Lilian Furst and the Art of Literary Realism

Joseph Frank

in Responses to Modernity

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239252
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823239290 | DOI:
Lilian Furst and the Art of Literary Realism

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The notion of realism as applied to literary and pictorial art is one that everybody uses, and whose meaning seems to be self-evident; but the moment questions are asked, it turns out to be extremely slippery and difficult to pin down. One of the great merits of All is True: The Claims and Strategies of Realist Fiction (1995) by Lilian Furst is that it tackles the problem of literary realism head-on, and does so in the light of all the attacks made on this idea in recent years by critics of formalism and structuralism, who have emphasized the role of literary and linguistic convention as a determinant factor in all literary creation. Although realism is ordinarily associated with objective narration and description, Furst follows the German critic Richard Brinkmann in maintaining that realist texts contain “landscapes of consciousness” which increasingly come to dominate the narrative perspective. Throughout her pages, Furst refers to the stimulus provided to her own thought by the work of Roland Barthes in his structuralist phase.

Keywords: Lilian Furst; literary realism; All Is True; formalism; structuralism; Richard Brinkmann; landscapes of consciousness; Roland Barthes

Chapter.  2435 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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