Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Realism or Naturalism?


 British Suffragette Caroline Kenney, sister of famed militant Annie Kenney, came to Montreal in late 1912 to start a militant movement in Montreal - but she claimed to be looking for a job as a teacher. (She did work as a teacher on the Montreal Board in 1913-15) Read Furies Cross the Mersey on Amazon Kindle.



I am reading Colette's first novel, Claudine at school, and she (Colette/Claudine) talks about the first books she read, her mom's books.

And she talks about Emile Zola. Her father didn't want her to read Zola but her Mom gave her a few of his less spicey novels.

Then I looked up the definition of naturalism vs. realism...Zola vs. Tolstoy.

Naturalism supposes that humans are just a higher form of animal, apparently. I thought it had more to do with depicting everything in great detail, like Zola does.

Realism is merely writing about real people in realistic scenarios.


I call Furies  a docu/novel, because it is based on (and contains) historical documents. One third of it is, anyway. 

Another third is based on family letters. (Can't get more realistic than that.)

And another third is pure fiction, with a Hollywood story-line and a satisfying and happy ending, although the by-the-book romance FURIES contains does not end in marriage.

The story line based on family letters ends in marriage because that is what actually happened. My husband's grandmother, Marion Nicholson, got married to Hugh Blair in 1913. Their entire up and down courtship is detailed in these 300  letters.

But, in Furies Cross the Mersey, as it happens, I do try to stick some Darwinian elements in. How could I not? Carrie Derick, the star of the story, was a McGill Botany and Genetics Professor, who gave talks all over the country citing Darwin and Mendel, etc. in support of her eugenics theories.

And I do make some of the Ladies of the Montreal Council of Women sometimes act like animals, with all their chatter, while looking like flowers, with their big hats and other adornments. My kind of naturalism.

And I do have Carrie Derick bump into a table with a baboon's skull on it...a tip of my hat to Darwin, in a scene at McGill Principal Peterson's home.

Sir William Van Horne, apparently, played a trick on Peterson once, with a simian skull.