This article focuses on Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs, the most famous example of the realist genre of local color. Published in 1898, the novel was written during the very moment of the generic collapse of local color. That collapse occurs within the literary system, in which any work of literature is enfolded—the functionally differentiated system that comprises writers, readers, genres, styles, the critical apparatus, and the publishing apparatus. As Firs stages the death of a small Maine community, it models its own death as a generic instance within the literary system. Firs both encodes and observes the gradual denaturing and collapse of its own classical-realist premises, which cannot abide the drawing into equivalence of character, interiority, and interpersonal communication with the inhuman formalism of systems. In the wake of the collapse of its classical-realist premises, the novel offers a final, speculative vision of a realism for the systems epoch.

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