English Literature

Notes on Realism and Romance by Arnold Kettle (Kettle, 1951, p. 207):

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??? The novel came to be as a realistic reaction to the medieval romance and area almost anti-romances.

??? The novel grew as distributed material did to fulfil the needs of the well-to-do women.

??? Compares the aristocratic class with the feudal order ??“ romance was a way to personify ruling class values and to make life nicer, not to help you cope with life.

??? Everything leads far away from realism and frankness of all sorts ??“ total escapism.

??? Like pornography, novels provide sensation for sensations sake.

??? Romances promote chivalry and impose a completely black and white moral code which cannot exist in real life.

??? Prose is a more sophisticated use of language than primitive poetry because it presupposes a more objective, controlled and conscious view of reality.

??? Prose is a way to investigate and discuss the ever-changing world man is now living in.

??? Bourgeoisie writers had to shirk the feudal order in order to grow. They previously did not mind this romance as they didnt care one way or another about the society whose values it promoted.

Summary: Kettle believes the novel evolved in order to fill a need the commercial class in England had to take stock of the new society after the seventeenth-century English Revolution.

Notes on Realism and the novel form by Ian Watt (Watt, 1957, p. 214):

??? Assuming Defoe, Richardson and Fielding are the genesis of the novel form, that their works are vastly different, what the question becomes is: what set of circumstances were similar and favourable for all

??? Defining a novel as realistic and a precious fictional form as unreal is not accurate and needs further explanation.

??? The term realism was first critically associated with the French School of Realists. Realisme was first used as an aesthetic description in 1835 to donate the verite humaine of Rembrandt as opposed to the idealite poetique of neo-classical painting ??“ realism came to mean idealism.

??? The novel is not realistic merely from the seamy side but also because it portrays all varieties of human experience.

??? The question of realism in real life vs. realism in novels is an epistemological one best answered by philosophers.

??? Philosophers actually use the word reality to mean universals, classes and abstractions rather than to mean what we would term as reality ??“ this is the view held by Realists of the Middle Ages.

??? Modern Realism believes that reality is the physical world which we see with our senses. Philosophical realism is more concerned with the general temper of realist thoughts, the kind of investigation and the kinds of problems it has raised.

??? Philosophical realism has been critical, anti-traditional and innovating. It is concerned with methods of study particular to the individual investigator who has no bias to traditional or past beliefs.

??? Descartes accepted nothing on trust (his primary method) ??“ the modern assumption he brings about is that the pursuit of truth is a wholly individual matter.

??? The novel is the only form which breaks away as fully as Descartes, previous literary forms attempting to carry down traditions such as fables and reflecting an accepted model of the age.

??? Culture has put an unprecedented value on unique and individual experience ??“ the novel is aptly named and an extension of this.

??? The novel is formless because it cannot imitate any previous form. Lack of formal conventions.

??? The novel is the first form of fiction to use original plot and not reuse myths and legends 0 not accepting that the theory of Nature is essentially complete and unchanging [??¦] it is history, scriptural or otherwise constitutes a definitive history of human experience.

??? The meaning of the word original has changed the way the word realism has.

??? Defoe allowed his narrative to flow spontaneously from what he thought the characters might plausibly do.

??? By naming a character the same ways as a real person is named, it recalls the particulars of a character rather than a universal truth.

??? Names such as Mrs Sinclair and Charles Grandison = indicative of the moral character.

??? The literary and philosophical movements are not necessarily directly linked, nor is it necessary that the philosophical debate launched the literary movements but the two are best seen as evidence of a larger movement.

??? Formal realism = the premise that the novel is a full and accurate report on human experience and is not there to please its reader, merely to relate events as they happened.

??? The conventions of the novel are easier on the reader and so more accessible and enjoyable.

Summary: Watt believes that real and unreal are not acceptable terms to use for the novel without investigation and links philosophical and literary realism by investigating what we define as real, he then determines that philosophical and literary realism are not necessarily linked. He states that literary characters are created and made real by giving them realistic names and claiming that their stories are accurate accounts of events as they happened but what a character might plausible do is not necessarily to intended to please the reader even though the novel is a more accessible and enjoyable form than ancient traditional myths (i.e. Greek myths).

Notes on Jane Austen and the war of ideas by Marilyn Butler:

??? Detachment is not the phrase that Austens contemporaries used to describe her treatment of ideology and the Revolution.

??? Richard Whately is quoted as saying Austen is a good Christian writer who doesnt push her views on her readers.

??? Butler draws a clear line between the advocates of Christian conservatism (Austen herself a Christian conservative moralist) and the progressives, sentimentalists and revolutionaries with their optimism about man and rule breaking.

??? Austen has two main plots: 1) The Heroine Who Is Right (advocating self-sacrifice) 2) The Heroine Who Is Wrong (arriving at this through pride or naivete) and their moment of self-realisation is the climax.

??? Butler argues that we are trained into identifying and sympathising with the consciousness of the character but that we may teach ourselves to be more critical and identify the promotion of certain beliefs.

??? Pride and prejudice are often seen as opposing symptoms but they actually work as themes and plot signposts.

??? The exposing of Mr Bennet as important because it is from him that Elizabeth gets her misanthropy ??“ she is a product of her father as much as Darcy is a product of his.

??? Bingley and Jane are a contrast to Darcy and Lizzie. Too proud/too humble. Consistently form low opinions of others/think too well of others.

??? Austen believes that true Christian values are a mix of all four ??“ eventually the self-knowledge she prizes can be attained by humility and charity towards others.

Comments on Marilyn Butler by Pam Morris in Reading Pride and Prejudice:

??? Austen was writing at a time when Evangelicalism was a growing force in English social life. Evangelicals were closely affiliated to the conservative mood of the time ??“ they condemned frivolity and all its forms (behaviour, dress, social intercourse).

??? Austen was undecided about this but she shows through Darcy that he has heeded the Evangelical call for landowners to get themselves in order and avoid criticism following the French Revolution.

??? Butler does not comment on the views of Mr Collins which are, doubtless, Evangelical themselves. This suggests that they are Austens absolute view and are presented as such, without qualifying proof, which may suggest that reading the novel as fully dialogic would be more helpful. No one point of view would then be given as the qualifying or absolute one.

??? Butler forgets to take a comic view of the novel.

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