Jon Falsarella Dawson begins Combating Injustice: The Naturalism of Frank Norris, Jack London, and John Steinbeck by proposing a reinterpretation of the familiar literary movement, naturalism, through a distinct theoretical lens, social critique. He is particularly interested in investigating financial and economic questions, a line of inquiry that has not been as frequently applied to naturalist texts. Traditionally, the movement has been linked to its origins in nineteenth-century biological and sociological discourses, particularly the Lamarckian and Spenserian strands that occupied the social imaginary. Such traditional criticism often connected these discourses with recurrent themes of determinism. Dawson pivots within this critical trend, offering an alternative approach to similar thematic concerns. He writes that “economic determinism is central to social criticism in American naturalism” (5). For Dawson, themes of determinism can be closely connected to causative economic forces. Thus, the restriction of the individual’s agency is less biological (as in traditional readings)...

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