Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
Eulogizing Realism : Documentary Chronotopes in Nineteenth-Century Prose Fiction
Michel De Dobbeleer
- In this contribution we try to probe the generic chronotope of realism, which, judging from its astonishing productivity in the nineteenth century and the profound impact it has had on literary evolution and theory ever since, can be designated nothing less than a hallmark in the general history of narrative. Although we are primarily concerned with the description of the principles of construction underlying the realistic, “documentary”, chronotope, we would also like to touch upon some of its rather evident, but still somewhat under-discussed similarities with the genre of historiography. For, despite an abundance of what could be called “touches of realism” in a plethora of literary texts and genres (both narrative and poetic) since the very beginnings of literary history itself, the direct germs of realism as it developed into a particular narrative genre or generic chronotope during the nineteenth century may well be situated in “prescientific” historiographical works such as those of Gibbon or Michelet.