Research Article

The Genteel Realist James as a Pessimistic Naturalist in The Princess Casamassima


  • Hasan Al-zubi A Tenured Professor of English Literature, Department of Languages and Translation, Tabuk University, KSA


This paper highlights James as a naturalistic pessimist in his late fiction and, more specifically, in his late novel The Princess Casamassima (1986). Although James was identified as a pioneer genteel idealistic realist in his early fiction, his mode of writing shifted in his late fiction to cope with the new environmental settings in Europe and post-civil war American conditions. This dynamic change in his writing modes renders James as an experimental writer responsive to the drastic social, economic and intellectual changes in the late nineteenth century. To fictionalize the historical changes that occurred in Europe, James inscribes in The Princess Casamassima the harsh reality of life as it is, without idealization and aestheticization. He fictionalizes Hyacinth as drawn into the secret world of revolutionary politics and projects him as helpless and determined by biological, social, political and environmental forces which he can neither understand nor control. In dealing with themes of the lower order of society, violence, suicide, revolutionary politics, as well as social contrasts and environmental determinism not attempted at all in his early fiction, we witness in The Princess Casamassima a new naturalistic pessimist James. Delineating Hyacinth as strikingly determined, immersed in grim settings, together with being victimized by fate, the paper concludes, renders James a typical naturalist.

Article information


International Journal of Literature Studies

Volume (Issue)

3 (1)





How to Cite

Al-zubi, H. (2023). The Genteel Realist James as a Pessimistic Naturalist in The Princess Casamassima. International Journal of Literature Studies, 3(1), 09–21.



Biological determinism, Environmental determinism, Princess Casamassima, Post-Civil War America, Writing modes, Naturalism, Realism, James.