American Realism reclaims the American spirit and tradition through an imaginative history that strives to be realistic and effective in its social message. This movement develops the visual roots of 19th century realism, bringing them to new spatial challenges caused by a different perception of the metropolitan landscape. The new architectural physiognomy of the modern city, an urban and industrial landscape almost devoid of human representation, is interpreted with a very marked realism. A trend that extols American society, self-confidence and its technological and industrial progress.
In the fine art of the “American scene” reflection is framed in the poetics of regionalism and social realism. The naturalist current that emerges in the twenties follows two different directions: on the one hand, social realism, which welcomes elements of denunciation represented by cityscapes, scenes of labor and poverty caused by the Great Depression (1929); on the other, regionalism, which develops away from New York and big cities and stops at representing the limitations of the United States, especially in the Midwest.
These two trends develop an extreme sensitivity and extraordinary power of characterization of the artists, and because of the increasingly radical anonymity of the subjects depicted.
Midnighters , 1942 , Edward Hopper (Chicago, Art Institute). Hopper often depicts the fragility of man, the melancholy that pervades the everyday life of big cities. He tells us that he “unconsciously painted the loneliness of the big city.” Hopper was inspired both by Hemingway’s literature and by a restaurant that actually existed on Greenwich Avenue in New York. Since the thirties Edward Hopper has been considered the most important artist of the artistic movement called the American Scene, inspired by its realistic portrayal of life and the American experience in its various aspects.
What are the characteristics of realism in American literature?
Elements of Literary Realism
- Realistic characters and setting.
- Comprehensive detail about everyday occurrences.
- Plausible plot (a story that could happen in your town)
- Real dialects of the area.
- Character development important.
- Importance in depicting social class.
As you know, realism in Europe began to take shape as early as the 1830s, and naturalism emerged in the second half of the 19th century. In the United States at this time, accordingly, the intensive development and flowering of romantic art took place. The preconditions for the emergence of realist aesthetics in American literature were formed only in the 1860s in connection with the Civil War between the North and the South. The war destroyed two established social orders: not only the notorious slave system of the South, but also the old democracy of the North. They were replaced by a modern, imperialist, industrial society.
The Civil War, the greatest crisis in the life of the nation, a radical turning point in its history, dramatically changed and redirected the development of American literature. The war experience needed to be embodied. But to describe this war, so crude, bloody and dirty, to describe the complete confusion of Reconstruction that followed it in a romantic key was possible only in lyrical poetry with its high degree of abstraction, but not in prose.
Here different methods were required, which European but not American literature had long possessed. Direct imitation of Europeans was excluded: the originality and diversity of national material were too great. At first, however, some reliance on the overseas experience, especially on Dickens and other English realists and naturalists, was not forbidden.
It is noteworthy that a thin trickle of realism, which managed to break through the veil of general stupor, appeared in U.S. literature during the war. Thus Rebecca Blaine Harding Davis, who deliberately sought inspiration in “this commonplace, this vulgar American life,” produced the novel Life in the Steel Mills (1861) and the novel about life in the slums Margaret House (1862). Subsequently, the writer remained faithful to her chosen subject matter.
Attempts at artistic appropriation of the American realism of the military experience began in the late 1860s. More numerous descriptions of the war in the memoirs of its participants, chronicles and soldiers’ diaries were a significant help in this task than ever before. The very language of these accounts, simple, sometimes even plain-spoken, crudely expressive, paved the way for a new method in U.S. literature.
The first steps were made in many ways by groping and also not without reference to the works of great European predecessors, above all, Thackeray and Stendhal. These were the Civil War works of Thomas Nelson Page, Albion Turger, George Washington Cable. The first was John William Deforest’s novel Miss Ravenel Goes to the Northmen (1867). Despite the strong battle scenes and the unvarnished portrayal of military life, which partly anticipated the prose of E. Hemingway, Deforest, and even more so the other nineteenth-century war novelists, seemed to justify W. Whitman’s statement Whitman’s statement, “The real war will never get into books.
What are the characteristics of American Realism art?
The style seeks to capture new realities of life, work and leisure of people now converted into urbanites, often themes such as: urban landscapes, offices, hotels, rural scenes with modern elements and technological advances.
What are the elements of American realism?
American Realism began as a reaction to and a rejection of Romanticism, with its emphasis on emotion, imagination, and the individual. The movement began as early as the 1830’s but reached prominence and held sway from the end of the Civil War to around the end of the nineteenth century.
What are 5 characteristics of realism?
- Detail. Detail is that special something, that je ne sais quoi that sets Realism apart from other literary schools. …
- Transparent Language. …
- Omniscient Narrator. …
- Verisimilitude. …
- The Novel. …
- The Quotidian. …
- Character. …
- Social Critique.
What were important themes in American realism?
Realism reflected the ravages of war, the grittiness of the Industrial Revolution, the hardships of city life, and the injustices that surfaced in a new age. Realists stuck to their goal of representing the hard facts of life by highlighting the individual.
What are characteristics of American literature?
The three characteristics of American Literature include – plot of decline, indifferent of nature, 3rd person omniscient reaction to romanticism and surrealism. Firstly, American Literature reflects beliefs and traditions that come from the nation’s frontier days.
What is American realism in literature?
American Realism was a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people. The movement began in literature in the mid-19th century, and became an important tendency in visual art in the early 20th century.