2.George Bernard Shaw 4
3.George Herbert Wells 6
4.Richard Aldington 8
6.James Joyce 12
7.Thomas Stearns Eliot 15
8.David Herbert Lawrence 19
9.Post Modernism 21
10. Conclusion 23
11.Literary list 24
I am writing this paper work because I like English. English is almost like my second native language. This language is very famous and beautiful. Even if I think English is rather difficult language I like it very much. I guess that is why I chose “20th century English language” as a subject of my paper work.
In this paper you will find much information about XX c. English li
The century is characterized by great diversity of artistic values & methods. This age had a great impact on the literary process. Variety of social, ethic &aaamp; aesthetic attitudes. New achievements in science have their impact on literature. Literature absorbs & transforms the material of their influences:
The First World War
Bergson’s philosophy of subjective idealism
Einstein’s theory of relativity
Economic crises 1919-1921 & consequent upheaval of social mooovement
All these factors lead to literature of social problematics. There existed three trends: critical realism, beginning of social realism, modernism. The writers revolutionized, changed literary form, as well as continued the traditional forms. This inter. is a distinctive feature of the XX c. English literature reflected Britain’s new position in the world affairs. By the end of the XIX Victorian tradition began to deteriorate. The desire to liberate art & literature from the contents of the Victorian society. Thus, criticism is the dominant mood in the beginning of the XX c. Criticism took different forms. Some of them – modernist, others – spiritual exploiters. Artist’s duty was to reflect truly thoughts of people. Realists in the beginning of the XX – Hardy, Galsworthy, Shaw, Wells, Conrad, Mansfield, Bennett, etc.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
He was born in Dublin, the son of a civil servant. His education was irregular, due to his dislike of any organized training. After working in an estate agent’s office for a while he moved to London as a young man (1876), where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic in the eighties and nineties and became a prominent member of the Fabian Society, for which he composed ma
In the plays of his later period discussion sometimes drowns the drama, in Back to Methuselah (1921), although in the same period he worked on his masterpiece Saint Joan (1923), in which he rewrites the well-known story of the French maiden and extends it from the Middle Ages to the present.
Other important plays by Shaw are Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), a historical play filled with allusions to modern times, and Androcles and the Lion (1912), in which he exercised a kind of retrospective history and from modern movements drew deductions for the Christian era. In Major Barbara (1905), one of Shaw’s most successful «discussion» plays, the audience’s attention is held by the power of the witty argumentation that man can achieve aesthetic salvation only through political activity, not as an individual. The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906), facetiously classified as a tragedy by Shaw, is really a comedy the humour of which is directed at the medical profession. Candida (1898), with social attitudes toward sex relations as objects of his satire, and Pygmalion (1912), a witty study of phonetics as well as a clever treatment of middle-class morality and class distinction, proved some of Shaw’s greatest successes on the stage. It is a combination of the dramatic, the comic, and the social corrective that gives Shaw’s comedies their special flavour.
Shaw’s complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death.
From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
He introduced intellectual play in the English theatre. He was much influenced by Ibsen. “In 1889 British stage came into collision with Norwegian giant Ibsen. He passed as a tornado & left nothing but ruin.” Everybody wanted to create something like Ibsen. Shaw also experienced Marx’s influence especially “Das Kapital”. The society was in crisis. The article “The Quintessence of Ibsentism”. Here he underlines his belief that the real slavery of today is the slavery to ideas of goodness. Ibsen was accused of being immoral. But it implies the conduct that doesn’t conform to current ideals. The spirit of is constantly outgrowing his moral ideals & that is why conformity to those ideals produces results not less tragic than thoughtless violation of them. The main effect of Ibsen’s plays on public is that his plays stress the importance of being always prepared to act immorally. He insists that living will, humanistic choices are more important than abstract law, abstract moral norms. Ibsen: “The Doll’s House” let everybody refuse to sacrifice. There is no formula how to behave.
English drama of the passed years was centered on some imaginary event. Ibsen did not write about accidents, he wrote about “slice of life” (life experience). He introduced open play – a play that has no end (if you show a slice of life you obviously have open play). Shaw objected “art for art’s sake”. It means only money’s sake. Every great artist has a message to communicate. His role is to interpret life, to create mind. All art is didactic. “Heartbreak House” reflects the state of Europe before the war.
George Bernard Shaw died on November 2, 1950.
George Bernard Shaw
George Herbert Wells (1866-1946)
A novel was also developing. In the beginning – a time of crisis for English novel. The XIX model was not acceptable any more. The novel of the past years developed to describe a social hierarchy. In the beginning of the century the dominant belief was that the Victorian society fell apart. Wells was attempting to escape the traditional novel forms. The novel was seen as a means to create future.
His lecture – “The Contemporary Novel”.
Wells was a very prolific writer. He wrote more than 100 books, he is best known for his science fiction. He had a very definite aim – political & social. He was trying to combine critical analysis of present civilization to the picture what it might be in future. He believed in science. But he understood that it can be dangerous because the power for destruction is huge.
“The War of the Worlds”. He was considered utopiographer. To build utopic they needed to destroy the relics of the past – class distinction (unenlightenment). He analyzed the feelings of the present in the life of nation’s future.
“Ann Veronica: A Modern Love Story” depicts the problem of emancipation. The novel was written as a reaction to eugenics movement. He affirmed the need of gifted individuals to find the appropriate patterns & the choice must not be constrained by any social restrictions.
“Tono-Bungay” is a novel about the life of gentry in the rural England. It combines science fiction & realistic novel. Bladesover – a place, where George Pondervo (the main character) grew up. It becomes a symbol of dominant influence of the past models of life. The novel is episodic in form, doesn’t have classical structure. Wells was the first person who ushered in English literature the theme of lost generation.
“Mr. Britling Sees It Through” (1916) was called by him “the history of his own concern”. The responsibility of everyone for the war. It is autobiographical. Tried to write about the evolution of consciousness of his contemporaries. Concentrates on the inner life of his heroes. Fantasy & reality mingles here. As to the reasons of the war – he brings his heroes to the conclusion that wars are inherited in human nature. He started as an optimistic liberalist but as he lived on he was very much disappointed.
“You Fools” is his last word to humanity.
* * *
There are many novels & poetry about war. These writers are known as “lost generation” writers. The term was introduced by Gertrude Stein. She uses it metaphorically: old values & beliefs were lost in the war but unfortunately new moral values were not formed yet. Majority of these writers went through the war themselves.
This was a certain tendency in poetry – Trench poetry. They wrote about war. Young people who served as soldiers expressed their outcry: Wilfred Owen ”Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg. Many of the poems have pacifist character. They were among the first to create the true picture of trench life. They gave rather naturalistic pictures, the imagery was very vivid & appalling, scenes of massacre, they wrote about the smell of the corpses, heavy job, gas attacks, deaths of young & promising people. They created the image of war as very ugly & senseless deed. Other writers responded to that huge catastrophe.
The classical example of novel about lost generation is “The Death of a Hero” by R. Aldington.
Richard Aldington (1892-1962)
He started as a poet close to decadence, aestheticism, he belonged to imagist poets (formalism). He published “Old & New Images”- his first collection of poems. He propagated the doctrine escapism – movement to escape in to the world of beauty (in Ellinism) from the ugliness of the world. This ideal world was shattered by the WWI. He came from it another man; he broke with imagists & continued to work in realistic trend.
In 1929 “The Death of a Hero” was published. The novel was started after the war but had not been completed until 15 years later. It’s a social novel disclosing tragic consequence & reasons of war. He made readers see that the war was inevitable. But the protagonist tries to find the answer for the question – who is responsible for that? Everybody was! Everybody is guilty for the rivers of spilt human blood. This book is a cry for redemption for the writer.
It is a novel of big generalization. There are many autobiographical touches in the book. He starts farther in the war to unmask the hypocrisy of the English society, respected English families. Aldington wants to show that this is a pack of lies that the war is a noble deed, a salvation. He tries to show that lies started much earlier. His ideals are truth & beauty. Aldington says that this generation was lost before the war started. War was not the source of the tragedy but rather result of it.
The life story of George Winterborne is given in a reverse order. We see Winterborne family in which all relations are based on deceit & lies. Later we see George at school where he is supposed to develop into a strong & aggressive individual, the defender of imperialism. He tries to escape from the influence of society & turns to art in search of his place under the sun. He moves to London but among “intellectual” people he found only hypocrisy. He is inherently lonely; his ideas of truth & beauty are frustrated by snobs, who pretended to be leaders of artistic movement. He sees all their cynicism. In that period of his London life he still shows his early tendency to resist to circumstances. He expresses his disillusionment in angry talks but he cannot achieve peace. He remains passive.
Much is said about his love because love was the only harbour for other “lost generation” heroes. It is not so for G.Winterborne. These relations are coloured with cynicism (realization of Freud’s ideas of free love between George’s wife & her lover). When he tried to put these ideas into practice, he faced with constant quarrels & was eventually turned down by both his women. Then the war starts. He volunteers to the front. War becomes a period of his maturity. He finds himself side by side with common soldiers & this confrontation with simple people makes him aware of real human values – those of courage, friendship, support. Nothing can be more precious than pure trust in man. Life in the trenches makes him think about life in general & he started to ask questions. How does it happen that government finds huge amount of money to kill Germans in the war but cannot find it to fight poverty in London. He becomes aware of social contradiction & antagonism. He thought that social hostility broke through in the outburst of hatred. He still feels very much lonely & isolated. He feels that he differs from others; he is very much of an individual soul. He doesn’t belong to the soldiers; their roughness makes him feel very uncomfortable. He is completely lost. With all these problems he doesn’t see any way out but to terminate his life by his own free will (he commits a suicide). By all the narration Aldington makes us see that this way is the logical ending for the person who was lost before the war started.
It is a sarcastic book. Aldington was eager to tell the truth about the society openly. But it was impossible to overcome individualism, the author is not objective, he shows the whole range of feelings. That’s why the end of the book is so bitter & hopeless. The title itself is very sarcastic. His death is also a symbol how senseless the war is, it’s just a torture. His satire has many shades, but also a definite target & purpose. Sometimes it reminds Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” because of the social character of satire. “Death of a Hero” is an absolutely disillusioned novel. Aldington called this book “a jazz novel”. This jazz effect is achieved by kaleidoscopic change of contrasted images. The novel is characterized by multitude of emotional states. The style is rather nervous. He is easily overcome by despair & negation, carried to the very extreme. These feelings are the features of the lost generation people. “The Death of a Hero” is the first big & most successful of all his works. His other novels are:
“All Men Are Enemies”
All are about those people who came back from the war alive but still couldn’t find their place in life. The main characters are akin to George Winterborne. The critics say that Aldington predominantly is the writer of one theme & one hero, & that he just treats this topic in different aspects.
He also wrote some critical works on D. H. Lawrence, & other writings.
He died in 1962.
The word “modern” means “up-to-date”. Critics & historians used it to denote roughly the first half of the XX century. The representatives of this movement were anxious to set themselves apart from the previous generations. They totally rejected their predecessors. The term was suggested by the authors themselves. The difference between past & present tradition is qualitative. Modernist writers clearly defined the borderline between Victorian age & modernism: in 1910 – the death of King Edward & the first post-impressionist exhibition in London (Virginia Woolf), in 1915 – the first year of World War I (D. H. Lawrence). They had a deep conviction that modern experience is a unique one. They tried to point the change in modernism. This change was – massive disillusionment, destruction of faith in a number of basic social & moral principles, which laid the foundation of Western civilization. This change was to some degree intellectual as the result of late XIX theories & discoveries.
Karl Marx “Das Kapital”. He shaped the imperialistic ideology; he showed it was not the pattern of progress. He believed that the world would not be dominated by enlightened bourgeoisie. The struggle is inevitable.
Charles Darwin “On Origin of Species” (1859) & “The Descent of Man” (1871). A human being was placed in the animal world. The forces that determine human behaviour are not of intellect & reason but are determined by the need of physical survival.
James Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” (1890-1915) showed similarities between primitive & civilized cultures. The primitive tribes appeared to be not as savage as they seemed to be. They were just like the civilized ones.
Nietzsche’s “Birth of Tragedy”. In this book he exposes dark sides of human psyche, glorified the belief in ancient heroic philosophers.
Max Planck’s “Quantum Theory of Atomic & Subatomic Particles”. This model of discreet beats of energy behaving in apparently unpredictable ways seize the imagination of people so much that they extrapolated it beyond the limits of physics. They believed that human behaviour was also chaotic, disorderly & unpredictable.
Freud’s “Interpretation of Dream”. This work created a new model of human personality itself as a complex, multilayed & governed by irrational & unconscious survival of fantasies.
These theories were in fact not very new they were known in the XIX but in XIX they never destroyed the general principles & ideas.
Modern writers after the WWI found themselves in so-called “empty world”. Their world was deprived of its stability. Nothing can be taken for granted. They didn’t believe that life they were living. Being disillusioned & contemplating the society & cosmos most of them looked within themselves for the principles of order. They turned to eternal things. For that matter we see modern literature being pre-occupied with its own self, process of perception, nature of consciousness. In its extreme subjectivity modern literature went parallelly with other modern arts (e.g. painting).
The main feature – subjectivity & self-interest. Modernist aesthetics was formed under the influence of French symbolist poets:
Their aim was to capture the most perishable of personal experience in open-ended & essentially private symbols, to express the inexpressible, to express the slightest movements of the soul, or at least evoke it subtly if not express, create the atmosphere of the soul. The symbolist concentration upon single moments of individual perception. Life in their reproduction was reduced to small fragments of experience. This fragmentation influenced not only composition of the work but also the character. The character was disassembled in fragmentary pieces & these pieces of human character were not held together by any theory of human type, like a collagé, juxtaposition – all transitions are removed. You just put the fragments together. The widely used technique “stream of consciousness” takes the form from a fluid association, often illogical moment to moment sequence of ideas, feelings & impressions of a single mind. Traditional literary forms & genres merged & overlapped. The introduction of poetry into prose became possible, imagery characteristic of poetry – into prosaic text. The forms of the past were also employed but to produce the satirical effect.
An equally important principle – “the stream of unconsciousness” – the use of irrational logic of dreams & fantasies, denies ordinary logic (“exhausted rationality”). They employed the shadowy structure of dream. The idea “time & space” didn’t exist & the imagination was only slightly grounded in reality but generally it created new patterns by combining previous experiences, etc.
The authors employed myth very much as a kind of collective dream. Modernist’s myth was stripped of its religious & magical associations. Joyce’s “Ulysses” is based on the ground of Homer’s”Odyssey”. Eliot said: “In using the myth, in manipulating the contentious parallel between contemporaniety & antiquity Mr. Joyce is pursuing the method which others must persue after him. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape & significance to an immense panorama of futility & anarchy which is contemporary history”. Myth is the way of organizing history. The writers’ quest for order lead to their preoccupation with the artist himself & with the artistic process. The imaginary character stood for the author himself:
Marsel Proust “Remembrance of the Things Past”
Lawrence “Sons & Lovers”
Joyce “The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
We can’t say that the artist became modernists’ hero. Not all writers of that period were modernists. There was the co-existence of different styles.
James Joyce (1882 – 1941)
He was born in Ireland (Dublin). Although he spent many years not in Ireland he is considered one of Irish writers. Primarily he wrote about himself, transforming his experiences in his books, & relatives & friends – into symbols. His works are said to be “expansive & inclusive”. Expansive – because he gave a very wide panorama of Dublin life at the turn of the century, inclusive – because his works seemed to include all the human history. These novels still are the stories & novels about life in general.
He started to attend an expensive private boarding school but his father became bankrupt & he continued his education at home. Then he attended “University College” in Dublin. He read very much & began to write seriously. He produced critical articles, essays but also poems & notebooks of epiphanies (theological term – an intense moment in a human life when the truth of a person or some thing is being revealed). He studied in Paris, then returned to Ireland & in 1904 left it. He lived in different places in Europe. First, he earned money by giving English lessons. In 1905 he submitted to the publisher his first version of the collection of stories “Dubliners”. But it was repeatedly rejected & even after acceptance it was subjected to severe censorship for sexual frankness & use of obscenities & use of real names & places. This collection consists of 15 stories devoted to childhood, mature life & public life. All are unified by the theme of person’s loneliness & hopelessness. Joyce describes life with all naturalistic details. Everything suggests that life is dead. All the stories explore the paralysis of Irish life. The most famous stories are “Araby” & “The Dead ”. The stories are arranged in successive sequences – childhood, adolescence, mature & public life. Mood is gloomy, imagery is dark & malignant. People are incurably lonely; their hopes are doomed to disappointment & frustration.
In the full form the collection was published in 1914 together with his autobiographical novel “The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, which was to be called “Stephen-Hero”. This book explores the story of the formation of the artist’s consciousness. In criticism it is called “a gestation of the soul”, for he tries to penetrate into people’s mind. It is deeply psychological work. In form it is “buildungsroman” (German word meaning “educational novel”). Life is shown chronologically. The main hero – Stephen Dedalus. The process of his maturing is shown in the development.
In the first part the language is very simple. Then some glimpses of family life are given. The disagreement between its members has political roots. Another stage is school & college. Stephen does not participate in boys’ games. He longs for the moment when he can be alone, he is weak & suffering. The Jesuit college bred an aversion for religion in the young artist. Everything was repulsive in the college: sermons, system of punishment, religibility + hypocrisy. It was an anguish experience. Stephen learnt to build a wall between him & all the rest of the humanity.
The book has an open ending – we don’t know Stephen will do. It ends with the decision to leave Ireland. This exile, solitude are the ways in which Stephen opposes to the oppressing influence of the society. He rejects what life suggests to him – his choice is loneliness. The problem of correlating of artists & society is solved by Joyce from highly individualistic standpoint. The last pages express Stephen’s understanding of form & time categories. “The past is consumed in the present & the present is living because it has force in the future”. The name “Dedalus” is symbolic. It is a symbol of new art which is liberated from restrain of old art. He discovers & explores the possibilities of new art. Its aim is to create a new labyrinth of forms of new art.
In 1922 ”Ulysses” was published. It started as another short story for “The Dubliners” but grew into the massive novel. Joyce recreates the action of “Odyssey” in a single day – July 16, 1904 (it was a significant day for Joyce: he decided to leave Ireland & met his future wife). Since two plains run parallel. The main characters are associated with certain people in “Odyssey” by Homer: the main characters are Stephen Dedalus & Leopold Bloom, an advertising solicitor & in a certain way an eternal Jew both figuratively & literally. Minor characters are the people whom they meet in different places. Dedalus acts as Telemachys & Leopold Bloom is modern Odyssey & his wife Molly is modern Penelope. Bloom wanders from place to place throughout this day – butcher’s shop, post office, cemetery, printing house, library, pub, hotel, again pub, shop, his poor house, cheap pub. his adventures has nothing in common with adventures of Odyssey. They are down to Earth, petty. In Bloom Joyce tried to show wandering of “eternal.”. He has unheroic adventures & finally meets Stephen who becomes his spiritual son. This is a plot.
In form the book is mostly a never-ending stream of Bloom’s consciousness (he is not an intellectual person, his impressions are very incoherent). The book has a very rigid form. Joyce describes in many details every moment of the day: actions, feelings & thoughts. But apart from it Joyce deepens into human consciousness. he tries to render something which doesn’t depend on people’s mind, he tries to penetrate into human psyche, impulses which govern, move them. Each chapter corresponds to the certain episode in Homer’s “Odyssey” & each chapter has its own style. It witnesses that Joyce was a virtuous of the English language. ”Ulysses” has 18 episodes, each of them tracing the deeds & the thoughts of three people during one day in Dublin. The book is a mosaic. It consists of different & not quite linked together parts. There is almost no plot. Joyce still puts the idea in it to describe symbolically man’s wandering in the chaos of life & floating with the stream of his thoughts. The humanity is lost & confused about all the contradictions of modern life, people waist their lives in this chaos, their existence is sensless & purposeless. The three main characters present three eternal types of human beings – common person, an artist, a woman. Bloom stands for the symbol of a typical bourgeois person. He is very limited & content with down-to-earth pleasures.
The book caused a storm of outrage. It was banned in Britain & America for more than ten years. Now it is praised for technical experimentation & stylistic brilliance. The book attracted attention to the stream of consciousness technique. In general it evoked controversial responses.
Even before completing “Ulysses” Joyce wrote “Finnegan’s Wake” – a novel. If “Ulysses” is considered to be a daybook, “Finnegan’s Wake” is a night book. Joyce tried to present the whole human history in a dream of a Dublin innkeeper Earwicker by name. The style is appropriate to a dream, the language is shifting & changing, the words blur & glue together, this suggests the merging of images in a dream. This technique enables Joyce to present history & myth as a single image. The characters stand for eternal types, identified by Earwicker himself, his wife & the three children.
The work masks the limit of formal experiment in the language. “Finnegan’s Wake” is considered to be a closed book. It is very sophisticated. Joyce loses the thread of narration sometimes. attempted in the sound of words, construction of a sentences, to render the meaning of what he was talking about (e.g. images of woman & the river are merging; the rhythm – gurgling, flowing water). What unifies these two books – both of them express Joyce’s positive credo: he asserts that life is eternal, human society does change but the change has a circular character. Everything is renewed, nothing can be destroyed. Joyce starts the work with the continuation of thoughts & the beginning of them is at the end. Man must believe in the city (symbol of Dublin).
Thomas Stearns Eliot (1889 – 1965)
Thomas Stearns Eliot is considered today’s genius in poetry. Quintessence: refine sensibility – the essential quality of the poet. “Our civilization comprehends great variety & complexity; & this variety & complexity playing upon a refined sensibility must produce various & complex result. The poet must become more & more comprehensive, more & more allusive, more indirect in order to force, to dislocate if necessary language into his meaning” – said Eliot. This is an account of what a modern poet should do. He must be finely tuned to the world to be able to express the various & complex. The poet can distort the language, to use it figuratively.
Extremely was influential figure in literary circles. Editor, poet, playwright, and critic – he came from a prosperous American family, his father was a rich manufacturer & his mother wrote poetry. He was brought up in St. Louis Missouri. He was educated in private school & attended Harvard to get his degree in philosophy in 1906. Then left for Paris. There he attended lectures of Henry Bergson – “Subjective Idealism Philosophy, Theory of Intuitivism”. Being in Paris he read much on French symbolist poets. The symbolist movement was one of major influences upon his poetry. The goal of art is to express the unique personal emotional responses to a certain moment in human life through indefinite illogical, sometimes private in meaning symbols. Eliot returned to Harvard & there he read widely in Sanskrit & oriental philosophy (had a powerful influence on him). In 1915 he decided to give up philosophy to remain in England & to begin writer’s career. In 1916 he completed his Ph.D. theses, but never received a degree. He married & settled in England permanently.
The beginning of his literary career starts from 1910 when he wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. It was published in 1915 in magazine “Poetry”. The poem is written in a very simple style. Then he made a collection “Prufrock & Other Observations”. This was compared with “Lyrical Ballads” of Wordsworth & Coleridge. This work inaugurated the age of modernism in poetry. There is no plot in the story. It’s a dramatic monologue but of the new kind. It sounds like a stream of consciousness of a person who walks up the street of London. The protagonist is Alfred Prufrock. He is an antiromantic hero, rather timid, self-centred. The tone is very ironic, images are startlingly fresh. The title suggests that some feeling should be shown to the other person. The poem starts as a dialogue:
Let us go out – you & I.
Critics argue that you & I are two sides of one & the same person. Eliot says that “YOU” is a companion of Prufrock. We should pay attention to the epigraph: “The truth will remain under”. This means that the speaker can persuade himself to talk only if this will never be heard. It is his own dramatic monologue. Prufrock is intensely preoccupied with himself. Probably he signs his love song to himself. (though it doesn’t matter much)
We can understand “love-song” in ironic sense because the whole poem is an elaborate rationalization for not seeking love. Love cannot exist in this ugly senseless chaotic world. It is a miracle, hopeless yearning of person for the vitality. The whole scene makes us see that love is not possessive in this world. Repulsive attitude of the narrator towards what he sees – images of a pair of ragged claws, mermaids singing each to each. Leitmotif:
В гостиных дамы тяжело
Беседуют о Микеланджело.
It means that they talk of what they pretend to know.
The poem is full of allusions. The epigraph is quite important, taken from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”. The end of poem is pessimistic. It is one of the most understandable of his poems.
“The Waste Land” (the poem (1922) in ”Dial” & “Criteria”[GB]). The poem consists of 5 parts & their titles speak for themselves:
“The Burial of the Dead”
“A Game of Chess” – an allusion of a medieval play, where the action was as if in two playings.
“The Fire Sermon” – the postulates of oriental religion.
“The Death by the Water”
“What the Thunder Said”
In terms of forms the poem is a collage of fragments of memories, overheard conversations, quotations put together only by the implied present of a sensible person (= a refined sensibility = a modern poet), upon whom all these complexibilities & varieties of human world are hipped & who staggers under the burden of them. We can say that the mind of the poet is heavily packed with cultural tradition. A poem abounds in highly sophisticated allusions:
Anthropological account of “Grail”(“Грааль”) legend– a legend connected with Christianity – a cup from which Christ drank;
from “The Divine Comedy”;
alluded & used words from operas of Wagner;
refers to the story of crusification;
uses French symbolists;
as well as scraps of popular culture – music-hall songs, slang words, contemporary fashion;
He hips everything together. This bits & pieces are set into a matrix of flowing stream of consciousness of a man. The dramatic portrait of a single mind becomes the portrait of an age. Eliot provided 52 notes for “The Waste Land” when it was first published. The poem was opposed violently but there were also admirers. They said that Eliot gave a definite description of their age. Now terms “lost generation”, “post-war disillusionment”, “jazz age”, “waste land” are used parallelly For many contemporary writers & critics “The Waste Land” was a definite description of the age. Civilization was dying. Critics regarded it as the disillusionment of a generation. Eliot protested against that. The term “waste land” is used in literature alongside with the term “lost generation”.
He also employed the myth of dying & reviving king – what the poem expresses is the need of salvation & this is expressed in 3 Sanskrit words (give, sympathize & control). There are many barbarisms in the poem.
In 1925 he published another poem in the same tonality. “The Hollow Man” develops the major themes & images of “The Waste Land” – problems of spiritual bareness, the problem of loss of faith in contemporary generation. The poem is a set of recurrent symbols. The meaning depends on cumulative effect of the individual images. The idea of spiritual sterility in the image of Hollow Man – grotesque caricature of man, their behaviour is mimicry of human activity. The poem is very short. It is easily read but not so easily understood. There are 5 parts in the poem. Other images – Death of the Kingdom. The life of the Hollow Man – is more shadowy & less real than the life beyond the grave. Religion is substituted by simple rituals devoid of all true feelings & emotions. The end-of-the-world (apocalyptic) motive is very strong in the poem. The picture is very pessimistic. The poem ends hopelessly:
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.
Eliot’s development after “The Waste Land” was in the direction of literary, political, religious conservatism. Classicist in literature, royalist in politics & Anglo-Saxon in religion he developed more composed lyrical style.
His mature masterpiece is “Four Quartets” (1944) which is based on the poetic memories of certain localities of America & Britain. This is a starting point for his probing in the mystery of time, history, eternity, the meaning of life. It deals with one single question of what significance in our lives are ecstatic intense moments when we seem to escape time & glimpses of supra-ordinary reality (it resembles Joyce’s “Epiphanies”. There are two epigraphs that give clues to the answer. The epigraphs are very important.
The first comes from Heroclitus. It contrasts the general wisdom of the race with moments of private individual insight. It shows the dualism of individual existence. First of all individuality is apart of a body of mankind, located in history & tradition. Secondly, it is a unique personality. Each person embraces both & this predetermines the reaction to intense moments.
The second is short – “The way up & the way down are one & the same”. This is another duality, two ways of apprehending the truth. The first one is an active embrace of ecstatic experience (the way up), the second one is a passive withdrawal from experience into self (the way down).
The poem got a reputation of a great obscurity due to a philosophical richness but at the same time it is intensely musical. He tries to make it closer to music by the motives that return like the tones in music. It is not by chance that the poem is called “Four Quartets” – 4 instrumental voices in the quartet. In his essay “The Music of Poetry” he explained this usage of recurrent things.
From 1926 he experimented with poetic drama “The Cocktail Party”. But his dramas remain unpopular because drama needs plot.
Eliot received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949 as recognition of his innovations in modern poetry. He also wrote critical works “The Sacred Wood”, “The Use of Poetry & the Use of Criticism”, “On Poetry & Poets” – most influential literary documents.
Thomas Stearns Eliot
David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)
Lawrence was very much influenced by Freud’s conception of human personality. He is considered to be a modernist but he didn’t experiment with form. On the outside he worked within the confines of English novel tradition but he broke from the understanding of human relations that were accepted in critical realism. He was the first who touched upon the problem of marrying, the relations between sexes, he didn’t hush down the contradictions between them. His main concern was to liberate a person from all the constrains which were put by the society upon him. There was so much taboos, hush-hush attitudes to this topic, that .
He is compared to Eliot. Both started from similar points that civilization threatens human beings, it is hostile to man. Civilization is sick, it destroys people morally & bodily. What Lawrence can suggest instead? His religion was belief in blood & flesh as being wiser than the intellect. This belief became one of his main themes. He interpreted human behaviour & character from this standpoint. All his writings were underlined with a deep discontent with a modern world. And this fact unites him with other modernists. Civilization is on the wrong track. Science, industrialization produced a race of robots. Civilization is evil. The only way out – the way back – to re-awaken our emotional, irrational layers of consciousness. He was little concerned with social problems. Lawrence’s treatment of character is based on the assumption that 7/8 are submerged & never seen. He explored the unconscious mind that was not always seen but was always present. He is fumbling for the words to describe strictly indescribable. He enjoyed popularity in his lifetime. His first works are:
“The White Peacock” 1911
“Sons & Lovers” 1913
They were well received. Critics thought that there appeared one more working-class writer. His late works were received with shock & opposition because of his frankness to the questions of sexuality, relations of men & women. These themes suffered from late Victorian prudishness. He was the first to describe sexual relations using common words not.
“Sons & Lovers” is considered to be autobiographical. Lawrence was brought up in miner’s family in Nottinghamshire. His mother was cultivated ex-school teacher. She married beneath herself & so she tried to develop ambitions in her children. The book centers around Paul Morel & his mother’s relations. His mother made him fatally unable to love another woman. “There was something in his life that blocked his intentions.” The relations that he explores within the Morel family remind us of the relations in his own family. He must get it clear & get away with it. By giving this story a form of a novel Lawrence tried to liberate himself of his ties with the past. Sometimes it is considered an illustration of Freud’s theory of Oedipus complex.
We consider Lawrence a modernist not because of his innovations in form & style but by his attitude to human beings (human behaviour is biologically determined). “Blood & flesh being wiser than intellect”.
Lawrence is a very prolific writer but his books were uneven in quality – 15 novels & volumes of short stories. The best of them are:
“The Rainbow”(was also condemned as obscene one)
“Women in Love” 1920
“The Plumed Serpent” 1926
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (1929) was subjected to obscenity trial. It was banned for oscine vocabulary till 1960. “His urgency in seeking out the deepest core of his characters’ being lead him to employ a language overfraught with portentous vocabulary – repeatedly, ineffectually gesturing at dark, mystic, passionate, but ultimately vague & ungraspable emotions.” Critics considered this work to be his greatest one.
Sexual aspect wasn’t the only one though very important. It was a part of his concept of personal development.
Post modernism can be regarded in two aspects:
as a literary trend
as a phenomenon which doesn’t belong exclusively to literature – a certain mentality of post industrial age.
As with all stylistic eras, no definite dates exist for the rise and fall of postmodernism’s popularity. The 1941 death of Irish novelist James Joyce, one of modernism’s last and biggest giants, is sometimes used as a rough boundary for postmodernism’s start.
Another common divide is the end of the second world war, which saw a critical assessment of human rights in the wake of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, The Holocaust and Japanese American internment. It also coincides with the beginning of the Cold War, the American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) and the beginning of movements which worked towards: (a) the end of Colonialism, (b) the Partition of India, (c) the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and (d) the development of Postcolonial literature. Finally, it reflects the influence of the computer which garnered new importance during the war. During this time, computers became integrated within postmodern fiction often referred to as Cyberpunk.
Literature of this era does not set itself against modern literature as much as it develops and extends the style, making it self-conscious and ironic. In such literature, one finds a shift in the role of the “inner narrative of the self,” from the self at war with itself to the self as arbiter, pointing to the phenomenological roots of postmodern thought. Authors such as David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, and Thomas Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow satirise the paranoid system-building of the kind associated, by postmodernists, with Enlightenment modernity.
Dubbed maximalism by some critics, the sprawling canvas and fragmented narrative of such writers as Dave Eggers has generated controversy on the “purpose” of a novel as narrative and the standards by which it should be judged. The postmodern position is that the style of a novel must be appropriate to that which it depicts and represents, and points back to such examples in previous ages as Gargantua by François Rabelais and the Odyssey of Homer, which Nancy Felson-Rubin hails as the exemplar of the polytropic audience and its engagement with a work. Many modernist critics attack the maximalist novel as being disorganized, sterile and filled with language play for its own sake, empty of value as a narrative—and therefore empty of value as a novel.
Post modernism appeared after the second WW. In 50’s, especially 60’s new type of fiction, new writing emerged, drastically different from previous writers. The idea that permeated this works: there is need to reevaluate old values, the values that lead Western civilization (idea of emancipation, enlightenment). But the WWII showed that the belief that a human is a reasonable creature who can build a reasonable society is inconsistent.
Summing all I think you will agree that this period was very important for English literature. A strong crop of British authors emerged during the 20th century. From “The Waste Land” to “1984,” 20th century British writers helped shape the modern and postmodern movements in art and literature.
While they have been strong in number, the majority of great works came during the first half of the century. Unparalleled economic and geopolitical catastrophes helped mold a generation raised with great hardship and little hope. World Wars I and II and the severe economic depression in between encouraged the exploration of themes like destitution and loss and accounts of adventures from the battlefronts and breadlines. Famous events, new genres, the mood of the people reflect in the literature and other art.