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17 - American literary Realism

from IV - Later nineteenth-century developments: Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism and Decadence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

M. A. R. Habib
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
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Summary

American Realism has its roots in Europe, dating from the fifteenth century. These roots include quattrocento Realist painting; the more general impact of the ideologies behind representational political institutions and the revolutions of 1776 and 1789 in America and France respectively. In Europe and the United States the terms Realism and Naturalism have sometimes been used interchangeably, but critics debate whether Naturalism is merely Realism in extreme form or a distinct literary mode. American Realistic writers developed an interest in documenting the world around them in conjunction with their experience of profound changes in society at the end of the nineteenth century. Attention to the pressures of everyday reality not only characterizes Realistic fiction but also points to literature as a vehicle for social reform and social awareness. Mexican American writers expressed resistance to white domination with the corrido, a narrative form with roots in the romances of medieval Spain.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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