Satire in an Age of Realism

Satire in an Age of Realism

by Aaron Matz


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As nineteenth-century realism became more and more intrepid in its pursuit of describing and depicting everyday life, it blurred irrevocably into the caustic and severe mode of literature better named satire. Realism's task of portraying the human became indistinguishable from satire's directive to castigate the human. Introducing an entirely new way of thinking about realism and the Victorian novel, Aaron Matz refers to the fusion of realism and satire as 'satirical realism': it is a mode in which our shared folly and error are so entrenched in everyday life, and so unchanging, that they need no embellishment when rendered in fiction. Focusing on the novels of Eliot, Hardy, Gissing, and Conrad, and the theater of Ibsen, Matz argues that it was the transformation of Victorian realism into satire that granted it immense moral authority, but that led ultimately to its demise.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107691230
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 11/21/2013
Series: Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture , #72
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.51(d)

About the Author

Aaron Matz is Assistant Professor of English at Scripps College, California.

Table of Contents

1. Augustan satire and Victorian realism; 2. Terminal satire and Jude the Obscure; 3. George Gissing's ambivalent realism; 4. The English critics and the Norwegian satirist; 5. Truth and caricature in The Secret Agent; Epilogue.

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