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Contents:
  1. An International Movement: Social Realism and its Beginnings at ACA – ACA Galleries
  2. The beginnings of critical realism in America : 1860-1920
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Request removal from index. Revision history. From the Publisher via CrossRef no proxy journals. Configure custom resolver. Vernon Louis Parrington - - Hacourt, Brace. Smith - - Ethics 41 3 Kristie Hamilton - Linda M. Grasso - Joseph Dewey - Main Currents in American Thought. Phillip Barrish - The Social Construction of American Realism. Amy Kaplan - - University of Chicago Press. Legal Philosophy in America. Brian Bix - - In Cheryl Misak ed. Oxford University Press. The Critical Period in American Literature. The Colonial Mind, Vernon Louis Parrington - Henry B.

The Case for Realism

Wonham - How these forces interact and sometimes do battle with each other plays a large part in the development of personality. Realism, at its highest level, attempts to lay these internal struggles bare for all to see. Changes in mood, in perceptions, in opinions and ideas constitute turning points or climaxes. Typically, novels follow a definite arc of events, with an identifiable climax and resolution. They are self-contained and satisfying in their symmetry. Successful careers have been built on the scaffolding of a single story arc.

The school of Realism observed that life did not follow such patterns, so for them, neither should the novel. Instead of grand happenings, tragedies, and epic turns of events, the realist novel plodded steadily over a track not greatly disturbed by external circumstances.

The same can be said of Dostoyevsky — He composed lengthy and weighty fiction where most, if not all of the action happened in the minds of the characters. Narrative style also changed with realistic fiction. Instead of an omniscient narrator calmly describing the persons and events, readers often confront unreliable narrators who do not have all the information. A popular device for many realistic novelists was the frame narrative, or the story inside a story. This device compounds the unreliable narrator by placing the reader at a further remove from the events of the novel.

The purpose of all of these innovations, as with the whole of Realism, was to more accurately simulate the nature of reality — unknowable, uncertain, and ever-shifting reality. His portraits of ordinary French life were remarkable in their careful attention to details. Balzac reportedly consulted with associates in order to learn more about specific subjects, so as to portray them in their fullness.

He expressed the idea that characters come to life through the painstaking accumulation of environmental details. His methodology was a departure from the Romantic tradition which was near its zenith when he was crafting his stories. Balzac also put enormous emphasis on the settings of his stories. Whether urban or provincial, the locale almost becomes a character of its own.

An International Movement: Social Realism and its Beginnings at ACA – ACA Galleries

His most famous work, which was left unfinished, was The Human Comedy , an assortment of interwoven tales and novels which depict life in early nineteenth century France. The effect of the narrative buildup in The Human Comedy is the realization of an epic that is more than the sum of its parts. Like the realists who would follow in his footsteps, Balzac did not rely on profound or spectacular events to move his stories along.

Instead, he paid attention to the small things, the nuances that made up the experience of typical French life.

The beginnings of critical realism in America : 1860-1920

In America, Samuel Clemens was the early pioneer of Realism. Writing under the pen name Mark Twain, he was noteworthy for his faithful reproduction of vernacular speech patterns and vocabulary. Replicating natural speech required not just great listening skills, but a sense of how the written version sounds to the imagination. In addition to the use of vernacular, Twain was an innovator in focusing on middle and lower class characters. Previously, novels had concentrated on the experiences of the elite. Presumably, the upper crust enjoyed seeing their lives of privilege reflected back to them in art, while salt of the earth readers had something to aspire to and fantasize about.

It was a revolutionary concept to incorporate unremarkable characters into an art form as serious as the novel. In a development that continues to bewilder, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most frequently banned books in the public school system. One imagines that certain language is indeed offensive; however Twain was doing nothing other than representing honest speech. Huck Finn was in all reality an astonishing leap forward in racial awareness — Jim, the freed slave, is as fully realized a character as Tom or Huck. A great friend of Mark Twain, and an eminent American realist in his own right, was the magazine editor William Dean Howells.

In charge of the Atlantic Monthly for several years, Howells exercised a lot of authority over the currents of taste on his side of the ocean. In his role as editor, he was instrumental in promoting the fame of literary rising stars, such as Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, and Sarah Orne Jewett. Howells wrote copious volumes of fiction of his own, and was an unqualified success in that regard.

For a time, he was widely considered the most accomplished of all American Realists. That being said, several of his novels are in the first rank of American Realism.

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Published in , the ironically titled The Rise of Silas Lapham tells the story of an ambitious businessman who tumbles out of fortune through his own mistakes and poor judgment. It is an anti-success story, and illustrates one of the central ideas of Realism, that of crafting honest narratives rather than feel-good sentimental fantasies. In short, there is a kind of grimness to Realism that many readers have found unappealing. A Modern Instance highlights this same principle in detailing the steady disintegration of a seemingly happy marriage.

Without a doubt, American expatriate Henry James represents the most skilled and accomplished practitioner of Realism in fiction.


  1. Literary realism - Wikipedia;
  2. The Brazilian Consequence.
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He was fascinated by encounters between representatives of the New World, America, with members of the Old World, or Europe. He observed a distinct set of traits that permeated each of these groups. With Americans, he witnessed vigor, innocence, and strict moral righteousness.

Literary Periods