A narrative impulse and a scenic impulse: as Fredric Jameson persuasively argues in The Antinomies of Realism, the history of literary realism has been shaped by the dialectic between these two competing drives, each identified by a specific temporality. Yet realism's dialectic between a narrative and a scenic impulse omits something crucial if we are to understand European realist narrative, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century. This article reassesses Jameson's dialectical view of realism in light of the speculative turn in the history of the European novel in 1860s Russian and 1880s French narrative. I will query Jameson's dialectic of realism and subsume it under a larger dialectical framework encompassing a further, temporally neuter impulse. This is the speculative impulse, which will help us reconsider some of the most important developments of nineteenth-century European realism.