Beyond Literary Landscapes

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column focuses several well-known authors from the Realism, or Literary Realism, genre.

Realism can be defined as “the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life.”  This genre can be found in many of the arts, including literature, art, cinema, and theatre.

Begun in the 19th and continuing to the early 20th century, Literary Realism was “a reaction to eighteenth-century Romanticism and the rise of the bourgeois in Europe.”  Many consider France the root of the movement, with the eventual spread to the United States, Great Britain, Latin America, as well as Imperial Russia.

In particular, this genre “depicts familiar people, places, and stories, primarily about the middle and lower classes of society.”  These types of works aim to portray a type of truth, without romanticizing or dramatizing the situation.

Realism can be divided into several subcategories including Psychological Realism, Naturalism, Social Realism, and Magical Realism.

Examples of Realism authors include Gustave Flaubert, Gabriel García Márquez, Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, and Charles Dickens.


Examples of works of Realism in literature include Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.


These novels are set throughout France, Colombia, Imperial Russia, the United States, as well as England.


These works take place during the 19th and 20th-centuries.


These novels may be of interest to AU students who would like to take a look into the ordinary lives of those who lived in the 19th and 20th-centuries.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Realism are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 306: The Literature of Work, a senior-level, three-credit course, which serves as “an introduction to literature created by people who do the actual work being depicted.”  (Although no prerequisites are required, a university level English course is recommended.)

Students may also be interested in ENGL 344: American Literature I, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “introduces students to American literature, its history and development, and its rich variety of forms and techniques.”  (Please note that this course requires several prerequisites, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays.)  Happy reading!