Classical Realism - Essay Example

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This paper attempts to ascertain how the 'dirty realism of Carver's Elephant differed from nineteenth century classical realism. With this objective, it is imperative that realism in Flaubert's 'Madame Bovary' and Dickens' 'Great Expectations' be used to compare with that of Carver's Elephant…
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Classical Realism
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Download file to see previous pages Elephant is a collection of short stories by Carver which includes the following: Boxes, Whoever Was Using This Bed, Intimacy, Menudo, Elephant, Blackbird Pie, and Errand. Carver used a "dirty realism" technique in presenting his thoughts in these short stories, "a North American literary construct born in the late 20th century where the narrative is stripped down to its fundamental features."2 A derivation of minimalism, dirty realism is present in most of the author's literary works, one essentially characterized by a focus on surface description and an economy of words. This literary genre is present in Elephant as it tends to eschew adverbs and allow context to dictate meaning.3 In minimalist stories, just like that of Carver's, the characters tend to be featured as unexceptional beings through the use of meaningful contexts and through incorporation of adverbs.4 Dirty realism is generally seen as a hallmark of Carver's Elephant as in the rest of his works.
Setting out the differences between Carver's dirty realism and 19th century classical realism, the latter focuses on a broad category of artistic styles attempting to merge or combine classicism and realism in textual presentation. It is likewise broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality", a literarily technique practiced by several schools of writing. Realism takes interest in scientific method, rational philosophy, and a reaction against the classic romanticism.5 It emphasizes "the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence."6 The combination of classicism and realism seems to be an oxymoron, as classicism tends to idealize the subject matter while realism tends to develop a reaction against the idealists.7
The 19th century realism tends to have a remarkable and monotonous agreement in main features. There is an excessive use of minute external detail, alongside with viewing the vaunted objectivity and impersonality as a faade for immorality and cynicism, neglecting the ideal. As rapid industrialization and urbanization take place, an expanding population and a rise in middle-class affluence provide an abundant ground for literary explorations, which is often regarded as "a strategy for imagining and managing the threats of social change."8 With Madame Bovary, the term was clearly established in France. Dickens was likewise held as "a novelist of the ideal or romantic school, welcoming the wholesome spirit of realism."9
As a dirty realist, Carver's objects are conveyed with a representational quality which may not be described as metaphorical, universal, or direct. His dirty realism is characteristically represented through truth and a depiction of commonplace events, characters, and settings. It considers characters and events which are very ordinary and uninteresting, attributing meaning and value to them.10 In his Elephant and Other Stories, he presents everyday objects in a realist, descriptive manner, with relevance to their relatedness in the syntax of sentences and the 'world' of the story.11 Intimacy, a story in the collection, suggests a constant fascination with animate objects with the character's expression of inexplicable things through the medium of objects depicted in the text. The story revolves around a man and his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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