Realists and Regionalists Literary realism comprised an artistic response to the changing social conditions beginning in the 19th century which saw a dominant rise of industry, science, and rationality in western culture. Realism attempted to develop a literary idiom which was able to convincingly portray the actual events and circumstances of life. The movement toward realism can be seen as an artistic mode of grappling with changing and frightening circumstances of western culture. Ambrose Bierce, for example “was one of the first realistic writers to depict the horrors of the American Civil War.
His accurate descriptions and portrayals were based on his experiences as a soldier, ” (Applegate 40).In addition to seeking out themes of social significance, writers such as Zola, Dos Passos, Eliot and Flaubert — advanced a narrative technique which “jettisoned rhetoric–a stylized language of elevated expression designed to demonstrate that the writer had mastered the tradition of polite letters–for everyday speech, (Borus 22) so that highly-stylized narratives still evoked the realism of everyday speech and everyday life.Part of the technique of literary realism involved the use of dialect, sometimes extensively, to create the sense of verisimilitude which was essential to the realist aesthetic.
The combination of real-world dialect and the studies technique of the realist writers resulted in a unique blend of linguistic styles which resulted in a generating a set of readers who considered themselves “cultivated readers of dialect, ” (Barrish 37). because relaist writers sought to evoke in extensive detail, the lving settings of their works, many realist writers were commited to regionalism — that is, they wrote about the world they experienced directly. Examples of this are Faulkner who wrote extensively about a fictional Southern county which was based on counties which actually existed. Realist writers desired to create fiction that felt and read as close to real life as possible in order to allow readers to “see” and experience aspects of life which would otherwise have remained unknowable to them.
Works CitedApplegate, E. C. American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists : A Biographical Dictionary /. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.Barrish, Phillip. American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880- 1995.
Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2001.Borus, Daniel H. Writing Realism: Howells, James, and Norris in the Mass Market. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.