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A Concise Companion to Realism

ISBN: 978-1-4443-3207-0
320 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
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A Concise Companion to Realism offers an accessible introduction to realism as it has evolved since the 19th century. Though focused on literature and literary theory, the significance of technology and the visual arts is also addressed.

  • Comprises 17 newly-commissioned essays written by a distinguished group of contributors, including Slavoj Zizek, Frederic Jameson and Terry Eagleton
  • Provides the historical, cultural, intellectual, and literary contexts necessary to understand developments in realism
  • Addresses the artistic mediums and technologies such as painting and film that have helped shape the way we perceive reality
  • Explores literary and pictorial sub-genres, such as naturalism and socialist realism
  • Includes a brief bibliography and suggestions for further reading at the end of each section
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List of Illustrations ix

Notes on Contributors x

Foreword by Rachel Bowlby xiv

Acknowledgments xxii

Introduction: Reclaiming Realism 1
Matthew Beaumont

1 Literary Realism Reconsidered: "The world in its length and breadth" 13
George Levine

2 Realist Synthesis in the Nineteenth Century Novel: "The unity which lies in the selection of our keenest consciousness" 23
Simon Dentith

3 Space, Mobility, and the Novel: "The spirit of place is a great reality" 50
Josephine McDonagh

4 Fictions of the Real: "All truth with malice in it" 68
Terry Eagleton

5 Naturalism: "Dirt and horror pure and simple" 86
Sally Ledger

6 Realism before and after Photography: "The fantastical form of a relation among things" 102
Nancy Armstrong

7 The Realist Aesthetic in Painting: "Serious and committed, ironic and brutal, sincere and full of poetry" 121
Andrew Hemingway

8 Interrupted Dialogues of Realism and Modernism: "The fact of new forms of life, already born and active" 143
Esther Leslie

9 Socialist Realism: "To depict reality in its revolutionary development" 160
Brandon Taylor

10 Realism, Modernism, and Photography: "At last, at last the mask has been torn away" 176
John Roberts

11 Cinematic Realism: "A recreation of the world in its own image" 195
Laura Marcus

12 The Current of Critical Irrealism: "A moonlit enchanted night" 211
Michael Lowy

13 Psychoanalysis and the Lacanian Real: "Strange shapes of the unwrapped primal world" 225
Slavoj Zizek

14 Feminist Theory and the Return of the Real: "What we really want most out of realism…" 242
Helen Small

15 Realism and Anti-Realism in Contemporary Philosophy: "What's truth got to do with it?" 259
Christopher Norris

Afterword: A note on literary realism 279
Fredric Jameson

Index 290

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Matthew Beaumont is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English at University College, London. He is the author of Utopia Ltd.: Ideologies of Social Dreaming in England 1870-1900 (2005), and has edited Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward for Oxford World’s Classics.
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Matthew Beaumont is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English at University College, London. He is the author of Utopia Ltd.: Ideologies of Social Dreaming in England 1870-1900 (2005), and has edited Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward for Oxford World’s Classics.
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"All great works of art, literary and visual, tend to have some kind of enduring claim to realism. The excellent contributors to this volume investigate with energy and precision the many different epistemological, historical and theoretical issues which can arise from such claims, for the novel, journalism, painting, cinema and still photography. They write from many different points of view, with a wide historical perspective and through well chosen examples - but have been cleverly edited into dialogue with one another. The aims of naturalism, socialist realism and feminism, and the changes brought about by modernism, for example, are illuminatingly analysed. This is the way to make progress on any philosophical issue, and the reader will enjoy taking part in the debate to the end."
—Christopher Butler, University of Oxford
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