Realism In American Literature

Realism in American literature is one of the most important aspects of the whole American literature. Realism is the essence of the modern literature. Realism is a literary and art movement that evolved the whole human literature and started to make things more clear to the eyes of the general people.

In this article, we will be talking about the part of realism in American literature. And how realism was a revolution in the literature that brought more truth to the literature. But, first of all, we will need to what is the realism movement.

What Is Realism Movement?

The Realism movement was an artistic movement that emerged in France in the 1840s, around the 1848 Revolution. It rejected Romanticism, which had dominated French literature and art since the early 19th century. Instead, Realism sought to portray real and typical contemporary people and situations with truth and accuracy,

Realism In American Literature
Realism In American Literature

not avoiding unpleasant or sordid aspects of life. The movement aimed to focus on unidealized subjects and events that were previously rejected in artwork. Realist works depicted people of all classes in situations that arise in ordinary life and often reflected the changes brought by the Industrial and Commercial Revolutions.

Realism was primarily concerned with how things appeared to the eye, rather than containing ideal representations of the world. The popularity of such “realistic” works grew with the introduction of photography—a new visual source that created a desire for people to produce representations that look objectively real.

The Realists depicted everyday subjects and situations in contemporary settings and attempted to depict individuals of all social classes in a similar manner. This movement sparked controversy because it purposefully criticized social values and the upper classes, as well as examining the new values that came along with the Industrial Revolution.

Realism is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern art movement due to the push to incorporate modern life and art together. Realism as an art movement was led by Gustave Courbet in France. It spread across Europe and was influential for the rest of the century and beyond.

Influence Of Realism In American Literature

Realism had a significant influence on American literature. It emerged in the 1860s and lasted until around 1890. The movement was a reaction against romanticism and focused on the faithful representation of reality or “verisimilitude”. It was also influenced by an interest in the scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy.

Realism in American literature encompassed the period from the Civil War to the turn of the century. During this time, authors such as William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James, and Mark Twain wrote fiction devoted to accurate representation and an exploration of American lives in various contexts.

This period of American history was marked by rapid growth after the Civil War, increasing rates of democracy and literacy, rapid industrialization and urbanization, an expanding population base due to immigration, and a relative rise in middle-class affluence. These changes provided a fertile literary environment for readers interested in understanding these rapid shifts in culture.

Realism often explored social problems through fiction writing. Many writers created change through their writing as they exposed the problems of modern society, especially those facing the middle and lower classes. Realism was a strategy for imagining and managing the threats of social change.

In essence, the realism movement in American literature sought to portray life as it was, without idealization or romantic gloss. It was a reflection of the times, and its influence can still be seen in many works of modern literature.

Notable Realism Authors of American Literature

Here are some notable authors of the Realism movement in American literature:

Realism In American Literature- Mark Twain
Realism In American Literature- Mark Twain
  • Mark Twain: Known for his wit and satire, Twain is one of the most influential writers in American literature. His works, such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, are classics of Realism.

    William Dean Howells
    Realism In American Literature- William Dean Howells
  • William Dean Howells: A prominent writer and literary critic, Howells is known for his realistic portrayals of American life. He worked as an editor for the Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s Magazine.

    Henry James
    Realism In American Literature- Henry James
  • Henry James: Known for his psychological insight and detailed characterization, James’ works often explore themes of consciousness and morality.

    Stephen Crane
    Realism In American Literature- Stephen Crane
  • Stephen Crane: Crane’s work, including “The Red Badge of Courage”, is noted for its realistic depiction of war.

    Rebecca Harding Davis
    Realism In American Literature- Rebecca Harding Davis
  • Rebecca Harding Davis: Davis is known for her realistic depictions of industrialization and its effects on individuals, particularly women.

    Frederick Douglass
    Realism In American Literature- Frederick Douglass
  • Frederick Douglass: A former slave, Douglass became a leading figure in the abolitionist movement. His autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”, is a powerful account of his life in slavery and his journey to freedom.

    Sarah Orne Jewett
    Realism In American Literature- Sarah Orne Jewett
  • Sarah Orne Jewett: Jewett’s work often focuses on the lives and experiences of women in the late 19th century.

These authors made significant contributions to the Realism movement, providing insightful and often critical views of American society during their time. So, this is what Realism is in American literature. Be sure to check out our large collection of books right now to know more!

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