Raymond Williams writes that “realism is a difficult word, not only because of the intricacy of the disputes in art and philosophy to which its predominant uses refer, but also because the two words on which it seems to depend, real and reality, have a very complicated linguistic history” prior to the nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, realism was a new word but already had four identifiable meanings, only one of which “describe[d] a method or attitude in art and literature—at first an exceptional accuracy of representation, later a commitment to describing real events and showing things as they actually exist” (Williams 1983b, 259). In literature for children and young adults, each part of this description touches other contested territory in the field.

This essay may be found on page 168 of the printed volume.

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