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British Literature


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Notes on Realism, Victorian Age, Modernism.

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British Literature

  1. 1. REALISM It is based upon certain ideas; one of them being common to the phenomenical world described by the methods of empirical history. The main aim of the historical methods is to correct fragmentation by combining discontinuous facts into a series of significant sequences imposing upon reality. That is the reason why reality is conceived by a succession of moments slightly different from each other, but in a relation of continuity and contiguity. The realistic novel tries to impose order and succession to the story. The time or chronology is lineal. Realistic author wants to create what is called “illusion of life”. He wants reader to believe that what he is reading is a “piece” of real life and hide the fact that the novel is a literary artifact. In order to create the illusion of life, realistic novels present the blending of public and private experiences, while social, economic and historical backgrounds are used to create individual characters. In order to reach that “illusion”, the authors use the following techniques: 1. Consistency with history. The novel has to reflect the reality of the period or environment that it is talking about. 2. Fidelity to social texture. Characters of the novel have to behave according to the time in which the novel takes place. 3. Circumstantial particularity. Novel is always full of facts (names, dates, places…) which are consistent with each other: if the author includes a date, it corresponds to the real date. Also occurs in no-realistic novels (Henry Fielding) 4. Emphasis on the uniqueness of individual places, objects … Fictional characters are provided with a context of particularity very much like the one which defines us in real life (house, family, jobs…) 5. Causal development of the plot. What becomes a story into a plot is the way in which it is told: chronologically, with flashbacks, starting at the end of the plot. 6. Lineal treatment of time 7. Control on the use of metaphorical elements. Metaphorical elements are subjects to the control of the context either by transforming literal details of the context into symbols (Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, set during the Industrial Revolution, criticizes the lack of a real childhood provided by an Utilitarian education based on data and fact, without fantasy/imagination. On it, Louisa's life is symbolized by the ashes she stare at, cold and without flame) or by establish analogies from a semantic field associated with the context (“Esteem and respect are cold, lifeless things- dry bones picked clean of flesh” -B.Pym) The Realistic author prefers the simile rather than metaphor paying attention on similarity between dissimilar things.
  2. 2. Role of dialogue in order to create the “illusion of life” Fictional dialogue can’t be a transcription of a real dialogue, a conflict to the realistic author's ideal. Thus, some features of real dialogues such as false starts, grammatical inconsistences, silences fills, repetition and hesitance should not be used, according to written language standards, and it is the author's task to find a balance between the use of these features and the code of stylistic conventions In the real life, spoken word derives much of it meaning from the context of situations so the novelist or playwright has to make these extra linguistics features explicit. In this sense, alternative spellings are often used to represent information conveyed purely by phonological elements (such as pronunciation and accent). G. B. Shaw (“Pygmalion”), who also published his own plays, was a pioneer among the playwrighters in using this kind of literary device, realising it was necessary to express this contextual features. Constructing an idiolect, the way a particular character speaks, is very useful for creating peculiar and unique individuals. The Victorian Age Victorian Age was a period of great changes: it witnessed the spectacular growth of Industrialization and the establishment of a national railway network which not only changed the landscape but also the notions of time and distance; also, there were political and social reforms that led to the abolishment of cruel practices like pillory. Victorian writers responded to these changes, their main literary achievements developed in the field of the novel. Victoran literature is usually divided into three periods: • Early Victorians: They wrote what is called the Condition of England novel: when the railway forced the middle-class to travel and see what life was like in the slums, the necessity to write about the contemporary conditions in the 19th century England arose among them, ususally with just superficial knowledge of the situation. Manchester is very representative of this period, since there we can see the miracle and its cost (power of new machinery, energy of urban aristocracy employers), but also the degradation and destruction of traditional social patterns, the segregation of different social classes and child labour. Condition of England novels show the fantasies and fears of the middle and working class, who actively sought political reforms through movements such as Chartism. They often introduced a romantic plot to make their novels attractive to the reader. Brontë sisters dedicated their efforts to write fictional autobiographies that portray the role of women during Victorian Age. AUTHORS: Charles Kingsley (Altonlocke), Benjamin Disraeli (Sybil), E. Gaskell (Mary Barton), C. Dickens (Oliver Twist, Hard Times), Thackery (Vanity Fair), E. Brontë (Wuthering Heights ), C. Brontë (Jane Eyre).
  3. 3. • Mid- Victorians: The sense of change has gone, what supposed a change in the writings towards much more relaxed fiction known as domestic realism, which describes the reality of middle-class everyday life. Collins was important because he was involved in a type of novel called the sensational novel (extravagant melodramas with exotic elements like murders and secrets). AUTHORS: George Eliot (Widdlemarch), Anthony Trollepe, Wilkie Collins, Lewis Carroll. • Late Victorians: change to a more private and psychological novel, usually with pessimistic tone; it was very hard for the writers to be able to be hopeful. Most readers belonged to the middle class, and novels were often read aloud at home to a family audience, as education was not widespread yet. Thus, readers wanted a 'vanilla' portrayal of real life, with the roughest and most intimate issues softened or omitted, while late Victorians felt that telling the whole truth about reality was their duty, and that novels could change and persuade readers. There were three ways to publish a novel: in book form (usually three volumes, in circulating libraries such as W.H. Smith that allowed to loan the book before buying it), serialization of chapters in periodicals/magazines or publishing individual parts every month. Serialization helped to create a unique intimacy between the writer and the reader that could influence the development of the novel, since authors could analyze people’s likes and perspectives of what was being written: Thomas Hardy received letters being asked to not give Tess death. AUTHORS: Samuel Butler, George Meredith, Henry James, R. L. Stevenson (Treasure Island), George Gissing, Thomas Hardy. THOMAS HARDY Born 2nd June 1840, in a small village near Dorchester where the railway had not come to there yet. There he became familiar with rural environment, its beliefs and superstitions and the local speech; that made him aware of the different social levels. He started to work at 16 as an apprentice of architect, since his family had no money to send him to university. After a while, he went to London to study architecture; he lived there during some time and came back to Dorchester in 1867 because of his ill health. About this time, he decided to start writing novels, out of necessity rather than choice, since he had only wrote poems before but fiction gave him more money. From his very first novel, Hardy was looking for a type of fiction that was, on the one hand, suitable to his experience and, on the other hand, likely to find acceptance in the literary market. His first novel was Desperate Remedies, a very popular sensation novel priced because of Hardy’s deep knowledge of rural speech so in his second novel Under the Greenwood Tree, a village love story, he exploited this aspect of his writing while shifting from a sensation novel to a realistic one.
  4. 4. With his third novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, Hardy started to have problems that he would also have with his other novels. The complaints of 3 ladies subscribers of his serial about a scene in which a girl is seduced had him asked to be more careful with this kind of scenes in order to not shock the readers. Tess, published when he was 58 and already a famous writer, granted him even more problems, and was given a treatment that humiliated Hardy. He wrote Tess for a firm of nonconformist tradition (separate from Church of England). Hardy was asked to remove two offending scenes of the baptism of Tess' child by herself, but he rejected to do so and the agreement was canceled. Hardy sent the novel to other editors who also rejected the novel considering it too frank in dealing with sex and marriage. He finally had to remove the two episodes, published separately as sketches, until their eventual restoration when the novel was published in book form, what provoked violent reactions from some reviewers. His last novel, Jude the Obscure, caused the same problems than the others. Hardy was asked to his next novel would have to be suitable for family magazine, but a story about education turned into a sex and marriage. Thus, he tried to cancel the agreement with the publishers, but since they did not want to, Hardy removed some episodes, later restored when the novel was published in book form. It was deemed obscene and indecent by some critics but Jude, along its working-class hero, is considered a masterpiece. Hardy stopped writing novels during the remaining 31 years of his life. The reason why he did that may be his disgust for the severe criticism, the financial success of his novels allowing him to write poetry for himself (as he always meant) and that the novel abandoned him, rather than the opposite, since the canon was already shifting towards experimental modernism), not his kind of novel. The first poem written after stopping writing novels did not represent a break with the world of his novels, showing the same preoccupation with the past and rebuilds the same feelings. His Wessex Tales depict the same particular map and scenery of the fictional Wessex described in Tess. Hardy always claimed that poetry was his essential writing and novel was his accidental writing: the condensation of poetry was more suitable for his natural way of writing. Although he wrote poems of different kinds, there is hardly any difference between the early poems and later ones. After his wife death, he published “Poems of 1912-1913” considered the best of 20th century poetry. It dealt with the sense of changing of time, remorse, loneliness and people associated to places. The last 30 years of his life were quite normal: he became a distinguished, public- honored member of the society who maintained an extensive correspondence and kept scrupulous eyes on his business, copyrights and loyalties. He lived enough to be the subject of biographical and critical studies, although he rejected them. In 1914, after his wife death, he re-married to his former secretary, who lived with him until his death in 1928. He had been a key figure of the metamorphosis from the Victorian literature to the 20th C. novel and poetry
  5. 5. Major and minor novels Hardy himself divided his novels into major and minor novels, with a very distant qualitative gap between them, and alternating their writing.In the major novels, the Novels of Character and Enviroment, the setting is very restrictive, usually a community or a small town associated with the surrounding of countryside. Social range of the characters is also very restrictive: they are about country people, who need to work everyday in rural occupations described in detail by Hardy, with upper class and intellectuals appearing only in contrast to the countrymen. On the other hand, the minor novels, Novels of Ingenuity and Romances and Fantasies show a variety of settings (rural, urban, metropolitan, continental, etc.) and were about upper class, presenting educated, professional men in main roles. Major novels: Characters and environment have an important role in these novels, but so does the plot, even when it seems secondary. They usually deal with love stories of different levels of seriousness and the problems of sex relationships, inside and outside the marriage. Under the Greenwood: A teacher that falls in love with the hero (an honest, open- hearted countryman). Because of her lack of malice she easily becomes a victim. The novel has a happy-ending (idealistic description of country life), but there is some feeling of despair not explored by Hardy, due to his concerns with tackling adultery. Far from the Madding Crowd: More complicated love story. The heroine has three men after her. Three different kinds of men: a sheeper (goodness, honesty), a soldier (the opposite), and a farmer (repress his feelings, mad). Sexual relationships are complicated by social and economic problems: the heroine is tempted by the farmer because of his economic power. Hardy found giving it a happy ending quite hard The Return of the Native: presents plenty of unsuccessful marriages that led to disappointment, ambition and frustrated desires. Hardy have not the courage to explode the consequences of adultery, what meant death for a Victorian woman. The Woodlanders: Represents an advance in courage and honesty when representing sexual relationships. Treatment of the marriage question becomes explicit, rejecting the happy ending: the honest countryman dies instead of the villain, the girl cannot be happy with him nor the upper-class husband she rejected. Not even decent characters are allowed to rebel against social and religious rules. Tess of D’Urbevilles: A love triangle. Alec became the representation of Victorian typical seducer and villain, being even a diabolical figure. The background of Angel, the other man, seems to be impeccable. He seems to represent integrity and innocence. But when he has to show his sympathy to Tess, he failed. The effects of his betrayal is devastating to Tess. When Angel realizes his mistake was too late. Jude: It’s about one man and two women. Jude was a brilliant young man ignored by education establishment because he had not money. The two women represent two opposites, spirit and flesh; the latter threatens to pull the hero to the level of animalism.
  6. 6. THEMES Love: All of Hardy's novels were love stories but they were handled in different ways, presenting a social differentiation of the lovers in both class and gender. His presentation of love and sex changed a lot from the first novel and its romantic vision, to the realistic feeling of disappointment and frustration present in the last one. He was giving voice to a matter of public debate of marriage and divorce. Many critics support the idea that the changes in the novels were based on his own marriage and its degradation. Setting: Hardy’s novels are set in a delimited landscape at a specific period of time, in a particular and often changing society; thus, settings are restrictive, but not in a way that diminishes the universal meaning of the novel. Distances are measured in terms of men capacity to walk. Normal lives in rural communities are controlled by the rhythm of nature. The restriction of the setting may justify the excessive amount of coincidental encounters, which was also criticized. But the reason of these encounters is that one cannot escape from the past. It will always find you. However, they also wanted to create intrigue for the serials. His novels often start with a stranger coming in an unfamiliar place, his appearance implying a change of life. Inhabitants of those communities are ignorant of the world outside but they gain security and stability in their association with the environment. They also count with the protection/doom of their ancestors, who have always lived there; they cannot evade their past even when they run away from it. Painful scenes take place when the characters are forced to leave their houses or when these are destroyed, inspired by Hardy's own childhood taking place in a house built by his grandfather. The buildings' durability serves as the contrast of the fragility of human beings. There is no interest in formal beauty of buildings, churches and houses: the interest derives from the people associated to them, as if they were documents that tell the story of a family; beauty of association was more important than beauty of aspect. In his last two novels, Jude and Tess, there is disruption in the relationship between people and places: strangers force people to leave their houses into rural communities, what builds the plot. In both novels, Hardy uses the landscape to represent the character’s feelings: Jude, who feels abandoned, is an orphan and does not have a home, while Tess' feelings matches both the fertile landscapes and the shinning sun of the Talbothay's Dairy and later on, the cold, barren Flintcomb Ash. The invention of Wessex seems to be an accident, not being a transcription of a real landscape but one adapted to his artistic purposes, a reference to illustrate the nature and the country life.
  7. 7. Society: the presentation of society is also restrictive: it portrays country people who live according to the rhythms of nature, but also wealthy characters who do not identify themselves with the values of nature, being there for merely superficial reasons and often disturbing the local stability (such as Alec, with hot-house strawberries) Education: in Tess and Jude, education is presented as an instrument of social change; this change might be positive, especially in material terms, but more often than not also brings unhappiness, since it destroys self-acceptance and conformism granted by ignorance. Tess is separated from her superstitious family by her education and manners, which also attracts Angel and Alec Time: Hardy's novels are set on a particular time, but as a concept, time itself gets a quite unusual meaning: the individual life, described in detail as if it was so unique, occupies infinitesimal portion of life in the universe and only has meaning in close association to innumerable equally anonymous lives in the past. The fact that his settings are in places which were inhabited since prehistoric times makes a connection between death and life, as people in the present are doing what others did in the past. This cosmic vision of life was influenced by Darwin's theory of evolution Hardy wanted to record the old customs of his father's youth in his early novels before they were engulfed by the tides of modern times; even though the readers are aware of the changes happening, the settings remain untouched. His later novels come closer to 'the Ache of Modernism', the time of their composition: in Tess, he is not looking backward with nostalgia, but he forces the heroine to accept the new order. The characteristic problems of 19th C. are also portrayed in Jude, such as the issue of divorce. Regarding time as a writer, Hardy was very conventional, always third person omniscient narrator telling the story in chronological order, unlike writers as Henry James, who experimented with POV and storytelling, as well as flashbacks. Pictorialism: Hardy sharply visualized situations and portrayed them verbally not only as a mean of evoking character or scenes, but as a method of telling the story. His scenes seemed to be written by a painter instead than by a writer. He observes a scene close-up, describing in great detail common things, like tears. During his youth in London he frequented the National Gallery, where aquired extensive knowledge about European Art often manifested in different levels in his writings. His references to painters derive from the inadequacy of language to describe colours. Hardy's knowledge of painting is seen in his tendency of grouping figures and in special effects of lightning/shadows and perspective, reflecting the scenes in a mirror or framing them in a hole in the wall. It is also seen in how he shows something, describing it carefully but letting the interpretation open to readers so they can reconstruct the story, as narrative painters do: he wanted the readers to reach their own conclusions on what he was depicting.
  8. 8. PHILOSOPHY Things go terribly wrong in Hardy's novels, as he believed that the writer fulfills the role of the teacher or prophet who gives a gloomy lesson about human life, and the universe of misfortunes, miseries and calamities where it happens. He was a sensitive man who was very vulnerable to whatever was disappointing in the circumstances of his age, or dark and alarming in the field of science, what led to his gloomy vision of life The uneducated are the ones who can live happily since they do not know about what science has discovered; there is not any Providence or God that imposes order in the Universe, only chance. Nature is indifferent to human suffering, a system of things that never take human wishes into consideration, what might be considered a pesimistic view. The objective picture of reality is dark but Hardy makes it even darker. Chance in his novels seems to be a malign power specialized in unhappiness and suffering. Coincidences tend to intensify the pain of the good characters like Tess, while catastrophes derive from the most trivial events. He always rejected the idea that he denied the neutrality of nature and also that in his novels human lives are in hands of a malign power; humans just tend to ignore the extent to which nature's indifference can destroy our dreams, things are going to be different for us. Hardy also rejected the idea that he was a pessimist. He thought that by telling the truth in his novels he was not pessimist but could allow society to change for better. If we are alert and we are adaptable we can help ourselves, since there is nothing in the universe that can save us and the disaster can often be avoided. Characters very often make bad choices and other times, they do not make any choice, what ends even worse by inaction. Thomas Hardy was always on the side of change: while he saw both advantages and disadvantages. he had a great faith in human progress through human change. Influenced by traditional forms, Hardy reconciles the miraculous with the rationalism. The uncommon and improbable happens throughout his novel, fueled by coincidence rather than superstition, to ordinary individuals, often rural and changeless characters (Tess) that always behave in the same way, which are as interesting as changing ones (Alec, Angel). Tess Tess is trapped between two men: Alec, the typical seducer villain of Victorian melodrama, moved by sexual impulses even though he apparently loves her and cares for her family, and who is used to criticize social changes; and Angel, who seems to be an impeccable man, a good Christian, symbol innocence and integrity, but fails at showing charity towards Tess. He claims to be free from reigious and social prejudices but he isn't; he also wants a girl from nature and not from art, but constantly calls Tess
  9. 9. by classical names associated with human 'virtues', and his rigidity is not to be expected on a man of goodness, what disappoints Tess and the readers. She is seduced by Alec after walking for a while around the village, when he starts insisting. After the sexual encounter she stayed in his place for two months, until she finally leaves. Tess admits that she was blind by Alec’s ardent manners: she thought that it is fine to follow her own instincts, but Alec treats her as an object of his passion, caring not about her feelings. He knows well the consequences of an illegitimate union and also that Tess ignores them. Nevertheless, we do not expect anything from Alec. After marrying Tess, Angel confesses her that he is not virgin (he had a sexual encounter once) and he forgives him thinking that he would forgive her too, but she was wrong. Angel does not show charity for her. We expect him to be superior to Alec, and we are wrong too. Angel leaves Tess and flees to Brazil. There he suffers a terrible illness, but when he recovers he came back to look for Tess (who in this period was courted by Alec again). However, it is too late: Alec had convinced her that Angel would never come back, intending to marry her. She accepts the proposal, since it is her best choice to be accepted by the society again. However, when Angel returns, she feels betrayed by Alec again, as she truly believed what Alec told her. Angel leaves her house and Tess goes to the bedroom, where she has an argument with Alec that ends with the man dead. Eventually, Tess is reconciled with Angel and goes hiding, only to be found at Stonehenge by the crowd and condemned to death. The point is that both male characters behaved always in the same way. Alec cheated Tess twice (once to have sex with her and other to marry her) but even when Alec sacrifices Tess to his lust, Angel sacrifices her to his theory of woman purity; for Hardy, the one who should be blamed by Tess’s fall is Angel. He would have blamed her again and again since he cannot liberate himself from prejudices: the past always finds us. It is obvious from the very beginning that Tess is the victim of the story, but it is also obvious that Tess is doomed. Hardy makes clear that Tess can make choices by herself, she is not a helpless character, so she has to pay the consequences. Tess' seduction is described as a natural act, a fated condemnation for what her ancestors did, as if Providence has forgotten her. Following the standards of melodrama, she had to die to be punished for committing adultery, but social conventions are the real cause of her fall. Moreover, Hardy never said that Tess was right killing Alec, but throughout the novel, he (as narrator) shows sympathy for Tess. Tess is associated with Nature, ith flora used to describe her physical appearance and fauna to describe her behavior, what emphasizes Nature as the vessel of benevolent emotions, but also ironically marking its indifference towards the characters.
  10. 10. MODERNISM Modernism comes to England at the end of the 19th C. with O. Wilde, J. Conrad and Henry James, but during the first decade of 20th century there was a reaction against it, a return to Realism seen in Bennett and Galsworthy. The situation change in 1914 when Ezra Pound, decided to make London the center of new avantgarde, started promoting Joyce and Conrad. Public attention was distracted from artistic matters due to WW I, as many British (including writers and artists) died on the battlefield. Instead of frustrating Pound’s plans, the war created a climate of opinion receptive to revolution. More people died in this war than in any other war fought before and people were shocked by the brutality. They believed that a change was needed, this is why they were so receptive to Modernism. Modernist fiction is experimental in form, concerned with the conscious, subconscious and unconscious levels and greatly influenced by Sigmund Freud and other developments in psychology. As the writer goes into the subconscious and the unconscious, the objective world tends to disappear and the concept of the unique individual appears. The writers find themselves in a world of myths, symbols, dreams, and archetypes; Joyce rewrite the Odyssey in Ulysses, having his characters behave the same way as the classic characters). The structure of external objective events, such as socio-economic background, diminishes in the modernist novels, being not as important as introspection, analysis and reflection. Modernist novels have no real beginning and have an open or ambiguous ending, avoid straight chronological order. Whereas in the realistic novels we find an omniscient narrator (Tess), Modernists used a limited, often fallible point of view, single or multiple. Modernist writers believed that they were more realistic than realistic writers, since reality is chaotic and does not follow a strict order of cause and effect. They considered time as duration, instead of a succession of moments: time flows in an invisible continuity. Modernists did not rely on plots of resolution (what matters is what happens next) and used plots of revelation instead, where situations are to be analyzed in search for its meaning. The idea of art as imitation, challenged before by late 18th C. Romanticism but a fundamental principle of Victorian writers, was rejected by Modernists, who argued that art is an autonomous activity. Oscar Wilde, claimed that we perceive reality through certain mental structures, not natural but cultural, that are changed by the influence of art. For him, life imitates art, especially contemporaneous art, far more than art imitates life. The Thirties W.H. Auden Cecil Day Lewis Christopher Isherwood Edward Upward
  11. 11. Stephen Spender George Orwell Louis MacNeue In the thirties, Realism became the main tendency again. The writers criticized that modernist writers could be understood only by a minority. The writers of the thirties history were an enterprise where all wanted to participate, unlike modernist writers, who did not look concern about the economic and political problems of their time. Most of them were Marxists with the exception of George Orwell. They criticized also that modernists focus only on the form of their works, neglecting the content. In the beginning of the 1930 there was an economic crisis which involved all Europe. This economic depression allowed Hitler to take power, in Italy Mussolini had already the control; in Spain the Civil War was being devastating. Literature cannot change history. WWII started and writers were expected to write about it. They did not. Their war was already fought and lost. Writers started to analyze what had happened during 1930s. The writers from the thirties were a generation between the two great wars of the history. There is always a very close relationship between history and literature, but this relation was even closer in times of crisis. Most of these writers were from the upper class, they attended to public schools. The working class had other ways of expressing their discomfort (demonstrations, hunger marches, riots…). They believed that literature was not a mean of propaganda, but it should be useful to make mankind aware of the fact that something had to be done. Writers of the 30s were sure that the Second World War was to take place and they thought their labor was to prevent people to avoid it. Although most of the writers were children when the First World War started, they were deeply concerned about it. This Great War had more deads and brutality than any other previous war. School boys learn to march and girls to bandage. For the boys there was a consolation: they were fighting for the glory of the trenches. But then the war was over, young generation missed the supporting of fighting and training was for nothing. There was a reaction against the old generation (old values). Modernist writers couldn’t ignore what was around them: - Economic depression in England (unemployment, the pound was devalued…) - Germany Hitler was favored by the depression. - Italy Mussolini - Russia Revolution. It was democratic, in theory. - Spain Civil war
  12. 12. Poetry: Poetry has not to tell people what they have to do but make them aware that something must be done. Poetry has a social and moral role. Writing must be more concern with the ideas rather than aestheticism. 1930s writers really believed that World War II was coming and that they could stop the war with the writings. The feelings of the young generation were ambivalent: disgusting of brutality, guilty of not participate in the war and envy of those who participate in it. Following the values threatened to destroy civilization. Writers really believed that values led to WWI and that it was necessary new values to avoid WWII. They believed that literature could change history. By 1928, writers were not a post-war generation but the generation preceding the next war. * E. Waugh Decline and Fall: two characters talked about WWII; apocalyptic point of view (civilization comes to an end). 1930s writers were in a difficult position. They could not ignore reality. Poets wonder what kind of poems they should write (personal poems or those which deal with the currently situation). They wonder if writing a poem was enough. British writers were affected by Spanish Civil war because they spent much time predicting that conflict and finally it was real. Literary response to the Spanish Civil war was immediate and enormous. The war writings were propagandist presenting Spain war as a cause. The war started in July and in October there were a lot of poems, short stories and plays supporting the left crusade. However, soon the view of the war changed and they realized how the republicans were fighting among themselves and how the communism took a place of power. Communists Power (Russia sent weapons) British intellectuals had more than newspaper knowledge about the war; they travelled to Spain to fight or observe, ones encouraged by political parties and others by republic government. An international writers conference was organized Many British writers attended. Spanish Civil war was special because it allowed writers pass the test that their fathers had passed. It supposed a test of commitment because the writers spent most of the time wondering about what they write. For first time, the choice was obvious: instead of writing they had to do something. Those who experienced the war saw the great gap between the beautiful words freedom, revolution, etc, and the reality.
  13. 13. The experience of the Spanish Civil war had a very important effect on the 30s writers. They realized that political commitment was necessary because WWII was coming and there was no way to stop it. British writers were aware of how difficult was being a writer and communist. 1939 A period of waiting for the end and preliminary endings. Spanish Civil war ended in March of the same year, Czechoslovakia was also ended. Most intellectuals lost the faith in the Soviet Union. In the literary world there was a period of endings: Most of the journals suspended publications for a while. The writers were aware that the literary period was over and they had to get involved in other things. Writers do not analyze the present; they turn backward to nostalgia and forward as the apocalypsis. They were trying to prepare themselves for what was coming. They believed that if you imagine this apocalyptic future, you will be able to survive. The main writings at this time were more concerned on analyzing the situation that on telling people what to do. There is a tragic tone in the writings during this period sine writers thought there was no way of avoiding the sufferings of the WWII. Main British writers like Auden and Wood immigrated to US, giving a clear show that the end was near. At the beginning of the 30s, writers thought they could change history and at the end, they realized that it was impossible; they could not. Art cannot change history. The writers did not write about the WWII because they had already fought and lost their fight. George Orwell – Animal Farm • We cannot separate his works from his personal life. He always used his own experiences for fiction but they were not autobiographical (He never wanted anyone to write his biography). • He has been described as a quixotic man who always regretted the disappearance of a past society which for him was more colorful than the present. • He defended passionately unpopular causes and attacked anything that offended his sense of justice. He was an honest man who retracted his opinion if he believed he was wrong or unfair. He was a man of the left but he attacked those aspects of the left that he didn’t like. • He was a really lonely figure always looking for the truth; no matter the consequences. • George Orwell was politically an iconoclastic. He declared himself as anarchist in 1927 and in 1936 he started to call himself a socialist, then in the last years of his life, he declared himself an anarchist again. • He was more concerned with the implementation of some principles of behavior which were disappearing in modern politics than with political programmes.
  14. 14. • Importance of telling the truth and preserve objectivity on history. • He was a very honest writer and a man of extraordinary mental strength and power. He created a world in which men’s rights were respected. • He attacked close systems of thoughts from Communism to Catholicism. • Consider Hitler as a man who was suffering, as a victim. • Enjoy natural life. In literature he also wanted a naturalist aesthetic. He expected to achieve clarity. He wanted to portray with vividness the world he saw. • Not only in writings but in personal life. George Orwell not only believed that rural life was the best but he also believed that working class people had retained some natural strength of rural life; they were more human, more natural. During being in Spain, Orwell learnt how social caste system can be replaced by political caste system. Orwell lived among the miners and unemployed people of England in the first months of 1936. He realized it was a very difficult to pass the social barrier and become one of them. In order to understand his development as a writer we have to go to 1927, year in which he gave up his job in Burma. The decision was taken under a period of disappointment in which he realized he was a slave of the British Imperium. A Hanging is about an Indian coolie who has not skills and was executed for an unknown reason. Orwell identifies himself with this oppressed coolie. For first time, Orwell used in this work animal imagery. The only one who cares about the coolie is a dog. Animals are also in here identified with the oppressed. Orwell published Shooting an Elephant ten years after returning from Burma. It deals with the anti-British Imperialism growing inside of him. The story is about an elephant that became wild and killed an Indian coolie; then he feels that his duty is to punish the elephant with death. The oppressors represent the enemy of Nature. He always reinforce the ideas of the natural way of life. Orwell could not help identify himself with these people whose duty is that of an officer forcing to oppress. This evolution of thought led him to an anarchy state in which he believed that any way of government was bad. While he was in Burma, people were the oppressed and when he came back to England, the oppressed were the English working class. He was rebelling against his own social class. In all his novels, the main character revels against his social class and has this vision of a golden past. He tries to improve his status but fails and he has to come back to his class.
  15. 15. When he returned to England, he decided to revel against the replica of Imperialism he found in English society. In order to write about this situation (oppressors-oppressed) from England, he decided to start a life of poverty. It also shows Orwell’s determination to get away from the privileges of the upper class and get involved with the lower one. When he was in the slums, he experienced poverty for first time in his life; however, for his manners he could have found a good job. One day, somebody came in his room and stole all the money he had saved, so he had to give up his work as teacher and look for another job. He found it as scullion, the lowest paid and most despised of that time. He never stopped trying to feel part of the lower class. He was very happy when he finally was part of the oppressed. There is, however, one element of inequality left. Orwell can come back to his place in society, and so he does when he had the opportunity. He is offered a job in England to look after an imbecile, so he gave up the job as a scallion. He came back to England for a month, so he decided to experience poverty in England among the beggars and drunks. Orwell found very easy to descend into the lower depths of society and at the end of Down and Out in Paris and London, he said he would go on living in poverty; it is a very optimistic book. His novels are his worst works. The two previous novels mentioned are too close to the life he was living at the time, he could detach himself from this life style. Orwell was a writer always looking for verisimilitude. He wanted to base his works on his experiences but not in an autobiographical style. His novels are not good because of the lack of homogeneity and structure, but because of the mark language style he employed. While writing A Clergyman’s Daughter, he was trying to make ends meet without telling anything to his friends. Up to the publication of his writings, he did not get much money for them. He also published in newspapers and magazines without many profits. Most of the time, he detested the jobs he chose. At this time, he really became obsessed with poverty. A Clergyman’s Daughter is about an upper class girl who descends into the depths of society, changes completely, but is forced to go back to her place. At the end of the novel she is wiser but also she feels sadder because something have been lost in the process. The difference between the heroes of both novels is that the second hero cannot adapt to the new life of poverty. By the time he was writing the second novel, he realized how difficult was to cross the social barriers. These are very pessimistic novels.
  16. 16. In 1037, he published The Road to Wigand Pier, which was a reportage documentary, very common in 1930s. All these kind of documentaries have been forgotten except the ones of Orwell. The reader who wants to know the conditions of poor people in 1930 just have to read this work. In Homage to Catalonia, there is information about the Spanish Civil War. His last three books project clearly his personality, and there we can find the development of a philosophy of life. The Road to Wigand Pier is not his best documentary work. It explains why he decided to become a socialist. He had to write a report asked for one of the reporters where he worked about the miners and unemployed people in 1936. It clarified his socialistic ideas which were reinforced when the Spanish Civil War started and he decided to join the army (militia). He was a political writer since 1936 until the end of his life. In the first two chapters of The Road to Wigand Pier, he describes the living condition of lower class and the next chapters focus on the difficulties of surviving month to month, the psychological problem caused by those conditions and the virtues of working class men. In the second part he goes far beyond than publishers asked him to do; he analyzes socialism and explains that socialism is not able to separate the middle class and the lower class. Socialism could not understand the barriers of both classes. The editors were Marxists and they knew that a great part of the readers could feel offended with that second part which criticized socialism; nevertheless, they published it. This title is also very ironic; it means “go to nowhere”, Wigand was in land, so it has not a pier. Social class defines all of us more than we are ready to accept; we cannot escape from our social class. Becoming a socialist does not mean that you acquire all the characteristics of the cultural elements it implies (Political Inversion). Nobody can change his prejudices since our past defines us. Homage to Catalonia is one of his best books. It represents the vividness of a very important period in the Spanish history during the war. The narrative is interrupted by chapters of political discussion: POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista). He defends them before the accusations of plotting with Franco. When the book was published, some critics thought this discussion between chapters could spoiler or hurt the book, but they did not.
  17. 17. When he arrived to Spain, his initial intention was to be war correspondent, but he changed his mind and joined the militia and POUM, without knowing that this party was the objective of hate of the communists. He believed they had the most efficient plan to take over the war. He was engaged in little fighting, but he almost dies in May 1937 when a bullet went through his carotid. After the incident, his voice always had a monotonous tone. He described the feelings of the front, the boring moments, the filth and the cold; he does it better than any other writer. What he remembers with more warm is the unique sense of comradeship and the equality of all men in the front. He found himself for first time in a place where everyone was equal. During his last years, Orwell felt that comradeship he had been looking for so many years. He learnt that you can replace a social cast system. When the Spanish Civil War started he saw that the old rulers were on the fascist side. Unfortunately, every time there is a revolution, a new political system is created and all who are in power oppress the working class. He realizes that the communists were moving to a position of power because of their peculiar relation to Russia (Russia sent weapons to republicans in Spain during the civil war), They finally adopted an antirevolutionary posture. They tried to eliminate the POUM because they were a danger to the continuation of their power. Ruling class Fascists Working class Republicans (People believed that. Just at the beginning it was truth) In order to ensure the power on their side they adopted an anti-revolutionary line (elimination by means of slander or by physical extermination). Any revolution creates a new social class. He came back to Barcelona, where everything had changed, he had even to hide to save himself. The lessons about totalitarian police’s methods and distortion of history stated in his mind and helped him to write Animal Farm. He was disappointed of this circumstance, but he never forgot the comradeship he experience in Spain. He remembered also the equally.
  18. 18. In spite of what he saw, Animal Farm is not a pessimistic book. He presents himself in Homage to Catalonia as an objective narrator without prejudices. He points out the mistakes that were made by the republicans (they waste bread, parents forced young children to join the militia in order to get 10 pesetas a day); he also describes how depressing was to see these children in the trenches and how the republicans burnt down churches. He was concerned with humanity and decency. The colloquial strength in Homage to Catalonia is one of its characteristics as well as the clarity, vivacity and so on. What is impressive about Animal Farm and Homage to Catalonia is that the syntax and vocabulary is very simple but with real deep content. They deal with the betrayed revolution. Coming Up for Air is a monologue of a man who is too clever to be happy. The hero decided to go to a journey to the village where he grew up, but this journey into the past is disappointed because everything has change. He goes to a pond where he used to fish, but it had been drain. He looked at the past with nostalgia. While he is visiting the place, a British plane draws a bomb by accident and a few people died just before the Second World War. Opposite to Catalonia, this one is a very pessimistic book in which the hero is left without illusions in future. In March 1938, Orwell was diagnostic tuberculosis and he spent a few months in Morocco because the weather was fine for his health. This quixotic man wanted to fight against fascism and start to work in the BBC radio and to write articles for different magazines. In 1944, he published Animal Farm and in 1948 he published his last novel: 1984. His health is deteriorating, what explains why the book is depressing and glooming. He denounced the totalitarian policy’s methods and totalitarian distortion of history. He seemed at this time only remember the bad things of the war. In this last book, the elitists reached the final terrifying form of Inner Party of Oceania. This elite is so terrifying because they did not justify their being in power through moral reasons, but for enjoying the power. The old social system has been replaced by a political one. In the highest positions now are the politicians and at the bottom of society are the proles, who represent the 80% of society. The separation between all social classes is now completed. To destroy the possibility of rebellion they are re-writing history and dissecting the language so words like freedom or decency do not exist longer. ANIMAL FARM
  19. 19. Orwell admitted that he tried to fuse artist purpose and political purpose. Simplicity of language and syntax are qualities that impress the reader when reading Animal Farm. There are not metaphors. He believed that people in his time failed to see the faults of the communism because they admired the military heroism of the Russians. He wanted the English people to know of what the Russians had done with the ideals of the revolution. Stalin killed everyone against his politics, but the rest of the world ignored this. He did not want to destroy the ideals of revolution, but to show how those in power always betray those ideals. Panchatantia is from an anonymous Indian author of a collection of Indian political fables, like Animal Farm. Orwell gives its freshness by combining innocence with incongruity and humor. When the novel starts, the oppressed revel against the oppressors and this is very interesting because there, the social system is replaced by a political one. This idea of the betrayed revolution is based not only on his experiences in Spain but also on what he had read about the Russian revolution. At the end of the novel, the animals realize that the previous oppressors were better than the pigs. The struggle between Snowball and Napoleon is a struggle for power. No point in Animal Farm made Orwell changed his mind and he never suggested that they were better under the control of Mr. Jones. In the last lines of the novel, animals find that they cannot distinguish pigs from men. All tyrannies belong to the same family and their procedure with the population is also the same. Orwell portrays in the animals the feeling of comradeship he had experienced. For first and last time, we have a community of animals that support and help each other and finally the animals see the truth. Some people see parallelism between Boxer and Orwell; Boxer works hard as Orwell, both wake up early, Boxer strength is in his lungs while Orwell had the problem of tuberculosis. The point of the book is that all totalitarian systems are the same. DAVID LODGE AND CHANGING PLACES: BACKGROUND
  20. 20. In the 40s there was a back to the principles of modernism. The best representative of this change was Dylan Thomas. In the 50s realism comes back into a powerful position again. The writers of 50s refer to the movement as the Angry Young Men. Main representatives: - Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim - Philip Larkin, Jill - John Wayne, Hurry on Down - D.J. Enright Most of them were poets, but some were novelists. Larkin was the main poet of his generation, but his novel Jill succeeded when he wrote it. The movement writers were against the modernist movement and any kind of experimental writing. Dylan Thomas represented everything they hated. He represented excessive use of metaphors, verbal obscurity and romanticism. But they wanted to communicate clearly the perception of the world as it was. They believed that Thomas had talent, but he has wasted his time in his writings. They also believed that the influence of Freud in literature was very negative. Those writers influenced by him focused on the conscious and the unconscious. They claimed that writing had to have reason and order. Logical Positivist School of Philosophy emphasized the importance of the author Ayer for this movement. He wrote a book in which he emphasized the values of Empirism. His ideas gave support to the movement’s belief that fiction and reality must be defined. From the technical point of view, the writers of 50s they were not experimentative and no innovative. Their originality was mainly a matter of tone, attitude and subject matter; reflecting the changes of English society brought about by the Second World War. After the War, English society became more meritocratic (a society where you succeeded according to your own merits, at least in theory). As a matter of fact, all the movement writers were of lower middle class origin and most of them became professors of the red brick universities. Sometimes only the elite could do those jobs. The Education Act makes of England a country of free education. It seemed that England was becoming a different country (in theory). Something which also contributed to this change in England was the Welfare State (national health and other services). The main difference between these writers and those from the 30s is the writers from the 30s were from the upper class.
  21. 21. Many writers who did not belong to the movement started to write in the 50s realistic novels and then, in the 60s, they changed to experimentalism. Angus Wilson had satirical novels about societies, but in the 60s his novels underwent a very important change with No Laughing Matter. A traditional novel of family class and history, but throughout the novel, he parodies the style of other writers (that is the reason why it is an experimental novel; he does something different) Doris Lessing also wrote a great experimentalist novel: The Golden Notebook. David Storey depicted the society in the north of England. Iris Murdoch wrote experimentalist novels, though they were surrealist in the texts. Anthony Burgess always showed a strong linguistic preoccupation and very soon left the realism of his earlier novels. Muriel Spark was experimentalist since the very beginning. One of her characters objects to the presence of the author inside the novel. Experimentalism became the main tendency in the 60s and 70s in England. In this change towards an experimental writing, critics had a great influence. Critics from 40s and 50s were concerned on values and moral. Critics from 60s and 70s were much more concerned with language, structure, form, narrator… David Lodge is one of the best English critics, but also one of the best writers of fiction. He was professor at the University of Birmingham, but he retired in 1977. He stopped giving lecturer because he became deaf. Postmodernism or Experimentalism was never so radical in America as in England because English writers never gave up with the features of realism that they considered important (the pleasure of telling a story, creation of characters…). Postmodernism adopted different forms in England in the 60s and 70s, and the writer who best explained these differences was David Lodge. He believed that the situation of the writers in the 60s and 70s is like a cross road in which they had to choose the way to take. In the 60s, the enthusiasm for realist novels is disappearing. The literary theory of the movement was very thin. Realistic novels go on being written, but they are a minority. After Philip Larkin published an article about Barbara Pym’s talent, publishers wanted to publish her works again, but she died a few months later of cancer. Realism (main road of 50s) Fabulation (cross road) Non-fictional novel (cross road)
  22. 22. According to what Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg argued, there were two ways of narrating: 1. Fictional [Romance] (cultivate beauty and tends to delay). This corresponds with Fabulation. [Allegory] (Cultivate goodness and aims to teach). 2. Empirical [loyal to the reader]. It is divided between history and mimesis and corresponds to the non- fictional novel. Fabulation is a more artistic and fictitious way of writing, concerned with form; less realistic and concerned with ideas and ideals than with things. It tends to draw inspiration from 3 types of sub-literature: - Thriller technique (Kingsley Amis and Anthony Burgess) - Pornography technique (John Fowls and D. M. Thomas) - Science-fiction technique (Doris Lessing and J.G. Ballard) Inside fabulation we must also include the gothic romance, written at the end of the 18th century (Angela Carter). The non-fiction novel was more popular in America than in England (Truman Capote). These two ways of narrating were too radical, so writers decided hesitate into their novels giving as result the problematic novel or metafiction (fiction about fiction). The first example of metafiction is Tristam Shandy (Laurence Sterne) from the 18th century. John Fowls also wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Many critics in 60s and 70s claimed that the conventions to portray reality were not right, so the realistic novel would disappear. In 1990, Lodge published an article about fiction in the 80s arguing that the realistic novel had not disappeared and it was really alive. The name of the article was Magic Realism. The best representative of what this article claimed is Salman Rushdie. Revival of the literary travel writings can be included in non-fictional novels. It deals with a slightly teasing, autobiographical facts, cultural and philosophical comments. The term “cross road” became “crossover” since very few writers are exclusively attained to non-fiction or fabulation. Intertextuality is a technique which consists on rewriting a story. Small World is about the world of conferences; the characters meet again and again. One of the characters is an English man, virgin, and 20 years old; a romantic man looking for his ideal woman (a knight in medieval times). He falls in love with a feminist strong woman who does not need to be protected by a knight.
  23. 23. There is a character that is called Kingfisher (The Fisherking) and he is sterile in sex and in mind. He cannot produce a new thought and all his academic mates have the same problem; they cannot produce new ideas. One of the tasks of the knight is to ask to the king the question which will cure the king. In the conference, Percy (the hero) asked that question that cures everyone. That is intertextuality. David Lodge He showed perfectly the different possibilities offered by experimentalism. He always avoided extreme positions, though he moved from realism to experimentalism. He considered himself a compromiser (as a writer and as a critic) who liked layered fiction (en capas). The more educated readers are, the more they will enjoy the novel in the experimental games that Lodge introduced in them. The amateur readers will also enjoy it. The aim of the realist writer is to make the reader believes that what they are reading is a piece of real life. He used structuralism to improve the Anglo-American empirism. There are two aspects of post-structuralism that Lodge rejected: 1. The mimetic function of literature. Literature does not imitate reality; literature cannot represent the real world. Lodge rejected this assumption. 2. Writers are not the originators of the text. The writers have only the power to mix different writings, but the reader is the one who compose the whole story. The Death of the Author by Barthes. Obviously Lodge also rejected this idea. Lodge always defended his faith in the realistic novel. He admitted that realism had to renew itself. His novels are based on his own experiences and on the environments he knows best. He belonged to the lower-middle class. His father was a musician. Lodge portrays his childhood in England and his adolescence in the post-war England. He was a literature professor. He used to write about the life in churches after the WWII. His novels are concerned with the changes in England after the war. He was also concerned with the official church teaching about sex and self-control. He had three children and the third one had Down syndrome. Lodge started writing in the 50s influenced by realistic writers.
  24. 24. The Picturegoers makes, still nowadays, feel Lodge embarrassed. It is an immature novel. Alternation of diction, tone depending on the inner thoughts of the characters… He allows his characters to speak for themselves, so the narrator has not to explain the way they are and they can be stronger before our eyes as readers. The main subject matter is Catholicism. Ginger, You’re Barmy criticizes the British National Services (militia) because of the futility and lack of individual service. He has to do it. He explained that he wrote the novel in order to control his anger, so he delayed starting to write it. The process of progress is interrupted for two years in an institution where he did not feel identified. He recognizes that he as well as many other writers was in debt with the movement writers. They make possible to people without influences to become writers. Out of the Shelter is a combination of Bildungsroman and the international novel of conflicting ethical codes (a young narrator discovers that he want to be a writer). It is a passage from childhood and recognition of own vocation. In Germany he got a different view of the allies. Americans had clothes, expensive things, food, etc. German people had nothing. The novel describes the way in which the allies destroyed German cities and killed German people. The British Museum is Falling Down is his first comic and experimental novel. Comedy liberated him and allowed him to experiment. It also let him reconcile a contradiction between his critical admiration for modernist writers and his realistic works. The context is also funny. In 1962, John XXIII called for the second council to interpret the faith of the modern world. He studied problems concerned with family and self- control. Paul VI was the next Pope and was concerned with anticonceptives such as the pill. The book is about a married young man who makes a research on literature; his wife is pregnant again and again because they do not take cautions. The couple is catholic. Lodge always gives the reader a clue about which writer is parodied in his novels. He did so well the experimental novel that critics did not realize about it. The British Museum is Falling Down is told from the point of view of the main character, but the last chapter is told from the protagonist’s wife point of view. The Campus novel is the one which not only recreates the academic world but it also satirizes it. Comedy makes sure that institutions are always subject of a kind of ridiculing. Lodge satirizes and questions the University and the profession to which he belonged for many years. He believed it was very healthy to satirize and criticize the university to show that professors had the same wishes as anybody else. His colleagues argued that Lodge was destroying the profession for a long time.
  25. 25. In Changing Places he was very criticized by them, since he ridiculed the English education system. He shows that the most important part in a conference was to have a good time instead of the lecture. In Nice Work he also criticizes the university. The British Museum is Falling Down reveals an experimentalism that Lodge developed more deeply later. How Far Can You Go? Shows a close relationship between the reader and the narrator (metafiction); it was an experimentalist novel. The novel starts in a very traditional way, describing the urban landscape in London, and then 8 young people who attending a master. Then, he starts introducing metaphysical elements: he tells how to create the characters, the names… Small World shows experimentalism by mean of intertextuality. Nice Work brings realism again in a dominant position. Robyn is a University lecturer and Vic is a business man. Every time Robyn speaks, she gives another perspective to the novel, showing in this way experimentalism. The novel is about the conflict of these two characters and how they explore each other’s world. Both of them learn about the other’s environment. Lodge deals with serious realistic problems: unemployment has increased economic depression in England… Although it is a realistic novel, experimentalism does not disappear at all. Robyn gives a lecture dealing with the conditions of England industrial novel in the 19th century. In that moment people worked hard for many hours (as in the 19th ). Everything Robyn tells the students happened also in the novel. That is also intertextuality. Lodge did the same that Robyn; he followed a friend in business to be able to tell the story from both perspectives. All the rest of his novels have the same feature: they are very realistic, but they do not lose the experimentalist rank. In the 60s and 70s if one wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, you had to go against realism, but because of the difficulties in economic, social and political stuff, no writer could ignore this situation anymore.