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Literature Glossary

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Realism

Definition:

Let's start with a little game of logic. If you've taken the LSAT (or passed second grade), you'll nail this one.

If all works of Realism are realistic (and they are), is the following statement true or false?

All realistic works are works of Realism.

We hope you said false. We also hope you didn't just read that one italicized statement and then click away to write in a complaint.

That's all to say, not everything that is realistic is part of the Realist movement. Don't forget it.

Literary Realism was a movement that went on mostly in the 19th century and talked about life in all its nitty-gritty details. Instead of romanticizing things (like, say, the Romantics), these guys just told it like it was. And they told it like it was about the middle-class. No hoity-toity, cummerbund-sporting characters here. Even the language the characters spoke was everyday chatter.

Looking for love? We can't help you. But we can show you to some of our favorite Realists: Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Henry James. Doesn't get more real than crime, punishment, war, peace, and ladies.

Tags: General, Genre
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