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A History of European LiteratureThe West and the World from Antiquity to the Present$
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Walter Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198732679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732679.001.0001

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Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Chapter:
(p.368) 13 Nineteenth-Century Fiction
Source:
A History of European Literature
Author(s):

Walter Cohen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732679.003.0013

Whereas Romantic poetry is global in its interests, the opposite position is occupied in nineteenth-century fiction by the high-canonical realist novel, especially in France and England, masters of the two largest overseas colonial empires. Although scholarship has established a link between this literature and imperialism, the logic of realism pushes toward the everyday and proximate (or at least European), and against the representation of the distant, the exotic, the marvelous. An account of the world beyond Europe is found elsewhere, in non-realist prose fiction—in the Romantic tale, historical novel, popular adventure yarn, supernatural or otherwise anti-realist story, early modernist work, fiction (Melville) of the land-based empires on Europe’s periphery (Russia and the United States), and narratives that emerge after 1850 in Latin America, Asia, and the Near East, in European languages or not. This is the moment when Europe’s global literary influence begins, on an unprecedented scale.

Keywords:   nineteenth-century fiction, realism, literature and imperialism, non-realist prose fiction, Melville

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