Realism (1850–1914) Amelia W., Diana R., Erick T.
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)
Defining Realism • literary movement that developed towards the end of the Civil War and stressed the actual (reality) as opposed to the imagined or fanciful • transitioned from the Romantic, highly imagined literature from the early 1800s • coincided with regionalism in the United States, as well as naturalism and “Literature of Discontent”
Historical Context • Rapid population growth between 1865—1915 • Expansion of science, industry, and transportation, as well as literature • The “Frontier” did not exist as before; its legacy changed and impacted Realists in its new form. • Romanticism was idealistic; now seemed out of date and irrelevant to many readers following the Civil War
Characteristics of Realism • Faithful representation of life • Concentrating on middle-class life and preoccupations • Scenes of humble life • Criticism of social conditions • Characters are in center of interest as opposed to a plot • Subjects portrayed with simplicity and respect but little elaboration • Honest, matter-of-fact style • Objects or figures are represented impartially and objectively
Realism vs. Romanticism • “The trapper was placed on a rude seat which had been made with studied care…His body was placed so as to let the light of the setting sun fall full upon the solemn features. His head was bare, the long thin locks of gray fluttering lightly in the evening breeze. ” • “He was most fifty and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled and greasy, and you could see his eyes shining through…there warn’t no color in his face; it was white…a white to make a body sick…a tree-toad white, a fish belly white. As for his clothes, just rags, that’s all.”
American Authors • Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage • Willa Cather: O Pioneers!, My Antonia • Bret Harte: Outcasts of Poker Flats • Jack London: The Call of the Wild, Kate Chopin!, Story of an Hour • Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn • Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Dictionary, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge • Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass, Drum-Taps
Mark Twain Walt Whitman • Born as Samuel Longhorn Clemens, November 30th, 1835 in Missouri. • Traveled frequently, including much of the United States and Europe. • Travel and boyhood experiences influenced his writing • Well-known for sense of humor and use of satire • Died in 1910 • Born May 31, 1819 in New York • Developed an interest in writing at the age of twelve • Worked as a printer until a fire in New York devastated the industry; later became a teacher • Published and wrote for several newspapers throughout his lifetime • Transition author from transcendentalism to realism; aspects of both in his work
Emily Dickinson • December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886 • Transition author from transcendentalism to realism • Wrote frequently on death and immortality • Lived a secluded life, but had many correspondents • Some poems published while alive, though heavily edited to fit the conventions of the time • Personification, imagery, unconventionally short lines, unique punctuation and capitalization, etc.