Bernard Harrison

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780195182637
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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This article considers the relation between literature and philosophy during the period of realism. It explains that the notion of realism, in its development as a term of literary criticism, is in origin a genre concept and that discussions of realism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary criticism and polemic rapidly acquire a moral, political, and philosophical dimensions. It suggests that all questions of literary form and technique fall to the will of the writer to determine. However, the article states, it does not follow that literature is a free field for play in the sense of frivolity because the connection between literature and reality does not run by way of the truth or falsity of statements, but by way of deeper linkages, internal to language, between the meanings of words and the practices that constitute human worlds and form the outlook and personalities of their inhabitants.

Keywords: realism; literature; philosophy; literary criticism; literary form; reality

Article.  12215 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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