To be specified published in:Landscapes of Realism: Rethinking literary realism in comparative perspectives. Volume I: Mapping realism
Edited by Dirk Göttsche, Rosa Mucignat and Robert Weninger
[Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages XXXII] 2021
► pp. 103–190
Routes into realism
Multiple beginnings, shared catalysts, transformative dynamics
This chapter reassesses and remaps the emergence of realist poetics and style in English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish literature in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, i.e., mostly before the French and German theories and critical debates about realism of the 1850s. Focusing largely on the novel and the novella, but also considering short prose and poetry, the chapter analyzes the often neglected role of Enlightenment legacies in the rise of realism (sentimentalism, the family novel, the romance), questions conventional periodization by exploring the development of realist themes and techniques in the context of romanticism and the historical novel (including the historical novel of the present), and pioneers the analysis of different forms of short prose as catalysts of realist representation and style. Two further sections are devoted to the profile of early realism (proto-realism) in criticism and literary practice, whose disruptions and experiments are often at odds with later realist theory, and to the language and style of realist narrative. The chapter’s comparative approach highlights the common ground between the multiple beginnings of realism in the different languages and the role of cross-cultural literary resonances, translations, analogies and dialogues but also the asynchronicity and specificity of national variations.
Keywords: realism, proto-realism, sentimentalism, romanticism, historical novel, family novel, short prose, poetics, style
- 2.From the late eighteenth century to realism: Sentimentalism and its legacies in realist poetics
- 2.1From ‘sentimental’ to ‘sympathetic’ realism in British literature
- 2.2Sincerity as a route into psychological realism in French literature
- 2.3The family novel and Enlightenment legacies in German realism
- 2.4Manzoni and the legacy of the romance in Italian literature
- 3.Genre innovation as a route into realism
- 3.1Through romanticism to realism: The rise of the historical novel as a catalyst of realist
- 3.1.1Walter Scott’s reinvention of the historical novel
- 3.1.2Significant timeframes: The Early Modern period and the rise of realism in the French historical novel (1826–1848)
- 3.1.3From romance to Italian historical realism: Manzoni’s “I promessi sposi”
- 3.1.4Galdós and the Spanish “novela de costumbres”
- 3.2The nineteenth-century Zeitroman as the historical novel of the present
- 3.3Short forms as catalysts of realist representation
- 3.3.1The English, French and German prose-sketch
- 3.3.2“Cuadros de costumbres” and the Spanish realist novella and novel
- 3.3.3The emergence of realism in Russian literature
- 3.3.4English parafiction and loco-descriptive poetry
- 3.3.5The Italian novella
- 3.1Through romanticism to realism: The rise of the historical novel as a catalyst of realist narrative
- 4.Proto-realisms: Early realist poetics and literary practice
- 4.1English proto-realism and the disruption of consensual poetics
- 4.2The dialectics of idealism and realism in early German realism
- 4.3Contemporaneity and mimetic illusion in early French realism
- 5.The language of realism: The emergence of realist styles and techniques
- 5.1Free Indirect Discourse in English and French realism
- 5.2Stylistic profiles of early realism in Italian, German, Russian and Spanish
- 6.Conclusions, perspectives, challenges
Published online: 21 April 2021
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