Modern English and American literature

The early twentieth century literature, modernism. Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, David Herbert Lawrence. New period, prose and drama. Angry young men writers. The generation of general discontent. American literature of the middle of the XX-th century.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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Горішна Л.В. Сучасна англійська та американська література. -Х.:Акад. ВВ МВС України, 2011. - 185с.

Навчальний посібник "Сучасна англійська та американська література" для курсантів та студентів IV курсу гуманітарного факультету за напрямком підготовки "філологія, переклад". Описання творчого шляху, викладання змісту багатьох творів художньої літератури сприятимуть глибокому розумінню естетичних, моральних і художніх принципів найбільш відомих письменників і поетів XX - початку XXI століття країн, мову яких вивчається.


Л.В.Горішна, канд. філол. наук, доцент кафедри фонетики та граматики (Академія внутрішніх військ МВС України)


В.В. Місеньова, канд. філол. наук, доцент кафедри міжмовної підготовки (Харківський національний університет ім. В.Н.Каразіна), Т.О.Биценко, канд. філол. наук, доцент кафедри філології, перекладу та мовної комунікації (Академія внутрішніх військ МВС України)






Virginia Woolf

James Joyce

David Herbert Lawrence

Comprehension Questions and Tasks


John Galsworthy

T.S. Eliot

George Bernard Shaw

Herbert George Wells

William Somerset Maugham

Richard Aldington

Archibald Joseph Cronin

Graham Greene

Charles Percy Snow

William Golding

Iris Murdoch

John Robert Fowles

Comprehension Questions and Tasks


John Osborne

Kingsley Amis

John Braine

Comprehension Questions and Tasks


Comprehension Questions and Tasks



Theodore Dreiser

Robert Frost

Sherwood Anderson

Francis Scott Fitzgerald

William Faulkner

Ernest Hemingway

Robert Penn Warren

Comprehension Questions and Tasks


John Steinbeck

James Albert Michener

Irwin Shaw

James Jones

Flannery O'Connor

John Updike

Anne Tyler

Michael Crichton

Comprehension Questions and Tasks


Comprehension Questions and Tasks




«Modern English and American Literature» is a course for students and cadets studying English and American literature at intermediate or advanced level of English. It is designed to motivate and involve students in effective studying process. The book can serve as a basis for effective literature lessons at which the students might be expected to understand, learn and appreciate the beauties of great English and American writers, the makers of song and story of their age.

The book presents a survey of the most significant aspects of the literary process in Great Britain and the United States of America, its historical, social and economic background of the XX-th and the beginning of the XXI century.

Considerable stress has been laid on the life of the various authors, their relationship and their work to the times in which they lived to stimulate class discussions and involve students in effective work on the literary matters.

«Modern English and American Literature» consists of seven units. Each unit contains a variety of questions focused on assisting comprehension and guiding students towards their own understanding of the authors and their works.

The book is designed for the students and cadets to get information about English literature, broaden their outlook, develop a high level of target language competence, enjoy the works of English writes and love literature!


Major literary genres

Fiction comes directly from oral traditions found in numerous cultures of the world. Sometimes there were storytellings or storysinging contests, as in the classical age of Greek letters. These early stories were about figures or events familiar to particular groups. New characters with new characteristics appeared. A work of fiction usually possesses characters, plot, setting, point of view, theme, and, sometimes, symbols. Fiction is a shared experience. The writer introduces the readers into his or her created world. William Faulkner, the American writer and a Nobel Laureate, said that “the primary job of any writer is to tell you a story, a story out of human experience - I mean by that, universal, mutual experience, the anguishes and troubles and griefs of the human heart, which is universal, without regard to race or time or condition. He wants to tell you something which has seemed to him so true, so moving, either comic or tragic, that it's worth repeating. ” The most held opinion is that fiction is created from a mixture of fact and fancy. Telling a good story is considered to be a primary function of fiction, but telling a truthful story is equally important.

Literature is commonly divided into three major genres: poetry, prose, and drama. Each major genre can in turn be divided into lyric, concrete, dramatic, narrative, and epic.


Prose can be divided into fiction (novels, novellas and short stories) and nonfiction (biography, autobiography, letters, essays, and reports).

Novel is a long fictional story written in prose. It is one of the most popular forms of literature.

The subject matter of novels covers the whole range of human experience and imagination. Some novels portray true-to-life characters and events. Writers of such realistic novels try to represent life as it is. In contrast to realistic novels, romantic novels portray idealized versions of life. Some novels explore purely imaginary worlds. For example, science-fiction novels may describe events that take place in the future or on other planets. Other popular kinds of novels include detective novels and mysteries, whose suspenseful plots fascinate readers.

Some novels point out evils that exist in society and challenge the reader to seek social or political reforms. Novels may also provide knowledge about unfamiliar subjects or give new insights into familiar ones.

The novel has four basic features that together distinguish it from other kinds of literature. First, a novel is a narrative - that is, a story presented by a teller. It thus differs from a drama, which presents a story through the speech and actions of characters on a stage.

Second, novels are longer than short stories, fairy tales, and most other types of narratives. Novels vary greatly in length, but most exceed 60,000 words. Because of their length, novels can cover a longer period and include more characters than can most other kinds of narratives.

Third, a novel is written in prose rather than verse. This feature distinguishes novels from narrative poems. Fourth, novels are works of fiction. They differ from histories, biographies, and other long prose narratives that tell about real events and people. Novelists sometimes base their stories on actual events or the lives of real people. But these authors also make up incidents and characters. Therefore, all novels are partly, if not entirely, imaginary. The basic features of the novel make it a uniquely flexible form of literature. Novelists can arrange incidents, describe places, and represent characters in an almost limitless variety of ways. They also may narrate their stories from different points of view. In some novels, for example, one of the characters may tell the story. In others, the events may be described from the viewpoint of a person outside of the story. Some novelists change the point of view from one section of a story to another. Novelists also vary their treatment of time. They may devote hundreds of pages to the description of the events of a single day, or they may cover many years within a few paragraphs.


Perhaps the oldest kind of literature known to humanity, poetry in its earliest stages was told or sung, but during its long and continuing evolution it has become part of the written tradition and is been use for several purposes. Foremost among the many uses of poetry has been its ability as lyric, narrative, and epic to pay homage to the gods and to recount the history of specific groups of people.

Both European and American poets have been most influenced by Greek culture, in which the writers were known as poets, a title that carried both responsibility and praise. Greek literature consisted in large measure of plays that were written in poetry, a convention of the time. Roman poets adopted most of the rules of the Greeks, later revived during the Renaissance. Beginning with Geoffrey Chaucer, poetry in England flowered and spread throughout the English-speaking world and far beyond. Poetic forms are: verse, poem, song, ode, sonnet, ballad, elegy, parody, epigram, etc.

But what is poetry? According to William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, the major role of poetry was to stand in opposition to science. Coleridge wrote: “poetry is not the proper antithesis to prose, but to science. Poetry is opposed to science. ” A great and influential man of writing of the Romantic period wrote that “Poetry begins where matter of fact or science ceases... ”. The American poetess of the 19th century Emily Dickinson alludes nearly to the same thing:

To clothe the fiery thought

In simple words succeeds,

For still the craft of genius is

To mask a king in weeds.

Poetry is often full of ideas, too, and sometimes poems can be powerful experiences of the mind, but most poems are primarily about how people feel rather than how people think. Poetry can be the voice of our feelings.

Though prose and poetry have much in common and a number of poets also write prose fiction, nevertheless, commonly accepted differences between the two genres are that poetry is generally written in meter, thus creating rhythm, and prose is not; rhyme is a characteristic feature of poetry (though not required) which prose doesn't have. Poetry distills, compresses and refines knowledge through selective use of language, while prose is considered “ordinary” language. Poets are binding themselves in the chains of traditional poetic forms and then creating interaction between different elements of poetic technique. But nothing about poetry is as important as the way it makes us feel with the help of imagination, symbols, and invention.

Sometimes poetry is freed from the old rules, evolves from the confinement of rigid structure and sometimes content. This is what we now know as free verse - the kind of poetry which was fired by a new kind of poet, epitomized by the great American poet Walt Whitman, poetry which relies heavily on imagery.

Poets employ various strategies and elements of poetic technique to frame their vision of human experience in verse: theme, diction, tone, imagery, symbolism, simile and metaphor, personification and apostrophe, mete, rhythm and rhyme, sound, structure, and form.


Drama can be divided into serious drama, tragedy, comic drama, melodrama, and farce.

Drama differs from other forms of literature in that it demands a stage and performances. It can be enjoyed by both spectators and readers. But the fact is that most plays are written to be produced, and must be performed. The word “drama” comes from the Greek meaning “a thing done”. The playwright supplies dialogues for the characters to speak and stage directions that give information about costumes, lighting, scenery, properties, the setting, music, sound effects, and the characters' movements and ways of speaking. From its beginnings, drama, like other forms of literature, was meant to tell the story of humankind in conflict with the world. A play is human action or human experience dramatized for stage production. Poetic elements of technique and strategies in a play must be made visible. Through plot, a playwright “imitates” movements of existence, adjusting the rhythm to fit the mode of presentation, whether that mode is comedy or farce, tragedy or melodrama, tragicomedy or pantomime.



In Europe, the effect of World War I, and of the ghastly casualties was powerful and lasting. There was a grim contrast between the rousing patriotic speeches of the leaders at home and the slaughter in the trenches of France.

The devastation of World War I brought about an end to the sense of optimism that had characterized the years immediately preceding the war - nineteenth-century conviction that progress must forever continue, which can be found in the works of G.B. Shaw and H.G. Wells. Many people were left with the feeling of uncertainty, disjointedness, and disillusionment. No longer trusting ideas and values of the world out of which the war had developed, people sought to find new ideas that were more applicable to twentieth-century life. The quest for new ideas extended into the world of literature, and a major literary movement known as Modernism was born.

In writing this was the period called “highbrow” and “precious”, the period of new writing meant to be understood only by a very small minority of the people, the cultured few, and that could not be enjoyed by everybody who could read. The works of T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), James Joyce (1882-1941) and Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) were often difficult and obscure. Young creative writers felt themselves in danger of being overwhelmed by mass media: radio, films, and of course television meant for ordinary people. So they had to keep a long-way-off and do something very different. They decided that real literature, not meant for ordinary reading public, could afford to be difficult, could even glory in its difficulty.

War effected J.R.R. Tolkien (1893-1973). He personally came under the shadow of war and felt fully its oppression when he was caught in youth by 1914, a “hideous experience” as he called it himself, and then involved in no less hideous an experience in 1939 and the following years.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1893 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. After serving in the First World War, he embarked upon a distinguished as one of the finest philologists in the world. He was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College. He is beloved throughout the world as the creator of Middle-earth and the author of such classic works as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He died on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81.

His trilogy The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the Ring) appeared between 1936 and 1949. It is a chronicle of the Great War of the Ring which occurred in the Third Age of Middle-earth. It is greatly built on myth and symbols. “Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth, but not explicit, not in the known form of primary `real' world,” said Tolkien.

There were, of course, other writers whose work was less affected by the war and the disillusionment that it bred. Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), E.M. Forster (1879-1970), and Catherine Mansfield (1888-1923), whose literary careers as writers of fiction began well before the war, exercised much influence on later writers - Conrad by his deep concern with man's inner nature, Forster and Mansfield by their subtle treatment of personal relationships. In the stories collected in The Garden Party (1922) Mansfield uses psychological revelation and skillful description of social gatherings to portray young people trying to break through superficiality upper-middle class life. Some of these stories achieve the level of poetry in their impressionistic recreation of scenes and moments. Mansfield recorded her thoughts during her last years in a writer's Journal, which her husband, the English critic edited and issued in 1927, after her death.

Among poets, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) progressed from a dreamy kind of romanticism in the 1890's to highly disciplined, intellectual verse in the 1920's and 1930's, while A.E. Housman (1859-1936) assured his fame with a small number of exquisitely polished lyrics. Poets such as T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) and William Butler Yeats (1865) experimented with language and rhythms. Influenced by the innovators of the late Victorian Age, by the poetry of the French Symbolists, by the metaphysical poetry of the seventeenth century, and by the attempts of the Imagists to capture moments in pure, compressed images, Eliot, Yeats and others wrote an entirely new kind of poetry, intellectually challenging, suggestive, ironic, realistic and often disquieting. Their poems, along with those of Gerald Manley Hopkins, published posthumously in 1918, inspired later poets such as W.H. Auden (1907-1973), C.S. Lewis (1893-1963), and Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) to create technically precise poetry rich in nuance and ideas.

An important novelist, contemporary with Joyce and Virginia Woolf but markedly different in his approach, was D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930).

Twentieth-century writers such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce have tried not merely to describe how a character might think; they have also attempted to present a record of his consciousness - that is, the stream of the character's thoughts as he is thinking them. They explored the psychic ills of contemporary society through the inner experience of individuals and their relationships. Influenced by developments in modern psychology, writers began using the stream-of-consciousness technique, attempting to recreate the natural flow of a character's thoughts. The stream-of-consciousness technique involves the presentation of a series of thoughts, memories, and insights, connected only by a character's natural associations. In her novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, who is regarded as one of the principal exponents of Modernism, records the consciousness of Clarissa Dalloway as she thinks about a party she is giving: “But to go deeper, beneath what people said (and these judgments, how superficial, how fragmentary they are!) in her own mind now, what did it mean to her, this thing she called life? Oh, it was very queer. Here was So-and-so in South Kensington; someone up in Bayswater; and someone else, say, in Mayfair. And she felt continuously a sense of their existence; and she felt a waste; and she felt what a pity; and she felt if only they could be brought together; so she did it. And it was an offering; to combine, to create, but to whom?” Notice that the author does not try to be especially clear. The sentences do not follow one another logically. Instead, she follows the mind wherever it goes, seeking to give an impression of spontaneity rather than order.

The Modernists experimented with wide variety of new approaches and techniques, producing a remarkably diverse body of literature. During the years between the two world wars, writers in both the United States and Europe explored new literary territories. The landmark stream-of-consciousness novel is Ulysses, published in 1922 by the Irish writer James Joyce. A number of American novelists soon adopted the technique, most notably William Faulkner in the Sound and the Fury, John Passos in U.S.A., Katherine Anne Porter in short stories, Eugene O'Neill in Strange Interlude.

The postwar disenchantment made many writers settle in Paris, where they were influenced by Gertrude Stein. The publicist and the writer who coined the phrase “Lost generation” to describe those who were disillusioned by the First World War, Stein lived in Paris from 1902 until her death in 1946. Stein's home attracted many major authors, including Sherwood Anderson, F.Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. They are the best known of the expatriates. But they are by no means the only ones. Ezra Pound spent most of his adult life in England, France and Italy. T.S.Eliot, born in St.Louis, went to Europe in 1914 and did not return to the United States until 1932.

Most of the lost generation saw very little in their civilization to praise or even to accept. Archibald MacLeish, an expatriate from 1923 to 1928, wrote several volumes of verse expressing the chaos and hopelessness of those years.

Yet, the Modernists shared a common sense. They sought to capture the essence of modern life in the form and content of their work. To reflect the fragmentation of the modern world, the Modernists constructed their works out of fragments, omitting the expositions, transitions, interrelations, resolutions, summaries, and explanations used in traditional literature. In poetry they abandoned traditional forms in favour of free verse. The themes of their works were usually implied, rather than directly stated, creating a sense of uncertainty and forcing readers to draw their own conclusions. The Modernists generally believed that there is no external order governing human existence and that, as a result, life is often splintered and disjointed.

Virginia Woolf


Virginia Woolf was a major British novelist, critic, and essayist. She was a leading figure in the literary movement called Modernism.

Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. Her father was Leslie Stephen, one of the most important Victorian philosophers, critics, and men of letters, and the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. Her father had a large library and Virginia availed herself of these resources throughout the childhood and adolescence, and her father's friends helped her receive the equivalent of university training. Her father's first wife was the daughter of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.

Upon her father's death in 1904, Virginia moved to Bloomsbury, the London district that houses the British Museum. She and her sister Vanessa gathered around them the circle of artists and intellectuals which has become known as the “Bloomsbury Group”, a remarkable intellectual circle which included economists, historians, critics, and novelists. In 1912 she married the journalist and editor Leonard Woolf. Together they founded one of the most distinguished publishing houses the Hogarth Press, which published works of noted modern writers. Her early novels were The Voyage Out (1915) and Night and Day (1919). The works which made her one of the founders of literary modernism are Mrs. Dalloway (1925), in which she studies the world of characters tragically affected by World War I, To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931), which is a poetic statement rather than a novel. Plot and action in her novels become secondary matters and are replaced at the forefront by a lyrical treatment of human consciousness.

Other novels by Virginia Woolf are Jacob's Room (1922), The Years (1937), Between the Acts (1941), collections of stories Kew Gardens (1919), The Mark on the Wall (1919), Monday or Tuesday (1922).

She has been a critic and an essayist too. The better essays in the two volumes of The Common Reader, and A Room of One's Own, a short defense of women's rights, have lost none of their freshness.

Her central theme is the intangible shading of feeling and thought that momentarily divides or unites our souls. “Look within and life, it seems, is very far from being `like this'. Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives myriad impressions - trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpest of steel... life is a luminous halo, a semitransparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit...?”

Virginia Woolf stated that the fiction writer's central concern is with character, the mysteries of the human personality.

Virginia Woolf denied the necessity of the plastic development of plots and characters. To approach the experience of life, to reveal the inner lives of her characters and to criticize the social system of the day she often employed the `stream-of-consciousness' technique in her novels. Although she did not invent this technique, she refined and brightened by her own wit and observation the procedure by which the characters of a novel reveal themselves through their unspoken thoughts. Her method was to assemble in language of great poetic force tiny fragments of perception. She tried, as far as possible, to catch each moment as it passed rather than to thrust her characters into the contrivances of a plot.

Virginia Woolf had been subject to nervous breakdowns and depression since childhood. When World War II came, she became terrified of relapsing into madness, and at the age of fifty-nine in March of 1941, during a depression following the publication of her last novel The Years, she committed suicide by drowning herself in the Ouse River. After her death, it became fashionable to emphasize her faults as a writer - her inability to create exciting plots or to draw strong, distinctive characters - at the expense of her virtues. Today she is again discovered as a rare spirit who, in her own delicate fashion has enlarged our knowledge of the human heart.

James Joyce


James Joyce was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882, the eldest of the ten surviving children. His family was relatively well-to-do. His father sent Joyce at the early age of six to the finest preparatory school in Ireland, the Jesuit-run Clongowes Wood College. Soon his father John Joyce lost his previous job and was unable to keep the boy at Clongowes Wood. The boy was removed from that school and sent for two years to a mediocre Christian Brothers' school in Dublin. Later he was admitted without fees to Belvedere College where he showed himself as a successful schoolboy. Years of unholy mysteries of sex which he experienced at Dublin's red-light district and the sacred mysteries of his training at Belvedere were followed by some months of piety, fasting, and prayer. Joyce seriously contemplated entering the priesthood.

In 1898 Joyce graduated from Belvedere and entered University College, Dublin, the Catholic university which competed with the more prestigious Protestant institution, Trinity College. His former life satisfaction was replaced now by academic success and recognition. His literary idol was Henrik Ibsen whose Work was thought to be scandalous at the turn of the century. Joyce attacked the narrowness and provincialism of the Irish intellectuals and nationalists and looked toward Europe as a scene of greater vision and freedom. In 1902 Joyce took his degree and was ready for search for his own vision and freedom abroad. He travelled to Paris to begin studying medicine but quickly dropped out for want of money. He lingered in Paris for a while writing reviews for the Dublin Daily Express and teaching English to private pupils. His mother was seriously ill and Joyce came back home. In 1904, after his mother's death, he took a post teaching at a school in a Dublin suburb.

In June of 1904, Joyce met and fell in love with a young woman, Nora Barnacle, tall, pretty, but nearly uneducated and having no interest in literature. She was not the girl one would have expected to become the consort of a great master of modern letters, but her understanding and uncritical acceptance of him was perhaps just what Joyce needed. In September 1904 the couple set out for the Continent. Since then Joyce had Joyce had made only two brief trips to Ireland. After brief stays in Poland and in Rome, Joyce took up language teaching at the Berlitz School in Trieste, where he and Nora lived until 1915, and where their two children were born. Not until 1931 were Joyce and Nora legally married. Joyce was a brilliant linguist who for many years earned his living by teaching English to foreigners. He knew Latin, Italian, French, German, and numerous other tongues.

His first recorded poem was written in 1891. The collection of poetry entitled Chamber Music was published in London in 1907. His second work was an autobiographical brief sketch called A Portrait of the Artist, written in 1904. He also began the collection of short stories. The original manuscript contained twelve stories. They were mostly written in late 1904 through 1905. By 1907 the manuscript was completed by the addition of three more stories and the novella The Dead. But it was not until 1914 that a collection of stories Dubliners was offered to the public. 1914 marked a watershed in Joyce career. He got recognition of poet Ezra Pound too. Joyce had begun refining A Portrait of the Artist into the evocative and dramatic form of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He showed the first chapter to the editor Harriet Shaw Weaver who arranged for it serial publication in his literary magazine The Egoist during 1914-1915 before its book publication in 1916. The book is a remarkable technical achievement, nearly perfect in the economy of its form and the objectivity of its treatment of the most personal of subjects. Portrait principally recounts Joyce's homesick misery at Clongowes. Using symbolism, epiphanies, and distinct style, Joyce conveyed the inner life of his protagonist in his progress from early childhood to the assumption of his mature destiny.

In 1920 Joyce settled in Paris. He spent his first two years completing and revising Ulysses, the greatest work of Joyce which he began writing still in 1914. The book was published by the Shakespeare Press in 1922. Despite its obvious seriousness, the uncompromising language and vision of Ulysses made it impossible to publish in Britain and in America. The first American publication appeared only in 1933.

Ulysses is a book that is impossible to describe adequately in brief. It covers one day (June 16, 1904) in the life of three Dubliners, a day in which nothing very much happens, which ends as inconclusively as it began - and yet it is a novel of amazing breadth and scope, an encyclopedia portrait of modern life. On one level, it conveys the flickering, fugitive thoughts of its characters, the hideous domestic details of their lives, dissecting them with a surgical precision hitherto unknown in fiction. On another level it presents Leopold and Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus as the modern symbolic equivalents of Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus in Homer's epic. The book does not only give the details of the life of the city of Dublin - it is the whole journey of man from birth to grave. In his novel Joyce attempts to embody the whole significance of all human history, the meaning of the family, of manhood and womanhood, war, politics, and human achievement of every sort. Words are Joyce's obsession, his delight, the source of his power. So wonderfully are words used by the author that the whole world of Dublin springs up out of their sounds, colours, reverberations, and linkage with each other. A complex network of parallels constantly relates and contrasts the characters to their Homeric counterparts. Joyce uses the story of the wanderings of the classical hero Ulysses as a kind of mythical shorthand to underscore the eternal significance of the contemporary episodes in his work. The ultimate triumph of Ulysses goes beyond its psychological naturalism, its mystic and symbolic structure, and its stylistic experimentation. It deals with the elemental drama of Bloom's search for a son and Stephen's search for a father, and it reflects the spiritual profundity that underlies all of Joyce's artistry. Ulysses is James Joyce's masterpiece.

Joyce spent the next seventeen years, from 1922 to 1939, writing his last novel, Finnegans Wake - Joyce called it his `monster' - a book that cannot be read, but can only be studied. If in Ulysses he tried to universalize his three Dubliners through their symbolic relations with Greek characters, in Finnegans Wake he attempted a universal history. The title refers to an Irish tavern song about Tim Finnegan, who breaks his skull in a drunken fall and is miraculously `resurrected' at his own wake. The novel deals with the theme of death and resurrection and with the broader theme of the cyclical character of human history, in which civilizations evolve, collapse, and are reborn. These themes govern the structure of the novel, which in itself is cyclical. It begins in mid-sentence and ends in the middle of the same sentence - as though the novel, like life itself, were continuous with no beginning and no end. The language is English, but with misspellings that call up puns in a dozen other tongues. Word-play, puns, the use of sounds to enforce meaning (onomatopoeia) - these are just a suggestion of the allusive and musical uses of language achieved in this book. It is a book in which Joyce strove to give voice to the eternal dream of humanity, taking place on a single never-ending night of dreams. Within its own terms, the book is great, but it was destined never to be popular with the readers, and the one which can be fully understood only by the handful of specialists willing to devote their lives and energy to mastering its complexities.

Driven again to Switzerland by the Nazi occupation of France, Joyce died on January 13, 1941 at the age of fifty-eight, nearly blind and almost worn out by a combination of hard work and hard living. By the time of his death, Joyce had become a legend and remains today the archetypal modern writer, against whom all others are measured.

David Herbert Lawrence


David Herbert Lawrence explores the world of love between men and women and the cultural, historical and natural forces that bear on the fulfillment of human potential. A brilliant, imaginative, and emotional writer, Lawrence portrays characters sympathetically, as victims of an inhibiting society, and nature as symbolic of what is vital and nurturing in life.

D.H. Lawrence, an English novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist, and playwright, was born on 11 September in a poor family of a coalminer in the village of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, in central England. He was the fourth child of a miner and an ex-schoolteacher. In 1898 at the age of thirteen he entered Nottingham High School winning a scholarship. Leaving school at sixteen he became a clerk for a short time. In 1906 he entered the training department of the Nottingham University College and after graduating from it was appointed as a teacher to an elementary school in Croydon, near London, where he began writing poems and short stories. Like that of many other writers his literary career started with writing highly charged love poetry. In 1913 appeared Lawrence's first book of poems Love Poems and Others.

The conflict between his mother, who had been a schoolteacher and had written poetry, and his father, a crude and uneducated miner, made Lawrence feel keenly the tension between the gentler world of imagination and art and the world of physical labour. The tempestuous relationship with his violent father and passionate bonding with his refined, socially ambitious mother shaped much of his later work. In his writing Lawrence often contrasted the physical side of love with the passionless, intellectualized side. While his mother was clearly an early inspiration, he also wrote about his father with gentles, as in the semiautobiographical novel Sons and Lovers (1913). His mother kept her delicate son from strenuous stint in the mines. But her close intimacy with her son produced a powerful bond that warped his post adolescent development and delayed his emergence into full personal and artistic freedom.

In 1911 his first novel The White Peacock came out, and Lawrence decided to devote himself to literature.

In 1912 Lawrence met Frieda von Richthofen, the young wife of one of Lawrence's Nottingham professors and mother of three children. The two fell in love instantly, left for Germany together and began a nomadic life together. Their relationship was intensely intimate but often troubled, and Lawrence based much of his fiction on this lifelong love. The couple was married in July 1914, when Frieda's divorce became final. This was a stormy marriage from the first and inspired Lawrence's volume of poems Look! We Have Come Through! (1917). During World War I Lawrence and his wife lived in London and at Greatham. Disillusioned with England and its narrow-minded rejection of his works with the pictures of sexual creativity Lawrence and his wife Frieda von Richthofen left the country for good in 1919, thereafter returning to England only for brief periods. Sea and Sardinia (1921) was a quick, joyous, unconventional record of a journey.

His second novel was the Tresspasser (1912), then the novel Sons and Lovers (1913), his first major work and semi-autobiographical account of his early life and the ambiguous relations he shared with his parents, which established him as a mature writer.

At the end of 1914 he published a book of short stories called The Prussian Officer, and in 1915 - the novel The Rainbow. Lawrence often suffered from censorship and public condemnation. The Rainbow was banned in England as obscene, and even his literary friends did not appreciate this strikingly original work. In 1916 appeared a travel book Twilight in Italy. The Lost Girl (1920) was an attempt to give the public what he believed it wanted. It won him the James Tait Memorial Prize and was followed by Aaron's Rod (1922). Women in Love, which had been completed in 1917 but rejected by the London publishers was issued late in 1920. Women in Love is the deeper and more bitter than The Rainbow. It was a product of World War I, a period that strengthened Lawrence's nightmare vision of humanity on the brink of collective suicide. Then followed Cangaroo (1923), a novel written and set in Australia, the result of his extensive travelling. The Plumed Serpent came out in 1926, and Lady Chatterley's Lover, his last novel was written in Italy and published privately in 1928. Lady Chatterley's Lover was not legally published in its entirety until 1959. This booked was banned for its sexual explicitness, strong language, and detailed descriptions of sexual relationship and was not published in its complete form in England and the United States until over thirty years later. In this novel Lawrence tells the story of a love affair between an aristocratic lady and a game keeper in order to show the importance of the physical as well as the emotional side of human relationships. It contains explicit descriptions of the sexual awakening of its heroine. More permissive times have lessened the shock of its erotic realism. This book did much to expand the range of published material, for courts ruled that it is art and therefore justified in depicting love explicitly. Today it is regarded as a frank and vivid portrayal of a relationship based on passion and is respected as one of the twentieth century's greatest literary works.

Lawrence's nonfiction, fiction, and poetry all are characterized by strong physical descriptions and by sensitivity to the world of nature. One volume of poems is titled Birds, Beasts, and Flowers (1923); other collections include Tortoises (1921), Pansies (1929), and Nettles (1930).

Ill health and disillusionment with England caused Lawrence to travel the world, seeking a hospitable climate. The Lawrences visited and lived in Italy, Sicily, Ceylon, Australia, Mexico, New Mexico, and the South Pacific. Many of this localities and cultures provided Lawrence with inspiration for books. He had contracted tuberculosis while living in primitive conditions in Mexico.

He spent the winter 1929-1930 at Bandol and in February went to a sanatorium in France. Death finally claimed him at Vence on the French Riviera. He died at the age of forty-four of tuberculosis on March 1, 1930. His ashes were eventually taken to his ranch above Taos, New Mexico.

David Lawrence is classed among English modernists, though he did not deny the necessity of the plastic development of characters and the plot. What places him among modernists is Freud's conception of an individuality and the theory of subconsciousness which he supported and propagated in his novels.

Disappointed with social life, Lawrence sought escape in the world of nature. He firmly believed that the evils of an unjust and corrupt society could be mitigated if men and women found warmth and happiness in love. The sufferings brought upon lovers by a cruel social law or, more often, by the clash of their conflicting - wills, by the hatred and revolt that sometimes go hand in hand with love are the main subjects of Lawrence's novels.

Since World War I the philosophical outlook of most English writers has been deeply influenced by Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis, as developed by Freud, is the apotheosis of the individual, the extreme of intellectual anarchy. It affected the works of D. H. Lawrence very much.

He was also the first writer who openly wrote about marriage and relationship of sexes. He intruded into the sphere of intimate life, breaking the prejudices of the time. However, realistic picturing of the life is characteristic of Lawrence's novels: truthful pictures of the life of miners in Sons and Lovers; the description of St.Philip's school in The Rainbow, beautiful and fascinating descriptions of nature in The White Peacock; atmosphere of family life in The Lost Girl.

Sons and Lovers. Lawrence's novel Sons and Lovers is largely autobiographical. It principally chronicles the war for Lawrence's soul between his mother and Jessie Chambers, Lawrence's first love. The main hero Paul Morel, a poet and painter, like the author himself, has been brought up in a working class home. Thus the book, set in a coalmining community similar to D.H.Lawrence's birthplace, is based on his own experience and is a semi-autobiographical account of his early home life and the ambiguous relations with his parents - an obsession and the claustrophobic relationship with his mother and hatred he felt for his father. Life at Eastwood offers nothing to a vital, unambitious man like Paul's father, except the pit and the pub. To his wife, with her intelligence and her longing for refinement, it offers only the chapel and the hope of getting up into the middle class - through her children if not through the disappointing husband. This is Paul Morel's heritage, and the neurotic refusal of life engendered in him is the direct result of his parents' failure. And the parents' failure is the direct result of the pressures of an inhuman system.

Paul's mother has one passion in her life - a passion for her sons; first for the eldest, then the second. Paul is urged into life by the reciprocal love of his mother. But when he comes to manhood, he fails to fall in love because his mother is the strongest power in his life. Lawrence shows the feelings and passion of Paul's mother. First it was motherly love to her little son. She cared about him, defended him from the cruelty of her husband and from hard work in the mine. She wants him to become a painter, she is so glad when he is successful in study and work. But she is very jealous and she demands the same love to herself from him. Meanwhile Paul comes into contact with a sensitive girl Miriam. She is timid and self-conscious because she loves him, and with a prophetic insight fears that he will go beyond her limitations. Paul is angry with her emotional intensity because it already begins to constitute a claim on him. Strongly drawn to Miriam, he cannot and will not give himself to her; he wants to be safe. Miriam fights with Paul's mother for the possession of his soul. But mother gradually proves to be the stronger of the two, because of the tie of .their blood. Paul realizes that he cannot really love Miriam, but he does not know why. He does not clearly recognize the power of his mother. It is true that he returns to his mother, but he thinks that he is still faithful to Miriam, that she still holds him in the depths of her soul. Miriam wants a completely committed love with faithfulness, tenderness and understanding - qualities that Paul cannot give. Yet her possession of his soul comes to matter less and less. His mother wins the fight for his soul. His mother is “the chief thing to him, the only supreme thing”. He said about Miriam to his mother, “No, Mother - I really don't love her. I talk to her, but I want to come home to you. ...I could let another woman - but not her. She'd leave me no room, not a bit of a room -“. And immediately he hated Miriam bitterly. Another woman comes into his life. Clara comes to work at the factory where Paul is employed, and her husband also works there. Clara is different from Miriam. She is independent, emancipated and experienced. The development of their relations is wholly without any tender glow. But his mother is not displeased; she thinks that he is getting away from Miriam, and that he is growing up.

When Paul is severely hurt by Clara's husband and pneumonia follows, his mother nurses him, and he again returns safely to his mother's care. But his safety is clouded by his mother's illness; it is a fatal cancer. Paul is prostrated with grief. Clara leaves Paul because she realizes that her husband has more dignity than Paul.

His last effort with Miriam fails. They meet again, with all the old tension. She suggests marriage, and in a scene of tortured, enigmatic confusion Paul rejects it. He says: “You love me so much, you want to put me in your pocket. And I should die there, smothered.” Lawrence's exposition of the novel closes with these words: “He is left in the end naked of everything, with him drift towards death.”

Lawrence's work has been the subject of violent argument. On the one hand, it was praised to the skies, on the other, it was reviled as immoral. The truth of the matter is that Lawrence was one of the first among English writers to be absolutely outspoken on questions of love and relations between men and women while the element of social protest in Sons and Lovers is not strong.

Comprehension Questions and Tasks

1. Comment on Modernism as a major literary movement. Name the main representatives of Modernism. Explain modernists' ideas and slogans.

2. Briefly tell Virginia Woolf's biography. What well-known novels did she write? Comment on Virginia Woolf's central themes in her writings. Can we call her a fighter of women's rights? Why?

3. What writings is James Joyce famous for? Speak on the subject of Ulysses. Name all the main characters of the book. Explain: Why nowadays James Joyce remains the archetypal modern writer.

4. Tell about D.H. Lawrence's lifetime and literary work. Comment on the critic's words: “Novels which explore the interrelation between the individual self, the social self and nature”. Name and classify the relations between the members of the family according to their quality and intensity (Sons and Lovers).


John Galsworthy


John Galsworthy is one of the outstanding representatives among the English authors of the close of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century. He was an extremely intellectual man, trained for the Bar.

John Galsworthy was born in a well-to-do family in Surrey. He got his first education at home. At the age of fourteen he was sent to Harrow School, a very old and famous public school for boys. At Harrow Galsworthy distinguished himself as an excellent pupil. After Harrow he studied law at Oxford; but he did not find his studies in law exciting though he received an honours degree in law in 1889 and was admitted to the Bar. But very soon he gave up law entirely for literature. His decision was influenced greatly by Ada Galsworthy, his wife.

In 1899 Galsworthy published his first novel Jocelyn. Afterwards, at frequent intervals he wrote plays, novels and essays.

His first notable work was The Island of Pharisees (1904) where he attacked the stagnation of thought in the English privileged classes, with their reject of any emotion and their preference for a dull, settled way of life. Five following works entitled The Country House (1907), Fraternity (1909), The Patrician (1911), The Dark Flower (1913) and The Freelands (1915) show a similar attitude. Here the author criticizes country squires, the aristocracy and artists, and professes his deep sympathy towards strong passions, sincerity and true love.

However he gained popularity only after the publication of The Man of Property (1906) - the first part of The Forsyte Saga. Galsworthy had not intended to write a sequel to The Man of Property. But speaking about the Forsyte family he said: “I never meant to go on with them, but after 1918 they began to liven up again, and the whole thing then came on with a rush - six books and four interludes full of them.”

The first three books of The Forsyte Saga for which John Galsworthy was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932 - The Man of Property, In Chancery and To Let show us Soames Forsyte in his dealings with his elders and his contemporaries. The dominant theme of this trilogy is the struggle between the possession instinct which would reduce even human beings to the level of property, and the instinct for beauty and freedom which eternally eludes possession.

Other three novels - The White Monkey, The Silver Spoon and Swan Song were united under the general title A Modern Comedy (1928) - in which the younger generation of the Forsytes are depicted against the background of the post-war England. The action is centered round Soames' daughter Fleur. The third trilogy is called End of the Chapter (1931-1933) and includes Maid in Waiting, Flowering Wilderness and Over the River.

It took Galsworthy 22 years to accomplish this monumental work. It is both a family chronicle and the history of the English bourgeois society during fifty years of gradual decay. We see World War I altering the aspect of many things, the workers movement threatening to overthrow the old economic system, uncertainty growing in morals as well as economics.

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