Literary realism: what it is, how it arises, characteristics and best-known authors - PhilNewsToday (2023)

Literary realism: what it is, how it arises, characteristics and best-known authors - PhilNewsToday (1)

What is literary realism?

When we talk about realism we refer to a trend that generated an artistic movement, in this case, we will focus on its development in the world of literature. A) Yes, literary realism was characterized by its look at the similarity between the forms of aesthetic representation with reality in which they are inspired, so that it focuses on exalting the similarity of a work with the world as we know it.

In the literature, literary realism was a movement that found many differences with literary romanticism, in addition to other currents that we have already discussed in this section. This was mainly due to the subjectivity and the importance to the imagination for which this current had advocated.

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Origin of literary realism

The point of origin of what will be Literary Realism takes place in France during the first part of the 19th century at the end of the bourgeois revolution. Although there are several authors who will take this current in their creations, it mainly arises with Henri Beyle “Stendhal” and Honoré Balzac, although it will be developed to a greater extent at the hands of the writer Gustave Flaubert.

Thus, in his beginnings, the writer Balzac began writing novels that paid special attention to details based on research motivated by his interest in broadening his knowledge of specific aspects, which guaranteed a kind of direct portrait that also put into expression daily life and customs. Faced with its appearance, experts mention several factors, including romanticism, part of its genres such as the historical novel, articles of customs and aesthetic reflections would be decisive for the origin of realism. Realism will be the opposition of this movement.

In the American continent, literary realism came from different authors, one of them Samuel Clemens who writes under his pseudonym Mark Twain. It specifically portrays indigenous speech patterns, especially in middle-class and lower-class characters. Many critics considered that Twain revolutionizes the genre by adding marginalized characters in society within his work, which is why he was singled out by the conservative core of American society.

movement development

It is important to bear in mind that realism has its first signs in the picaresque novel and Spanish medieval literature, since authors such as Miguel de Cervantes will be crucial in influencing the movement. Thus, it is considered that the realistic novel will be the epic of the bourgeois class.

At the end of the rise of realism at the time when resources begin to be reduced and there is no variety within its creations, this movement will begin to divide into other currents that, on the one hand, renew literary development and modify some of those already worked on. Among them we can identify naturalism, which increases the principles occupied by realism to a greater extent, to the point that the novel becomes an instant document of the time moving through marginal and bourgeois environments.

Characteristics of realism in literature

To understand the development and importance of this literary movement, let’s review its most important characteristics and the features that were decisive for the work of the authors in posterity. Let’s see:

Differences from romanticism

For their part, the authors of this movement focused on evading reality as well as its historical context through the evocation of the past and nature. However, realism will break with these processes and locates the author within the reality in which he finds himself directly, marking works that are a faithful reflection of his own reality as a point of arrival. In this way, both currents are opposed.

appearance of humble characters

At this time the humble characters will be portrayed, because this return of the gaze to reality allows the characters to no longer be idealized beings taken to be “heroes”, but instead focus on humble and marginalized people from the lower social classes. In this way, visibility falls on their representations through communication and their real forms of expression.

study of bourgeois life

This movement is considered typical of the bourgeoisie, especially because in its emergence this social class begins to gain recognition in the most important cities. Thus, the authors portray in their novels the most common characters and situations of the members of bourgeois life on topics such as money, frequent problems and social relationships. However, humble characters will be present in these portraits, who although they do not steal the limelight, take on great strength in their development.

Colloquial language

In the process of reflecting reality, language is one of the most important focus points to portray. Thus, the language of his literary works will be the reflection of the same reality in terms of language used in the country. Hence, popular language is present in the works with sayings deeply rooted in their speakers within the novels.

The human being in the spotlight

With this movement the human being recovers the center of attention. Previously literary works revolved around mythology, emotions and other topics, however, in his attempt to portray reality, the human being will be the starting point for the study of man and his behavior within the reality of which is part

absence of sentimentality

Another of the modifications proposed by realism was to make way for a particularly descriptive narrative in which feelings are relegated to the background, an element that was vital in the authors of Romanticism. The focus of attention was the descriptions that could be made of the life of the characters and their dynamics within their social context, beyond how he lived it. For this reason, it was not uncommon for the texts to be deeply descriptive and objective, subjectivity is eliminated and realism is given place in all its splendor.

social commitment

One of the most important characteristics of realism is the social commitment it acquires with respect to the sociopolitical reform of different places. This is due to the fact that the authors were inspired by reality to write their works, which is why in them many times complaints of injustices and different situations of a country appeared. Thus, literary realism was also a space for criticizing society from within that could lead one’s gaze to this type of situation.

Authors and most important works of literary realism

There were several authors who highlighted this movement and that left their characteristics in their works, especially in the narrative genre and with it, in the novels. Among them we find their predominant authors such as Gustave Flaubert of French origin, Henrik Ibsen of Norway, Alexandre Dumas (son) of France, Henry James of the United States, Guy de Maupassant of France, Stendhal of France, Fyodor Dostoievsky, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens from England, Honoré de Balzac from France, William Makepeace Tackeray from England, among others who had contact with the movement during its expansion.

They also highlight some spanish authors such as Fernán Caballero, pseudonym of Cecilia Bölh de Faber, Leopoldo Alas (Clarín), Benito Pérez Galdós and Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. And in Latin America authors such as José Martí, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio Cortázar, Isabel Allende, among others.

Were important works such as War and Peace (1865-1869), Anna Karenina (1875-1877) and Resurrection (1879) by Tolstoy, Oliver Twist (1837-1839) by Dickens, The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), Crime and Punishment (1866) and Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot (1868-1869), Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857), Balzac’s The Shagskin (1831), Red and Black (1830) and Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma (1839), Doña Perfecta (1876). ), Marianela (1878) and La de Bringas (1884) by Benito Pérez, La Regenta (1884-1885) by Leopoldo Alas and Los pazos de Ulloa (1886-1887) by Emilia Pardo Razón, among others.

Without a doubt, literary realism was one of the most important and expanding movements that would thus mark a decisive change for literary development as it was being handled, as well as opening the door to other possible creations of writers from different parts of the world. of the world.

To learn more about other movements in the world of literature, genres, authors, among others, be sure to visit our section to continue learning about this art.


Which author best exemplifies literary realism? ›

Probably the most famous realistic author is Charles Dickens (1812-1870). His novels have a strong theme of social justice, illustrating the plight of the poor in 19th century England. One of his best-known works, “Great Expectations”, is considered a classic example of literary realism.

What is realism with author? ›

Realism (REEL-iz-um), or literary realism, is an era of literary technique in which authors described things as they are without embellishment or fantastical plots. Works of literary realism shun flowery language, exotic settings and characters, and epic stories of love and heroism.

What are the 7 characteristics of realism? ›

Realism Characteristics
  • Detail. Detail is that special something, that je ne sais quoi that sets Realism apart from other literary schools. ...
  • Transparent Language. ...
  • Omniscient Narrator. ...
  • Verisimilitude. ...
  • The Novel. ...
  • The Quotidian. ...
  • Character. ...
  • Social Critique.

What is meant by literary realism? ›

Literary realism is a literary genre, part of the broader realism in arts, that attempts to represent subject-matter truthfully, avoiding speculative fiction and supernatural elements.

What are 2 characteristics of the realism period? ›

Realism Art Characteristics:

Rejected Romantic ideals. Represented subjects “as they were” Focused on everyday people, settings, and situations. Responded to a new national emphasis on workers.

Who is the father of literary realism? ›

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright in the 19th century who became well-known throughout the world for his significant influence on decades of authors and playwrights after him. Considered the father of realism, he holds a place in history as a founder of modernism in theatrical works.

Who were some famous authors to emerge from the realism movement? ›

In American literature, the term "realism" encompasses the period of time from the Civil War to the turn of the century during which William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James, Mark Twain, and others wrote fiction devoted to accurate representation and an exploration of American lives in various contexts.

Who was the first realism author? ›

The first American realist author was William Dean Howells, who was known for writing novels about middle-class life.

Who are three famous realism authors? ›

If you are interested in this movement, you should consider reading works by Henry James, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kafka, and Dostoyevsky. Numerous realistic writers have left a powerful mark on the world of literature.

Who was a famous realist writer? ›

Considered one of the great American Realist writers, Mark Twain is not only celebrated for the stories he tells but also the way in which he tells them, with an unmatched ear for the English language and sensitivity to the diction of the common man.

Why did authors use realism? ›

Artists and writers strove for detailed realistic and factual description. They tried to represent events and social conditions as they actually are, without idealization. This form of literature believes in fidelity to actuality in its representation. Realism is about recreating life in literature.

What are the 4 types of realism? ›

The four propositions of realism are as follows.
  • State-centrism: States are the most important actors.
  • Anarchy: The international system is anarchic. ...
  • Egoism: All states within the system pursue narrow self-interests. ...
  • Power politics: The primary concern of all states is power and security.

What are 5 characteristics of realistic fiction? ›

Characteristics of Realistic Fiction
  • Realistic fiction stories tend to take place in the present or recent past.
  • Characters are involved in events that could happen.
  • Characters live in places that could be or are real.
  • The characters seem like real people with real issues solved in a realistic way.
13 Jan 2022

What are 3 characteristics of realistic fiction? ›

Characteristics of Realistic Fiction

Realistic fiction stories tend to take place in the present or recent past. Characters are involved in events that could happen. Characters live in places that could be or are real.

What is the main idea of realism? ›

Realism (including neorealism) focuses on abiding patterns of interaction in an international system lacking a centralized political authority. That condition of anarchy means that the logic of international politics often differs from that of domestic politics, which is regulated by a sovereign power.

What is literary realism Mary Francis Slattery? ›

SISTER MARY FRANCIS SLATTERY. What Is Literary Realism? IN LITERATURE, realism is reference that. gives an illusion of exact correspondence with. reality in its limited aspects.

What are the characteristics of new realism? ›

Zavattini's views on Neorealism emphasized a documentary style of film realism, the use of nonprofessional actors, a rejection of Hollywood conventions, real locations as opposed to studio sets, an avoidance of dramatic or intrusive editing, and contemporary, everyday subject matter about the common man.

What were the main characteristics of romanticism and realism? ›

What were the major features of the cultural movements known as romanticism and realism? Romanticism is the emphasis on feelings, imagination, and emotion. Realism is the belief that the world should be viewed realistically and scientifically.

What are the characteristics of realism and naturalism? ›

Realism is a manner and method of composition by which the author describes normal, average life, in an accurate, truthful way,” while “Naturalism is a manner and method of composition by which the author portrays 'life as it is' in accordance with the philosophic theory of determinism.”

Who is the most well known author of the realism movement? ›

George Eliot

She was one of the most important English novelists of the Victorian era, and she's widely credited with popularizing Realism within the English literary tradition.

Is Aristotle the father of realism? ›

Aristotle (384 BC–322 BC), the father of realism, was a student of Plato, and adapted his philosophies from that of his teacher. Considering that both men were from the same small community, it is astonishing that both Plato's and Aristotle's philosophies of education have endured for thousands of years.

Who was the first realist philosopher? ›

Descartes may be regarded as the father of modern realism. He set forth one of the basic propositions of the movement: the independent existence of the object. After Descartes, philosophers like Locke, Reid, and others introduced an idea that eventually lead to subjective idealism.

When did realism arise? ›

Realism was an artistic movement that emerged in France in the 1840s, around the 1848 Revolution. Realists rejected Romanticism, which had dominated French literature and art since the early 19th century.

Who is famous for realism? ›

An artist who was considered to be one of the famous Realist painters was Jean-François Millet. He painted The Gleaners in 1857, which is widely considered to be one of the most important works of the entire Realism movement.

What did realism writers focus on? ›

Realism is characterized by the use of realistic characters over a complicated plot. Elements of Realism include the focus of social issues, struggles of everyday life, truths of everyday life, and focus on mostly middle- and lower-class people.

What is the main goal of realism in literature? ›

The main goal of realism was to depict the positives and negatives of everyday life, particularly in the middle class.

Why was realism so important? ›

Realism is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern art movement due to the push to incorporate modern life and art together. Classical idealism and Romantic emotionalism and drama were avoided equally, and often sordid or untidy elements of subjects were not smoothed over or omitted.

What are the main types of realism? ›

realist thought can be divided into three branches: human nature realism, state-centric realism and system-centric realism.

What is realism simple words? ›

Realism is an approach to life that means dealing with the way things are. If you see the world through the lens of realism, you accept what's in front of you and don't pretend it's otherwise.

Who is a realistic character? ›

The realist is someone who doesn't expect things. They deal with each situation as it comes up. Their view on life is logical. By not hoping or expecting things to turn out in specific ways, they are never disappointed.

What are the characteristics of literary fiction? ›

Literary fiction generally includes a focus on social commentary, political criticism, or on the human condition, with a strong emphasis on writing style and character studies. This category is set apart from genre fiction such as romance, crime, and fantasy.

What is a characteristic of a realistic short story? ›

Effective sentence structure and correct spelling, grammar, and usage. A realistic short story also includes: Characters, setting, and dialogue that seem real and a plot that could actually happen. A contemporary setting that most readers recognize.

What are the four characteristics of fiction? ›

The Four Elements of Fiction: Character, Setting, Situation, and Theme is a detailed discussion about the importance of how the four elements of fiction must relate to one another in order to produce a page-turner.

Which two characteristics below are elements of realistic fiction? ›

Which two characteristics below are elements of realistic fiction? The events portrayed in realistic fiction conjure questions that a reader could face in his/her life and the characters live in a real or realistic place.

What are the six characteristics of fiction? ›

Here are six elements of fiction to know:
  • Character.
  • Plot.
  • Point of View.
  • Setting.
  • Style.
  • Theme.

What are the characteristics of literary? ›

Characteristics of literary text include characters, setting, plot (problem/solution), and sequence. These characteristics help the reader understand who is in the story, where and when the story takes place, what happens in the story, and how the events happen, etc.

What are the common characteristics of literary? ›

Literary writing is usually fictional, and it makes use of figurative or symbolic language.
Main Characteristics:
  • usually fiction that displays a sense of reality.
  • tension or conflict.
  • artistic unity (a main idea is conveyed)
  • figurative language (similes, metaphors, irony, symbolism, analogy)

What is the characteristics of literary theory? ›

It is literary theory that formulates the relationship between author and work; literary theory develops the significance of race, class, and gender for literary study, both from the standpoint of the biography of the author and an analysis of their thematic presence within texts.

What is the most important characteristics of literature? ›

One of the most important qualities of literature is its universality. It is present in many countries, many languages and it has universal appeal. It works with joy, sorrow, faith, love, hate and fear.

What are the 6 characteristics of literature? ›

Some of the characteristics of literature includes Focus , Goals , Perspective , Coverage , Organization and Audience .

What is a realistic character in a story? ›

Realistic in this sense means that the events and characters contained in the story seem like they could actually happen or exist in real life.

What are the 5 most important characteristics of writing? ›

The following is a brief description of five qualities of good writing: focus, development, unity, coherence, and correctness. The qualities described here are especially important for academic and expository writing.

What are common characteristics? ›

a characteristic or belief that is so fundamental to identity or conscience that a person should not be forced to renounce it.

What are the seven characteristics of literature? ›

The seven literary standards are: artistry , suggestiveness , intellectual value, spiritual value, permanence, universality and style. These are a set of characteristics to determine whether or not a work is literary. The criteria was developed by writer William J.

What is the characteristics of literary criticism? ›

Literary criticism is essentially an opinion, supported by evidence, relating to theme, style, setting or historical or political context. It usually includes discussion of the work's content and integrates your ideas with other insights gained from research.

What is the best definition of literary theory? ›

What Is Literary Theory? Literary theory is a school of thought or style of literary analysis that gives readers a means to critique the ideas and principles of literature. Another term for literary theory is hermeneutics, which applies to the interpretation of a piece of literature.

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