Critical Approaches
Introduction


'What is this "Life" that keeps on cropping up so mysteriously and so complacently in books about fiction? Why is it absent in a pattern and present in a tea party?'

Woolf, Virginia. "The Art of Fiction". Collected Essays. Vol. 2. London : Hogarth Press, 1966. 53.
This section provides a brief description of some of the critical approaches applicable to literary realism. The approaches do not necessarily exclude one another, e.g. the general approach as expressed by this website incorporates both formalism, as well as aesthetics and post-modern, post-structural and reader-response theory. The most rewarding method is often to combine different forms of criticism; a single approach will likely focus on certain particulars of a text or is characterized by particular perceptions or assumptions, which means that in order to acquire a broader understanding, like the attitude of literary realists to their subject, one is best served with a combination of perspectives.

The critical approaches I have chosen to include are formalism, reader-response theory, aesthetics, and Marxist, post-structural and post-modern criticism. In conjunction with the last two, I have also included a brief description of contemporary anti-realism.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Difficulties of a Definition

Terminology and Aesthetics
- What is in a Word?
- the Real and the Realistic
- Reality and Fiction

a History of Literary Realism
- Introduction
- Early Literary Realism
- Late Literary Realism

What is Literary Realism?
- Approximating a Definition
- Attitudes
- Conventions

Critical Approaches
- Introduction
- Formalism
- Reader Response Theory
- Aesthetics
- Marxist Criticism
- Post-Structural Criticism
- Post-Modern Criticism

Practical Appreciation
- "Madame Bovary"
- "Everything is Illuminated"

Study Proposals

Resources

Afterword

Guestbook

Site Index