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Modern Literature 449 Dr. Laila Al-Sharqi European Languages & Literature Department
Contact Information Office: Al-Jawhara Bldg, Rm 131 Office Hours: S. T 11: 00 -12: 00 Phone: 6952000 Ext. 26861 Email: [email protected] edu. sa
Victorian literature • Victorian literature was produced during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 -1901). • Often considered a bridge between the romantic-era works of the previous century and different literature of the 20 th century. • Characterized by a strong sense of morality, and often equated with prudishness and oppression. • Known for its attempts to combine imagination and emotion with the neoclassical ideal of the accessibility of art for the common person. • Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre), Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights), and Charles Dickens (Great Expectations), observing social satire and adventure stories.
Issues informing Victorian Literature (1837 -1901) • A period of prosperity, broad imperial expansion, and great political reform. • Great Britain's identity as an imperial power and its expansion of global influence. • The industrial revolution: A period of profound economic and social changes. • A shift from a way of life based on ownership of land to a modern urban economy based on trade and manufacturing. • A time of tremendous scientific progress and ideas. (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution). • A time of radical thought associated with modern psychiatry & psychology. (Sigmund Feud).
Issues informing Victorian Literature, (cont’d). • A radical economic theory, developed by Karl Marx began a second age of revolution in mid-century. • Formation of a new social class of England with mass migration of workers to industrial towns, (living in new urban slums). • Expansion of newspapers and the periodical print press. • Political and social debate about issues on workers and women’s rights. (The nature and role of women). • Writers gave voice to those who had been voiceless.
Characteristics of Victorian Literature • A realistic mode, real people and real events, creating likeliness, a transparent representation of life. • The presence of an all important narrator, controlling, ordering and unifying material in the novel. • A sense of character as stable, knowable and essentially rational. • Use of stylistic devices providing sustained analysis of thoughts, actions and motives. • Narrative emphasis on external elements informing character, actions and events to create a sense of. • A role of the ending “ closure” through which the fictional world becomes fully intelligible.
Modernism and Modern Literature • Modern literature attempts to move from realist literature to concepts relevant to social and historical change. • Individualism, mistrust of institutions (government, religion) • Apathy and moral relativism and the disbelief of any absolute truths. • A movement away from meta-narratives, with the rise of a general social discontent, and emergence of psychoanalysis.
Issues informing Modern Literature • The 1 st Global war (1914 -18) – a defining features of twentieth-century experience. • Enormous scale of horror with indelible images of masses of dead bodies and polluted air, trenches infested with rats. • Death Nearly nine million soldiers killed. • Prolonged physical and mental suffering of survivors. • Enormity of the death toll and the futility of trench warfare gave rise to a general feeling of doubt.
Issues informing Modern Literature • The emergence of new nations out of European colonial rule. (Ireland the first in modern times to fight for independence). • Modernist Experiment” a radical boundary-breaking art, literature, and music. (Igor Stravinsky, the cubist Pablo Picasso). (avant-garde European arts soon crossed to England. • Literary attempts to represent the massive war and to imagine colonized nations.
Thematic Characteristics of Modern Literature • Breakdown of social norms and realistic embodiment of social meanings. • Separation of meanings and senses from the context. • Despairing individual behaviors in the face of an unmanageable future. • Spiritual alienation, frustration and disillusionment. • Rejection of history and social systems. • Objection to traditional thoughts and traditional moralities. • Objection to religious thoughts and substitution of a mythical past.
Stylistic Features of Modern Literature • A radical disruption of linear flow of narrative. • Frustration of conventional expectations concerning unity and coherence of plot and character and the cause and effect development thereof • Deployment of ironic and ambiguous juxtapositions to call into question the moral and philosophical meaning of literary action; • Adoption of self-mockery aimed at naive pretensions of bourgeois rationality; • Opposition of inward consciousness to rational, public, objective discourse.
Stylistic Features of Modern Literature, (Cont’d). • A tendency towards subjectivism, private self away from objective realism. • An increasing emphasis on the inner life of the individual, as sovereign and authentic more than the society outside. • Concepts like Truth, Value, Time, Space, History, Society replaced by relativist, provisional and perspectival forms of consciousness - the 'I' comes first. • A move away from a public consciousness (changes in society), into scientific, psychological and philosophical thought. • (Woolf, Joyce, Conrad, Forster, Lawrence. )
Features of the Modern Novel (Cont’d). • Time and plot: a movement away from viewing characters in relation to 'Public external Time' or History, towards internalized and subjective experience of 'personal time‘ - moments of epiphany. • Characterization: fluid, irreducible, elusive, interiorized. • Narration: unreliable or personified, subjective, non-authoritative, narration. • Language and imagery: greater depth and density, more reliance on symbolic and metaphorical modes (opposed to the metonymic strategies of Realist fiction). • Themes: more subjective, relative, provisional and ambiguous, less authoritative and 'public', more local and shifting • Narrative modes: anti- or post-Realist: the one-day novel, use of myth as a structuring principle, the reliance on fable, allegory, dream or diary forms, stream of consciousness techniques.
The Modern Novel • Virginia Woolf's comment in 1910, "human nature changed". • Not that human nature literally changed, but that the representation of human nature, of 'Life' itself had to change in response to the changing nature of modern, urban and post-Freudian experience. • No longer possible to write, or paint, in the established tradition of 19 th century Classic Realism, • New modes of expression had to be found to create and portray human character.
Definition of the Novel • Derived from novella, Italian for a compact, realistic prose tale popular in the Renaissance. • Two traditions, the mimetic and the fantastic, or the realistic and the romantic. • In modern literary usage, the novel is a sustained work of prose fiction a volume or more in length. It is distinguished from the short story and the fictional sketch, which are necessarily brief.
Old forms of the Novel • Middle Ages romance was a popular literary form, a type of tale that describes the adventures, both natural and supernatural, of figures of legend -Trojan heroes. -Alexander the Great. -King Arthur and his knights.
Early European Novels • Cervantes's Don Quixote (1605, 1615); it describes the adventures of an aging country gentleman who, inspired by chivalric romances, sets out to do good in an ugly world. (humanistic study of illusion and reality). • Mme de La Fayette ‘s The Princess of Cleves (1678); a forerunner of the psychological novel, it presents believable characters in conflict and criticizes shifting social and moral values.
Early European Novels (cont’d) • Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), a detailed realistic account, based on a real event, of the successful efforts of an island castaway to survive; Moll Flanders (1722), which relates the picaresque adventures of a good-natured harlot and thief. • Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740), an epistolary novel about the rewards of virtue, and Clarissa (1747– 48), about the evils of a fall from virtue.
Early European Novels, (cont’d) • Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749). The first novel to present a full portrait of ordinary English life, including a none-too-perfect but likable hero. • Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1760– 67), a nine-volume novel replete with blank pages, digressions, chapters in reverse order, and unconventional punctuation, which reveal an internal, psychological reality based on John Locke's theory of the association of ideas.
The English Novel • Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Emma (1816), contemplating and satirizing life among a small group of country aristocracy in England, (novel of manners). • William Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1847– 48), a variant with a wider scope which dissects and satirizes London society. • Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1839) and David Copperfield (1850), sympathetic, melodramatic, and humorous delineation of a world peopled with characters of all social classes, and by his condemnation of various social abuses.
The English Novel (cont’d) • George Eliot's Silas Marner (1861) and Middlemarch (1871– 72), treat the lives of ordinary people in provincial towns with humanity and a strong moral sense. • Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native (1878) and Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) stress the conflict between man and nature. • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) explores a tale of horror. Later, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847) and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847) each present imaginative, passionate visions of human love.
American & European novels in the 19 th cent • Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter (1850), and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851)—the latter two heavily allegorical and containing supernatural elements. • Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1883), a revival of the picaresque realistic novel, romantic in its Mississippi River setting but realistic in its satirical attack on religious hypocrisy and racial persecution.
American & European novels, 19 th cent. (Cont’d) • Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady (1881), and The Ambassadors (1903) exemplify his moral vision and powers of psychological observation These novels are not only masterpieces of realism but also—in their carefully crafted form, experimental point of view.
American & European novels, 19 th cent. (Cont’d) • Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857) a banal love tragedy, a novel in which the author consciously distances himself from his characters. • Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (1865– 69) is a Godcentered novel, In the 19 th cent. Presenting a powerful statements of human and cosmic problems. • Feodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (1866) can be considered a God-haunted one.
The English Novel in the 20 th C. • World War I, a disillusionment with 19 th-century values radically altered the nature of the novel. • Search for greater freedom of expression and psychological implications : • Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1900) and Heart of Darkness (1902), high levels of stylistic and psychological sophistication. • E. M. Forster in Howard's End (1910), D. H. Lawrence in Sons and Lovers (1913), and James Joyce in Ulysses (1922) described the conflict between human intellect and human sexuality. • Joyce, Dorothy Richardson in Pilgrimage (1915– 38) and Virginia Woolf in Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927), carried Freud's discovery of the
American 20 th Cent. Novel • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), depicts postwar dislocation of values, about a romantic bootlegger whose version of the American dream of success is shattered by a corrupt reality. • Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), concerning a group of disillusioned expatriates in Europe who find meaning only in immediate physical experience; • William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929), about the disintegration of a once-proud Southern family.
Guidelines for Reading Literature • First reading – Determine what is happening, where, what, who is • involved, major characters – Make a record of your reactions and responses – Describe characterizations, events, techniques and ideas • Second reading – Trace developing patterns – Write expanded notes about characters, situations, • actions – Write paragraph describing your reactions and thoughts – Write down questions that arise as you read (in the margins)