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LECTURE 13

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BRAVE NEW WORLD OF LITERATURE (1916 1956)

13.1. . : . , . . .

 

World War I and the economic depression of great severity can explain the quality and direction of English literature in the first half of the 20th century. The traditional values of Western civilization, which the Victorians had only begun to question, came to be questioned seriously by a number of new writers. Those writers saw society breaking down around them. Traditional literary forms were often discarded, and new ones succeeded one another with bewildering rapidity, as writers sought fresher ways of expressing what they took to be new kinds of experience, or experience seen in new ways. The writers who had gone through the war came out with a new way of thinking about the world. The most well-known among them are Richard Aldington, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves.

 

13.1.1. Richard Aldington (1892-1962) wrote successfully in several literary genres, including poetry, fiction, translation, and biography. He began writing poetry prior to World War I. His early poems are considered representative of the imagist movement in poetry, a movement that flourished before the war whose adherents relied on the use of sharp, precise images as a means of expression. Aldington served on the Western Front during World War I. His war experiences led to his first novel and most popular book, Death of a Hero(1929), which was translated into many languages. After the war and beyond his imagist phase, Aldington continued to publish books of poetry. He also became a lively biographer. Aldington wrote accounts of such figures as Lawrence of Arabia, and English poet and novelist D. H. Lawrence. One of the most learned authors of his day, Aldington was also a translator of Greek, French, and Medieval Latin works. The epilogue to Death of a Hero gives the whole story quite a dimension.

 

Eleven years after the fall of Troy,

We, old men some of us nearly forty

Met and talked on the sunny rampart

Over our wine, while the lizards scuttled

In dusty grass, and the crickets chirred.

Some bared their wounds;

Some spoke of the thirst, dry in the throat,

And the heart-beat, in the din of battle;

Some spoke of intolerable sufferings,

The brightness gone from their eyes

And the gray already thick in their hair.

And I sat a little apart

From the garrulous talk and old memories,

And I heard a boy of twenty

Say petulantly to a girl, seizing her arm:

'Oh, come away, why do you stand there

Listening open-mouthed to the talk of old men?

Haven't you heard enough of Troy and Achilles?

Why should they bore us for ever

With an old quarrel and the names of dead men

We never knew, and dull forgotten battles?'

And he drew her away,

And she looked back and laughed

As he spoke more contempt of us

Being now out of hearing.

And I thought of the graves of desolate Troy

And the beauty of many young men now dust,

And the long agony and how useless it all was.

And the tank still clashed about me

Like the meeting of blade and blade.

And as they two moved away

He put an arm about her, and kissed her;

And afterwards I heard their gay distant laughter.

And I looked at the hollow cheeks

And the weary eyes and the grey-streaked heads

Of the old men nearly forty about me;

And I too walked away

In an agony of helpless grief and pity.

13.1.2. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) wrote poetry from early youth, much of it at first inspired by religion. He became increasingly disapproving of the role of the church in society, and sympathetic to the plight of the poor. At 20, he went to France and taught English there. Owen made the difficult decision to enlist in the army and fight in World War I. He entered the war in January 1917 and fought as an officer in the Battle of the Somme but was hospitalized for shell shock that May. In the hospital he met Siegfried Sassoon, a poet and novelist whose grim antiwar works were in harmony with Owen's concerns. Under Sassoon's care and tutelage, Owen began producing the best work of his short career; his poems are suffused with the horror of battle, and yet finely structured and innovative. Owen's use of half-rhyme (pairing words which do not quite rhyme) gives his poetry a dissonant, disturbing quality that amplifies his themes. He died one year after returning to battle and one week before the war ended in 1918. Full recognition as a highly esteemed poet came after Owen's death. Owen's considerable body of war poetry, traditional in form, is a passionate expression of outrage at the horrors of war and of pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it.

 

13.1.3. Robert Graves(1895-1985) preferred to be known as a poet, and wrote vigorous, witty, and, at times, intellectual verse. His first volume of poetry, Fairies and Fusiliers, recounts his World War I experiences. Early in his career, Graves was considered a Georgian poet (one of a group of early 20th-century poets who wrote conventional lyric poetry and maintained a late-romantic style). As his career developed, he avoided identification with any school or poet and wrote with an intense, clear, and ordered voice. As a prose writer Graves produced a wide selection of books, ranging from Good-Bye to All That(1929), a satiric military memoir, to imaginative and historical fiction such as I, Claudius.

13.1.4. Thomas Eliot(1888-1965) didn't go to war. Nor was he a British-born author. Yet he is regarded as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. His best-known poem, The Waste Land (1922), is a devastating analysis of the society of his time. Eliot also wrote drama and literary criticism and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1948.

Thomas Stearns Eliot received a very good education both in America and in the Old World. After leaving Oxford, Eliot stayed in England. Eliot earned international acclaim in 1922 with the publication of The Waste Land, a poem in five parts, was ground breaking in establishing the form of the so-called kaleidoscopic, or fragmented, modern poem. These fragmented poems are characterized by jarring jumps in perspective, imagery, setting, or subject. Despite this fragmentation of form, The Waste Land is unified by its theme of despair. Its opening lines introduce the ideas of lifes ultimate futility despite momentary flashes of hope: April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / dull roots with spring rain. The poem goes on to present a sequence of short sketches following an individuals baffled search for spiritual peace. It concludes with resignation at the never-ending nature of the search. The poem is full of literary and mythological references that draw on many cultures and universalize the poems themes.

The Waste Land appeared in the aftermath of World War I, which was the most destructive war in human history to that point. Many people saw the poem as an indictment of postwar European culture and as an expression of disillusionment with contemporary society, which Eliot believed was culturally barren. Eliot eventually turned from poems and essays to the more public art of plays, all of which he wrote in verse. He also began giving lectures. In essays and lectures, Eliot profoundly influenced modern literary criticism. Sixteen years after he died, some of Eliots poems appeared in the unlikely form of a Broadway musical, when British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (later Lord Lloyd Webber) brought out Cats(1981). Lloyd Webber based his production on a book of poetry Eliot wrote for children, Old Possums Book of Practical Cats (1939). In the 1980s and 1990s, Eliot and his poetry were increasingly criticized for elements of anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism. Despite these unfortunate prejudices, most people continue to regard Eliot as one of the most important figures in modern literature.

13.2. . . . .

 

The early 20th century saw the emergence of modernism. It manifested itself in all forms of art. Modernism responded to the worlds complexity by asserting that the individual had the potential to achieve a broader perspective than that offered by any one society or its history. Traditional literary forms were often discarded, and new ones succeeded one another with bewildering rapidity, as writers sought fresher ways of expressing what they took to be new kinds of experience, or experience seen in new ways. Experimental writing was focused more and more on portraying the natural and sometimes irrational flow of thoughts in a person's mind. The most widely used technique was stream of consciousness.

 

13.2.1. James Joyce(1882-1941) is theIrish author, whose writings feature revolutionary innovations in prose techniques. He was one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century. He used stream of consciousness.

As a youth, Joyce was educated at Roman Catholic lower schools and at home. In 1904 he and his companion, Nora Barnacle, left Ireland for good. To support the family, Joyce worked as a language instructor and received writing grants from patrons, but the family was never comfortable financially. During much of his adult life Joyce suffered from a series of severe eye troubles that eventually led to near blindness.

Joyce was a pioneer and a model for authors who believed in free written expression. Most of his works feature inventive language, and many of them have been criticized for being too obscure in their references or too blunt in their descriptions of intimate matters, including sexual activity. Most of his works deal with everyday life in 20th-century Dublin. His first book, Chamber Music (1907), consists of 36 love poems that reflect the influence of the lyricists of Englands Elizabethan Age (mid- and late 1500s) and of the English lyric poets of the 1890s. Joyces first prose work, Dubliners (1914), is a book of 15 short stories and sketches that revolve around the sad spirit of the ancient city of Dublin, and crucial episodes in the lives of its inhabitants. The last and most famous story of the collection, The Dead, centers on a schoolteacher and his wife, and their lost hopes and dreams.

Joyce also wrote A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man(1916) and Ulysses (1922), both of which experiment with ways of representing an individuals interior consciousness while at the same time describing his exterior life. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows the character Stephen Dedalus as he grows into manhood. Many people consider Stephen to be a semi-autobiographical version of Joyce himself, an interpretation supported in part by Stephens decision at the end of the book to leave his home and country to become a writer. Portrait makes considerable use of the stream-of-consciousness technique.

13.2.2. Joyce attained international fame with the 1922 publication of Ulysses, which many people consider one of the greatest and most original books ever written. On a literal level, the book describes one day in the life of three people living in Dublin: Stephen Dedalus, who has the same name as the protagonist of Portrait but is not the same character; an Irish Jewish man named Leopold Bloom; and his wife, Molly Bloom. On a symbolic level, Ulysses is loosely based on the content and ten-year time frame of the ancient Greek epic the Odyssey, by the Greek poet Homer. The character of Stephen corresponds with Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, searching for his wandering father; Leopold Bloom corresponds with Odysseus; and Molly corresponds with Odysseuss wife, Penelope.

As in Portrait, each chapter in Ulysses has a distinct style that reflects both the exterior and interior lives of the characters and their development as individuals. The final chapter gives Mollys interior monologue as she is on the border of sleep. Molly reviews her life in what turns into a personal epiphany about what womanhood means to her. At the end of the passage, Molly accepts her love of life as well as her surviving love of her husband, and she repeats the affirmation: ... and yes I said yes I will yes.

13.2.3. Finnegans Wake (1939), Joyce's last and most complex work, is an attempt to embody in fiction a theory of history wherein everything is cyclical, repeating itself over and over again. Joyce worked on the book, which he first called Work in Progress, for more than 17 years. He wrote the four-part novel in the form of an interrupted series of dreams during one night in the life of the character Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. Earwicker, his family, and his acquaintances symbolize all humanity, and they blend with one another and with various historical and mythical figures.

Joyce carried his linguistic experimentation to its furthest point in Finnegans Wake, in part by combining English words with parts of words from various other languages. Joyces inventive use of language also shows in the way many words slip and slide in amusing directions. After an allusion to the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, in which the ant works hard all summer while the grasshopper plays but then has food and fuel in the winter while the grasshopper freezes and goes hungry, the earnest ant becomes an ondt (anagram of dont) while the grasshopper, hoping for grace, becomes a gracehoper.

Here's a passage from that work by Joyce. Rejoice in reading it!

 

Stonewall Willingdone is an old maxy montrumeny. Lipoleums is nice hung bushellors. This is hiena hinnessy laughing alout at the Willingdone. This is lipsyg dooley krieging the funk from the hinnessy. This is the hinndoo Shimar Shin between the dooley boy and the hinnessy. Tip. This is the wixy old Willingdone picket up the half of the threefoiled hat of lipoleums fromoud of the bluddle nith. This is the hinndoo waxing ranjymad for a bombshoob. This is the Willingdone hanking the half of the hat of lipoleums up the tail on the buckside of his big white harse. Tip. That was the last Joke of Willngdone. Hit, hit, hit!

 

13.3. .

 

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is a British novelist, essayist, and critic, who helped create the modern novel. Her writing often explores the concepts of time, memory, and peoples inner consciousness, and is remarkable for its humanity and depth of perception.

13.3.1. Her contribution to literature is remarkable. Woolf's novels emphasized patterns of consciousness rather than sequences of events in the external world. As is known, before the early 1900s, fiction emphasized plot as well as detailed descriptions of characters and settings. Events in the external world, such as a marriage, murder, or deception, were the most important aspects of a story. Characters' interior, or mental, lives served mainly to prepare for or motivate such meaningful external occurrences.

Influenced by the works of French writer Marcel Proust and Irish writer James Joyce, among others, Woolf strove to create a literary form that would convey inner life. To this end, she elaborated a technique known as stream of consciousness. Her novels do not limit themselves to a single consciousness, but move from character to character, using interior monologues to present each person's differing responses, often to the same event. Her specific contribution to the art of fiction was this representation of multiple consciousnesses hovering around a common center.

Woolf's fiction was drawn largely from her own experience, so her characters are almost all members of her own affluent, intellectual, upper-middle class. Woolf had several major concerns other than her expressed desire to represent consciousness. She was, for example, fascinated with timeboth as a sequence of moments and in terms of years and centuriesand with the differences between external and internal time. Woolf was also interested in defining qualities specific to the female mind. She saw female sensibility as intuitive, close to the core of things, and thus able to liberate the masculine intellect from what she viewed as its enslavement to abstract concepts. It is not surprising that her most memorable characters, such as Mrs. Dalloway, and Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse, are women.

 

13.3.2. Woolf was the daughter of biographer and critic Leslie Stephen (later Sir Leslie) who educated her at home. After his death in 1904, she, her sister Vanessa, and her brothers moved to Bloomsbury, then a bohemian section of London. She married Leonard Woolf, a critic and writer on economics and politics. Virginia Woolf, her husband, and their friends became known as the Bloomsbury Group. Although the group shared certain values, it had no common doctrine. It was simply a number of friends, "whose affection and respect for each other ... stood the test of thirty years, and whose intellectual candor made their company agreeable to each other." From the time of her mothers death, Woolf suffered from a mental disorder. In 1941, Woolf drowned herself. She left her husband a note explaining that she feared she was going mad and this time would not recover.

13.3.3. Woolf's fourth novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is considered by many to be her first great novel, revealing a mastery of the form and technique for which she would become known. The novel centers on the separate worlds and interior thought processes of two characters: Clarissa Dalloway, a gracious London hostess in her 50s whose husband is an uninspired politician, and Septimus Warren Smith, a young ex-soldier suffering a mental illness triggered by a friends death in battle during World War I. The two do not know each other and never meet, but their minds have curious parallels.

The story takes place on one June day in London after the war, and it explores the idea of time by including past memories and future hopes of the characters. The novel ends with a party given by Clarissa, at which Septimuss cold but distinguished doctor tells Clarissa of Septimuss suicide.

"Here is death, in the middle of my party," she thinks. Instinctively she feels she understands her symbolic double, Septimushis sensitivity, despair, and defiance. Some critics maintain that Clarissa and Septimus represent two aspects of the same personality, and that both are semiautobiographical representations of Woolf.

The power of Woolfs fifth novel, To the Lighthouse, lies in its brilliant visual imagery, extensive use of symbolism, and use of the characters stream of consciousness to evoke feeling and demonstrate the progression of both time and emotion. Behind the backdrop of ordinary domestic events, the novels real concern is with the impact of the radiant Mrs. Ramsayrepresenting the female sensibilityon the lives and feelings of the other characters, even long after her death.

13.3.4.Two of her later books are of great interest too. Orlando is a historical fantasy and an analysis of gender, creativity, and identity. The writing is a succession of brilliant parodies of literary styles, and the work satirically comments on societys changing ideas and values. The story traces the life of Orlando, who is both a boy in 16th-century Elizabethan England and a 38-year-old woman four centuries later.

The Waves is Woolf's most experimental and difficult work. It is organized into nine units, each of which records a series of stream-of-consciousness monologues given entirely in the present tense by six characters, one after another. The monologues reveal the personalities of each character in their inner experiences of external events. Each of these nine units is introduced by an italicized passage describing the sea, the sky, a garden, hills, and a house during some imaginary day. As in her other novels, Woolf is primarily concerned with rendering the quality of inner life, but here inner life is presented in a highly stylized, unrealistic way. While the voices uttering the monologues have different names, sexes, and histories, the similar language of their monologues often seems more like different aspects of the same consciousness, perhaps representing the various aspects of humankind as a whole.

13.4. . , ; - .

 

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) is ranked among the most influential and controversial literary figures of the 20th century. In his more than 40 books he celebrated his vision of the natural, whole human being, opposing the artificiality of modern industrial society with its dehumanization of life and love. His novels were misunderstood, however, and attacked and even suppressed because of their frank treatment of sexual matters.

 

13.4.1. Lawrence was born Nottinghamshire, the son of a coal miner. His mother had been a schoolteacher. The disparity in social status between his parents was a recurrent motif in Lawrence's fiction. Lawrence published his first poems in 1909 and his first novel, The White Peacock, in 1911. The most significant of his early fiction, Sons and Lovers (1913), in large part autobiographical, deals with life in a mining town.

At 27, Lawrence eloped to the Continent with Frieda Weekley, his former professor's wife marrying her two years later, after her divorce. Their intense, stormy life together supplied material for much of his writing. The Rainbow (1915) and Women in Love (1921) perhaps his best novels explore with outspoken candor the sexual and psychological relationships of men and women. Lawrence led a harried life in England during World War I because of his wife's German origin and his own opposition to the war. Tuberculosis added to his problems, and he began a period of restless wandering to find a more healthful climate. His travels provided the locales of several books. His most original poetry flowed from his experience of nature in the southwestern United States and the Mediterranean region.

 

13.4.2. At the end of his life Lawrence lived chiefly in Italy, where he wrote and rewrote his most notorious novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), which deals with the sexually fulfilling love affair between a member of the nobility and her husband's gamekeeper. Lawrence's third and most sexually explicit version of this work was not published until 1959 in the U.S. and 1960 in England.

 

A man! The strange potency of manhood upon her! Her hands strayed over him, still a little afraid. Afraid of that strange, hostile, slightly repulsive thing that he had been to her, a man. And now she touched him, and it was the sons of god with the daughters of men. How beautiful he felt, how pure in tissue! How lovely, how lovely, strong, and yet pure and delicate, such stillness of the sensitive body! Such utter stillness of potency and delicate flesh. How beautiful! How beautiful! Her hands came timorously down his back, to the soft, smallish globes of the buttocks. Beauty! What beauty! a sudden little flame of new awareness went through her. How was it possible, this beauty here, where she had previously only been repelled? The unspeakable beauty to the touch of the warm, living buttocks!..

13.5. . . .

 

13.5.1. The spirit of disillusionment with the modern civilization was best captured by Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963), English novelist, essayist, critic, and poet. Very poor eyesight prevented him from enlisting during the First World War. He worked on various periodicals and published four books of verse before the appearance of his first novel.

The novels Antic Hay (1923) and Point Counter Point (1928) illustrate the nihilistic temper of the 1920s. His best known book is perhaps Brave New World (1932), an ironic vision of a future utopia. The scene in laid in AD 2540 referred to in the novel as AF 632 meaning 632 years after Henry Ford started the production of the first Model T car. The main theme of the book is the use of technology to control society, the incompatibility of happiness and truth, the dangers of an all-powerful state. Surprisingly, the author predicted many of the serious moral issues of today. In his book, new human beings are mass-produced artificially.

 

The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.

"And this," said the Director opening the door, "is the Fertilizing Room."

Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely breathing silence, the absent-minded, soliloquizing hum or whistle, of absorbed concentration. A troop of newly arrived students, very young, pink and callow, followed nervously, rather abjectly, at the Director's heels. ()

Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And anyhow the question didn't arise; in this year of stability, A. F. 632, it didn't occur to you to ask it.

 

During the 1920s Huxley lived largely in Italy and France. He immigrated to the United States in 1937. Among his more than 45 books are the volumes of essays and novels including another attempt at creating a utopia, Island (1962). Huxley also wrote on science, philosophy, and social criticism. He committed a suicide on November 22, 1963 ironically, a most unfortunate day to do so.

13.5.2. Fantasy writing has existed for a long time. But there were two authors whose literary work made it a most popular genre. Both were literature professors, one at Oxford, the other at Cambridge. The Oxford man was John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973). He was a university professor, medieval scholar, philologist, and writer of fantasies. Tolkien's scholarly work concerned Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature. He wrote The Hobbit as a children's book. Its sequel, the trilogy entitled The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King), is an imaginative, profound tale of the conflict between good and evil.

The Cambridge man was Clive Staples Lewis(1898-1963). He was professor of medieval and Renaissance English literature there. He was known to the general public, however, for books in which he examined and explained moral and religious problems. Best known was The Screwtape Letters, in which a senior devil sardonically instructs his apprentice nephew in methods of mortal temptation. Today, his best known work is a series of children's books known as the Chronicles of Narnia, which began with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

 

13.5.3. As long as fantasy writing is aimed, primarily, at children's audience, one can't overlook some of the most popular fiction for children written just after World War I by a war veteran, Alan Alexander Milne(1882-1956). His children's books have become classics. He is best known, however, for the juvenile verses and stories he wrote for his son, Christopher Robin, over a short period of some five years. These delightful books include When We Were Very Young (1924), Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), Now We Are Six (1927), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Not only Christopher Robin himself, with his stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh and their constant companion Piglet, but also Kanga and Roo, Eeyore the donkey, the kittenish Tigger, Rabbit, and Owlall the fanciful characters created by Milneare beloved by both children and adults.


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  1. BASIC NOTIONS OF THE LECTURE.
  2. BASIC NOTIONS OF THE LECTURE.
  3. LECTURE 1. Contrastive Stylistic as a Linguistic Discipline
  4. Lecture 12. Evolution of the ME Lexical System.
  5. Lecture 14. Evolution of the ME Nominal Morphology.
  6. Lecture 16
  7. Lecture 16
  8. Lecture 4
  9. LECTURE EIGHT
  10. LECTURE ELEVEN
  11. LECTURE FIVE




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