Decide if each of the short passages below represent fantasy (F) or realism (R).
- Selden paused in surprise. In the afternoon rush of the Grand Central Station his eyes had been refreshed by the sight of Miss Lily Bart. It was a Monday in early September, and he was returning to his work from a hurried dip into the country; but what was Miss Bart doing in town at that season? If she had appeared to be catching a train, he might have inferred that he had come on her in the act of transition between one and another of the country-houses which disputed her presence after the close of the Newport season; but her desultory air perplexed him.
- The name he bore as a child, Duny, was given him by his mother, and that and his life were all she could give him, for she died before he was a year old. His father, the bronze-smith of the village, was a grim unspeaking man, and since Duny’s six brothers were older than he by many years and went one by one from home to farm the land or sail the sea or work as smith in other towns of the Northward Vale, there was no one to bring the child up in tenderness. He grew wild, a thriving weed, a tall, quick boy, loud and proud and full of temper.
- ‘I have come to vanquish thee!’ bruited the knight, his horse rearing. The sun shone prettily off the killer’s plate armour. / She retreated further into her cave and called out: ‘Do you really have to? I’m not that bad once you get to know me, honestly.’
- Dust. As strong as the seals on his father’s chambers were, the dust of the realm still found its way inside to cover everything. It was in the air, unseen but there, like so many things. It coated the inside of his throat and made his eyes run constantly. It was a permanent taste in the back of his mouth and he could feel it causing damage down in his lungs. When he moved, it caused irritation between his robes and his body, and sores at his joints. There was no escaping the dust, for it was pretty much all that was left of his realm.
- I’m not even sure I belong at this party. That’s not on some bougie shit, either. There are just some places where it’s not enough to be me. Neither version of me. Big D’s spring break party is one of those places. I squeeze through sweaty bodies and follow Kenya, her curls bouncing past her shoulders. A haze lingers over the room, smelling like weed, and music rattles the floor. Some rapper calls out for everybody to Nae-Nae, followed by a bunch of “Heys” as people launch into their own versions. Kenya holds up her cup and dances her way through the crowd. Between the headache from the loud-ass music and the nausea from the weed odor, I’ll be amazed if I cross the room without spilling my drink.
- Many years later as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.
Answers: 1R, 2F, 3F, 4F, 5R, 6 (trick question – magical realism, which is both F and R).
Most readers are able to identify the passages correctly as either fantasy or realism. What that tells us is that there is a particular style, quality, theme and set of motifs typical for each of fantasy and realism.
Furthermore, it tells us that realism is a genre of literature just as much as fantasy is. Realist literature, therefore, is not so simply understood as being ‘about the real world’. Instead, we might understand that realist literature is just as artistically created, deliberately contrived and dramatically constructed as any other genre of literature.
Curious, right? Why label it ‘real’ then? Ah, well, the reasons for that are concerned with social history, philosophic arguments, and artistic movements. Suffice it to say that any aspiring writer needs to have a grip on the features that typify realism and fantasy, which brings us to the ingenious checklist below…
For each pair of statements, decide which one tends (as a ‘rule of thumb’) to represent or be used by realism (R) and which one by fantasy (F)…
DESCRIPTION AND NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE
- Stative, matter-of-fact or journalistic description/language
- Figurative, metaphorical or symbolic description/language
- Mainly emotional, Anglo-Saxon and sometimes antiquated vocabulary
- A regular mix of Latinate and Anglo-Saxon language
DESCRIPTION FOR GROUNDING THE NARRATIVE
- Familiar, domestic, boring detail
- Rich, exotic, world-building detail
- Dialogue in vernacular, colloquial, ‘street’ language
- Declarative, rhetorical speech
CHARACTERS WITH PLOT
- Heroic and archetypal characters who triumph against the odds
- A disempowered individual who fails despite their best efforts
- Incidental and haphazard plot, a bit like life
- A plot that has a clear shape and is a journey of spiritual growth
If you’d like me to check your answers, please do feel free to email me (Adam): adz_d2003 @ yahoo.co.uk – deleting the two spaces either side of the @ sign.
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