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Realism rules (still)

In America—although not Britain—realist fiction has been excoriated by postmodernists and their cheerleaders in literary criticism. But realism is nothing like as naive as its opponents claim

By James Wood   March 2006

Here are two recent statements about literary realism, statements so typical of their age that a realist novelist would have been proud to have imagined them into life. The first is by Rick Moody, reviewing JM Coetzee’s novel Elizabeth Costello in Bookforum: “It’s quaint to say so, but the realistic novel still needs a kick in the ass. The genre, with its epiphanies, its rising action, its predictable movement, its conventional humanisms, can still entertain and move us on occasion, but for me it’s politically and philosophically dubious and often dull.” The second is by Patrick Giles, contributing to a…

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