Study Guide

Realism Texts

Realism Resources

Primary Resources

Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot (1835)
In this novel, a young law student works hard to climb up the social ladder in cutthroat Parisian society.

Honoré de Balzac, Cousin Bette (1846)
Cousin Bette is one angry lady: get a load of how she gets revenge on her arrogant relatives.

Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1853)
Dickens's novel may be full bureaucracy, but it's still a fun read.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856)
What does a bored housewife living in a small town in the French provinces do with her time? She has affairs, of course.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1860)
Pip's journey from childhood to adulthood is full of obstacles, but he does well for himself and lives up to some of his great expectations.

George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860)
This story of a girl and her brother growing up in a small provincial English town is a classic coming-of-age tale.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (1864)
The narrator of this short novel by Dostoevsky is one twisted dude. How twisted? See for yourself.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (1866)
Raskolnikov, the protagonist of this novel, commits a murder and faces the unexpected consequences.

Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education (1869)
A young man falls in love with an older woman. It's a classic study of 19th-century French society.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1869)
Yup, this baby one of the longest novels ever written, and it's 1000+ pages of sheer awesome.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877)
Tolstoy's famous heroine just can't figure out a way to be with her handsome lover.

George Eliot, Middlemarch (1874)
This novel about a group of characters living in the town of Middlemarch is so intricate it's practically a soap opera.

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Check out Twain's classic novel about Huck and his friend the escaped slave Jim as they paddle down the Mississippi River.

Anton Chekhov, "The Lady with the Dog" (1899)
In this story, a married man meets a lady with a lapdog, and all kinds of subtle things start to happen.

Secondary Resources

Matthew Beaumont, Ed. A Concise Companion to Realism (2010)
This collection of essays is a great (and short!) introduction to Realism.

Dennis Walder, Ed. The Realist Novel (2005)
Since the novel is such an important medium for Realist writers, you can't do without this collection of essays.

Dario Villanueva, Theories of Literary Realism (1997)
If you want to get all theoretical about your Realism, then this is the book to go to.

Katherine Kearns, Nineteenth-Century Literary Realism: Through the Looking Glass (1996)
This one's got everything you ever wanted to know about 19th-century Realism but were afraid to ask.

Lars Ole Sauerberg, Fact into Fiction: Documentary Realism in the Contemporary Novel (1991)
A handy discussion of realistic techniques in contemporary literature. Just goes to show you that the style is still popular.