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Forecasts of the Past

Globalisation, History, Realism, Utopia

Dougal McNeill

Whatever happened to realism? What form is adequate to representing our moment, situated as we are after the end of ‘the end of History’? In the face of youth revolts and workers’ insurgencies from Cairo to London, it seems a good time to test the possibilities of alternative Marxist defences of contemporary realist fiction. Can realism’s techniques adequately represent the complexity of contemporary political organisation? This book reads key realist texts from recent decades in order to test their potential to produce the knowledge of history, industrial politics and the metropolis traditionally central to literary realism’s concerns. Positioning himself within and against the inspiration and models of Fredric Jameson’s literary theory, and drawing on innovative realist texts, the author seeks to draw the classic realism controversies of an earlier period in historical materialism into productive conversation with the debates framing the era of austerity.


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Acknowledgements xi Preface: Whatever Happened to Realism? xiii Chapter One Introduction: Only Connect? Globalisation and the Problem of Realism 1 Chapter Two Methodological Problems of the Strike Novel: The Case of GB84 57 Chapter Three ‘Edging Back into Awareness’: Realisms of the Globalised City 89 Chapter Four Regeneration: The Historical Novel After Postmodernism 141 Chapter Five Maurice Gee’s Marginal Realism 185 Chapter Six Conclusion: Realism in the Valley of Its Saying 225 Selected Bibliography 253 Index 277

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