This book questions the assumption of a single realism, the continuous realism of novels. Many suppose that narrative before the novel either looked forward to it or was medieval and allegorical, and compare the introduction of single-point perspective with the rise of the novel. But continuous realism did not arise as soon as perspective was discovered. In actuality, a distinctive sort of Renaissance realism, with its own conventions, was practised from the late
Middle Ages to the seventeenth century. Renaissance Realism surveys the history of perspective, showing that it only gradually came to dominate the western imagination and to become the default assumption for portrayal in the visual arts. Looked at in this way, correlates between literature and art
emerge in the depiction of objects and events. Treatment of spatial arrangement and time sequences, for example, closely parallel 'simultaneous narration' in the visual arts.