English Literature

English Literature

English Literature in the 20-30s of the XX c.

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 & aesthetic attitudes. New achievements in science have their

impact on literature. Literature absorbs & transforms the material of their


V The First World War

V Russian Revolution

V Freuds psychoanalysis

V Bergsons philosophy of subjective idealism

V Einsteins theory of relativity

V Existentialists thought

V Economic crises 1919-1921 & consequent upheaval of social movement

V Marxist ideology

V Strike 1926

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 Britains 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. Artists 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 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

Marxs 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 doesnt 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 Ibsens 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 Dolls

House let everybody refuse to sacrifice. There is no formula how to


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 arts

sake. It means only moneys 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 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

nations 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, doesnt 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


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. Its 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


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 Freuds ideas of free love

between Georges 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 doesnt belong to the soldiers, their roughness makes him feel very

uncomfortable. He is completely lost. With all these problems he doesnt

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. Thats 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, its just a torture.

His satire has many shades, but also a definite target & purpose. Sometimes

it reminds Swifts Gullivers 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:

Colonels Daughter

All Men Are Enemies

Very Heaven

All are about those people who came back from the war alive but still

couldnt 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


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 is determined

by the need of physical survival.

James Frazers The Golden Bough(1890-1915) 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.

Nietzsches Birth of Tragedy. In this book he exposes dark sides of

human psyche, glorified the belief in ancient heroic philosophers.

Max Plancks 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.

Freuds 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 didnt 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 :

Charles Baudler

Arthur Rimbaut

Paul Verlaine

Stephan Mallarm

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 collag,

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 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 didnt 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.

Modernists myth was stripped of its religious & magical associations.

Joyces Ulysses is based on the ground of Homers 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 cant say that the artist became modernists hero. Not all writers of

that period were modernists. There was the co-existence of different


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 persons 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 artists consciousness. In criticism it is called a

gestation of the soul, for he tries to penetrate into peoples 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 dont 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 Stephens 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 butchers 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 Blooms

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 doesnt depend on peoples mind, he tries to penetrate into

human psyche, impulses which govern, move them. Each chapter corresponds to

the certain episode in Homers 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 mans 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


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 Finnegans Wake a

novel. If Ulysses is considered to be a daybook, Finnegans 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.

Finnegans 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 Joyces 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 todays 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


Extremely 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 writers

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. Its 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 doesnt 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.



It means that they talk of what they pretend to know.

The poem is full of allusions. The epigraph is quite important, taken

from Dantes 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:

. The Tempest

. Anthropological account of Grail() 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

Eliots 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 Joyces 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.

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

Lawrence was very much influenced by Freuds conception of human

personality. He is considered to be a modernist but he didnt 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 didnt 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. Lawrences

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 miners 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

mothers 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

Freuds 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

Kangaroo 1923

The Plumed Serpent 1926

Lady Chatterleys 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 wasnt the only one though very important. It was a part

of his concept of personal development.

American Modernism.

It 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 doesnt

mean geographical terms. Many American writers created their works in

Europe (mainly in Paris). Ezra Pound said: Paris is a lab of ideas.


Ezra Pound

Gertrude Stein

John Dos Passos

Ernest Hemingway

Partially William Faulkner

Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Ezra Pound (1885 1972)

A 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


Canzoni songs

Ripostes leisure

Lustra light

The poems impressed the readers by the original form, new expressiveness &

metrical faction. He is the founder of imagists 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 features:

V Mechanistism

V Technisism

V Specific rhyme

Much attention was paid to the metaphorical images. These ideas influenced

young poets like Robert Frost, Thomas Eliot, and W. Butler.

Pound 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, etc poets.

Translations 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 . 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.


What Is Money For?

He supported 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 50s 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 & thats the problem.

He was the poet who transformed the form of English verse thus his

achievement was great.

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

Gertrude Stein is remembered because of her influence on the writers to

come, not for her works. She doesnt 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 1903s 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.

Abstraction 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.

Literature 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 language.

Another 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.

In 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.

Another side the so-called portraits in literature were created on the

basis of rhythmic principle. Every person has his own rhythm & in

portraying a persons 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. Steins 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 Hemingways syntax, Faulkners continuous

present (=past does exist in the present), Sherwood Andersons principles

of cinematography. Her significance she was the first English writer who

expressed those tendencies which were the distinctive features of the avant-

garde movement.

John Doss Passos (1896-1970)

He was born in Chicago. He lived a long life but his most productive

period was in the 20-30s 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 Mans 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 doesnt 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.

He 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.

These 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 didnt

dispose social. His attitude to the events is not clear. The lack of

objective conclusions was intentional but the writer cant do that. He

tried to produce such works where the generalization should be.

He was popular in 20-30s 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.

Dos 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:

V novel - the portraits of literary characters

V biographies of historical personalities

V news-reel, i.e. news of the day

V camera obscure (eye) inner monologue of the author

Each piece 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.

News 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 reader.

Camera obscure were to show the authors attitude to life, to bring an

individual lyrical touch to the story, personal meditations upon certain

subjects, reminiscences of the things passed, expression of authors ideas

upon various aspects of life. It gave a picture of the authors evaluation

for 30 years.

Novels 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

doesnt mean that he knows all of them.

From 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 scale.

Dos 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.

Francis Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

He 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( )

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 didnt 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.

His 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 term

was 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 ones 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 doesnt stop short in the fraud (car accident).

Gatsby was killed, Daisy departed, fled with her husband without any

remorse. Gatsbys tragedy lies in the fact that he hoped to find happiness,

sympathy, love in the world where these feelings dont exist. The tragedy

is that money changes people & money changed him & Daisy & he didnt

understand this tragedy couldnt foresee it.

Was 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. Its clear that he is a tragic person. He

wastes his talent for money. Very often he is compared to Clyde Griffite

(Dreisers). But Gatsby is a personality.

Fitzgeralds own story in a way repeats Gatsbys 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.

The 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.

William Faulkner (1897-1962)

A 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 Soldiers 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

dont 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

But 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 souths 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 Faulkners 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.

He neednt invent anything The Sound & the Fury is taken from

Shakespeares Macbeth. He alluded to the words that Macbeth said before

his death:

Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts & frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound & fury,

Signifying nothing.

It seems that the same feeling of confusion is familiar to Faulkner. The

story is about the decay of the Compsons 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 lifes confusion.

Events are given as fragments of his perception as if through the stain

glass. He doesnt know whats 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 didnt put up with darkness

& gloom. Positive note is present in the book. His intentions are realized

in the fourth part.

The 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.

The 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, self-sacrifice, compassion.

In 30s 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 peoples 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 didnt 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 social


The change in Faulkners outlook resulted in the structure of the novel.

Chain of associations is not so unruly as previously.

Faulkner is also famous for his short stories collected into two


Knights Gambit

Collected Stories

Their 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 Faulkners style.

It illustrates his concerns. Faulkner had a reputation of a writer for


Eugene ONeill (1888-1953)

He laid the foundation forAmerican drama. He comes form actors 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 ONeill 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 this period:

The Emperor Jones

The Hairy Ape

All Gods Chillun Got Wings (chillun = children)

These 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 Ibsens 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 Chekhov]

The 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 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 apes cage.

His remarks to the play are very important & he pays great attention to

the setting. First scene shows the workers dwelling. It must remind a cage

by ONeill. 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.

The naturalistic symbolism conveys the idea of inhumanity of exploiters,

shifts the accents from the conditions, turning man to a beast to the

biological characteristics.

In his work of 30-40s experiment takes to realism.

The Great God Brown

Lazarus Laughed

Strange Interlude

He resorted to various techniques of modern theatre psychoanalysis,

inner monologue, mask theatre.

His 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

ONeills characters are compared to the lives of Electra, Orestas,

Clitemnestra. But the environment is different.

Later he intended to write a saga about wealthy people. It materialized

in two plays:

A Touch of the Poet

More Stately Mansions

ONeill showed how several generations of American families gradually

lose their values, their destines mingle. Individual lives become part of

national history.

The plays crowning his career are A Moon for the Misbegotten, Long

Days Journey into Night. The latter is the most autobiographical.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

He 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.

In 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

Menagerie. 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.

The 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.

His 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 sisters 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

sisters 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 asylum.

Williams 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 &


Tennessee 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


Williams is a prolific writer, he also wrote 2 collections of poems. He

combined poetry & realism & this unique combination singles him out from

other writers.

Camino 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:

V fashionable hotel in which people are bored & degraded

V slums in which people are weak, humiliated, apathetic

The 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[rea: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.

Killroy 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.

His other plays Baby Doll, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Something

Unspoken, Suddenly Last Summer, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Milk Train

Doesnt Stop Here Any More, The Night of the Iguana, etc.

Post Modernism.

Post modernism can be regarded in two aspects:

V as a literary trend

V as a phenomenon which doesnt belong exclusively to literature a

certain mentality of post industrial age.

Post modernism appeared after the second WW. In 50s, especially 60s

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



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