When I think of realistic fiction my mind thinks about scenes from books such as Thomas Hardy’s Jude The Obscure, George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Virginia’s Woolf’s Miss Dalloway and its use of stream of consciousness. The books mentioned above can fit into the literary concept of realism. But what exactly is realism? I understand realism as a concept used to reflect life at it exists. It attempts to draw an accurate picture of life. However, I think that this concept is fluid for a number of reasons, because all kinds of fiction draw different things from the real word; yet, some pieces of fiction are perceived as more authentic than others. In fact, some books feel more real than others- I’ve had that experience when reading books from different genres and authors . I wonder if realism can almost go hand in hand with believability? What are your thoughts on this?
I had a good think about the idea of real fiction and here are some of the things that came to mind.
Is realism subjective? There are elements of life that are common to everyone and I guess when novels step away from that readers notice it straight away, and as a result the work at hand becomes unrealistic-plot holes are found. But, what is real to one author/ reader might be completely different for another. I think this is because of different life experiences and opinions.
What about the author’s aim? Authors have a variety of aims for their novels. Sophie Kinsella’s aims are totally different from an author like Andrea Levy. They approach situations in their novels from different angles. Authors may prioritise certain aspects of life over others as a means of producing novels that readers find relatable.
Do writing styles and genres have an impact? Some writers are descriptive while others use different tools to bring life to their novels. This could be plot, characters, dialogue, theme, or location. What about thriller, horror or dystopian fiction? Do they have any links with reality at all? I think they can. It may be difficult to initially see how these genres relate to real life, but books like 1984 resonate with dictator regimes despite adhering to the dyspotian genre.
So, I haven’t come to a firm conclusion. However, I do like the idea of
subjective realism. I think that novels are realistic in their own way. If I can truly relate to a piece of fiction and it’s characters it becomes more tangible to me.
What are your thoughts? Comment below.