English Literature

Notes on Realism and Romance by Arnold Kettle (Kettle, 1951, p. 207):

    • The novel came to be as a 'realistic reaction' to the medieval romance and area almost 'anti-romances'.

    • The novel grew as distributed material did to fulfil the needs of the 'well-to-do' women.

    • Compares the aristocratic class with the feudal order – romance was a way to personify ruling class values and to make life nicer, not to help you cope with life.

    • Everything leads far away from realism and frankness of all sorts – total escapism.

    • Like pornography, novels provide 'sensation for sensation's sake'.

    • Romances promote chivalry and impose a completely black and white moral code which cannot exist in real life.

    • 'Prose is a more sophisticated use of language than primitive poetry because it presupposes a more objective, controlled and conscious view of reality.'

    • Prose is a way to investigate and discuss the ever-changing world man is now living in.

    • Bourgeoisie writers had to shirk the feudal order in order to grow. They previously did not mind this romance as they didn't care one way or another about the society whose values it promoted.

Summary: Kettle believes the novel evolved in order to fill a need the commercial class in England had to 'take stock of the new society' after the seventeenth-century English Revolution.

Notes on Realism and the novel form by Ian Watt (Watt, 1957, p. 214):

    • Assuming Defoe, Richardson and Fielding are the genesis of the novel form, that their works are vastly different, what the question becomes is: what set of circumstances were similar and favourable for all?

    • Defining a novel as 'realistic' and a precious fictional form as 'unreal' is not accurate and needs further explanation.

    • The term 'realism' was first critically associated with the French School of Realists. 'Réalisme' was first used as an aesthetic description in 1835 to donate the vérite humaine...