American Realism Criticism: Background And Sources - Essay

Robert P. Falk (essay date 1954)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Falk, Robert P. “The Rise of Realism 1871-1891.” In Transitions in American Literary History, edited by Harry Hayden Clark, pp. 381-442. New York: Octagon Books, 1967.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1954, Falk traces the emergence of the realist aesthetic from the end of the Civil War to the 1890s.]


Following the Civil War, in the late 1860's, the twilight of romantic idealism became fused with early indications of a new and different literary and intellectual atmosphere. During the seventies and eighties the new tendencies slowly coalesced into a complex relationship of philosophical ideas, critical principles,...

(The entire section is 23207 words.)

Louis J. Budd (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Budd, Louis J. “The American Background.” In The Cambridge Companion to American Realism and Naturalism: Howells to London, edited by Donald Pizer, pp. 21-46. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Budd examines the intellectual and historical background of realism and naturalism in America.]


Although realism and naturalism could have sprung up independently in the United States, the historical fact is that they flourished earlier in the European countries all the way eastward to Russia and that American writers were especially stimulated by British and French models. On the other hand,...

(The entire section is 10731 words.)

Phillip Barrish (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Barrish, Phillip. “William Dean Howells and the Roots of Realist Taste.” In American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995, pp. 16-47. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Barrish discusses the manner in which Howells's fiction contributed to the development of the realist aesthetic.]


In the course of well-known critic James Cox's contribution to a 1991 collection of New Essays on The Rise of Silas Lapham, he makes a more-or-less parenthetic remark about the vernacular aspect of the book's protagonist: “Indeed there has...

(The entire section is 17253 words.)