Chapter 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. 1–28
This Introduction serves a fourfold function: to outline the premises and principles governing the project as a whole, to survey recent developments that characterize scholarship in the field, to delineate the innovative collaborative methodology governing the undertaking, and to provide a summary of the volume’s contents and its goals. The editors relate how, traditionally, realism is viewed both as a specific period of literary history between the 1830s and the 1890s, and as a conceptual attitude that manifests itself across history from antiquity to the present. Here, by contrast, literary realism is understood as a self-reflexive response to modernity and remapped as a relational and performative mode of questioning and (re)conceiving reality through representation. Beginning in the eighteenth century and reaching into the present, this ongoing experiment in mimetic reflection on experience results in a multi-phased and multi-stranded cross-cultural dynamic within European-language literatures and beyond. Landscapes of Realism consequently seeks to extend the conventional focus on nineteenth-century realism to include not just a reassessment of its prehistory and an examination of the interaction between realist and counter-realist poetics within the nineteenth century, but also consideration of the afterlife, perpetuation and revival of realist modes of representation from 1900 to the present.
Keywords: realism, comparative literature, critical theory, methodology in literary studies, literary history, modern languages
Published online: 21 April 2021
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