What is a brief example of magical realism

Realism: definition, 10 characteristics & 8 + 9 representatives of the era

Realism is both a well-known art and literary epoch of the 19th century and a stylistic representation that is independent of the epoch. In the following you will find everything you need to know about the literary era: a definition, the historical background, differences between art and literary trends, the most important characteristics as well as well-known representatives and works of poetic realism.

The term realism can be derived from the Latin “res”, which means something like “thing” or “thing”. The aim of realism is therefore to represent something as realistically and objectively as possible. Nothing should be glossed over or idealized. In this article you will find out why this trend developed in such a way and how it affected literature.

The era of realism

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels lived in the time of realism

The literary era of realism refers not only to German, but also to English, French, Russian and American literature. In particular, we will explain the German background and characteristics of this era to you.

These include details of the historical background, the terms “poetic realism” and “bourgeois realism”, the most important characteristics of literature, and differences between literature and art. The last chapter of this article can also help you find classic exercise texts that you can use to study for an exam.

A short definition

The literary epoch of realism is here between 1848 and 1890. It is thus the successor to Romanticism (around 1795–1848), replaces Vormärz and Biedermeier (both around 1815–1848) and goes over to Naturalism (around 1880–1900).

The terms “poetic realism” and “bourgeois realism” established themselves in German literature, to delimit the specific epoch from the general concept of realism. Realism also means a realistic literary representation regardless of the epoch.

The narrator of realism represents his world artistic but objective He takes a back seat and renounces the moralization or justification of his action. Social circumstances or historical topics are described, the individual and his inner life are considered, especially its social conflicts. The narrator's descriptions are detailed, sometimes humorous and ironic.

Historical background

Historical background of realism

Until the middle of the 19th century, people spoke of the literature of the restoration era. It was shaped by the political pre-March and the contemplative Biedermeier period, which lasted from the end of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to the March Revolution in 1848. The current “Biedermeier” includes a conservative social stance, an escape into the idyll and into the private. The literature depicts bourgeois culture (patriarchal, wealthy, educated, well-educated) and domestic happiness.

The current “Vormärz” hoped for political liberalization and an improvement in living conditions. It formed the contrast to the bourgeois Biedermeier. The letter and the travelogue are important literary genres here. The important authors of this time (called “das Junge Deutschland”) also called for more liberalism in literature.

The March Revolution ultimately led to the overthrow of State Chancellor Metternich and the relaxation of censorship. However, there was no political say. Out of this disappointment and the advancing industrialization, people looked up Everyday life problems. Society was shaped by secularization (Turning away from the church), Scientification, technical modernization and emancipation. The era of realism began.

Literature in realism

The literature of realism wants to distance itself clearly from the transfiguring view of romanticism. It should from now on the essentials emerge clearly from a text and nothing can be glossed over. There seems to be no more room for the transfiguring, mystical and uncanny, unless it is only portrayed as seemingly inexplicable.

The concept of realism, however, sometimes creates confusion about the actual literary goal. It is not about depicting something real from reality, but something Fictional portray it in such a way that it looks real. It is about a realistic narrative style and realistic topics of bourgeois life. The inner truth of a story, the essence, its core, should be poetically heightened and illustrated.

The plot is realistically recreated and based on reality, but not necessarily true. In later naturalism, on the other hand, emphasis was placed on realistic imitation of actual conditions and scientifically detailed reports on the grievances there are and how miserable the everyday life of the workers looks.

Poetic realism is therefore not designed to illuminate negative aspects of life, but merely to convey truth and to make narratives no longer as embellished, unrealistic and dreamy as was the case in romanticism. It forms the natural transition phase to more extreme naturalism.

Note: Realism tries to present the inner truth of a thing in favor of an idea, naturalism the outer truth including a striking representation of the unsightly.

Poetic Realism (Bourgeois Realism)

Poetic realism

In German literature, poetic or bourgeois realism is often used to distinguish it from the general ‘realistic’ representation of all other epochs. “Bourgeois” in this sense means the “Poetic” influence and the creation of literature from the social development within the epoch of realism.

So everything with the typical program of German realism literature Has to do at that time must be called civic or poetic realism. When realism is generally spoken of as a narrative technique or style, only a realistic representation can be meant, which does not necessarily have to be similar to poetic realism.

In German literary history, the period from 1850 to 1899 is sometimes referred to as poetic or bourgeois realism. Thus there are sometimes slight deviations in the exact time limit in science.

If you are not sure, just enter the non-national, fixed period from 1848 to 1890. When classifying a work in school or university, however, keep in mind that the typical characteristics of realism can still echo in later works.

Novel and short story in realism

At the time of poetic realism there are many important prose texts, mainly short stories and novels. The epoch played an essential role for these two genres, which experienced an upswing through it.

The novella reached its climax at this time. Its appearance began in the early 19th century with Heinrich von Kleist, Joseph von Eichendorff and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and culminated in works by Eduard Mörike, Gottfried Keller, Theodor Fontane, Theodor Storm and Conrad Ferdinand Meyer from the middle to the end of the 19th century.

Even after the era of realism in the 20th century, the results of the boom in novellas echoed in the works of Arthur Schnitzler, Thomas Mann, Günter Grass ’and Patrick Süskind. You can find examples of well-known works of poetic realism in our list of important representatives and examples. In our characteristics you will find important characteristics of all literary productions of this time.

Art in realism

Art in realism

Like literary realism, artistic realism begins in the in the middle of the 19th century and makes a point of not glossing over or glorifying anything. However, it is not as extreme as the following naturalism (idealism), which tries to imitate everything as faithfully as possible (mimesis) and to bring the negative aspects of life to the fore. In contrast to the literature of realism, art relies not only on everyday life, but also on political connotations.

She has no specific procedure and allows artistic freedom. It is therefore classified only by the connection between the artist's political intentions and the message received by the viewer of the work. Its best-known representative is the French painter Gustave Courbet (1819–1877).

Outside the epoch of realism, other movements developed in art, which are in contact with a realistic representation and critical message. Examples are the socialist realism (originally from the Soviet Union around 1930), which simplified surfaces and color design in order to appear more monumental and the magical realism (Europe, North and South America around 1920), who allows reality to merge with magical reality (dreams, hallucinations, distortions). It is a synthesis of subjective realities, similar to surrealism.

Important features of the literature of realism

In the era of realism a clear literary tendency emerged. Writers treat certain subjects in certain ways. These specific characteristics will help you to clearly assign a work to this epoch. In the following we have clearly listed all the important features for you. You can memorize them before important exams, use them for presentations or use them for an analysis to confirm the epoch of the text.

  1. It is deliberately not dealt with general political and social backgrounds in order to Individual in the foreground to be able to ask and to be able to illuminate his social circumstances better.
  2. It will realistic, everyday situations pictured, but with the help of artistic and poetic language (This is why one speaks of poetic realism in Germany, among other things).
  3. The protagonists are mostly merchants, craftsmen, farmers or others everyday, tangible characters.
  4. The action mostly takes place in villages or small towns.
  5. The narrator takes a back seat. He observes and describes in detail, but does not comment or judge.
  6. It just finds indirect criticism in society. It is up to the reader whether the fate of the individual is transferred to the general public. The narrator always keeps his distance with his opinion.
  7. The events should appear as realistic as possible, even if they are fictional.
  8. There is often a framework and an internal narrative.
  9. The detailed descriptions of landscapes, objects or the weather mostly symbolize the inner workings of the characters.
  10. It will be common Humor and irony used to build distance to the less funny reality.

Literature in Realism: Representatives and Works

Charles Dickens was a realist

In the following we have put together many important representatives and works of realism for you. You will find German-speaking as well as Russian, French, English and American writers there. Most of the works are short stories and novels, which were very popular at the time. Among other things, there are also dramas and poetry.

Use them to make your General knowledge to improve or for important exams to practice. The more you deal with texts of this kind, the faster you will recognize defining features and common stylistic devices. Here you will learn to learn effectively.

German-speaking representatives and works

  1. Theodor Fontane (German writer, journalist and critic, 1819–1898)
    Effi Briest (novel, 1894/95)
    Trials and tribulations (novel, 1888)
    Mrs. Jenny Treibel (novel, 1892)
  2. Friedrich Hebbel (German playwright and poet, 1813–1863)
    Maria Magdalena (civil tragedy, 1844)
    Agnes Bernauer (drama, 1851)
  3. Gottfried Keller (Swiss poet and politician, 1819–1890)
    The green Heinrich (Bildungsroman, 1854/55)
    Romeo and Juliet in the village (novella, 1856)
    The epitome (cycle of novels, 1881)
  4. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (Swiss poet, 1825–1898)
    The amulet (novella, 1873)
    The shot from the pulpit (novella, 1878)
    The saint (novella, 1880)
  5. Adabert Stifter (Austrian writer, painter and teacher, 1805–1868)
    Bergkristall (story, 1845 and 1853)
    Post-Summer (novel in three volumes, 1857)
  6. Wilhelm Raabe (German writer, 1831-1910)
    The Hunger Pastor (development novel, 1864)
    The Dräumling (novel, 1872)
  7. Theodor Storm (German writer 1825–1898)
    Immensee (novella, 1849)
    Aquis submersus (novella, 1876)
    The Schimmelreiter (Novella, 1888)
  8. Gustav Freytag (German writer, 1816–1895)
    Debit and credit (novel in six books, 1855)
    The lost manuscript (novel in five books, 1864)

Representatives and plants from all over the world

  1. Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian writer 1828–1910)
    War and Peace (historical novel, 1868)
  2. Gustave Flaubert (French writer, 1821-1880)
    Madame Bovary (novel, 1857)
  3. Émile Zola (French writer, 1840–1902)
    Germinal (Roman, 1885)
  4. Octave Mirbeau (French journalist, art critic and novelist, 1848-1917)
    Diary of a maid (satirical novel, 1900)
  5. Emily Brontë (British writer, 1818-1848)
    Sturmhöhe (Roman, 1847)
  6. Charles Dickens (English writer, 1812-1870)
    Oliver Twist (novel, 1837)
  7. Herman Melville (American writer, 1819-1891)
    Moby Dick (novel, 1851)
  8. Mark Twain (American writer, 1835-1910)
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (novel, 1876)
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (novel, 1885)
  9. Božena Němcová (Czech writer, 1820–1862)
    The grandmother (Original: “Babička”, novel, 1855)
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