Define ‘Realism’ as a Nineteenth-Century Aesthetic Movement and Discuss to What Extent ‘Un Cœur Simple’ Can Be Described as a Realist Text.

In: English and Literature

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Realism was seen as an avant-garde challenge to the artificial artistic modes of expression that preceded it, for instance Romanticism and 18th century Classicism. It became prominent in French Literature in the late 19th century and Faubert was one of the artists art the forefront of the movement. Realist novels are based on the simple and mundane every day routines. Realist writers did not believe in writing about the extraordinary, instead they look to portray life in a truthful way, mainly by using an objective narrative point of view and by amassing accurate details. ‘Un Coeur Simple’ is a realistic piece of writing, that’s for sure, but many people argue that it has elements of the romantic in it. Although it is said that Flaubert took inspiration from characters in his own life, there are certain aspects of the novel that hints at it being somewhat romantic. In particular, the protagonists view on nature and her compassion have been interpreted as somewhat romantic.

Flaubert’s most prestigious book, Madame Bovary, caused quite a stir due to its moral content. ‘Un Cœur Simple’ did not cause quite as much controversy. But the debate surrounding Madame Bovary had a lot to do with Flaubert's realistic writing style; he did not believe in inspiration and muses—he believed in working hard and simply reporting exactly what he saw. He believed in inspection and accurate imitation. Hence the reason the life that was reproduced in ‘Madame Bovary’ shocked the people of the time so much, because of Flaubert’s realism, he wrote it exactly as he saw it. Madame Bovary has been described as the highest stage of French realist writing. The realist authors and the novels themselves were all condemned as immoral due to their content and Flaubert was even taken to court over the subject matter in ‘Madame Bovary’. Realism was highly contentious because compared with its…...

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