Studying "genre" is perhaps one of the most familiar ways of approaching literary texts, and the realist novel is one of the most distinct genres of all. The contributors to this volume look at two aspects of genre, the formal and historical, and show how writers such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens used the realist novel to tell profoundly moral tales in a popular way. The contributors also examine how some writers, such as Mary Shelley, challenged the genre's "mainstream" characteristics to lasting effect. Among the texts closely studied are: "Pride and Prejudice", "Great Expectations", "Fathers and Sons" and "Frankenstein". A selection of key critical texts is included, and these help to develop the reader's understanding of the issues raised in context. The emphasis throughout is upon practice not theory, and each chapter offers exercises in reading and studying literature.