The Realism War. James, Twain, and Howells. Nineteenth-century Definitions of Romance. Romance focuses “upon the extraordinary, the mysterious, the imaginary.” –Bliss Perry (1903)
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James, Twain, and Howells
Romance focuses “upon the extraordinary, the mysterious, the imaginary.” –Bliss Perry (1903)
Nathaniel Hawthorne: the romance “has fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer’s own choosing or creation” (Preface to The House of the Seven Gables)
Realism sets itself at work to consider characters and events which are apparently the most ordinary and uninteresting, in order to extract from these their full value and true meaning. In short, realism reveals. Where we thought nothing worth of notice, it shows everything to be rife with significance. George Parsons Lathrop, 'The Novel and its Future," Atlantic Monthly 34 (September 1874): 313‑24.
Realism, n. The art of depicting nature as it is seen by toads. The charm suffusing a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring-worm. --Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary (1911)
“Realism is nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material” --William Dean Howells, “Editor’s Study,” November 1889.
“We hope the time is coming when not only the artist, but the common, average man . . . .will reject the ideal grasshopper wherever he finds it . . . Because it is not like a real grasshopper” --W. D. Howells, 1887
We invite our novelists, therefore, to concern themselves with the more smiling aspects of life, which are the more American, and to seek the universal in the individual rather than in the commonplace.” –W. D. Howells, 1886
A Literary Combination.
Mr. H-w-lls: Are you the tallest now, Mr. James?
Mr. J-mes (ignoring the question): Be so uncommonly kind, H-w-lls, as to let me down easy: it may be we have both got to grow.
“I am comparatively a dead cult with my statues cast down and the grass growing over them in the pale moonlight” (Selected Letters 6: 31).