This seminar investigates pathbreaking "realist" fictions that, spurned in their own eras, are now considered "classics" indispensable to our understanding of literature. Looking closely at their heterodox use of descriptive and narrative modes incl. verbal tense, figural patterns (e.g. repetition, extended analogy, metonymy), non-"descript" speculative vocabulary, irony, embedding, and parataxis, alongside key theoretical works, we examine how these works apprehend "the real" in its relation to temporality, causality, historicity and historical reflection in general. Works ranging from Balzac and Flaubert to Dickens, Fitzgerald and Proust.