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Encyclopedia > Literary realism


Literary realism most often refers to the trend, beginning with certain works of nineteenth-century French literature and extending to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors in various countries, towards depictions of contemporary life and society 'as they were'. In the spirit of general "realism", Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and banal activities and experiences, instead of a romanticized or similarly stylized presentation. French literature of the nineteenth century is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in French from (roughly) 1799 to 1900. ... For other uses, see Realism (disambiguation). ...

French origins

The growth of literary realism occurred simultaneously with the development of the natural sciences (especially biology), history and the social sciences and with the growth of industrialism and commerce. The "realist" tendency is not necessarily anti-romantic; romanticism in France often affirmed the common man and the natural setting (such as the peasant stories of George Sand) and concerned itself with historical forces and periods (as in the work of historian Jules Michelet). The novels of Stendhal, for instance, including The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma, address issues of their contemporary society while also using themes and characters derived from the romantic movement. A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... For the song by Girls Aloud see Biology (song) Biology studies the variety of life (clockwise from top-left) E. coli, tree fern, gazelle, Goliath beetle Biology (from Greek: βίος, bio, life; and λόγος, logos, speech lit. ... This article is about the study of the past in human terms. ... The social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that study human aspects of the world. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... George Sand sewing, portrait by Eugène Delacroix (1838). ... Jules Michelet (August 21, 1798 - February 9, 1874) was a French historian. ... Stendhal. ... Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) is a novel by Stendhal, published in 1830. ... The Charterhouse of Parma (French: La Chartreuse de Parme) is one of Stendhals two acknowledged masterpieces (and only complete novels) along with The Red and the Black. ...

Honoré de Balzac is the most prominent representative of 19th century realism in fiction. His La Comédie humaine, a vast collection of nearly 100 novels, was the most ambitious scheme ever devised by a writer of fiction -- Balzac's intention was that it should be nothing less than a complete record of his contemporary society. Balzac's realism arguably provided the first literary representations of a number of social experiences and phenomena which were particular to modern (that is, post-revolutionary) society. Balzac redirects here. ... Honoré de Balzac La Comédie humaine is the title of Honoré de Balzacs multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy 1815-1848. ...

Many of the novels in this period (including Balzac's) were published in newspapers in serial form, and the immensely popular realist "roman feuilleton" tended to specialize in portraying the hidden side of urban life (crime, police spies, criminal slang), as in the novels of Eugène Sue. Similar tendencies appeared in the theatrical melodramas of the period and, in an even more lurid and gruesome light, in the Grand Guignol at the end of the century. In addition to melodramas, popular and bourgeois theater in the mid-century turned to realism in the "well-made" bourgeois farces of Eugène Marin Labiche and the moral dramas of Émile Augier. Also popular were the operettas, farces and comedies of Ludovic Halévy, Henri Meilhac and, at the turn of the century, Georges Feydeau. The term serial refers to the intrinsic property of a series —namely its order. ... Feuilleton (a diminutive of French feuillet, the leaf of a book) was originally a kind of supplement attached to the political portion of French newspapers. ... Joseph Marie Eugène Sue (January 20, 1804–August 3, 1857), French novelist, was born in Paris. ... Poster for The Perils of Pauline (1914). ... Promotional poster for a Grand Guignol performance This article is about the Paris theatre. ... Eugène Marin Labiche (May 5, 1815-1888), was a French dramatist. ... Guillaume Victor Émile Augier (September 17, 1820 – October 25, 1889), was a French dramatist. ... Ludovic Halévy (January 1, 1834 - May 8, 1908), French author, was born in Paris. ... Henri Meilhac (February 21, 1831 - 1897), French dramatist, was born in Paris. ... Georges Feydeau, (8 December 1862 - 5 June 1921) was a French playwright of the era known as La Belle Epoque. ...


George Eliot and her important novel Middlemarch stand as great milestones in the realist tradition, and are also important for transferring the French ideas to the United States. Mary Ann (Marian) Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist. ... See also Middlemarch, New Zealand. ...

William Dean Howells was the first American author to bring a realist flair to the literature of the United States. His stories of 1850s Boston upper-crust life are highly regarded among scholars of American fiction and by anyone who has an appreciation for realist writing. His most popular novel, The Rise of Silas Lapham, depicts a man who, ironically, falls from materialistic fortune by his own mistakes. The novel ends with his return to the farm he once left behind. Howells is known for his wry humor and wit, as well as characters that seem so tangible that one ends his novels feeling as if one had made many new friends. William Dean Howells (March 1, 1837 – May 11, 1920) was an American realist author. ... The Rise of Silas Lapham is a novel written by William Dean Howells in 1885 about the materialistic rise of Silas Lapham from rags to riches, and his ensuing moral susceptibility. ...


Gustave Flaubert is regarded by many critics as representing the zenith of the realist style with his unadorned prose and attention to the details of everyday life. Later "realist" writers included Guy de Maupassant, Bolesław Prus and, in a sense, Émile Zola, whose naturalism is often regarded as an offshoot of realism. Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert (December 12, 1821 – May 8, 1880) was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. ... Guy de Maupassant. ... BolesÅ‚aw Prus BolesÅ‚aw Prus (pronounced: [bÉ”lεswaf prus]; August 20, 1847 – May 19, 1912), born Aleksander GÅ‚owacki, was a Polish journalist, short-story writer, and novelist. ... Émile Zola (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was an influential French writer, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France. ... Naturalism is a movement in theater, film, and literature that seeks to replicate a believable everyday reality, as opposed to such movements as Romanticism or Surrealism, in which subjects may receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment. ...

See also

For other uses, see Realism (disambiguation). ... French literature of the nineteenth century is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in French from (roughly) 1799 to 1900. ...

External links



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