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. 599–696
Straw man or profligate son?
Transformations of literary realism since 1900
We tend to think of literary realism largely as an invention and product of the nineteenth century. However tenuous and misguided this attribution may be, literature after 1900 is nonetheless typically seen as ideologically and expressively at variance with the nineteenth-century’s formulas for and formulations of realist aesthetics and practice. This chapter illustrates just how wrong this perception is. Its underlying premise is that realism, in whatever shade or shape, has lost none of its former appeal, manifesting itself especially in the continuing immense popularity of the historical novel and the Bildungsroman – two realist genres par excellence – but also in the diverging trajectories of the social realist novel and the (rather short-lived, as we now know) socialist realist novel. Focusing for practical reasons on the most axiomatically realist of all literary genres, the novel, the story told in this chapter is not just one of realism’s ebb and flow as it meanders through the landscape of post-1900 European-language literary history, but also one of its ups and downs, its bifurcation, transposition, amalgamation, overlay and transfer. It is also a story of realism’s intersection with and osmosis into modernism and postmodernism, both of which are all too customarily – although wrongly, as the argument here illustrates – seen as diametrically opposed to realism.
Keywords: realism, socialist realism, modernism, postmodernism, Bildungsroman , historical novel, stream of consciousness novel, adultery in literature
- 1.The Lernaean Hydra realism
- 2.Post-1900 transformations of the realist Bildungsroman
- 2.1The realism of modernism in Joyce’s Ulysses
- 2.2Three twentieth-century reappropriations of the Bildungsroman
- 3.Reopening the book of history: The historical novel post–1900
- 4.From social realism to socialist realism
- 5.Pathologies of realism – adultery and beyond
- 6.Modernism’s introspective turn
- 6.1Stream of consciousness and interior monologue
- 6.2The realism of surrealism
- 7.Realism’s postmodern diversions
- 7.1Realism within postmodernism: Two examples
- 7.2Mapping a diverse field
- 8.The returns of realism
Published online: 21 April 2021
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