A Bit of Racism Amidst Digressive Nonsense about Realism, or Something Unlike It

By Faktorovich, Anna | Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Fall 2019 | Go to article overview

A Bit of Racism Amidst Digressive Nonsense about Realism, or Something Unlike It


Faktorovich, Anna, Pennsylvania Literary Journal


A Bit of Racism Amidst Digressive Nonsense About Realism, or Something Unlike It Elaine Freedgood. Worlds Enough: The Invention of Realism in the Victorian Novel. $35. 184pp, 5.5X8.25", hardback. ISBN: 978-0691193304. Princeton: Princeton University Press, October 15, 2019.

The title of this book is problematic because according to my recent research, there was no invention of the novel that materialized in Britain's eighteenth century, and "realism" was not a new discovery founded by Victorians. The depiction of reality is as old as the written world. Critics insistence on calling truthful portrayals of the world "realistic" is a modern invention that was designed to juxtapose thousands of years of reality against the sudden shift towards the absurd and nonsensical. There had been wild fantastic myths and religions created by writers of the past, but modern versions of anti-realism are far more detached from what humans can comprehend or find interesting to read coverto-cover. After the commencement of communism in Europe and the USSR revolutionary change, "realism" has become politicized as if "socialist realism" is the first thing readers imagine when they hear of any type of realism, and this "socialist realism" is equated with evil or with totalitarianism rather than being seen as the ability of the poor and disenfranchised to be dramatized in highbrow literary achievements. These anti-realist theories have brought about our current anti-literary, nonsensical or surface-only or abstract literatures that win awards despite being bereft of the one thing all past great fiction was built on: reality.

The blurb for this book does address some of these troubling questions but from a different angle. "Now praised for its realism and for- mal coherence, the Victorian novel was not always great, or even good, in the eyes of its critics." It has recently been troubling me that the simple paragraph-summaries of periods, genres and national literatures that most students of fiction learn in school reflect a tiny fraction of the full range of works created or published in these categories. Then again, critics take advantage of the impossibility of naming every text published to exclude the texts that fail to fit the desired narrative. I read an essay that took a unique take on this in relation to Watt's rise theory: this critic explained that Watt's theory of the "novel" rising in eighteenth century Britain has been accepted by the establishment because this "rise" hypothesis has similar dimensions with popular novel plots: like the heroes of these pop novels, this fictitious specter of the novel rises from obscurity, through tensions and to victory. However, the scholarly study of fiction cannot itself be fictitious; logic, truth and reason are essential for our interpretation of literary changes to be a positive contribution to humanities intellectual development.

The summary continues: "As Elaine Freedgood reveals in Worlds Enough, it was only in the late 1970s that literary critics constructed a prestigious version of British realism, erasing more than a century of controversy about the value of Victorian fiction." Something horrid happened to literary criticism and to many other academic fields between WWII and the present moment. As I read studies prior to around 1939, there is a coherent history that repeats, even if it is biased and erroneous. But after this date, scholars have begun "inventing" new histories and literary theories, which in retrospect have built a false history and a deliberately convoluted and misleading interpretation of this history.

"Examining criticism of Victorian novels since the 1850s, Freedgood demonstrates that while they were praised for their ability to bring certain social truths to fictional life, these novels were also criticized for their formal failures and compared unfavorably to their French and German counterparts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Bit of Racism Amidst Digressive Nonsense about Realism, or Something Unlike It
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.