Remigius Bunia

Abstract zu »Realismus«

Essay Concerning the Concept of Realism

Among the different notions of realism, there are only few attempts to elucidate the seemingly simple idea of a proximity or similitude between reality and fictionality. At first glance, this idea is so utterly clear that there seems to be no need to discuss the phenomenon. As the concepts of reality and fictionality, however, have thoroughly changed in the past decades, realism turns out to have a complexity of its own. This paper attempts to describe this proximity in terms of difference theory as offered mainly by Niklas Luhmann’s works. The aim is to show that realism cannot be described if one considers things, characters, or settings, i.e. entities, but if one looks at the schemes structuring the perception of the world. The novels Abfall für alle by Rainald Goetz and Jahrestage by Uwe Johnson, two of the most important late 20th century texts that deal with the question of what can be said about reality, not only help to elucidate the concept of realism, but also unfold intricate problems related to it. Abfall für alle, on the one hand, points out that isochronous story-telling widens the gap between fiction and reality although the novel could be considered realistic due to its imitation of real-time experience; and Jahrestage, on the other hand, shows that the past can only be described by means of schemes which are available solely in the moment the operation is performed. Insights into the nature of realism might therefore contribute to the explication of narrativity and fictionality themselves insofar as narrativity always produces effects similar to those of fictionality. After all, the analysis of realism might prove to be crucial to the understanding of fiction and fictionality.