Realistic novels are written in a believable way, they take no liberty about what we consider reality or what the world is.
The 19thC can be separated into two literary periods (the Civil War marks that division):
• 1st half ( Romanticism (Hawthorne, Melville, Poe…)
• 2nd half ( Realism: the novel becomes much more important than poetry. Fiction and realistic fiction predominate.
There were a lot of important changes in the United States after the Civil War:
• An expansion towards the western part of the country.
• A tremendous economic expansion (the importance of business ( in relation to the materialistic aspect of the American dream).
• The building of the railway.
In European cultures, novel took roots much earlier whereas American culture tends more easily towards Romanticism (fantasy and imagination) that towards Realism. The fact that America represented “uncivilized” nature leads nature to develop more quickly. America was a stage for the Romanticism to develop.
Contributing factors to the development of Realism:
• Incredible success of science (Classical science reached its peak in the 19thC, people believed that science could explain everything).
• Influence of rationalistic philosophy (as opposed to transcendental philosophy).
• The reactions against Romanticism.
• William Dean Howells (1837-1920) ( Quite influential. Novelist and editor in a magazine.
• Henry James (1843-1916) ( Important novelist. Realism and psychological realism (a step further on realism, a step into the minds of the people he is talking about).
• Edith Wharton (1862-1937) ( American realism encourages women to break away from that old cliché of the Sentimental Love Story.
• Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
• Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Realistic ideas expressed by William Dean Howells:
• Truthful treatment of material (No liberties...