Programmatic accounts of realism specify the tasks of authors of fiction in terms of the production conditions of a work, its structural features, or its effects on readers. Concerning the conditions of production the poet is supposed to observe the life surrounding him or her and note its law-like regularities. What is presented in the work is then supposed to match these regularities, thus resulting in particular structural features. Finally, readers should be able to read those regularities from the work. I call this program ›realistic universalism‹ (›realistischer Universalismus‹). The programmatic accounts do not specify how reading the regularities from the fiction is supposed to work, however. This is why I examine three prominent realistic texts according to how they implement this program of realistic universalism. Raabe’s Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse contains explicit versions of said regularities, while Storm’s Immensee exemplifies them. The most subtle version of realistic universalism is to be found in Stifter’s Der Hochwald. This text asks its readers to employ a mode of reading which expresses the norms to be learned from the text.
© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston