English Literature
Literary Realism

Literary Realism

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Understanding Literary Realism: Exploring Everyday Life Through Literature

Literary Realism emerged in the 19th century as a reaction against the dominant Romanticism movement, shifting the focus from emotions and the supernatural to the mundane and ordinary. Originating in France after the French Revolution, this movement aimed to capture reality without exaggerated embellishments or stylization.

The Origins and Definition of Literary Realism

Literary Realism is a subset of the broader Realism artistic movement that arose in 18th century France. It was a response to the grandiose themes and styles of Romanticism, which had dominated the literary landscape. Realism was characterized by its portrayal of reality as it is, without idealization or romanticization.

The ideals of the French Revolution, such as liberty, equality, and brotherhood, greatly influenced the emergence of Literary Realism. These principles were later adopted by other movements, including the Russian Revolution and the Suffragette movement.

The Characteristics of Literary Realism

Literary Realism aimed to represent reality in a truthful and objective manner. This was achieved through techniques such as hyper-realistic narrative and avoiding stylization or caricature. The movement also embraced an empirical approach, emphasizing the separation of reality from the author's perception.

In contrast to Romanticism, which focused on subjective themes and transcendence, Literary Realism turned its attention to the everyday lives of middle and working-class individuals. Characters were portrayed realistically and without hesitation, with character development taking precedence over the plot.

In essence, the fundamental characteristic of Literary Realism was its pursuit of authenticity and truthfulness.

The Debate on Objectivity in Literature

The concept of objectivity in literature is a contentious topic. While Literary Realism aimed for objectivity, some argue that it is impossible for authors to completely eliminate their personal viewpoints and biases from their work, even if unintentionally.

Notable Authors of Literary Realism

The Literary Realism movement spread globally, producing renowned authors from different regions such as America, Europe, and Russia. While each had a distinct approach, they were united by their focus on objective reality and the mundane.

European Literary Realism

Gustave Flaubert, best known for his novel Madame Bovary, is considered a key European author of Literary Realism. His works delved into the mundaneness of everyday life and the lives of provincial people, often facing criticism for not accurately capturing common speech.

Honore de Balzac, with his multi-volume collection La Comedie Humaine, explored previously taboo subjects in a nuanced and relatable manner. His well-developed characters became archetypes, earning him praise from intellectuals such as Friedrich Engels.

Russian Literary Realism

Russian authors also made significant contributions to the Literary Realism movement, including Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Tolstoy's epic novel War and Peace showcased the lives of aristocrats while also incorporating gritty realism. His characters were portrayed realistically as they navigated and adjusted to the complexities of life.

Overall, Literary Realism was a significant movement in literature, depicting everyday life in a realistic and unfiltered manner. It continues to influence and inspire writers today, reminding us of the importance of authenticity in storytelling.

Dostoevsky and the Unique Use of Literary Realism

Fyodor Dostoevsky is known for his novels that explore the human psyche and psychological realism. In his novel, Crime and Punishment, the protagonist's disconnect from reality is the focus, delving into his particular psychological state rather than objective reality.

Examples of Literary Realism in American Authors

Mark Twain is considered one of the pioneers of the Literary Realist movement in America. His characters, such as Huckleberry Finn, embody the language and vernacular of the time, sparking controversy and criticism for its use of colloquialism and uncouth behavior.

While Twain's novel, Huck Finn, was intended as a satire of the era's racist reality, it has also faced criticism for its stereotypical representations and use of racial slurs in dialogue.

Understanding Literary Realism: An Exploration of the Movement and its Impact

Literary realism, a groundbreaking movement that originated in France in the 19th century, has redefined storytelling and continues to influence literature today. With a focus on character development and everyday occurrences, this writing style elevates the lives of marginalized individuals and offers a realistic portrayal of society.

One of the pioneers of literary realism is French author Honore de Balzac, whose work has influenced writers like Dostoevsky and Proust. His renowned collection, The Human Comedy, delves into themes of mental illness, greed, love, and crime, providing a compelling depiction of human nature. Balzac's realistic approach has cemented his place in the Western Canon.

However, not all authors were influenced by Balzac. The Nouveau Roman movement in mid-20th century France rejected traditional realism and strived for a more experimental style, similar to French New Wave cinema. They aimed to break away from the standard elements of literary realism, such as linear plots and realistic characters, which they deemed too conventional and predictable.

One of Balzac's works that stands out in The Human Comedy is "Another Study of Womankind," a satirical commentary on the treatment of women in society. Set in a Parisian soiree, the story is narrated by four different individuals, each providing their perspective on the subject. From a cynical Prime Minister to a mocking journalist, the story offers a critical look at the societal expectations placed on women. The story of a husband seeking revenge on his wife's lover and the subsequent events adds to the satirical tone, while the narrator shares the tragic story of another woman's life. Balzac's "Another Study of Womankind" is a thought-provoking criticism of societal norms and expectations.

Through literary realism, authors like Balzac have challenged readers to see the world in a new light and empathize with characters from all walks of life. With its focus on everyday occurrences and realistic portrayals of society, this movement continues to shape and influence the world of literature today.

Image: Wikicommons

The Origins and Influence of Literary Realism

Literary realism emerged during the late 19th century as a response to the prevalent Romantic movement, and its effects continue to shape contemporary literature. This literary movement prioritized character development and aimed to portray objective reality, leaving a lasting and significant impact on the literary landscape.

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