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ENG215H1 Lecture Notes - Literary Realism, Close Reading, Intertextuality

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Sarah Caskey

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#1 Close Reading & Analysing Literature
Louis Menon(sp?) on short fiction: a short story is the most single-minded of all literary forms, the
reader expects an effect or to be effected --> think "whoa."
o An experience without words.
o A short story seems effortless (like golf) but it's far more complicated.
Elaine Showalter's definition of a close reading (on Blackboard - important for term): foundation
of critical analysis - especially in relation to short stories.
o Need to understand verbal, formal and structural elements of the words.
Close reading is a deliberate attempt to detach from plot/story & pay attention to
imagery, allusion, intertextuality, syntax and form.
Ask: How does the verbal texture of this paragraph illuminate the theme of the story?
#2 (Prairie) Realism
Under heading of "Realism:" used to designate a recurrent mode in various eras and literary forms
of representing life in literature.
o Opposed to romantic fiction.
Romance is for how life would be as we would have it.
Realism, is obviously, a more realistic representation.
o Realism represents life and the social world as it seems to the reader.
Story & characters have to seem plausible.
Fredrick Grove was devoted to the idea of realism to convince the reader that the narrative was
based in real life and objective and believable.
o Portrayed an idealized realistic and unsentimental view of prairie life.
"Prairie realism:" exerted powerful influence on 20th century Canadian fiction.
o His realism got him into trouble with readers of the time.
View one of his novels as pornographic when a farm woman induces abortion through
physically strenuous activity.
Contemporary readers would/might be compassionate to her lonely lifestyle.
o Sympathetic to the difficulties that prairie women struggle while cultivating their land.
#3 Lazy Bones -- Fredrick Phillip Grove
FPG: devoted to literary realism - fiction that is using devices to convince the reader that it could
take place IRL.
o Reader's response is important.
Lazy Bones is about the price paid in human relationship and family life by trying to bring culture
to a largely uninhabited space by cultivating land.
How is Elizabeth Hurst introduced?
o "Strong and … boney"?
Grove wants us to immediately revise our initial impression of Elizabeth.
o "Not a beauty."
Significant that she doesn't conform to the standard for women.
o Described as a man?
Where her husband is passive, "still sleeping." --> alliteration drawing focus to this
Her energy and capability are portrayed as masculine traits and in that way, she
betrays her femininity.
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