A clear-sighted and entertaining defence of literary realism, and an account of its key practitioners
Realist fiction is one of the most enduring artforms history has ever witnessed. By describing the intricate inner life of its characters, or widening its focus to set their experience in context, it can evoke the reader’s sympathies as few other forms can. Yet it is also by and large a product of the middle classes: boldly individualist and fascinated by money, property, marriage, and inheritance.
Can such realism survive in the postmodern age?
Acclaimed critic Terry Eagleton explores realism’s complex history, practice, and politics. Spanning several centuries, and including writers such as George Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and Iris Murdoch, Eagleton offers a witty, entertaining defence of a form which offers both panoramic scope and individual nuance in an increasingly fragmented world.
Terry Eagleton is distinguished visiting professor of English literature at Lancaster University and the author of more than fifty books in the fields of literary theory, postmodernism, politics, ideology, and religion.
“Typically lively and witty.”—Jake Kerridge, The Telegraph
“[A] delightful new book . . . explores what artist fidelity to the ‘real world’ involves.”—Stuart Jeffries, The Telegraph
“Expansive, erudite, and instantly engaging, this companionable book has all the hallmarks of a classic Eagleton excursion.”—David James, author of Modernist Futures
“Once again, Terry Eagleton pans gold from the cultural stream. This brilliant, sharply drawn, and deeply wise study of literary realism in fiction reveals one of our finest critics writing at the top of his form.”—Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me
“Learned, lucid, and often hilarious, Terry Eagleton recovers the central traits of literary realism for a new generation of readers. In a stirring demonstration of the efficacy and pleasure of dialogue with authorities more often cited than questioned, Eagleton celebrates the art of everyday lives, minds, and contexts in a common sense defense of ‘the real thing.’”—Suzanne Keen, author of Empathy and the Novel
“The Real Thing condenses a vast amount of knowledge into a remarkably enlightening jaunt across literature and philosophy. With dialectical zest, Eagleton elaborates on the contradictory meanings and complex history of that seemingly straightforward word: realism.”—Rita Felski, author of The Limits of Critique
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