Realism, representation, and the arts in nineteenth-century literature


Realism, representation, and the arts in nineteenth-century literature

Alison Byerly

(Cambridge studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture, 12)

Cambridge University Press, 1997

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Bibliography: p. 210-226

Includes index



This book confronts a significant paradox in the development of literary realism: the very novels that present themselves as purveyors and celebrants of direct, ordinary human experience also manifest an obsession with art that threatens to sabotage their Realist claims. Unlike previous studies of the role of visual art, or music, or theatre in Victorian literature, Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature examines the juxtaposition of all of these arts in the works of Charlotte Bronte, William Thackeray, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and others. Alison Byerly combines close textual analysis with discussion of relevant ancillary topics to illuminate the place of different arts within nineteenth-century British culture. Her book, which also contains sixteen illustrations, represents an effort to bridge the growing gap between aesthetics and cultural studies.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. The picturesque aesthetic and the natural art of song
  • 2. Masterpiece theatres: art as spectacle in William Thackeray and Charlotte Bronte
  • 3. George Eliot's hierarchy of representation
  • 4. Art works: Thomas Hardy and the labor of creation
  • Coda: aestheticism: the erasure of the real
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index.

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