RARA-AVIS: Realism vs realistic

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 19 Feb 2006

Doug wrote:
  I don't think people are really looking for "realism", anyway.

************* You've got the quotes around realism for a valid reason. Realism, as applied to literature, was a literary style popular in the US after the Civil War, and it is a mistake to equate it with "realistic."

Moby Dick, although its depiction of whaling might be accurate and realistic, is not Realism. It is classic Romanticism, an adventurous and heroic story, the antithesis of Realism. Realism was, at least in part, a direct reaction against Romanticism, portraying the unattractive lives of ordinary people caught up in unattractive situations such as poverty and prostitution. Realism led into the decidedly pessimistic determinism of American Naturalism.

That terms get mixed up is not much concern to me, but the one thing I see that I don't like is that there was a time when Realism was an important style of writing. Using the term Realism in relation to literature, when one simply means realistic, allows it to conveniently piggyback onto the significance and importance of a movement that was based on different values.



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