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. 489–625
Dynamics of realist forms
Nineteenth-century realism is often associated with a mimetic representation of socio-historical reality in the narrative form of the novel. However, a closer look at the wealth of new genres and literary forms that were created by writers and artists within the various factions of realism offers a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of realist art based on new communicative, creative and social challenges and opportunities. In this chapter, we want to explore and analyze different aspects of the simultaneous preoccupation of writers with the new social reality and its changes, tensions and classes on the one hand, and with an ongoing search for literary forms to express these new experiences of reality and convey them to a diverse readership on the other. Taking our point of departure in the notions of ‘composition’ and ‘self-reflexiveness,’ our aim will be to detail the disruptive innovative force of realist writing across literary and non-literary texts as well as across verbal and visual media, both in nineteenth-century realism and into the twentieth and twenty-first century. Over the past one hundred and twenty years, activist and interventionist strategies in various avant-garde movements contribute to redefine realism through literary forms that point both to readers’ literary and social commitment, and this kind of dialogic exchange – an exchange that underpins all contemporary realist practice – becomes a means to transform social reality itself.
Keywords: composition, self-reflexiveness, self-consciousness, intermediality, scale, reader engagement, open forms, realism
- 1.Introduction: New forms, new realities
- 1.1Reflexiveness and composition
- 2.Giving form to social reality
- 2.1Beyond traditional formal models
- 2.2Poetry and everyday life
- 2.3A pictorial turn
- 3.Popular culture and formal innovation
- 3.1New audiences and the democratization of culture
- 3.2Popular forms and new aesthetic ideals
- 3.3Literary models and systemic worldviews
- 4.Critical positions between fiction and reality
- 4.1Prefaces and the battle of realism
- 4.2Theatricality and irony
- 4.3Narrative masks: Women’s writing and female readership
- 4.3.1Fractured narrative structures
- 4.3.2Defective mirror and social commentary
- 5.Scaling and rescaling
- 5.1Scale, perception and reading
- 5.2Shorter forms
- 6.Concluding perspective: Beyond realism?
- 6.1Collage novels and language poetry
- 6.2Short short stories
- 6.3Concrete poetry
- 6.5Interactive forms
- 7.The questioning continues
Published online: 16 March 2022
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