Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Jim H.

Great post! Please continue your reading for those of us who haven't had a chance to read Brooks's book (or, frankly, even heard of it). Squaring up the personal and the social, the aesthetic and the realistic is one of my keen interests over at

One shot: what we are able to perceive is conditioned by the society in which we live. Only as our consciousness is "raised" (forgive the infelicitous connotations) or expanded (ditto) can we begin to perceive other realities. That's why epiphanies and changes in character (or lack thereof) are so important for literary fiction.

Jim H.

the wandering jew

I believe it was Nabokov who said that "reality" is the only word in the language that only makes sense when preceded and followed by quotation marks.


Thank you for this interesting post. I have not read Brooks' book and I am not going to defend it here, but I will attempt to answer two of your concerns on his behalf.
1) Simply put, the case of the rise of realism in fiction can be presented as a formula:
"realist fiction=science+theory of history"
Each of these variables is a complex intellectual phenomenon in itself, with multitude of manifestations and implications. One may argue that with the rise of scientific thought literature centered around moral themes (like Pilgrim's Progress) gave its place to that which dealt with more worldly matters--
2) which brings me to your second concern: the role of the "issues being confronted" in literature and history, namely the subject matter. I think this is a simple subject matter of misunderstanding of Brooks' term and theory of history. He seems to point at the question that lurks in the background of most of history and is asked openly by evolutionists: how did things get to be how they are? The nineteenth-century vogue for buildungsroman may reflect one literary example "telling the story of how it came to be like this". Not everyone may consider this genre representative of the realist fiction, but then again neither Michelet nor Carlyle wrote scientific histories.

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The Art of Disturbance--Available as Pdf and Kindle Ebook
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