Style and style dominants

TOPIC 3. Literary process.

· Forms of movement of literature in time.

The unity of world literature.

· Basic concepts of the theory of the literary process.

· Style and style dominants.

· Classicism.

· Sentimentalism.

· Romanticism.

· Realism.

· Modernism.


Forms of movement of literature in time

The literary process is the dynamics of literature in a large historical time. Forms (types) of the movement of literature in time are very heterogeneous. L.p. both progressive and cyclical changes are inherent. L.p. depends on socio-historical development; at the same time, L.p. has relative independence. It is characterized by periods of both rise and prosperity (“classical” stages of national literatures) and crises.

As part of literary life, local and temporal phenomena are distinguishable, as well as transtemporal phenomena , called topics. Literary topics include

– types of emotional mood (sublime, tragic, laughter),

– moral and philosophical problems (good and evil, truth and beauty),

– “eternal” themes and images,

– art forms (style and genre)

L.p. is a collection of different states of literature that replace each other, and at the same time have features of kinship. One state of literature either “flows” into another smoothly and gradually, or is replaced abruptly and rapidly. Each subsequent state of literary life does not cancel the previous one.

Modern scholars distinguish three stages of literary development

1) archaic / mythopoetic (folklore and mythological archaic),

2) traditionalist-normative (from the ancient Greek classics of the 5th century BC to the middle of the 18th century; two stages, the boundary between which is the Renaissance),

3) individual creative (since the Enlightenment and Romanticism).

Unity of World Literature

No less complex than the connections of literary epochs are the relationships between the literatures of different peoples, countries, regions, each of which is specific and original. National literatures are of different quality, which is their highest value. They play the role of indispensable instruments in the orchestra of world culture. The original literature of individual peoples, countries, regions moves in historical time along different roads, at different rates, but in a direction common to all, while maintaining its individuality and uniqueness. The symphonic unity of world literature is provided by the topic, as well as by the commonality of the stages of development.

The unifying role in L.p. play international literary connections. The most large-scale phenomenon in the field of international relations of modern times is the impact of Western European experience on other regions (Eastern Europe and non-European countries and peoples). This cultural phenomenon is called Europeanization (Westernization, modernization) .

Europeanization has both negative and positive aspects. Well-known philologist and culturologist N.S. Trubetskoy in the book “Europe and Humanity” (1920), noting the worldwide significance of the Romano-Germanic culture, emphasized that it is not identical to the culture of all mankind. Europeanization inevitably leads to a split in the field of social thought: there is a confrontation between Westerners and ethnophiles who defend domestic traditions. Scientist G.D. Gachev talked about the positive side of Europeanization. According to him, a culture that experienced a strong foreign influence, as a rule, showing national fortitude, carried out a critical selection of foreign material and thereby enriched itself. About this kind of cultural synthesis in relation to Russia in the 19th century. wrote N.S. Arseniev. As an example, this scientist cited the work of Pushkin, Tyutchev, L.N. Tolstoy and A.K. Tolstoy.

Basic concepts of the theory of the literary process

The system of concepts focused on the study of L.p. is not stable and sustainable. When considering successive literary and artistic communities , scientists use the following terms:

– literary direction and trend (G.N. Pospelov);

– style (D.S. Likhachev);

– artistic system and creative method (I.F. Volkov);

– types of literary consciousness (literary critics of IMLI).

The most common are the concepts of “direction”, “flow”, “school”. Direction, course, school – historically developing in the course of L.p. community. The central concept of “direction” became in the criticism of Belinsky, Chernyshevsky, Dobrolyubov. In colloquial speech, “a writer with a direction” meant a writer of a tendentious (biased, biased). Gradually, along with the concept of “direction”, an almost synonymous, but more neutral, not associated with demonstrative tendentiousness, concept of “flow” begins to be used.

Soviet theorists tried to streamline the use of the words “direction” and “flow”. The most widespread is the theory according to which the direction is large literary and artistic communities formed by a single creative method (the method is the artist’s understanding and reproduction of reality in accordance with the peculiarities of his artistic thinking and aesthetic ideal). Classicism, sentimentalism, romanticism, realism were considered as directions. Uncertain was the status of modernism, which orthodox Soviet theory preferred not to deal with. The current was recognized as a kind of direction, most often singled out according to the ideological principle. For example, romanticism was divided into revolutionary (progressive) and reactionary (conservative), Russian realism – into psychological and sociological currents.

G.N. Pospelov spoke of a “literary trend” and an “ideological-literary trend.” The scientist singled out directions according to the principle of the presence of creative programs , and before classicism they did not exist. Currents are also recognized in the early stages of literary development, starting from antiquity. The currents are distinguished primarily by the generality of the problems.

A school is an association within a direction or trend, which includes the closest creative followers of an outstanding writer. For example, the “natural school” in Russian literature, which brought together supporters of the realistic trend, who developed the traditions of Gogol and fought for the critical orientation of literature, its democratization, and the image of a person in unity with the social environment.

Style and style dominants

The term “style” (gr. stylos – a stick for writing on a wax tablet) is used in various sciences – linguistics, art history, aesthetics, literary criticism. Already in the ancient era, this word began to be understood in a figurative sense, denoting handwriting, the features of writing. Until the middle of the 7th century the word “style” was used to characterize the figurative and expressive features of speech. At the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th centuries. style was conceived as an artistic individuality based on semantic originality. During the 19th century Literary scholars used this term to denote an individual manner of literary writing; in the Russian tradition, the word “syllable” was a synonym for style.

For the modern understanding of the literary and artistic style, the following is essential:

1) style is an expression of deep originality,

2) it has aesthetic perfection,

3) it is a meaningful form

4) style is a property of the entire artistic form of a work, and not just its speech side.

Style is the aesthetic unity of all sides and elements of an art form.

Since style is not an element, but a property of an artistic form, it is found in almost any piece of text. It is enough for a sophisticated reader to read a short passage to identify the author with confidence.

Style dominants are qualitative characteristics of style, in which artistic originality is expressed.

I. Style dominants of the artistic world : descriptiveness, plot, psychologism.

II. Style dominants of artistic convention : lifelikeness, fantasy

III. Style dominants of artistic speech : verse / prose, monologism / heteroglossia, nominativity / rhetoric.

An essential property of style is the volume of the work.

When analyzing a work, one to three stylistic dominants are usually identified. For example, in Gogol’s poem “Dead Souls” the stylistic dominant is descriptive. The stylistic dominants in Dostoevsky’s novels are psychologism and heteroglossia in the form of polyphony. Style dominants are determined by specific content. The descriptiveness of “Dead Souls” is due to the fact that Gogol’s task was to draw the image of Russia. The stylistic dominants of Dostoevsky’s novels depend on their philosophical, ideological and moral issues (the search for personal truth).

Even at the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries. it became necessary to separate the categories of style and manner . One of the first to do this was Goethe. The distinction between style and manner is based on the concept of originality. Writers and poets are divided into two groups: some are original in form and content, others are mainly in form. For the former, originality is due to an innovative concept of the world and man, for the latter, it is due to the need to be unlike anyone else. In the first case, it is appropriate to talk about style, in the second – about manner.

In modern literary criticism, they speak not only of the individual author’s style, but also of the “style of the era” . However, the broader the concept of style, the more abstract its features look. In the history of world art, two types of creativity (artistic thinking) naturally alternate:

– realistic (when reproducing reality, the artist strives for objectivity),

– romantic (when reproducing reality, the artist is subjective).

DI. Chizhevsky systematized the alternation of realistic and romantic types of creativity in the history of art and literature and formulated the law of “pendulum movements” in culture (“pendulum” of Chizhevsky). Chizhevsky divided all styles into two groups:

– “romantic” – styles addressed to the rationally incomprehensible Whole (for example, baroque, romanticism, symbolism);

– “classical” – styles addressed to the rational development of the objective world in space and time (for example, the Renaissance, classicism, realism).


As an integral artistic system, classicism (from Latin classicus – exemplary) was originally formed in France by the middle of the 17th century. The development of classicism was closely connected with the situation that developed in the country after the end of the religious wars and the establishment of centralized royal power (absolute monarchy). The policy of centralization contributed to the ordering of all spheres of social and spiritual life. This process extended to literature as well.

Classicism, on the one hand, continued certain traditions of the Renaissance (admiration for antiquity, faith in reason, the ideal of harmony and measure), on the other hand, it became a kind of antithesis to the Renaissance. Humanists saw the highest value in the freely manifesting natural nature of a person; in the era of classicism, moral norms (virtues) receive priority in assessing a person. The main content of creativity in classicism is the contradiction between the natural nature of man and civic duty, between his passions and reason, which gave rise to tragic conflicts.

Classicists put forward three main categories of their aesthetics: reason, pattern and taste. This explains why the rationalism of Descartes became the philosophical basis of classicism. For Descartes, reason is the highest criterion of truth. Rationalism contributed to overcoming religious prejudices, but its weakness was the metaphysical (metaphysics is a philosophical method opposite to dialectics, considering phenomena “separately”, in their immutability and independence from each other, beyond contradictions as a source of their development) idea of the immutability and immobility of the world. This concept convinced the classicists that the aesthetic ideal is eternal and that it was most fully embodied in the art of antiquity.

The rationality and normativity of classic aesthetics is manifested in a strict hierarchy of genres. Genres are divided into

1) “high” – tragedy, epic, ode;

Their sphere is public life, historical events, mythology; their heroes are monarchs, generals, historical and mythological characters.

2) “medium” – elegies, idylls, messages, sonnets, songs;

These genres depict the inner world of an individual.

3) “low” – comedy, satire, fable.

These genres are turned into the sphere of the private everyday life of nobles and townspeople.

Prose is valued by classicists much lower than poetry. Those prose genres that are informational in nature – sermons, memoirs, letters – are spreading.

Each work must be strictly thought out, the composition must be logically built, the individual parts must be proportionate, the style must be clear, the language must be concise and precise. These laws were especially harsh for high genres, clothed in a mandatory poetic form. The laws of formal logic determined the construction of dramatic works, especially tragedies. It was supposed to consist of five acts and be based on the principle of three unities:

– unity of place (the action of the play should take place in one place – a palace, house or room),

– unity of time (the action should last no more than a day),

unity of action (the events depicted in the play must have their beginning, development and end).

In the XVIII century. Classicism is experiencing its second heyday. The Enlightenment , an ideological movement that developed in the conditions of an acute crisis of absolutism, has a decisive influence on it. The ideas of the Enlightenment are based on the philosophical concept of the Englishman Locke, who declares feeling, sensation to be the only source of human knowledge about the world. Locke’s ideas led the educators to the conclusion about the decisive influence of the social and natural environment on the formation of personality. According to the enlighteners, public well-being is hindered by ignorance, superstition, and prejudices. Literature and art were to become an instrument for the transformation and re-education of society. Especially clearly the transformation of classicism in the spirit of educational settings is visible in the tragedies of Voltaire.

The formation and flourishing of Russian classicism falls on 1730-50. Theorist of Russian classicism – Sumarokov. From the very beginning, Russian classicism was nourished by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Believing in the usefulness of an enlightened monarchy, Russian classicists begin the process of educating autocrats, reminding them of their duties towards their subjects. Russian writers affirm the natural equality of people, which leads them to the idea of the extra-class value of a person. The main material for Russian classicists is not antiquity, but their own national history, from which they preferred to draw plots for high genres. As an exemplary sovereign, they recognized a very specific person – Peter I.


Sentimentalism (from English sentimental – sensitive) is a trend in European literature and art of the second half of the 18th century, due to the crisis of enlightenment rationalism. Yet sentimentalists do not break with the traditions of the Enlightenment. Attaching special importance to feeling, the life of the heart, sentimentalists did not deny the importance of reason for the improvement of man. Feeling is like reason, it is a natural manifestation of human nature. Immediate feeling, according to sentimentalists, is unspoiled, it is opposed to social, class, religious prejudices. The connection of sentimentalism with the philosophy of the Enlightenment was also reflected in the idea of the extra-class value of the individual.

The hero of the sentimentalists is a sensitive person. He is remarkable not for his military exploits, not for state affairs, but for his spiritual qualities, a rich inner life. Sentimentalists declared sensitivity, the ability to emotionally respond to the outside world, to be the most important quality of a person. Although sensitivity is an innate property of a person, it is maintained and developed by education.

Sentimentalists tended to idealize marital and family relationships. It is the family, they believed, that forms civic virtues in a person. Sentimentalists opposed natural human feelings and ties (family, love, friendship) to civilization, which destroys everything humane. Their favorite hero is often correlated with the patriarchal world, its formation was influenced by nature itself.

The new style was first fully manifested in the “Elegy written in a rural cemetery” by the English poet Gray (1751), which brought its creator all-European fame. The central figure of English sentimentalism is undoubtedly Sterne . The term “sentimentalism” itself was entrenched under the influence of the title of Sterne’s novel “A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy” (1768).

In France, sentimentalism was represented mainly by the work of Rousseau and his followers. Rousseau’s sentimentalism is marked by principled democracy. His political sympathies are connected with the republican form of government. Tyranny, according to the writer, kills sensitivity in people, forming vicious inclinations in them. Rousseau is a resolute opponent of social inequality and prejudice. The theme of social inequality formed the basis of his famous novel “Julia, or New Eloise” (1761), which tells about the love of the noblewoman Julia and her teacher Saint-Preux, a plebeian by social status.

In Germany, the ideas of sentimentalism were reflected in the Sturm und Drang movement (1770s).

In Russian literature, elements of sentimentalism can be found already in the 1760s. In prose, new trends emerged in Emin ‘s novels. At that time, a new type of play appeared on the stage of the Russian theater – “tearful dramas” . In the 1770s comic opera (a play of comic or dramatic content, including musical and dance numbers) is gaining exceptional popularity among the Russian public. The heroes of these plays are virtuous, “sensitive” peasants, spiritually superior to their offenders, the landowners-nobles.

Russian prose of sentimentalism developed and took shape in the 1790s, when the prose works of Karamzin appeared. Karamzin headed this literary direction. His keynote article was titled “What Does an Author Need?” (1793). Karamzin was a sincere supporter of Rousseau’s ideas. Rousseauism became decisive for him in creating the characters of his heroes. The author’s attitude permeates Karamzin’s prose, bringing the style of his stories and essays closer to the manner of a lyrical poem. The main thing in them is not the plot, which is always extremely simple and uncomplicated, but the tonality of the work, its emotional atmosphere.

A new assessment of a person was also reflected in the lyrics. This caused the intensive development of “middle” (according to the classification of classicism) genres and the emergence of new genre forms (“letter”, idyll, philosophical and “social” elegy). New artistic tasks entailed a new attitude towards language. If among the classicists the word had an almost terminological character, i.e. had an exact and stable meaning, then the subjective meaning of the word is blurred among the poets-sentimentalists. It is not the direct, but the additional meaning that comes to the fore in the word. Words seem to be wrapped in emotional and semantic associations.

The relationship between sentimentalism and pre-romanticism is very complex and ambiguous. Pre-romanticism is sometimes seen as a movement within sentimentalism. And yet, sentimentalism and pre-romanticism are separated by a significant line. Sentimentalism is associated with Enlightenment, pre-romanticism denies the omnipotence and goodness of the mind. The hero of the pre-romantics is a courageous, resolute personality, fundamentally different, he is a gentle, sensitive sentimental hero. If the sentimentalists were interested in the “pleasant” nature, then the nature of the pre-romantics is a match for their heroes: it is harsh and gloomy.

Pre-romantics preferred to draw their plots from the Middle Ages, poeticizing the life and customs of this era. The most prominent figure of pre-romanticism is the Scot MacPherson . His “Poems of Ossian” (1765) won him European fame. MacPherson introduced the gloomy world of heroic medieval legends into literature, using the motifs of Celtic folklore. English pre-romanticism also puts forward the genre of the Gothic novel (“a novel of fears and horrors”, “a black novel”). Life in these works is full of fatal mysteries. Mysterious forces intervene in the fate of a person, plunging him into a whirlpool of strange and sinister events.


During the three centuries of the New Age (XVI-XVIII centuries), Europe experienced many civil strife and religious wars, and yet the centuries-old orders remained unshakable. In place of the overthrown princes and kings, others came – and everything remained the same. Only the events of 1789-94. France transformed the European world. The Great French Revolution broke social traditions that seemed unshakable, destroyed the power of the aristocracy and the clergy, proclaiming universal equality before the law. The emotional response to this social upheaval gave birth to a “revolution of the spirit.”

The widest range of responses to what was happening in France – from enthusiastic greetings to curses – was the essence of the romantic worldview. Romanticism became the ideological expression of its era. Despite all the variety of manifestations, certain features and patterns can be traced in romanticism, a certain vision of the world and man, which allows us to speak of it as a literary movement.

Romantics began their activities with the overthrow of the rationalist aesthetics of classicism. They destroyed the established canons of classicism, which, in their opinion, fettered the creative imagination of the artist. Romantics opposed the sharp distinction between high and low styles, against the dramatic rule of the “three unities”, against the triumph of reason and common sense over feeling and imagination, and so on.

In the struggle between the romantics and the classicists, the problem of historicism was posed and developed. As a generation of the same age as the revolution, the Romantics were endowed with a sense of human involvement in the historical movement. Romantics opposed the anti-historicism of the classics, for whom it was normal, for example, for Odysseus to appear on stage among the waves in a powdered wig and white gloves. Romantics showed a keen interest in the historical past. The historical approach to the reproduction of reality among the Romantics is associated with the demand for the national identity of art. In their works, the romantics sought to reproduce not only the “local flavor” (external signs of national life), but also the “spirit of the times” (features of the national way of life, beliefs, rituals, concepts and behavior of people).

The study of the history and culture of their people by the Romantics naturally drew the attention of writers to the folk art of their countries. German, English romantics actively collect folk songs, ballads, legends, research them, process them and publish them. Folk culture is transformed by the romantics into one of the means of renewing art.

In history, the national past, romantics are trying to find answers to the questions of their time that concern them. They oppose antiquity with its enduring values to the modern rapidly developing “iron” age, marked by commercialism. Romantics were clearly aware of their alienation to the philistine existence of the bourgeois, his selfish calculations and business interests. Disappointment in the social structure of the XIX century. forced the romantics to create a different world – an ideal world. The central conflict in the work of the Romantics is the conflict between dream and reality.

Each romantic had his own area where he went in his dreams, his own ideal, thanks to which the work of the romantics had a pronounced subjective character. For some romantics, the ideal was the patriarchal past, the Middle Ages (Scott), others idealized antiquity (Musset), some rushed into primitive times (Cooper). A kind of “escape from reality” in search of freedom and lost harmony was the journey of a romantic hero to the exotic countries of the East or the Caucasus (Byron’s poem “Gyaur”, Pushkin’s poem “Prisoner of the Caucasus”). The flight of the romantics often took the form of isolation in the inner world of the individual, in the “life of the heart.” Sentimentalists also wrote about the “life of the heart”, but unlike their affection for family virtues and the mores of ordinary people, romantics associated with the “life of the heart” a spiritually rich person endowed with strong passions, a rich and ardent imagination.

Art itself was often a spiritual refuge for romantics (Hoffmann). Sometimes they discovered ideal areas in the field of science. Thus, the American romantic Poe was attracted by the magic of the human intellect, capable of working miracles. In other cases, philosophy could become such an ideal sphere for a romantic (the German romantic Novalis, the Russian romantics Venevitinov and Odoevsky). Philosophy was for them that highest wisdom, the comprehension of which is capable of making the human spirit free. Religion also became an area of spiritual refuge (Coleridge and Wordsworth in England, Zhukovsky in Russia, Chateaubriand in France).

Escape to the spiritual world did not always satisfy the romantics. They wanted their ideal to take on real form. Nature became such a real embodiment of the ideal. Romantics inspired her, found in her consonance with their moods and feelings. Nature is recreated in romantic art as a free element, a free and beautiful world, not subject to human arbitrariness. Following the sentimentalists, the romantics were inclined to idealize people living in the bosom of nature. In the “natural” man they saw the free, uncorrupted children of the forests and prairies. The search for the ideal human personality led the romantics to a topic that had not existed in literature before them. Romanticism introduces for the first time into art the cult of the child and the cult of childhood. 18th century I saw in the child only a small adult.

Some romantics by nature were characterized by dreamy contemplation (Zhukovsky, Wordsworth), others set themselves the goal of “exciting the valor of fellow citizens with the exploits of their ancestors” (Bestuzhev about Ryleev), others in the struggle for freedom raised their hero to rebellion against God himself (“Cain” Byron , “Demon” Lermontov). But for both, the ideal was unrealizable. In the works of late romantics, notes of severe disappointment, pessimism and disbelief in human capabilities are clearly manifested.

So, the incompatibility of the dream of beauty with the prose of life, the awareness of the collapse of illusions and at the same time striving for the ideal, faith in it – all this is the essence of romantic art.

Romantics first touched upon the problem of the artist-creator. According to the romantic concept of creativity, the artist creates his own special world, more beautiful and true than prosaic reality.

Art for the artist is the highest reality. The contradiction between the ideal and life gave rise to the concept of two worlds in romantic art. The duality of being is presented in the interweaving of the fabulous-fantastic “world of dreams” and the real world of everyday life. The real and ideal spheres interpenetrate (Hoffmann’s Golden Pot). The dual world can also be reflected in the duality of the soul of a romantic hero. The lack of harmony in the world and with the world inevitably led the hero to spiritual discord. The most acute form of expression of this discord is the images of twins. Doubles inhabit the novels and stories of Hoffmann, Poe, Odoevsky.

At the center of romantic art was a bright, passionate personality awakened by historical shifts. Turning to the history of mankind, the romantics considered it as a manifestation of the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. These two principles determine the structure and system of images in a romantic work. Heroes are the expression of these extreme principles, sharply dividing into positive and negative ones.

A positive romantic hero, as a rule, the bearer of the author’s ideal, is certainly noble in everything, even in revenge. It is almost always a young man who enters life and encounters its cruel laws. In romantic literature, the appearance of a noble hero is also affirmed: a tall figure with arms crossed on his chest, a pale brow, burning eyes, black curls to the shoulders and an obligatory black cloak. The inevitable companion of the romantic hero was loneliness. Longing and thirst for the ideal drives him from place to place.

The new content of art required an updated form. Romantics preached openness and mixing of genres and literary genres. One of the favorite genres in romantic literature is the novel. He approaches the lyrics, turning into a confession, a gigantic monologue (“Confession of the Son of the Age” by Musset). On the other hand, the novel is dramatized, its action becomes more tense (Scott’s Ivanhoe, Hugo’s Notre Dame Cathedral, Dumas’ Three Musketeers). The interest of the Romantics in the historical past gave rise to the historical novel, of exceptional importance in the creation and development of which belongs to Scott. Among the German romantics, the “novel of education”, which explores the history of the individual, gained great popularity (Goethe “The Years of the Teaching of Wilhelm Meister”, “The Years of the Wanderings of Wilhelm Meister”). The novel-journey (“Travel Pictures” by Heine) and the utopian novel (Cooper’s “Colony on the Crater”, J. Sand’s “The Miller from Anzhibo”) received further development. The novel genre was very popular among romantics. The peculiarity of the romantic short story manifested itself in its connection with the fairy tale.

The subjectivity inherent in the romantic method contributed to the extraordinary flourishing of lyrical genres, which take on the character of a confession or a creative diary. Romantics also developed new genres: romance, lyrical dream, lyrical confession, philosophical lyrics. Folk genres were also actively used, such as ballad and song.

The idea of interpenetration of arts was connected with the romantic concept of renewal of art forms. Music was of great importance for the Romantics. They believed that music expresses the emotional sphere in which a person lives, thirsting for an ideal. Music influences romantic literature, saturating it with musical rhythms and intonations. Romantics speak of “singing prose” and “music of verse.” The verses of Zhukovsky and Heine are unusually musical.

Romanticism developed its figurative-symbolic system. The sea and the wind among the romantics symbolize freedom and liberty. The symbol of the ideal world for them finds its expression in the images of the stars, the dawn, awakening nature. The idea of the earthly world as the kingdom of evil is associated in the works of romantics with the image of the night. However, the night can also hide from the ugliness of the day, hide the unsightly essence of the world, relieve suffering. The image of death also acquires a special meaning in romanticism. On the one hand, death is portrayed as the focus of horror, on the other hand, as deliverance from suffering, an escape to some ideal other world. The symbolism of flowers and plants is very complex in romanticism.

Romantics attached great importance to the emotionally expressive meaning of the word. They often weakened its direct meaning, highlighting the emotional associations hidden in the word. This made it possible to capture the most subtle shades of mood.

The traditions of romanticism received a new impetus to development at the end of the 19th century. in neo-romanticism (Rostan, Kipling, D. London). Later, the traditions of romanticism were assimilated and rethought by the symbolists (Gippius, Balmont, Blok, Rilke) and expressionists (Kafka, Becher, Werfel).


Realism (from Latin realis – material, real) is a direction in art, whose figures strive to understand and depict the interaction of a person with the environment. The term “realism” came into general use in the 1860s. thanks to French writers. To the share of England and France in the late XVIII – early XIX centuries. there were especially many social upheavals, so the artists of these countries realized more clearly than others that each era leaves a unique imprint on the feelings, thoughts and actions of people.

The realists discovered that social contradictions are due not only to passions, but also to the antagonistic aspirations of different classes. The main thing in realism is the study and analysis of social relations and the very structure of society. In other words, they considered the conditioning of conflict by social patterns. They also explained human psychology by social causes.

For example, in the novel Red and Black, Stendhal highlights the social aspect when depicting a plebeian who does not want to accept the fate destined for him from birth. Balzac in the cycle of novels and short stories “The Human Comedy” is given the grandiose goal of recreating the multi-figured panorama of modern society. Dickens in his works identifies the main pain points of contemporary capitalism: the impoverishment of the working people, their ignorance, lawlessness and the spiritual crisis of the upper classes.

The main spiritualizing force of realism are the ideas of individual freedom and universal social equality. Realist writers saw the root of evil in the unjust arrangement of social and economic institutions. At the same time, most writers believed in the inevitability of scientific and social progress, which would gradually destroy the oppression of man by man. For example, Chernyshevsky in the novel What Is to Be Done? painted pictures of a beautiful future, when everyone will have the opportunity to become a harmonious personality. Chekhov’s heroes also believe in a bright future.

And yet, first of all, a new direction in art focuses on the criticism of already existing orders. 19th century realism in domestic literary criticism in 1930 – early 1980s. was called critical (the definition proposed by Gorky). However, this term does not cover all aspects of the phenomenon being defined, ignoring the philosophical and universal content of the masterpieces of realistic art.

The realists raised the problem of the nationality of art. Gogol believed that a truly folk artist looks at the world through the eyes of his people. In the middle of the 19th century, nationality becomes the central point in determining the social and artistic significance of a work. Turgenev, Grigorovich sought not only to reproduce and study peasant life, but also to directly address the people. Nationality is understood as an appeal to the problems of people’s life with the so-called. the people themselves. Only Chekhov and Bunin allowed themselves to doubt the object of worship of more than one generation of Russian writers.

By the middle of the XIX century. another feature of realistic literature was determined – tendentiousness, i.e. expression of the moral and ideological position of the author. Tendentiousness gives rise to a delimitation in Russian literature into two antagonistic camps:

– revolutionary-democratic (criticism of the state system);

– supporters of “pure art” (political indifference, the primacy of “artistic” over the “topics of the day”).

In the 1860-1870s. The “civic position” of the writer was valued more than his talent. This approach to art was formulated by Belinsky.

The focus of realist literature has alternately been

– “small man”,

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