The UVic Writer's Guide


A realistic literary work is one that attempts to persuade its readers that the created world is very like the world the readers inhabit.

Realism was deliberately sought by such writers as George Eliot and other Victorian chroniclers of unremarkable, middle-class life. A more self-conscious form of realism is naturalism, associated especially with the novels of Zola and the plays of Ibsen, writers who were influenced by Darwinianism, and who consequently sought a materialistic explanation of character.

Modern criticism tends to stress the way in which the appearance of reality is itself a careful construct, in which the narrator assumes a community of interest with the reader, and thus allows the narrative to become transparent, much in the way that most film-goers are unaware of the careful artifice of the camera as it zooms in on the realistic detail of the ketchup-laced body (as a result of the meticulous editing of the successful take 21).

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995