Well what does one do with this? On the one hand, James’s short story serves as a kind of realist object-lesson, or perhaps a lesson in objects, a lesson in which we’re meant to learn that some objects, no matter how beautiful, are not fit subjects for certain modes of representation, that representation of the “real” is the representation of the “appearance” of the real, that the mimetic pretensions embedded in the term “realism” are just that: pretensions. If we’re to learn these lessons – seeming inversions (or “perversions”) of Wallace Stevens’s “Let be be finale of seem” – then realism requires an abandonment of the notion of the real in favor of the representation of the “appearance” of the real. If we read “The Real Thing” as a lesson in realism, we learn that in the realist’s distinction between “reality” and “appearance,” “appearance” emerges as the favored term.