Postwar British Fiction: Realism and After Andrew Gasiorek
Realism is often regarded as aesthetically out of date and philosophically untenable. This book challenges such views. It explores the fiction of several post-war novelists and identifies a variety of distinct reponses to the modernist legacy. Andrzej Gasiorek shows that, although the writers he discusses are deeply aware of realism's problematic nature and depart from it in innovative ways, they do not abandon its commitment to the representation of a public and social world external to the writer. Writers as diverse as Henry Green, Ivy Compton-Burnett, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, Doris Lessing, John Berger, John Fowles and Angus Wilson test realist modes to their limits, frequently casting them into new forms in order the better to mediate their most pressing concerns. Gasiorek goes on to argue that a younger generation of novelists who are usually associated with postmodernist flights from realism, such as Angela Carter, Julian Barnes, Graham Swift and Salman Rushdie, subject realism to a searching critique and political pertinence. Far from recycling once potent modes as dead pastiche, novels by such avowedly "postmodernist" writers offer accounts of contemporary dilemmas and acknowledge realism's continuing relevance.