The Later Realism: A Study of Characterization in the British Novel

By Walter L. Myers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARIES

1. GENERAL PURPOSE

The novels of George Eliot may be named as the first that are adequately representative of native British realism fully matured but not yet modified by French naturalism and later European influences. In opposition to romance, in preference for domestic realism, in the exaltation of the humble and the commonplace, George Eliot is completely typical of her day; and in technique she has unusual significance. Her earlier practice is a workmanlike summation of the better developments in fictional method up to 1850. She does not, to be sure, have the mastery of closely blended and somewhat generalized narrative shown by Thackeray; nor does she have the full power of detailed stagecraft that Dickens exhibits in the better of his scenes. George Eliot does, however, employ competently each of the two methods of narrative favored by her great contemporaries; and in her later novels she relies also upon a psychological analysis which, in elaboration and precision, was scarcely possible before the mid-nineteenth century, and which she first perfected. Whatever the weaknesses of George Eliot's fictional bow it had a sufficiency of strings, one of them essentially new and destined to be much plucked by her successors. This distinction makes George Eliot more serviceable than either Thackeray or Dickens as a landmark in the later British novel.

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The Later Realism: A Study of Characterization in the British Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter I - Preliminaries 1
  • Chapter II - Influences Shaping the Later Realism 22
  • Chapter III - General Aspects of Recent Characterization 58
  • Chapter IV - The More Pictorial Elements In Recent Characterization 94
  • Chapter V - The Less Imageal Elements 123
  • Chapter VI - Conclusion 161
  • Bibliography 163
  • Index 167
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