in the 20-30’s of the XX c.
century is characterized by great diversity of artistic values &
methods. This age had a great impact on the literary process. Variety
of social, ethic & aesthetic attitudes. New achievements in
science have their impact on literature. Literature absorbs &
transforms the material of their influences:
First World War
philosophy of subjective idealism
theory of relativity
crises 1919-1921 & consequent upheaval of social movement
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,
Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
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 choice 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.
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
reflects the state of Europe before the war.
Herbert Wells (1866-1946)
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
lecture – “The Contemporary
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.
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
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.
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
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
Fools” is his last word to
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
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.
classical example of novel about lost generation is “The
Death of a Hero” by R. Aldington.
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.
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.
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
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
“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, &
He died in 1962.
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
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.
Origin of Species”(1859)
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 is
determined by the need of physical survival.
showed similarities between primitive & civilized cultures. The
primitive tribes appeared to be not so savage as they seemed to be.
They were just like the civilized ones.
In this book he exposes dark sides of human psyche, glorified the
belief in ancient heroic philosophers.
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.
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 &
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 :
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 collagй,
juxtaposition – all transitions are removed. You just put the
fragments together. The widely used technique “stream of
consciousness” takes the form from a fluid associations, 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
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.
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:
Proust “Remembrance of the Things Past”
“Sons & Lovers”
“The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
say that the artist became modernists’ hero. Not all writers of
that period were modernists. There was the co-existence of different
Joyce (1882 – 1941)
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.
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 &
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
Stearns Eliot (1889 – 1965)
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.
was influential figure in literary circles. Editor, poet, playwright,
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.
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:
us go out – you & I…
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
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:
means that they talk of what they pretend to know.
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.
Waste Land” (the poem (1922) in ”Dial” &
“Criteria”[GB]). The poem consists of 5 parts & their
titles speak for themselves:
Burial of the Dead”
Game of Chess” – an allusion of a medieval play,
where the action was as if in two playings.
Fire Sermon” – the postulates of oriental religion.
Death by the Water”
the Thunder Said”
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:
account of “Grail”(“Грааль”)
legend– a legend connected with Christianity – a cup
from which Christ drank;
“The Divine Comedy”;
& used words from operas of Wagner;
to the story of crusification;
as scraps of popular culture – music-hall songs, slang words,
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
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.
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:
is the way the world ends,
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
1926 he experimented with poetic drama “The Cocktail
Party”. But his dramas remain unpopular because drama
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
Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)
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 …
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:
White Peacock” 1911
& Lovers” 1913
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…
& 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.
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
is a very prolific writer but his books were uneven in quality –
15 novels & volumes of short stories. The best of them are:
Rainbow”(was also condemned as obscene one)
in Love” 1920
Plumed Serpent” 1926
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.
aspect wasn’t the only one though very important. It was a part
of his concept of personal development.
appeared in the first decade of the XX when the group of poets
appeared in the USA who tried to bring modernists’ ideas. The
most active of these poets were Ezra Pound & Thomas Eliot.
American modernism doesn’t mean geographical terms. Many
American writers created their works in Europe (mainly in Paris).
Ezra Pound said: “Paris is a lab of ideas”. Modernists:
Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Pound (1885 – 1972)
famous poet, publicist & translator. He studied in the University
of Pennsylvania (studied Roman languages). But he had a very brief
career as a teacher & in 1908 he left for Europe. He walked all
the way from Gibraltar to Venice where the first collection of his
poems appeared – “A Hume Spento”.
During 2 years from 1908 he gained his popularity. His collections
impressed the readers by the original form, new expressiveness &
metrical faction. He is the founder of imagist’s school
(opposed traditional Victorian verse). The poets’ aim was to be
precise & clear in word usage. They did not accept thematic
limitations, were responsible for exploding the traditional form,
tried to find form to substitute it. There was a trend in imagism –
wordism – the model for the XXth century poetry. Its
attention was paid to the metaphorical images. These ideas influenced
young poets like Robert Frost, Thomas Eliot, and W. Butler.
edited magazine “Little Review” where new names &
works were introduced. It is believed that he revolutionized English
versification. He tried to capture the intonation of monological
speech. His poems have a peculiar form of masques. His poetry is
dressed in the bright clothes of Latin, Greek, Japanese, Anglo-Saxon,
are the best part of his legacy. They were also thoroughly polished
masques. He developed interest Japanese poetry. He liked the Japanese
way of presenting the most abstract idea through a concrete image. So
he introduced idiomatic poetry when any nation could be rendered
through the combination of concrete images. This principle was
employed in “The Cantos” epic poem, which
he started in 1925 & continued almost up to the end of his life.
He called it “неисчерпаемый
форм”. The synthesis of his
ideas of works, autobiography, aesthetic & poetic principles &
reflection of the urgent & poetic issues. “The
Cantos” are uneven in quality. Some fragments are
difficult to understand. To facilitate the process of reading “The
Index of Cantos” was published. In 1925 Pound moved to
Italy & became interested in politics & economics. He devoted
much time & effort to discuss economics & politics.
ABC of ECONOMICS”
Is Money For?”
the fascist regime. After the war he was arrested & charged in
prison, but was considered to have mental disease & spent 22
years in mental hospital. In late 50’s he was let free &
went to Italy where he died. But he continued to write even in
hospital. “The Cantos of Pizza” is a very
painful reevaluation of the things passed. The famous critic Malison
said: “He chose a wrong position above the society & that’s
the problem”. He was the poet who transformed the form of
English verse – thus his achievement was great.
Stein is remembered because of her influence on the writers to come,
not for her works. She doesn’t enter anthologies of English or
American literature. She was born in USA, her childhood was spent in
Europe. She studied psychology in Harvard. Her teacher was William
James. She conducted several experiments on automatic writing but she
was interested only from psychological point of view. However, she
did not become a psychologist yet this influenced her writing. In
1903’s she left for Paris & remained there almost all her
life. In 1909 she published the novel “The Three Lives”.
It consists of three parts describing the lives of three women. The
work was unnoticed in that time. But that time she got acquainted
with famous artists: Picasso, Matisse. New tendencies in painting
(cubism, abstractionism) impressed her very much.
tendencies dominated in her artistic works. She claimed that only
Spanish & American writers were able to realize abstract notions
in literature. This abstraction must be expressed by the deformity of
the form. She was the only representative of literary abstractionism.
Her desire was to get rid of the content of words (of the meaning) so
that she could be able to concentrate on the plastic properties of
the language & its syntax. She was going to capture inner &
outer reality in the most precise & objective form.
must not awake any associations: associative emotions are invalid.
Everything that is the result of emotions cannot be the gist of
literary work, cannot be material for prose & poetry. They must
consist in the precise rendering of internal & external reality.
The words must express the reality directly, she tried to devoid them
of any meaning. But she forgot that the painter & the writer use
different media for their arts. But if colours have no meaning the
words obviously possess it. She wanted to create pure literature by
using pure words, no one else tried to do that before. She emptied
the words of the thought & created almost her private language &
that was the extreme. It showed how far one could go in violating the
novelty – the new concept of time. She tried a new method of
narration – “continuous present”. Instead of the
narration she creates a composition where a story is presented as if
happening at the present moment, not as a consequent unfolding of the
theme as we perceive reading. She did acknowledge that such a
category as time in literature would transform into continuous
perception of the present moment. So she tried to put this theory
into practice in her book “The Making of Americans”.
“The Making of America” describing the
history of the Gestland
family she tries at the same time to give a picture of American
history. She tried to describe individual & general
simultaneously. And that resulted in the style, which was very
awkward. She also tried to use the technique that she borrowed from
cinematography, like in a film each next shot presents a slight
variation from the previous one. Each next sentence differed from the
previous one only insignificantly (regularly-repeated phrases, key
words). It may look ridiculous, stupid, but many modern writers took
this repetition from her.
side the so-called portraits in literature were created on the basis
of rhythmic principle. Every person has his own rhythm & in
portraying a person’s life she tried to combine & match
these rhythms – literary expressionism. The result of this was
simplification of syntax, foregrounding
of the verbs, minimal punctuation & omission of nouns &
adjectives. “Tender Buttons” is a
collection of poems, examples of this technique. The reaction was not
unanimous. They accused the style for deintellectualization. For
example, Malcolm Kowly said
that “reading her style annoys us…”. Stein’s
experiments are not so important by itself because they warned other
artists against taking the same route. Her works are fruitless &
senseless – they distract the communication. But her
experiments are noticeable in Hemingway’s syntax, Faulkner’s
“continuous present” (=past does exist in the present),
Sherwood Anderson’s principles of cinematography. Her
significance – she was the first English writer who expressed
those tendencies which were the distinctive features of the
Doss Passos (1896-1970)
was born in Chicago. He lived a long life but his most productive
period was in the 20-30’s of the XXth century. He
reflected the progressive ideas of the time, produced the epic of
American life within the framework of a literary experiments. He
graduated from Harvard. In 1916-17 studied architecture in Spain &
this background can be felt in his works in their architecture.
Participated in the war & after that he began to write. His first
book – “One Man’s Initiation”(1920).
It was the first book in American literature, which treats the war
topic. It is a lost generation book because it was motivated by
post-was disillusionment that young people experienced. The pathos is
clearly antiwar. It is autobiographical. The pacifist motives are
very strong here. The style doesn’t differ much from that of
his mature works. Dos Passos chose the fragmentary way of
organization of material, which is to his mind, more expressive. The
book is in the form of interior monologue – to express more
precisely the crash of a young American world in the war.
continued the same technique in “Three Soldiers”.
He attacks the corruption of the world, socialist motives become more
explicit in his work. Here he experiments with writing technique –
plot. The lives of three young people – Americans – are
in the focus of his attention. At first their lives are connected,
they met each other on the same boat but this is the only point where
their fates are close. As they arrive in Europe their ways diverge.
Each one follows his own path. The plot decenters, follows the life
of each of three heroes. All of them are ruined at the war, feel
lost, disillusioned. It is a typical lost generation novel written in
the modernist technique. John Andrews is a painter, he dreams to
express his protest against the war by artistic means. Both J.
Andrews in the book & J. D. Passos fear capitalist tyranny &
revolutionary enthusiasm. Antibourgeois pathos is rather strong.
tendencies increase in his next works. “Manhattan
Transfer” (novel) is a kaleidoscope of numerous
episodes, names, dates where the reader can hardly find the
characters. It consists of independent stories, which are all mixed.
The only similar feature is the place & the time. Dos Passos
considered that such composition will enable him to show the reality
objectively, a stream of New York life. Characters represent
different social layers. The author introduces clips from newspapers,
some glimpses of literature, which are not connected with the novel.
It produces disorder. But it was his intention – city is a
chaos; life is a chaos. Reaction to the novel was contradictory. Some
thought that it was a collectivist novel. Dos Passos was not in the
individual lives, troubles or joys. A collectivist writer was
interested in social relations but the paradox was that social
relations were abstract from his work. He didn’t dispose
social. His attitude to the events is not clear. The lack of
objective conclusions was intentional but the writer can’t do
that. He tried to produce such works where the generalization should
was popular in 20-30’s in Soviet Union, unfortunately his
popularity was short-lived for political reasons. As soon as he began
to criticize & warn against totalitarianism he fell out of grace.
He lived through the economic crises of 1929 & this found its
expression in the novel “USA”.
Passos wrote “USA” – a big epic where
he paid more attention to generalization. He wrote it for 20 years.
It consists of 3 novels: “The 42 Parallel”,
“1919”, “The Big Money”.
Dos Passos tried to be more precise with the composition, developed a
scheme of it. It is a big panoramic work. The real hero is American
society, the country. It is shown against the social background of
the nation. It is an epic of American life. The structure is very
logical & coherent. Each chapter falls into several parts, which
are made up of for components & the combination of these
components is very different. These four components are:
the portraits of literary characters
of historical personalities
i.e. news of the day
obscure (eye) – inner monologue of the author
has a title & a number. The biographies of historical personality
were intended to create the historical background, dedicated to
famous people of political, social, scientific, artistic activities.
It included the stories about the outstanding people.
of the day was to documentarize the specific moments in the USA
history to create the historical colouring & objective picture of
that epoch. It included popular songs, headlines from papers. Here
they try to follow the stream of consciousness of the newspaper
obscure were to show the author’s attitude to life, to bring an
individual lyrical touch to the story, personal meditations upon
certain subjects, reminiscences of the things passed, expression of
author’s ideas upon various aspects of life. It gave a picture
of the author’s evaluation for 30 years.
are fictions. The portraits of literary characters were imaginary
literary heroes. There were 11 of them – typical
representatives of all the layers of the American society. The
central characters John Wool McHouse. The author tries to trace his
relations with other characters but it doesn’t mean that he
knows all of them.
the unique combination of these elements the unique picture of
American life springs up. The general mood is that of confusion,
tension, tumult, frustration of hopes, feeling that the present is
ugly & intolerable. People are too fussy about their daily
routine. In this work he showed how life was lived on the national
Passos was concerned with the history of the country primarily. The
writer must be an architect of history. His work was a literary
conclusion – different elements were assembled. The work is
considered to be an achievement in the American literature. The
author tried to use cinematographic principles in writing: close up,
precision in details, the art of assembly. He also used the technique
of montage or juxtaposition. In his later works he perfected this
technique & achieved quite a success in it. Later he became a
radical writer. He was a passionate individualist & individual
freedom was most important to him.
Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
belongs to the lost generation but he gave his own name to it –
“jazz age”. Jazz was representative of the general
atmosphere of the years – the feeling of instability in life.
Age of transition of social values. To his mind jazz beat ideally
expressed that feeling of hopeless despair with which his young men &
women tried to experience the every passing moment of their lives,
their age. There is a recurrent “capre diem”(лови
момент) theme in his
novels. His heroes indulge & overindulge. Jazz age expresses
instability & changebility of life present in mind of many people
who tried to flee from the feeling of being lost, for they no longer
believed in life, so they tried to live it to their full. Fitzgerald
was not very rich but was educated in Princeton. He dropped out of it
because of poor health & poor performance, he didn’t get to
front though he enlisted. He was painfully aware of the difference
between himself & rich students. He had hatred for the rich. The
main topic of his work – money & its corruptive influence.
For him money & wealth were social categories. He regarded the
rich to be another race, whose habits & moral principles differ
very much. He looked into the phenomenon of being rich. For him a
rich person is one for whom everything is permitted & they lack
human qualities, he tried to penetrate to the very heart of the
matter. So, money & wealth for him were not economic categories
but social phenomena. He regarded rich as another race, alien kind of
people whose habits, moral principles, views were not as the habits
of the ordinary people. They are the people to whom everything is
permitted & consequently they lack certain human qualities that
of pity, compassion, and sympathy. In his works Fitzgerald striped
this world of this mysterious veil. He tried to penetrate to the very
depths exploring the ethics of the rich world. Wealth has
dehumanizing impact on human personality. He had a feeling that
something awful is coming. “All the stories that come to my
head have touch of disaster”. He produced the collection of
short stories “All the Sad Young Men”,
“Tales of the Jazz Age”. They are
permeated with appocaliptical feeling of tragedy of American life.
Fitzgerald was not the only one who treated this topic –
Theodore Dreiser in “American Tragedy” did the same.
finest achievement is the novel “The Great Gatsby”
which showed the contrast between material wealth & the spiritual
poverty of the heroes. Concerning this work in Soviet criticism the
used. It means that he tried to show people who were real characters,
strong individuals, but this all is directed not to a right channel –
to make one’s life to the top, to get something from life,
strive for the world success. For Gatsby wealth is not the purpose
but means to have everything that money can give, a key to personal
happiness = relations between Jay Gatsby & Daisy whom he loves.
In youth he suffered feeling of inferiority, for she was the daughter
of rich parents & he was a poor soldier. He seeks to get money by
bootlegging but it turned out that happiness could not be achieved
even with money because Daisy had changed, she is very deaf &
blind spiritually, feeling of all-permissiveness increased in her.
She doesn’t stop short in the
fraud (car accident). Gatsby was killed, Daisy departed, fled
with her husband without any remorse. Gatsby’s tragedy lies in
the fact that he hoped to find happiness, sympathy, love in the world
where these feelings don’t exist. The tragedy is that money
changes people & money changed him & Daisy & he didn’t
understand this tragedy couldn’t foresee it.
he a positive or a negative character for the author? He possesses
good moral qualities but he is not the paragon of moral beauty, he
obtained his wealth by not clear ways. It’s clear that he is a
tragic person. He wastes his talent for money. Very often he is
compared to Clyde Griffite (Dreiser’s). But Gatsby is a
own story in a way repeats Gatsby’s story: he lived bohemian
life, gradually writing became an obligation. He appeared to be a
hostage of his own success. He also had drinking problems, & his
wife whom he loved very deeply had some mental problems.
other works are “This Side of Paradise”,
“Tender is the Night”, “The
Last Typcoon”, “The Beautiful & the
Damned” where he developed the same topic. Fitzgerald
also had a dilemma & he had to choose to write for money that
ruined his health. He died in 1940.
unique personality born in small town of Oxford (Mississippi) he grew
up in an impoverished southern aristocratic family & it had
impact on him (the spirit of the South). His education was not
systematic. He inherited the tragic confrontation of white &
black. In 1925 he mat Sherwood Anderson, dropped out of the
university. He tried his hand in different areas. After an
unsuccessful attempt to become a pilot (was wounded in the WWI), he
did different odd jobs, worked in a bank, had a published collection
of poems. He wrote a couple of books imitating lost generation
novels. He produces novels “Soldier’s Pay”,
“Mosquitoes”. Though published they were
not welcomed by critics. Their words were rather hush: “Faulkner
has no voice of his own, he has nothing to say.” So he decided
to write in a unique style, did not bother himself with any literary
tradition. If you don’t like it – it is your problem. All
his life he lived in that small town &it became a background for
most of his books. It is known as “Yoknapatawpha County”
he found writing to be a pleasure for him. In 1929 he wrote “The
Sound & the Fury”, “Sartoris”.
This year was a turning point for him. He wrote as he pleased
disregarding traditions. His perspective was to make things clear to
himself. He began to write about the things that he knew firsthand.
Both these novels look into the decay of south’s families.
Faulkner mercifully exposes the degradation of the South. There are
moral reasons for this: here the topic of slavery springs up, topic
of incest, moral impurity of people living there, their sins. At the
same time one can feel Faulkner’s anxiety even hatred about the
civilization, contemporary life. The civilization did only harm. The
alternative is a patriarchal way of living. Much as he scorned the
past he still longed for those times.
needn’t invent anything – “The Sound &
the Fury” is taken from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.
He alluded to the words that Macbeth said before his death:
but a walking shadow, a poor player
struts & frets his hour upon the stage,
then is heard no more. It is a tale
by an idiot, full of sound & fury,
seems that the same feeling of confusion is familiar to Faulkner. The
story is about the decay of the Compson’s family. The novel
consists of four parts. The first is told by Benjamin Compson who is
mentally handicapped. He is that very idiot who tells the story of
life’s confusion. Events are given as fragments of his
perception as if through the stain glass. He doesn’t know
what’s going on, he is subconsciously aware of the conflict in
the family. Everything is blurred, mixed, no chronology. We can
indicate time by the hints the characters drop now & then. He
uses device of interrelated temporal plains. The second part is told
by Quentin. He is a romantic type of a person who feels deeply &
suffers deeply. He is too fragile, too frail. He cannot cope with
the harsh world (committed a suicide). The third – by Jason
Compson. He is practical, persistent, knowing what he waits from
life, a tenacious man. The fourth is told by Faulkner himself. He
tries to be objective, was to put everything their places. Everything
is centred round their sister Caddy. Use of subjective viewpoint,
inner monologue, stream of consciousness – achieved a striking
effect – highly individual characters become universal types:
Bengy – childish perception, Quentin – adolescent
consciousness, Jason – pragmatic. All of them are contrasted to
authors representation of things – combining particular &
general. The degradation of one family is the symbol of the decline
of the South in general. He shows that the family gradually
collapses, people are driven to death & despair. Life is chaos of
sound & fury. Another message was that Faulkner himself didn’t
put up with darkness & gloom. Positive note is present in the
book. His intentions are realized in the fourth part.
following works treated the same topic. In 1945 he produced the
chronological supplement to the work “Light in August”,
“Absalom! Absalom!”, “The
Sanctuary”, “ As I Lay Dying”.
decline of the South, race conflict & the constant overlap of the
past & the present, loss of human values are the themes of his
works. A line of descendants of formerly rich South families. The
values of the past generation became corrupted in the modern world.
Atmosphere of doomed despair. He got a Nobel prize in 1950. The
values for him are courage, honour, pride, hope, sympathy,
30’s his style changed. These works are easy to read. He turns
to another topic – the trilogy “The Hamlet”,
“The Town”, “The Mansion”.
He thought he had spotted a disease in American society called
“snopecism” (from Flem Snopes – the main character
of one of the parts of the trilogy). Snopecism is evil, the product
of capitalist civilization, lust for money, put on the pedestal of
American society. Money dominates American life. It is people’s
God. The trilogy is written in a realistic key. It deals with the
snopes – former poor white people. Flem is the first in the
rank who by cunning, corruption, bribe, general unscrupulousness
elevated himself to a ruling financial class. It is shown how this
lust for money leads Flem to come over his friends, family to power.
Faulkner shows that a collision with Snopes ruins people, especially
if they are not of his kind. He is to blame for many deaths. He
didn’t do it with his own hands but he drove them to such
circumstances. He is not human. Makes him socially dangerous. People
fall victims of his thirst for money. The character who opposes Flem
is his stepdaughter Linda. Faulkner makes her a communist (probably
he saw no other force in the society that could oppose snopecism as a
change in Faulkner’s outlook resulted in the structure of the
novel. Chain of associations is not so unruly as previously.
is also famous for his short stories collected into two volumes:
theme is decline & deterioration o South. Here we meet the same
heroes or allusions to the characters & events of earlier novels.
Every book is interrelated. “The Bear” is a perfect
example of Faulkner’s style. It illustrates his concerns.
Faulkner had a reputation of a writer for intellectuals.
laid the foundation forAmerican drama. He comes form actor’s
family, education was not systematic, he did different odd jobs –
gold digger in Gonduras, sailor, journalist, etc. This enriched him
with knowledge of life firsthand. He developed interest for drama
when he treated his tuberculosis in sanatorium. He read Ibsen. Then
after he took a course in theory of drama in Harvard. 1914 is his
literary debut “Thirst & Other One-Act Plays”.
From 1919 O’Neill collaborated with Provincetown players
company. They staged his first works, & with this company his
success is associated. He worked with them up to 1924. The plays of
God’s Chillun Got Wings” (chillun = children)
plays voiced his protest against racism & exploitation. His plays
differed from typical Broadway production. They are very
experimental. On the one hand, they are realistic dramas, showing the
life of people who never before were the subject of writers’
interest. On the other hand, his plays exhibit his search for the
adequate form to treat this topic. Traditional realism is combined
with the elements of expressionist drama, touch of Ibsen’s
influence; innovative approach to the use of the elements of
classical drama & biblical motives. [Ibsen introduced the drama
of ideas, where not the events were important but ideas that were
discussed & disclosed by these events. He is very close to
Hairy Ape” is a story of a young proletariat Robert
Smith whom everybody calls Jank.
He was offended by a daughter of a certain man of property & so
he is expressed his …to such a degree that he was put to jail
where he absorbed certain socialistic ideas. But when he is released
he tries to find his “братьев
по духу” he is taken
for provocateur. He is very much shocked and baffled so he goes to
the zoo where he lets an ape out of the cage. Eventually this ape
kills him & he dies in the ape’s cage.
remarks to the play are very important & he pays great attention
to the setting. First scene shows the worker’s dwelling. It
must remind a cage by O’Neill. Then the scene shifts to a
stove-hall is shown. There must be a flame: the fire symbolizes the
hell of capitalists exploitation. The next scene shows the
fashionable hotel – the paradise of the rich. The last scene is
also an ape cage. It finishes the cycle.
naturalistic symbolism conveys the idea of inhumanity of exploiters,
shifts the accents from the conditions, turning man to a beast to the
his work of 30-40’s experiment takes to realism.
Great God Brown”
resorted to various techniques of modern theatre –
psychoanalysis, inner monologue, mask theatre.
masterpiece is trilogy “Mourning Becomes Electra”.
Here he develops classical notion of the tragic & transfers it to
American soil of the civil war period. He takes an eternal conflict &
puts it to America. Histories of O’Neill’s characters are
compared to the lives of Electra, Orestas, Clitemnestra. But the
environment is different.
he intended to write a saga about wealthy people. It materialized in
Touch of the Poet”
showed how several generations of American families gradually lose
their values, their destines mingle. Individual lives become part of
plays crowning his career are “A Moon for the
Misbegotten”, “Long Day’s Journey
into Night”. The latter is the most autobiographical.
is a southerner born in Columbus, Missouri, where his grandfather was
the Episcopal clergyman. When he was 12 his father who was a
travelling salesman moved with his family to St. Louis, & both he
& his sister found it impossible to settle down to the city life.
He entered college during the Depression & left after a couple of
years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for
two years, spending the evenings writing. He entered the University
of Iowa in 1938 & completed his course, at the same time holding
a large number of part-time jobs of great diversity. He received a
Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play “Battle of Angels”
& he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 & 1955.
1940 he started journey around the country & ended it up in New
York. There he wrote poetry & short stories. 1945 – his
first success “The Glass
Autobiographical elements are very strong in the play. Williams
managed to create a special lyrical atmosphere of the Wickfield
family. It consists of three people – mother, crippled daughter
& son. Each of them lives in his or her own glass menagerie i.e.
imaginary world which has nothing to do with reality. They fear the
reality, its hoarse & repulsive jungle for they cannot adjust to
the law of these jungles. Main idea is that kindness & good
feelings are doomed in clash with reality. These people are too
fragile, too sensitive.
play introduced features of new plastic theatre. The principles of
this theatre Williams formulated in the afterward to the play “Note
for Reproduction”. It is characterized by tense emotional
atmosphere, certain romanticism, masterly music & light effects,
attention is given to cinography & attraction of expressive means
of other arts. In stage remarks Williams is scrupulous about details
for they bear important meaning. he calculated to produce certain
effect on the audience.
second play “A Streetcar
Named Desire” gained him a
reputation of leading stage writer & Pulitzer Prize. In this play
there is a clash between realism & imagination; physical forces,
brutishness & helplessness; sexual drive &thirst for poetic
love; naked ugly truth & illusion, world of fantasy. The main
character is Blanche du Beau. The action takes place in New Orleans
in French quarters (it is often compared to the “Cherry
Orchard” by Chekhov). Blanche visits her sister’s family
after their parents died & the family estate is sold. Blanche
wears old ridiculously looking dresses as a symbol of the world she
lives in. Blanche meets her sister’s brute of a husband Stan.
Her sister gets out of the way to the hospital to give birth to a
baby. Blanche and Stan detest each other. He hates a woman who lives
in Ivory tower & she hates his brutishness. She denies &
longs for him at the same time. In the end he is taken into lunatic
plays with human subconsciuosness. But he finds that the core of the
conflict is not inherent in the struggle between masculine &
feminine but a complex interrelation of personal circumstances:
social & others.
Williams’ human type is an outcast, lonely, constantly in
search of a relative soul with whom to share a burden of loneliness.
But life is such that the outsider is doomed to defeat. The only
salvation is love (but even this is questionable). Broken & lost
people who are not able to defend themselves & their dreams can
find love that will help them to sustain.
is a prolific writer, he also wrote 2 collections of poems. He
combined poetry & realism & this unique combination singles
him out from other writers.
Real” is an allegoric
drama, very experimental. “This is my conception of
contemporary world in which I live,” he said. The scene is
divided into two parts:
hotel in which people are bored & degraded
in which people are weak, humiliated, apathetic
town is in terror, free thoughts are persecuted, people are killed in
the streets, brainwashing is actively underway. All problems are
solved by an old gypsy woman who provides a certain entertainment.
The city is called Camino Real[re’a:l], that is the way of hope
& dream. It ends to sound real[ri:al], that is the way of
reality, dead end of civilization.
is an ordinary American who feels that atmosphere of social hysteria
& he tries to make sense in life. Old literary characters (Don
Quixote, Byron) come to rescue him. The play has an optimistic
ending: Killroy finally finds the way out of the city to terra
incognita. Williams idealized past, his future is uncertain. His past
is good but dead, & the present is abhorrent.
other plays “Baby Doll”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”,
“Something Unspoken”, “Suddenly Last Summer”,
“Sweet Bird of Youth”, “The Milk Train Doesn’t
Stop Here Any More”, “The Night of the Iguana”,
modernism can be regarded in two aspects:
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.