This essay examines how the concept of realism applies to minor literature by retrieving and expanding Georg Lukács’s understanding of realism as the deliberate negation of modernism. In Lukács’s view, realism distinctively expresses an aspiration to totality. Its most important device is typicality, which claims to broaden the significance of what might seem merely particular. This definition of realism illuminates two pioneering works of Asian American literature. Jade Snow Wong and Maxine Hong Kingston, despite their many differences, both engage in the realist project of overcoming reified particulars. They invent techniques to mediate and thereby to connect isolated acts, events, and persons to a total context of social life.
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Yoon Sun Lee; Type, Totality, and the Realism of Asian American Literature. Modern Language Quarterly 1 September 2012; 73 (3): 415–432. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-1631460
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