Realism in Literature

realism (in literature)

realism, in literature, an approach that attempts to describe life without idealization or romantic subjectivity. Although realism is not limited to any one century or group of writers, it is most often associated with the literary movement in 19th-century France, specifically with the French novelists Flaubert and Balzac. George Eliot introduced realism into England, and William Dean Howells introduced it into the United States. Realism has been chiefly concerned with the commonplaces of everyday life among the middle and lower classes, where character is a product of social factors and environment is the integral element in the dramatic complications (see naturalism). In the drama, realism is most closely associated with Ibsen's social plays. Later writers felt that realism laid too much emphasis on external reality. Many, notably Henry James, turned to a psychological realism that closely examined the complex workings of the mind (see stream of consciousness).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Realist Novel
Dennis Walder.
Routledge, 1995
The Culture Concept: Writing and Difference in the Age of Realism
Michael A. Elliott.
University of Minnesota Press, 2002
American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary
E. C. Applegate.
Greenwood Press, 2002
Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Donald Pizer.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1984 (Revised edition)
Realism and the American Dramatic Tradition
William W. Demastes.
University of Alabama Press, 1996
Documents of American Realism and Naturalism
Donald Pizer.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1988
Emotive Realism
Thrailkill, Jane F.
Journal of Narrative Theory, Vol. 36, No. 3, Fall 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Realist Novel as Meta-Spectacle
Barnaby, Edward.
Journal of Narrative Theory, Vol. 38, No. 1, Winter 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Under the Sun: Myth and Realism in Western American Literature
Barbara Howard Meldrum.
Whitston, 1985
Playing the Races: Ethnic Caricature and American Literary Realism
Henry B. Wonham.
Oxford University Press, 2004
To Be Suddenly White: Literary Realism and Racial Passing
Steven J. Belluscio.
University of Missouri Press, 2006
Philosophy and German Literature, 1700-1990
Nicholas Saul.
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap 3 "Two Realisms: German Literature and Philosophy 1830–1890"
The Literary Realism of William Dean Howells
William McMurray.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1967
Writing Realism: Howells, James, and Norris in the Mass Market
Daniel H. Borus.
University of North Carolina Press, 1989
Willa Cather and Material Culture: Real-World Writing, Writing the Real World
Janis P. Stout.
University of Alabama Press, 2005
Rebecca Harding Davis and American Realism
Sharon M. Harris.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991
Chesnutt and Realism: A Study of the Novels
Ryan Simmons.
University of Alabama Press, 2006
American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995
Phillip Barrish.
Cambridge University Press, 2001
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