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Home > Catalog > The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism
The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism


  • 2 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 242 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.51 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 810.9/1209034
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: PS374.R32 B37 2011
  • LC Subject headings:
    • American fiction--19th century--History and criticism
    • American fiction--20th century--History and criticism
    • Literature and society--United States--History--19th century
    • Literature and society--United States--History--20th century
    • Realism in literature

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521897693)

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$90.00 (P)

Between the Civil War and the First World War, realism was the most prominent form of American fiction. Realist writers of the period include some of America's greatest, such as Henry James, Edith Wharton and Mark Twain, but also many lesser-known writers whose work still speaks to us today, for instance Charles Chesnutt, Zitkala-Ša and Sarah Orne Jewett. Emphasizing realism's historical context, this introduction traces the genre's relationship with powerful, often violent, social conflicts involving race, gender, class and national origin. It also examines how the realist style was created; the necessarily ambiguous relationship between realism produced on the page and reality outside the book; and the different, often contradictory, forms 'realism' took in literary works by different authors. The most accessible yet sophisticated account of American literary realism currently available, this volume will be of great value to students, teachers and readers of the American novel.


Introduction: American literary realism; 1. Literary precursors, literary contexts; 2. The 'look of agony' and everyday middle-class life: three transitional works; 3. Creating the 'odor' of the real: techniques of realism; 4. Conflicting manners: high realism and social competition; 5. 'Democracy in literature'? Literary regionalism; 6. 'The blab of the pave': realism and the city; 7. Crisis of agency: literary naturalism, the changing economy, and 'masculinity'; 8. 'Certain facts of life': realism and feminism; 9. 'The unjust spirit of caste': race and realism; 10. New Americans write realism; Conclusion: realisms after realism; Further reading; Index.


"...Phillip Barrish, exemplifying what Howells might have called “that strange duplex action of the human mind,” offers us a rare scholarly treasure: a volume that is at once elementary in its sweeping presentation of the field and challenging for more experienced scholars of realism, who will find abundant food for thought in Barrish’s insightful readings of well-known texts."
--American Literary Realism

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