To be specified published in:Landscapes of Realism: Rethinking literary realism in comparative perspectives. Volume II: Pathways through realism
Edited by Svend Erik Larsen, Steen Bille Jørgensen and Margaret R. Higonnet
[Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages XXXIII] 2022
► pp. 467–482
Posthumanism and realism
Posthuman figures exist in literature but not in the real world, making it a seemingly odd subject for realism. Realism as a style has, on the other hand, played a significant role in speculative fiction that ranges from science fiction to a range of canonical works in European languages. The use of stylistic devices is interesting in itself, but the question of posthumanism delves deeper into what realism would mean in the context of non-human agents. This case-study focuses on a handful of texts that engage with posthumanism and the decentering of the human in different ways: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) uses a variety of techniques to establish the authority of the story; Franz Kafka’s “Die Verwandlung” (1915) and Robert Musil’s “Das Fliegenpapier” (1914) deal with human-animal relations driven by a meticulous attention to detail and provide multiple levels of interpretation; Michel Houellebecq’s novels Les Particules élémentaires (1998) and La Possibilité d’une île (2005) use the posthuman as a figure to critique contemporary society; and Octavia Butler’s Dawn (1987) is a work of science fiction in which the encounter with aliens explores a future in which new categories take hold.
- 1.Introduction: The posthuman take on reality
- 2.Shelley and the hypercanonical posthuman
- 3.Human-animal relations: Kafka and Musil
- 4.Contrapuntal chronicles: Houellebecq and the decadent present
- 5.Octavia E. Butler and the alien view
Published online: 16 March 2022
Parker, Kendra R.
Robinson, Kim Stanley and Helena Feder
Thomsen, Mads Rosendahl and Jacob Wamberg