English Language and Literature ETDs

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This study examines the early writing of Edward Bellamy, that done before the publication of Looking Backward, to determine whether he himself was justified in calling it "psychologic." Because of the highly autobiographical nature of his work and his own tendency toward introspection, I have reviewed and thoroughly examined the few known facts of his early life. His preoccupation with guilt feelings and anxiety may be partially attributed to his own early rejection of the orthodox religion of his parents and to his seeming inability to meet their high expectations.

For the most part I have chosen to study those early short stories that have been largely neglected, most notably those written specifically for Sunday Afternoon, a reform magazine edited by Washington Gladden, and others that were also not included in his final collection, The Blindman's World. The stories have a dual psychological aspect. They reveal a great deal about Bellamy's own emotional problems, proving to be autobiographical on the psychological as well as the factual level. In light of psychological theory developed since Bellamy's time, much of what is revealed was apparently unconsciously incorporated into his fiction. On the other hand, Bellamy considered himself a student of psychology and deliberately applied current theories of psychology to his writing of fiction. There is clear evidence of his knowledge of the work of the faculty psychologists and of Darwinian physiological psychology.

Bellamy used his early writing, as he states in his journals, as a means of acquainting himself with the "inner man." The emotional problems of the characters of his early stories are often painfully intense and vividly realistic. In following a psychological progression in his stories it appears that the closer Bellamy came to a true revelation of his own psychological conflicts, the less realistic his fiction became and the more he pursued romance and fantasy in his writing. By the time he wrote Looking Backward he had largely abandoned realism. The demands of Nationalism put an end to his career of fiction writing, but even if it had not, Bellamy probably would have continued to attempt to solve psychological problems through the creation of a utopian, rational, ideal humanity rather than by neurotic man's often painful confrontation with his own psyche as depicted in his early stories.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

George Warren Arms

Second Committee Member

Leon Howard

Third Committee Member

Ralph Norman



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