petty. To protest becoming in favor being, whatever that is, itself an evidence that the novel will have to change, as do human societies, and reflect, rather than refract, the here and now, the "I" and "We" together, tailor itself to present needs, psychologizing and depsychologizing itself.
III.i Gurpinar's Naturalism in Ben Deli miyim?
H. Rahmi Gurpinar is considered to be one of the naturalist writers in Turkish literature. Virtually throughout his life and literary career Gurpinar was a controversial figure, and, like Zola, he did his best to keep the controversies going, partly because he liked them and partly because he realized that it was an excellent way of promoting the sales of his books. It is interesting, too, to observe that like Zola (1840-1902), Gurpinar (1864-1944), in collaboration with Ahmet Mithat and Rasim, practiced journalism and his works were always denounced by the general public as "pornography".19 Zola used the Second Empire to create what he himself described as a "microcosm." His aim was to make it an emblem of human condition, to show the fallen humanity engaged int he practice of seven deadly sins, then to suggest a cure. The organic lesion is the naturalist equivalent of the original sin.
To some extent, Zola, like Gurpinar, had brought the rumors on himself by his persistent championing in words like Le Roman experimental of the cause of Naturalism in literature and his repeated claims that he wrote his novels according to such theories. Basically, he was attempting to adapt some of the principles of mid-nineteenth-century scientific thought for use in writing novels, hence his insistence on the science of heredity and the experimental method. With this he combined a certain positivist materialism. He claimed that the result, in spite of the inevitable hesitations any pioneer must feel more logical, more true, than the great but, for Zola, too intuitive realism of a Balzac. There is a lot of what might be called "pornography" in his novel, too.
We observe in Gurpinar's works, like Zola's, that he recorded the events time with such minute accounts and lively manner that the loss of his works would mean the loss of a chronicle. Today it is not difficult to depict to ourselves the then Istanbul, which constituted the scene for many of his novels. According to Hisarci and many other critics, Gulbahar Hanim is the first play that he wrote when he was twelve years old, and that was burned in the Kasimpasa Fire. His first work printed was Istanbul'da Bir Frenk, serialized in Ceride-i Havadis (1888). Niggling over his works, one is amazed to see how versatile and prolific he was. "During the Mesrutiyet Period he, in cooperation with Ahmet Rasim, also issued a humorus newspaper Bosbogaz (The Indiscretor, 1908), and was persecuted for this. However, despite the fact that he was acqitted, the newspaper remained locked out. It is in the Republic Period that he serialized his Ben Delimiyim? (1925), and once more was sued since it was "against the ethics of the society and immoral" (Hisarci 15).
Indeed what was this novel like that it agitated the public opinion and the public prosecutor to the extent that he was denounced as immoral? Were there Sodome and Gomorah in the novel that triggered off such a turmoil in the country even after two years of the establishment of the Republic, with all the potentialities to accept everything with elan? Were Satans impossible to exorcise manipulating Gurpinar?
Ben Delimiyim? is actually a novel starting with Sadan,athe narrator and the protoganist of it, to speak in loose terms, asking himself the question "am I mad?" as hea pensively soliloquizes. Sadan is supposed to be inborn insane, and "degenerated". However, the fact that, upon his father'sa death, his mother, Muberra Hanim, an old woman with a younga girl's coquetry and fugitiveness, gasps for marrying a despicable man, Hasmet Bey, and that he hangs around with a hoodlum, Kalender Nuri, leads him to absolute insanity and his eventual suicide in the end.
Gurpinat must have studied psychology, but there area still some contradictory statements in the novel. Followinga are two arguments between Sadan and his mother on pp. 2 anda 138 respectively:
"[Mother] There are no insane people in our
ancestry. How come you have turned out to be so?"
"[Sadan] Are you not ashamed of your maternity
[meaning her wish to marry] Is it me who have determined the place where I have come out?
All the living things in the world are born
of the female. Why do you give
birth to such malignance?"
"[Mother] When yet a child, you wre having attacks
"[Sadan] That is a lie!"
"No, it is not. Besides, if you keep behaving
like this, you will be confined to a funny
[Sadan, soliloquizing] "After my death, my mother
will claim possession on my inheritance."20
It is obvious, as will be elaborated later, thata Gurpinar has a certain debt to Zola, but in the quotations above it is more Strindberg than Zola who stands out. In The Father, e.g., the Captain's sardonic and misogynistic miens are similar to those of Sadan, who, full of dudgeon and anger, lambasts women in the face of his mother. Sadan's mother, moreover, seems to have developed a iron repression to his frenzy. Sadan can, in some sense, be viewed like the inscrutable persona in Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, too. He is equally unreliable, narrating most of the novel.
That Gurpinar, upon his mother's death, was brought by his aunt and his grandmother, and that he remained a bachelor throughout his life seem to have affected his attitude towards women, though in some other novels of his, he provides the heroines with Jane Eyre-like qualities, and even feministic idiosyncracies, castigates polygamy in Iffet (1898), Nimetsinas (1903), Son Arzu (1918), and Sipsevdi (1909). What is more, sexuality in general is obsession in Gurpinar because he had homosexual propensities. Through Nuri's eyes Sadan's prospective brother-in-law is depicted with a homosexual appetite: "How can I describe Mr. Sweet without my mouth watering. He is the male model of his sister" (Gurpinar 217).
Gurpinar spazmodically stuns the reader by his ambivalent characters of diandrous manners. It is one of the idiosyncracies he had inherited from Ahmet Mithat to interrupt and delay the flow of the actions. As a matter of fact, it is only on p. 40 that we are introduced to Nuri, the antagonist, with whose phallus Sadan compares his, measuring them fully naked. They are both proud that "some parts of their bodies are bigger than the others" (p. 140). Gurpinar nicknames Nuri "Kalender" (Humble, luminary), and Sadan (happy, mirthful), thus ironically using the names of the characters as labels either in accordance or discordance with their characters.
Sadan belies and refutes himself many times in the course of the novel: "I do not know when I got these oddities of soul, which have no remedy, and how. I seem to carry the seeds of insanity atavistically" (p. 23). According to this, he is genetically ill, reminding us of Zola's hereditary determinism. It is true that Sadan is haunted by thoughts concerning the society in perhaps a more sensitive way than a mediocre man can. He ogles at himself in the mirror, makes grimaces, gestures, lolls his tongue out, but, at the same time, he is almost a jack-of-all trades: he writes poetry, knows French, and is well-informed in the philosophical currents and historical events of the time. It is he, who, with poetic skill, writes a letter vilifying Revan, a chaste but lamb-like woman. Most of his conversation with Nuri and other people leads to a discussion as to the goings-on of the world.
This stylistic trick, which we observe also in Balzac, Zola, and Dreiser, enables the author to insinuate and pontificate about his opinions and usually comes out in outbursts, as, e.g. follows:
"Now that you have declared equality,
and exiled the rulers, what is your
ultra motive in wanting to
climb up an economically distinguished place? Do you again want to take pride in yourself,
using the glittering title of Abdulhamit
and the German Emperor? The people
have born you in their hearts, and
want to see you as equal to themselves."(p.3)
The scene is set in Istanbul, and the period 1920s, when after being involved in World War I with Germany, and being defeated in 1918, Turkey has emerged as a republic. However, there still is nepotism, abuse of position, and up to the "insane" like Sadan "to govern the country." In a tumultuous paroxysm of anger Sadan cries out:
"Instead of letting people kill each other
in the war, why do you not cull out of
the society the malignent and kill them.
We have to execute the rich and share
their wealth. You will call me a bolshevil now...I
prefer to call the bolshevik bosherif [hollow men as in
Eliot's Hollow Men] you will see their hollowness
when the germ they have sown all over the worls start
germinating. (p. 40)
These words are just a distant and outworn reverberation of
Germinal, in which we read: " Under the flaming rays of the sun in this morning of youth, it was with this sound that the country was heavy... And soon this germinating would sunder the earth" (p. 428). Gurpinar seems to have predicated the doomed failure of communism, which nowadays we observe in the Iron Curtain Countries, and whose symptoms or omens Orwell pointed out In Animal Farm and 1984.
Some critics have also hankered to
cast Gurpinar in a socialistic mould. Similarly, Lukacs went even further, as Howe states in his afterword to Zola's
work, and attacked Germinal "as mechanistic and passive,
lacking in revolutionary dynamism": The myth of Germinal, however, is close to the Marxist view of capitalism, but to yield ourselves to Zola's story is not to accept the Marxist
system. Zola himself does not accept it. Zola is more for
Rasseneur, the most precautious, Clearly on the way to
becoming a classical social democrat than for Souvarine,
also a classical figure, who declares the need to destroy
everything" (Zola 431-46).
Zola does not worship the proletariat,
nor does he criticize the bourgeois without rhyme or reason.
There is Jeanlin, on the one hand, a rotten worker, and
Hannebeau, on the other, who has weaknesses on his part and
is not necessarily an enemy. So, what matters
actually, is the fact that if there is a hero
in Germinal, it is the humanity itself--humanity with its
woes and sufferings, but also with aspirations and its
struggles for a better life. Zola is not chasing after
a chimera of socialistic panaceas, but is a socialist
in the literal sense of the word, not the political one. So
is Gurpinar. Otherwise, Zola should not have given an account of the stagnant business before the strike ,and juxtaposing good and bad characters from both strata. And why should Etienne take shelter in one of the most hated mines, which Zola describes in terms of a monster as Hardy depicts, in Tess Of the D'ubervilles, a thrashing machine in terms of a howling animal? We must, of course, take into consideration "the aesthetic distance or estrangement", how far the author identifies himself with the characters, etc.
Nuri is a controversial character, too, in Ben Deli
miyim? He is capable of playing many musical instruments,
of singing "although he never sings a song until the end",
starts another business after one, accomplishing none--a
rolling stone literally, almost a parasite as well. Sadan
belongs to "the superior group of the insane, and Nuri to
the degenerate inferior, "who is planning to vilify a chaste
woman of aristocracy living in a mansion in Besiktas.
Gurpinar seems to have torn his personality between Nuri and
Sadan, since they both have something of the author.
According to Gunpinar, an honest person is one who behaves
the same way when solitary as he does publicly. The mirror
Sadan looks at himself in is a reflector of reality, of
rottenness, of stench of decay as microscoped through his
eyes, tha is "through a temperament".
As opposed to his internal milieu, Nuri functions as his external milieu to Sadan, and his wife. In a chapter of Germinal, Zola with his pseudoscientific approach, binds the color of the miners' hair to the supposition that since their ancestors used bad quality soaps, the young generation has genetically inherited their bad color. In Ben Deli miyim? such instances of "scientific" value abounds as, e.g., when Nuri realizes that all his plan have fallen through, and it is Sadan , who marries Revan, he goes naked in the public and thus is arrested by the police. We later on read in the newspaper that he descends from The Naked Mustafa, and his exhibitionistic inclination is hereditary!
In the course of the novel Gurpinar penetrates into the
most gloomy corners of Istanbul, portrays people from all
walks of life, now giving us information through his
mouthpieces, now adding the flavor of the traditional
narratives, mainly "Karagoz" and "Orta Oyunu".21 This is a
fruit of the data he has compiled like an officious
chronicler, and recorded, like Zola. Thus, the result is a
lively picture of Istanbul, with the auther ex cathedra,
making analogies and comparisons between the past and the
present, the Turks and other nationals, the rich and the
poor, the strong and the waek, the sane and the insane, man and animal, man and woman, external and internal milieu influences.
Nuri actually constitutes the external miliue for many
people: he is a heroin fiend, and makes both Sadan and Sermet addict to it, makes them frequenters of the cathouse of Madam Fedrona -"a 45-year-old Russion woman, who, above all, is a psychologist as well as a reveller." We are led to grapple with vogue and prostitution. "Some people make sacrifices from their basic needs and squander money on these monsters. Madam Fedrona converted the latter to an art." When guzzling at Fedrona's. Nuri jabbers to Sadan: "Everything has been modernized, technique has interfered with everything. Technological love-making, scientific mating." In Germinal Zola describes spring as a mating season when, like hot animals, people do not make love, but mate.
One is hereby reminded of Tess of the Dubervilles, in which nature functions as a character, and the changes in season foreshadow the impending events. Alex, the antagonist, becomes a convert and a strictly religious person for a while, he even preaches, but upon seeing Tess, forgetting all, he resumes all his old nature, and accuses her of tempting him. In the same way, when Nuri cannot win Revan back, he becomes a highly respected dervish because he has really "loved her." Then, he continues writing letters to her expressing his love. This means the last straw to Sadan, an old chap of Nuri and Revan's new husband. Feigning to be willing to share his wife with him, Sadan plans to kill him with his specific play, and realizing this in disguise of friendship, pushing Nuri into an unfathomable abyss. This in turn obsesses Sadan, leads him to to go crazy, and to shoot himself to death in a tantrum of paranoia.
Nuri is ultimately tantamount to Souvarine, who declares the exigency to annihilate everything: no more religion, no more wedding, one should be able to share his friend's wife. He is in many ways similar to the iconoclastic protagonist, Frederick, in The Iron Heel, (1908), who, speaking to the priest, lambasts the existing values of the society.
I have previously touched on Gurpinar's
objective to educate the reader. As a result of this, he
has too many interruptions, digressions in the novel, which
he uses as a pulpit or rostrum. Ignoring the ironical
overtones and undertones, one can claim that Strindberg
does the same thing in the theatre, Biblia Pauperum, as he
states in his introduction to Miss Julie. In fact, Sadan
has something of Strindberg's misogynism. He even wants
to put gags into women's vaginas so that they will not give
any birth, and wishes a world without masculinity and
femininity. "Mankind is far beyond happiness in matters of
producing children, marriage, and love" [watch out for the
order of the words]. "My personality has torn into two when
I got married (pp. 102, 236). To him, women are the
"unfathomable enigma of creation." We eavesdrop on the
Tipsy Salih complaining about his wives, who cuckolded him,
one after another: "Liberty, the Mesrutiyet, Republic have
been useful merely to them. They are all the same women
folk. Whether they are Armenian, Jewish, French does not
matter (p.236). Salih, on the other hand, takes pride in
his daughter's prostitution, a concubine. "Nazife
(impeccable) could have achieved nothing had she married."
Gurpinar sometimes out-Zolas Zola in his Naturalism. Nazife
is just a spitting image of her mother, and "she has
inherited her prostitution from her mother" (p. 212).
Shakespeare once said that human beings were a jumble
of walking contradictions. Perhaps, that is why Gurpinar's
characters are so ambivalent, unpredictable and aberrant or
perhaps he, like, Strindberg, wanted to create "characterless" characters.
Most of the characters in the novel are sketched out or presented through dialogues, even the very people churning out the ancillary milieu for Sadan, such as his step father, Madam Fedrona, ex-husband of Revan, Omer, his wife Ayse, Sermet, etc. And the author uses, e.g., the Jews merely for the purpose of comedy. Another Strinbergian theme is hinted by Nuri:
"Whether one or the other is the true
father does not matter. When the child
is in the womb, nobody asks when and
by who mating has come about or
after or before the wedding. The
machine of the genesis works according
to the power of sperm and egg.
The care the constitution takes of
the chils is due to the fact that
it wants to put the responsibility
on the father." (p. .270)
Now and then he shouts out his ideas like Souvarine:"Even though I am stone broke, others roll in money. I point my revolver to their temples ask them to give either their money or their lives." He commits larceny even hypnotizes Sermet, when swilling down in the dramhouse, so that he is determined to put the letter in his sister's boudoir, hoping her husband to divorce her, out of gnawing doubt. There are two proverbs usually
refered to in the novel: "if you call a sage insane for
thirty-nine days, he becomes insane on the fortieth" and "A
grape gets rotten under the influence of another grape,"
both of which point to the society's influence on the
individual. Sadan is so influenced by Nuri that when the
latter speaks he feels as if "he was in Moscow, listening to
some staunch bolshevik speaker in the streets of Petragrad."
The urban life and its vicissitudes have left traces on
Sadan's brain, too. Here is Sadan meditating:" The fittest
survive, feeding on the weak, faced by this drastic law of
nature, how can we expect these man-made laws to iron out a
remedy for the weak? "(p.228) As we proceed, his
contemplation reaches out universal dimensions, and in doing
so resorts to Darwinist, Nietzschean, and Comtean
Sadan's epileptic hallucinations haunt him more
and more, and when Nuri calls the letter to Revan "a bomb",
he is reminded of the real bombs: "insanity is an honor
for man, who racks his brains over things. The reverse is
against the grain of the genius, and insanity is the nature
of him" (p. 141).22 He tends to think of Nuri as the
generation and the lesion incarnate, and pushing him into
the abyss, wants to devastate him with an Ahabian desire
in Moby Dick. He seems to have exerted his free will by
this. However, a kind of paranoid obsession leads him to
eventual suicide and his wife's wounding.
In the last chapter, after she has recovered from her wounds, his wife evaluates in
retrospection the past events with a mature personality.
She is physically as well as psychologically determined,
virtually like a leaf drifting along the breeze! When, e.
g., her ex-husband accuses her of infidelity, she rejects
him only by expostulation, and despite the fact she had
intended, she cannot trigger the weapon she pointed to Nuri,
as if paralyzed. Granted, Revan and her brother survive,
but we cannot expect to break through the deterministic circle besieging them. Thus, she is left at the end meditating and soliloquizing: " Sadan was a faithful husband. How can I indict him with the injustice that nature imposed upon him? They gave him the name Sadan (Joyful) as if to make fun of him" (p. 358).
As known, the ink of naturalism has differently leaked out of different naturalistic pens since they have all pulled into themselves different inks from the arteries of their own nations. As Eliot once stated "a good poet
steals, but a bad one copies." What Gurpinar, a squint-eyed
epigone of Zola to me, does in Ben Deli miyim? is get
inspired by Zola, and bake a different bun out of a similar
type of dough. However, his spicing technique is different
from Zola's since he naturalizes Naturalism in his own way.
I hereby can say, however, that his is more a psychological
naturalism as Strindberg's than a physiological one as
1. For information on Naturalism, see the Introduction in Haskell M. Block, Naturalistic Triptych: the Fictive and the Real in Zola, Mann, and Dreiser (Random House: New York, 1970) 3-15; H. J. Muller, "Naturalism: Emile Zola," Modern Fiction: A Study of Values (New York, Toronto and London: McGraw-Hill Co., 1937) 159-183; J. H. Borneque and P. Cogny, Realisme et Naturalisme: L'History, La Doctrine, Les Ouvres (France: Classiques Hachette, 1958) 41-112; Presence de Zola, ed. Fasquelle Editeurs (France: Fasquelle Editeurs, 1953); A. Hamit Sunel, "Dogalcilik," Turk Dili 349 (January 1981) 138-47; Ozkan Goksu, "Zola ve Dogalcilik (Bir Ornekleme: Jerminal)," FDE 12 (Winter 1983)133-45; Emile Zola, “Preface” to Therese Raquin, trans. Adnan Cemgil (Istanbul: Hayat Nesriyat, 1968) 8-14; Stendhal's "The NOvel as Mirror," and Zola's "Experience and the Naturalistic Novel," in The Theory of the Novel, ed. Philip Stevick (New York and London: Collier and Macmillan and Free Press, 1967) 388-9 and 394-6; For information on Taine, and Naturalism, see Damian Grant, Realism (London and New York: Methuen, 1970) 35-6, 38-9, 41. See also a series of articles related to Naturalism in What was Naturalism?, ed. Edward Stone (New York: Appleton, Century and Crafts, 1959);
2. See Compte's articles "The Nature of the Positive Philosophy," "The Hierarchy of the Sciences, "Intellectual and Moral Philosophy" in 19th Century Philosophy, ed. P. L. Gardiner (New York and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1969) 131-57. See also A. Comte, Introduction to Positive Philosophy, ed. Frederick Ferre (Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970) 11-33.
3. See Damian Grant 35-6, 38-9, 41. See also Wellek's A History of Modern Criticism: The Later Nineteenth Century, vol. 4 (1965, London and New York: Cambridge UP, 1983) 27-57. I have largely drawn on Wellek's book for detail on Taine's theory. For a selection from Taine's Introduction to the History of English Literature, see W. J. Bate, ed., Criticism: The Major Texts (1952, New York and Chicago: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970) 501-7.
4. Georg Lukacs, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (1962, London: Merlin P, 1963) 36. See also other works by Lukacs: The Historical Novel (London: Merlin P, 1962); Writer and Critic and Other Essays (London: Merlin P,1970); The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (London: Merlin P,1963).
5. For information on Marx and Marxism, see Taylor's introduction in Karl Marx and F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (1967, London and New York: Penguin, 1985) 8,9, 12, 22,25,27, 29, 31, 39, 119. For the Marxian ideas, I have largely drawn on this text and Taylor's introduction. See also the related section in Roy Bhaskar, The Possibility of Naturalism: A Philosophical Critique of the Contemporary Human Sciences (Sussex, GB: Harvester P, 1979) 69-90; Ben-Ami Scharfstein,ed., Philosophy East Philosophy West: A Critical Comparison of Indian, Chinese, Islamic, and European Philosophy (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978) 119; Harry Girvetz, et al., Science, Folklore, and Philosophy (New York and London: Harper & Row, 1966) 22, 212, 366-391, 404, 418, 427, 474, 479; Nicholas Abercrombie, Class, Structure and Knowledge: Problems in the Sociology of Knowledge (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980) 11-31. Also useful is Habermas: Critical Debates, eds, J. B. Thompson and D. Held (1982, London: Macmillan P, 1983), and See Rene Wellek, "Marx and Engels," A History of Modern Criticism: 1750-1950: The Age of Transition, vol. 3 (1965, New Haven and London, 1966).
6. Girvetz 386.
7. Qtd. in Girvetz 389.
8. See also "Literature and Society," R. Wellek and A. Warren, Theory of Literature, (1942, San Diego, New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977) 107; Jerome Balmuth, introduction, Marxist Social Thought, ed. R. Freedman (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968) xxxi; J. Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism (New York: International Publishers, 1940) 9; Calvin J. Larson, Major Themes in Sociological Theory (New York: David McKay Co., 1973) 49; K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works: The German Ideology ed. C. Arthur (London: Lawrence and Wishart,1970) 30-61; Raman Selden, Contemporary Literary Theory (Kentucky: U of Kentucky P, 1985) 26. For the Hegelian aesthetics, most of whose ideas Marx has adopted and adapted, see R. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950: The Romantic Age, vol. 2 (1955, London and New York: Camridge UP, 1981) 318-34.
9. For biographical information on Zola, I have referred to Encyclopedia Brittanica, vol. 12 (USA: E. B., 1987) 927-9.
10. See The Later Nineteenth Century 14-22. See also E. Zola's The Naturalist Novel, trans. B. M. Sherman (Montreal: Harvest House, 1964) 1-24; Grant 76; Lodge 486-7.
11. See the introduction in Colin Smethurst, Emile Zola: Germinal (Southampton, GB: Camelot P, 1974) 7-22.
12. For the text of Germinal, I have referred to E. Zola, Germinal, trans., S. and E. Hochman (1970, New York and Scarborough, 1981).
13. See Lodge 486-7.
14. Qtd. in Selden 26.
15. Selden 25-6.
16. Selden 28.
17. Studies in European Realism 47-96
18. Fredric Jameson, Marxism and Form: Twentieth Century Dialectical Theories of Literature (Princeton and New Jersey: Princeton UP, 1974) 163-9. See also Lukacs' article, "The Ideology of Modernism" (1957) in 20th Century Literary Criticism, ed. David Lodge (London and New York: Longman,1972) 473-87. All the quotations from the article are from this edition.
19. For the social changes of the time in the Tanzimat and the emergence of the in Turkish literature, see Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London: n.p., 1966) 104-25; Ahmet Evin, Origins and Developments of the Turkish Novel (Mineapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1983) 9-25; Cevdet Kudret, Turk Edebiyatinda Hikaye ve Roman (Istanbul: Varlik, 1976) 387; A. H. Tanpinar, 19. Asir Turk Edebiyati Tarihi (istanbul: n.p., 1976) 287-8; Fethi Naci, Yuz Soruda Turkiye'de Roman ve Toplumsal Degisme (Istanbul: n.p., 1976) 519.
20. H. Rahmi Gurpinar, Ben Deli miyim? (Istanbul: Varlik, 1964). All the references to the novel are from this edition, and the translation from the Turkish is mine.
21. For information on Karagoz and Ortaoyunu, see J. A. Cuddon, A Dictionary of Literary Criticism (GB: Penguin, 1985) 350 and 469-71.
22. For information on this kind of abnormal psychology, see G. C. Davison and J. M. Meale, Abnormal Psychology: An Experimental Critical Approach (New York: n.p., 398,401-2, and 823.
23. E. M. Grant, Zola's Germinal (Leicester: Leicester UP, 1963).