Chapter

Truth in Fiction

David E. Shi

in Facing Facts

Published in print July 1996 | ISBN: 9780195106534
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854097 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195106534.003.0007
Truth in Fiction

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A new phalanx of avowedly realistic writers, many of them women, surged into prominence and developed networks of friendship and mutual support in the 1880s. “The idealist pure and simple hardly exists at all,” announced a journalist in 1887. Three years later the English critic Edmund Gosse could report that in America “almost every new writer of merit seems to be a realist.” For all of the ambiguity embedded in that label, most people at the time recognized what it meant. John W. De Forest, for instance, assured William Dean Howells in 1879 that Henry James “belongs to our school.” In fact, Howells and James were the headmasters of the “school” of literary realism. Everyone in the literary world knew them, read their fiction, and grappled with their ideas. Through their arduous efforts, the realistic novel reached maturity in the United States and the realistic movement developed a coherent theoretical basis.

Keywords: William Dean Howells; Henry James; literary realism; realistic novel; realistic movement; United States

Chapter.  10849 words. 

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