The greatest representatives of English literature of the XX century
Short characteristic of creativity and literary activity of the most outstanding representatives of English literature of the twentieth century: H.G. Wells, G.B. Shaw, W.S. Maugham, J.R.R. Tolkien, A. Baron, A.A. Milne, P. Hamilton, Agatha Christie.
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Literature of the 20th century refers to world literature produced during the 20th century. The range of years is, for the purpose of this article, literature written from (roughly) 1900 through the 1990s.
In terms of the Euro-American tradition, the main periods are captured in the bipartite division, Modernist literature and Postmodern literature, flowering from roughly 1900 to 1940 and 1960 to 1990 respectively, divided, as a rule of thumb, by World War II. The somewhat malleable term of contemporary literature is usually applied with a post-1960 cutoff point.
Although these terms (modern, contemporary and postmodern) are most applicable to Western literary history, the rise of globalization has allowed European literary ideas to spread into non-Western cultures fairly rapidly, so that Asian and African literatures can be included into these divisions with only minor qualifications. And in some ways, such as in Postcolonial literature, writers from non-Western cultures were on the forefront of literary development.
Technological advances during the 20th century allowed cheaper production of books, resulting in a significant rise in production of popular literature and trivial literature, comparable to the development in music. The division of "popular literature" and "high literature" in the 20th century is by no means absolute, and various genres such as detectives or science fiction fluctuate between the two. For the most part of the century mostly ignored by mainstream literary criticism, these genres develop their own establishments and critical awards, such as the Nebula Award (since 1965), the British Fantasy Award (since 1971) or the Mythopoeic Awards (since 1971).
Towards the end of the century, electronic literature develops as a genre due to the development of hypertext and later the world wide web.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually throughout the century (with the exception of 1914, 1918, 1935 and 1940-1943), the first laureate (1901) being Sully Prudhomme. The New York Times Best Seller list has been published since 1942.
Wells, H.G. (Herbert George Wells), 1866-1946, English author. Although he is probably best remembered for his works of science fiction, he was also an imaginative social thinker, working assiduously to remove all vestiges of Victorian social, moral, and religious attitudes from 20th-century life. He was apprenticed to a draper at 14 and was later able through grants and scholarships to attend the Univ. of London (grad. 1888). Inspired by the teaching of T. H. Huxley, Wells taught biology until 1893, when he began his career as a novelist. His early books, full of fantasy and fascinating pseudoscientific speculations, exemplify the political and social beliefs of his time. They include The Time Machine (1895), The Wonderful Visit (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898).
In the novels of his middle period Wells turned from the fantastic to the realistic, delineating with great energy and color the world he lived in. These books, considered his finest achievement, include Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909), and The History of Mr. Polly (1910). His later books are primarily novels of ideas in which he sets forth his view of the plans and concessions individuals must make in order to survive. Included among these final works, which became increasingly pessimistic as Wells aged, are The World of William Clissold (1926), The Shape of Things to Come (1933), World Brain (1938), and Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945). His other works include the immensely popular Outline of History (1920) and The Science of Life (1929), which was written in collaboration with his son G. P. Wells and Julian Huxley.
Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 - 13 August 1946) was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction".
Wells was an outspoken socialist and sympathetic to pacifist views, although he supported the First World War once it was under way, and his later works became increasingly political and didactic. His middle-period novels (1900-1920) were less science-fictional; they covered lower-middle class life (The History of Mr Polly) and the "New Woman" and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica).
Shaw, George Bernard (1856-1950), playwright. The most famous and possibly the most controversial of 20th?century English dramatists was described by the Times in its review of the first major American production of Arms and the Man as “the eccentric and able London socialist, essayist, music critic, Ibsenite, and wearer of gray flannel clothes.” With occasional shadings of difference, critical opinion of Shaw in America has remained much the same ever since. Especially in early years his subjects offended many playgoers and critics, dealing as they did with such matters as prostitution, religious hypocrisy, slum landlordism, profiteering, and, of course, socialism. In these early years his most noted exponents included Richard Mansfield and Arnold Daly, while in after seasons the Theatre Guild regularly offered even his minor plays. The last several decades have witnessed fewer Shaw works on Broadway but a marked increase Off Broadway and in regional venues. Caesar and Cleopatra, Candida, The Devil's Disciple, Man and Superman, Pygmalion, and Saint Joan each has its own entry. A thumbnail history of some other Shaw works in America follows.
The short comedy Androcles and the Lion, twitting early Christians, was hissed at its 1913 London premiere but received a cordial welcome when Harley Granville?Barker presented it in New York in 1915 with O. P. Heggie as Androcles. The major American revivals occurred in 1925, when the Theatre Guild presented it with Henry Travers as the hero and such superior players as Romney Brent, Clare Eames, Tom Powers, and Edward G. Robinson in supporting roles, and in 1946 when the American Repertory Theatre offered it with Ernest Truex in the lead. Arms and the Man, Shaw's beguiling spoof of militarism, was his first play presented in America. Mansfield played the antihero Bluntschli in 1894, and William Winter thought his performance “a delicious piece of mystification, crisp in speech and diversified by airy nonchalance and whimsical humor.” Never one to proclaim Shaw, Winter admitted the script “causes thought as well as mirth.” A major revival was in 1925 when the Theatre Guild presented Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in the leads. Howard Lindsay recalled Lunt's Bluntschli as “cold, precise, hard and. . . probably one of the greatest high?comedy performances any actor, American or British, has given in our time.” Of Shaw's most accessible works, Arms and the Man has often been seen in New York since the 1920s but has not enjoyed any outstanding productions. Many Americans know the play best through its musical version, the Viennese operetta The Chocolate Soldier. The Doctor's Dilemma, a comedy about egocentricity and medical ethics, was first produced in New York by Arnold Daly in 1915. The first major revival was by the Theatre Guild in 1927 with a remarkable cast that included Helen Westley, Dudley Digges, Earle Larimore, Fontanne, and Lunt as Dubedat. Many critics felt the acting was superior to the play. A change in emphasis came in 1941 when Katharine Cornell revived the work, playing Jennifer Dubedat with support from Raymond Massey and Bramwell Fletcher. The Phoenix Theatre mounted the play in 1955 with Roddy MacDowall as the doomed artist. The Theatre Guild's 1920 mounting of Heartbreak House provided that play's belated premiere. This look at a modern Armageddon seems to have spoken eloquently to a world where a major war is always looming and so has been offered a number of fine revivals. Orson Welles, dressed to resemble Shaw, played Shotover in the Mercury Theatre's 1938 mounting, while Maurice Evans assumed the role in a 1959 production andRex Harrison played it in an abridged but superb 1983 revival at the Circle in the Square.
Grace George presented and starred in the 1915 American premiere of Major Barbara, the play about big business and warmongering, offering a notable cast of famous or soon?to?be?famous theatrical names, including Clarence Derwent, Guthrie McClintic, Ernest Lawford, John Cromwell, Mary Nash, and Conway Tearle. It was welcomed at the time as “a provocative, often richly amusing and continuously stimulating comedy.” Major revivals have included a 1928 Theatre Guild presentation; an exceptionally successful 1956 production, which ran seven months, with Glynis Johns and Charles Laughton in the leads; and a well?acted Broadway revival in 2001 with Cherry Jones as Barbara. Mrs. Warren's Profession, the play about prostitution that prompted court action in 1905, both during its New Haven tryout and in New York, starred Arnold Daly, who was also the producer, and Mary Shaw. Both were arrested but were acquitted of charges of presenting an immoral play. However, the work proved more sensational than durable, revivals being infrequent and short?lived. Uta Hagen headed a fine 1985 revival. As the fate of Mrs. Warren's Profession suggests, the initial success or notoriety of a Shaw play was no reliable indicator of its future vogue. Several plays that were huge successes at their first American presentation have since been largely neglected, while other works, often branded as minor, have enjoyed tremendous success later on, thanks on occasion to an unusual production or the appearance of a major star. An example of the former would be Fanny's First Play, which ran eight months in New York when it was premiered there in 1912 but which has never had a major revival outside of the Shaw Festival in Canada. By contrast such plays as The Apple Cart and The Millionairess, dismissed or totally ignored at first, enjoyed newsworthy and relatively successful mountings when produced with Maurice Evans (1956) and Katharine Hepburn (1952) respectively.
The British novelist William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), one of the most popular writers in English in the 20th century, is noted for his clarity of style and skill in storytelling.
Born in Paris, on Jan. 25, 1874, where his father was solicitor to the British embassy, Somerset Maugham was orphaned by the time he was 8 years old. He was reared by a paternal uncle, a clergyman, and at 13 was sent to king's School, Cambridge, intended for Oxford and preparation for the Church. Wanting to write, he obtained his uncle's permission to go to Heidelberg for a time. He chose the profession of medicine and spent 6 years in training at a London hospital. A year as an intern in the Lambeth slums followed, but he never practiced. For 10 years he wrote and lived in poverty in Paris.
In 1907 Maugham's first play, Lady Frederick, was successfully produced, and he became known as an author. In the early 1930s he settled in the Villa Mauresque in the south of France, though he continued to travel widely. He was forced to flee the Nazis in 1940 but returned after the war. In 1954, on his eightieth birthday, he was made a Companion of Honour. In 1961 he was named honorary senator of Heidelberg University. Maugham died in Nice on Dec. 16, 1965. Maugham archives were established in the Yale University Library.
The titles of some of Maugham's early novels were familiar to a whole generation of readers: Of Human Bondage (1915), The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Ashenden: or, The British Agent (1938), and Cakes and Ale: or, The Skeleton in the Cupboard (1930). A later novel that had something of the same success was The Razor's Edge (1944). Among his plays, perhaps best known and much produced was Rain (1922). An early autobiography is The Summing Up (1938). Praised by some critics for his craftsmanship and professionalism, he wrote much on the subject of fiction: Essays - Great Novelists and Their Novels (1948); A Writer's Notebook (1949); and The Art of Fiction (1955). His Travel Books appeared in 1955; The Magician, A Novel, Together with a Fragment of Autobiography in 1956; and essays titled Points of View in 1958. In his last years he worked on an autobiography to be published posthumously.
Productive throughout a long life, Maugham is still regarded as having done his great work in the early, largely autobiographical novel Of Human Bondage. Though his work was popular, he had a great many enemies because of his apparently malicious portraits of living people (for example, the characters based on Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole in Cakes and Ale) and because his view of humanity seemed to be one of contempt or of patronizing tolerance. He replied to the latter charge that humanity was like that; he also said that his sympathies were limited and that he had never felt some of the fundamental emotions.
The daughter of an American father and a British mother, Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born at Torquay in the United Kingdom on September 15, 1890. Her family was comfortable, although not wealthy, and she was educated at home, with later study in Paris. In 1914 she was married to Col. Archibald Christie; the marriage produced one daughter.
In 1920 Christie launched a career which made her the most popular mystery writer of all time. Her total output reached 93 books and 17 plays; she was translated into 103 languages (even more than Shakespeare); and her sales have passed the 400 million mark and are still going strong.
It was in her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), that Christie introduced one of her two best-known detectives, Hercule Poirot, and his amanuensis, Captain Hastings. Her debt to the Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is manifest in the books in which this pair appears. Like Holmes, Poirot is a convinced and convincing spokesman for the human rational faculty (he places his faith in "the little grey cells"), uses his long-suffering companion as a sort of echo-chamber, and even has a mysterious and exotically-named brother who works for the government. Captain Hastings, like Dr. John Watson a retired military man, has much in common with his prototype: he is trusting, bumbling, and superingenuous, and by no means an intellectual. Yet occasionally he wins applause from the master by making an observation which by its egregious stupidity illuminates some corner previously dark in the inner recesses of the great mind. There is even a copy of Conan Doyle's ineffectual Inspector Lestrade in the person of Inspector Japp.
While writing in imitation of Conan Doyle, Christie experimented with a whole gallery of other sleuths.
Tuppence and Tommy Beresford, whose specialty was ferreting out espionage, made their debut in The Secret Adversary (1922); their insouciant, almost frivolous approach to detection provided a sharp contrast to that of Poirot.
The enigmatic, laconic Colonel Race appeared first in The Man in the Brown Suit (1924), but, since his principal sphere of activity was the colonies, he was used only sporadically thereafter.
Superintendent Battle, stolid, dependable, and hardworking, came onto the scene in The Secret of Chimneys (1925) and later solved The Seven Dials Mystery (1929), but probably because of a lack of charisma was relegated to a subordinate role after that.
Others who debuted during this experimental period were the weird pair of the other-worldly Harley Quin and his fussbudgety, oldmaidish "contact," Mr. Satterthwaite, and the ingenious Parker Pyne, who specialized not in solving murders, but in manipulating the lives of others so as to bring them happiness and/or adventure. Pyne was often fortunate enough to have the assistance of Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, the mystery novelist who bore an uncanny resemblance to her creator.
The year 1926 was a watershed year for Christie. It saw the publication of her first hugely successful novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, in which the narrator is the murderer, a plot twist that provoked great controversy about the ethics of the mystery writer. It was also a year of personal tragedy: her mother died, and then she discovered that her husband was in love with another woman. She suffered a nervous breakdown and on December 6 disappeared from her home; subsequently her car was found abandoned in a chalk-pit. Ten days later, acting on a tip, police found her in a Harrogate hotel, where she had been staying the entire time, although registered under the name of the woman with whom her husband was having his affair. She claimed to have had amnesia, and the case was not pursued further. The divorce came two years later.
In 1930 she married Sir Max Mallowan, a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and one of Britain's foremost archaeologists. She often accompanied him on his digs in Iraq and Syria and placed some of her novels in those countries. In Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946) she wrote a humorous account of some of her expeditions with her husband.
Also in 1930, writing under the penname of Mary Westmacott, she published Giant's Bread, the first of six romances, none of which showed distinction. In that same year in Murder at the Vicarage, undoubtedly the best-written Christie novel, she first presented Jane Marple, who became one of her favorite sleuths and showed up frequently thereafter. Miss Marple was one of those paradoxes in whom readers delight: behind the Victorian, tea-and-crumpets, crocheted-antimacassar facade was a mind coldly aware of the frailty of all human beings and the depravity of some.
In the mid-1930s Christie began to produce novels that bore her unique stamp. In them she arranged a situation which was implausible, if not actually impossible, and into this unrealistic framework placed characters who acted realistically for the most realistic of motives. In Murder in the Calais Coach (1934) the murder is done with the connivance of a dozen people; in And Then There Were None (1939) nine murderers are invited to an island to be dispatched by an ex-judge with an implacable sense of justice; in Easy to Kill (1939) four murders are committed in a miniscule town without any suspicions being aroused; in A Murder Is Announced (1950) the killer advertises in advance. Also interesting in these books is Christie's philosophy that it is quite acceptable to kill a killer, particularly one whose crime is a heinous one.
In addition to her fiction, her archaeological reminiscences, the children's book Star over Bethlehem (1965), a collection of her poetry (1973), and her autobiography (1977), Christie authored 17 plays. Her own favorite was Witness for the Prosecution (1953), based on one of her novellas, but the public disagreed. The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952 and played there for over three decades, a run unparalleled in theater history. Many of her mysteries were made into movies - And Then There Were None three times - with the most successful those in which Margaret Rutherford portrayed Miss Marple.
Named a Dame of the British Empire in 1971, Christie died on January 12, 1976.
A.A. Milne (1882-1956) worked as an essayist, a playwright, a poet, and an adult novelist, in addition to his important contribution as an author of juvenile books. Although he attempted to excel in all literary genres, he was master of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh. His nature defied labels, such as "writer of children's literature," even though that was where he excelled.
Modern-day readers might be surprised to learn that A.A. Milne did more than just write children's books, specifically the four books which remain popular today: When We Were Very Young, Winnie-the-Pooh, Now We Are Six, and The House at Pooh Corner. Milne jumped from one creative venture to another, reluctant to concentrate his attention in one field for any extended period of time.
Born Alan Alexander Milne on January 18, 1882, in London, England, he was the youngest child of Sarah Maria Heginbotham and John Vine Milne. His father was the headmaster at Henley House, a private school, where Milne received his early education. He shared a special kinship with his brother, Kenneth, and they remained close throughout their lives. At the age of nine, Milne and Kenneth, along with a childhood friend, dramatized a novel they had read. This exercise awakened his love of theater.
In 1893, Milne began his studies at Westminster School as a Queen's Scholar. Next he attended Cambridge University, following in his brother's footsteps. He was elected the editor of the literary magazine, Granta. Milne also wrote light verse for this publication. In 1903, he graduated with third honors in mathematics from Trinity College at Cambridge.
After completing his college education, Milne began a career as a freelance writer. Within a short time, he was hired as an assistant editor for Punch magazine. His weekly essays were consistently light in tone, but tended to ramble. Milne had two goals: to please himself and then to entertain others. During this period he also published his first novel, Lovers in London, a collection of sketches. It was considered a critical failure and has since gone out of print.
Milne became active in London society. Although he was not born into the aristocracy, it fascinated him. At times he was known to have satirized the social elite, but he was also drawn to it. Considered to be an eligible bachelor, mothers of marriageable daughters sought him out. He was a frequent guest at weekend country estates.
On June 4, 1913, Milne married Dorothy de Selincourt. Later their son, Christopher, would write in The Enchanted Places that the couple had very few interests in common, but she laughed at his jokes. He seemed to have a need for her reassurance. The year following their wedding, Milne joined the army to offer his services at the beginning of the First World War.
Milne began as a signaling officer for the Fourth Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later served as an instructor on the Isle of Wight. Two years later he was stationed in France, where he wrote comical plays to lift the morale of the soldiers. His military service was interrupted when Milne contracted a serious fever and was sent home to recover.
In 1917, Wurzel-Flummery, Milne's first play was produced in London. He also published Once on a Time, which was originally written as an adult fairy tale for himself and his wife. Later, it was reclassified as a juvenile fairy tale. When Milne retired from the army in 1918, he decided to continue writing plays for a living and settled in London with his family. The following year, Milne achieved his greatest success as a playwright with Mr. Pim Passes By. It was produced in Manchester, London, and New York City. Both audiences and critics loved it.
Milne's only child, Christopher Robin, was born on August 21, 1920. He drew from his young son's life, in order to create the fictional character, Christopher Robin. It was meant as a tribute, but his son grew resentful of his fame-by-association later in life. The first book of the famous four, When We Were Young, was dedicated to his son. Shortly after the birth of Christopher, Milne purchased Cotchford Farm, which became the setting for subsequent Pooh stories. Most of the animals in the series were inspired by his son's stuffed animal collection. The teddy bear was originally named after their pet swan, Pooh. Only the characters of Rabbit and Owl sprang from Milne's imagination.
Milne wanted to continue writing plays. However, after the success of the Pooh books, interest in his drawing room satires had waned. He sometimes ventured beyond the drawing room genre, but for the most part Milne seemed to fall back on what had worked for him in the past. Unfortunately, times were changing, and his lucky star was fading. No one was interested in the old-hat comedy of manners when fresh dramas from playwrights like Eugene O'Neill were being staged. Audiences turned their backs on his plays, which became increasingly mediocre. Publishers wanted more children's stories from Milne. The one exception was The Red House Mystery, which was well-received and remained a classic among mysteries.
By the 1940s, Milne shifted his energies toward writing novels, short stories, and war pamphlets. His financial situation was secure enough to permit the hiring of a cook and gardener. Milne spent his days writing from mid-morning until dinner, aside from breaks for lunch and tea. After dinner he enjoyed playing golf and completing crossword puzzles. Milne's life was pleasant, if not exciting or adventurous. Some critics have suggested that if he had not lived such a conventional life, his writing might have contained more passion.
Milne was a very reserved person. His privacy affected not only his writing but also the relationship he had with his son. Since he was not an emotionally expressive man, it was difficult for Milne to reach out to his son. He may have made an attempt through the Pooh series, by basing the Christopher Robin character on traits that he observed in his son. While they did not interact a great deal, they did enjoy occasional activities together.
Throughout his life, Milne maintained a strong sense of loyalty to friends and family. As Charlotte F. Otten writes in Dictionary of Literary Biography, "Milne valued loyalty to one's friends and relations, displaying his own loyalty to, and love for, his brother Ken, by supporting him financially during his debilitating illness. Milne continued to support Ken's family after Ken's death." His high regard for friendship carried over as a strong theme in the Pooh books. One could not overlook the strong bond between Piglet and Pooh.
In 1952, Milne suffered a stroke, which rendered him partially paralyzed. He wrote little, if anything, after that. He died in the English town of Hartfield, Sussex on January 31, 1956.
Although Milne's first priority was to write for his own pleasure, he did enjoy the praise of an audience. He was determined to escape the limits of a label and did so by becoming prolific in many different genres. However, despite other moderate successes, Milne achieved greatness in one area alone. His Winnie-the-Pooh character has delighted children throughout the world. Even college students, considerably older than the target audience, responded with Pooh Societies. His legacy lived on in the form of animated movies, songs, and merchandise for infants and adults alike. Translations of his famous four books were produced almost immediately after Winnie-the-Pooh was first published. The little honey bear had firmly established itself as an enduring classic.
The works of the English novelist and dramatist Graham Greene (1904-1991) explore different permutations of morality and amorality in modern society, and often feature exotic settings in different parts of the world. A storyteller with a spare and elegant style, he divided his literary output into two categories. The first identified his long, serious works as "novels", while the second, which he called "entertainments", were shorter, taut-paced political thrillers with boldly-defined characters designed to satisfy the reader whose main concern is plot rather than theme. He also wrote screenplays and dramas, but they have not stood the test of time as steadfastly as his fiction, which has been translated into 27 languages.
Graham Greene was born on October 2, 1904, in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, in England. He was one of six children born to Charles Henry Greene, headmaster of Berkhamsted School, and Marion R. Greene. He did not enjoy his childhood, often preferring to skip classes rather than endure the baiting of his fellow students. When Greene suffered a mental collapse, his parents sent him to London for psychotherapy administered by a student of the famous Sigmund Freud. While he was living there, he became a voracious reader and began to write poetry. Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein became lifelong mentors to him before he returned to high school.
After graduating in 1922, Greene went on to Oxford University's Balliol College. When he was a junior in 1924, he contacted the German embassy and offered to write some pro-German articles for an Oxford paper. Intrigued, an embassy official accepted his offer, and sent him on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Rhineland, where Germany and France were vying for superiority in the creation of a separatist republic. As promised, Greene returned from Germany and wrote an article favoring Germany in the Oxford Chronicle of May 9, 1924.
His next attempt to enliven his studies brought him to a flirtation with the Communist party, which he abandoned after a mere six weeks, though he later wrote sympathetic profiles of Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh. Otherwise, Greene spent his vacations at Oxford roaming the English countryside. Despite all these efforts to distract himself from his studies, he graduated from Oxford in 1925 with a second-class pass in history, and a slender, badly-received volume of poetry with the effusive title Babbling April.
The following year Greene decided to convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, the religion of his fiancee. The shift brought him a new perspective in his search for the origins of human morality and amorality.
The same year he began his professional writing career as an unpaid apprentice for the Nottingham Journal, moving on later to become a subeditor for the London Times. The experience was a positive one for him, and he held this position until the publication of his first novel, The Man Within (1929). Here he began to develop the characteristic themes he later pursued so effectively: betrayal, pursuit, and the yearning for death.
His next works, Name of Action (1931) and Rumour at Nightfall (1931), were not well-received by critics, but Greene regained their respect with the first book he classed as an entertainment. Called Stamboul Train in England, it was published in 1932 in the United States as Orient Express. The story revolves around a group of travelers on the Orient Express, a setting mysterious enough to permit a large helping of melodrama and grotesque character-building. Journey without Maps, published in 1936, was a travelogue, detailing Greene's fascination with the lush and decadent outposts of colonization.
During the years of World War II Greene slipped out of England and went to West Africa to do some clandestine intelligence work for the British Government. The result, a novel called The Heart of the Matter appeared in 1948, and greatly appealed to American readers.
Steadily, Greene produced a succession of works that received both praise and crtiticism. He was considered for the Nobel Prize but failed to become a candidate. Still, many other honors were bestowed upon him, including a 1966 accolade from Queen Elizabeth as a Companion of Honor, and the Order of Merit, a much higher honor, in 1986.
In 1979 Greene underwent surgery for intestinal cancer, but had no lasting ill-effects. However, in 1990, he was stricken with an unspecified blood disease so debilitating that he decided to move from his home in Antibes, the South of France, to Vevey, Switzerland, so that he could be closer to his daughter. He lingered until the beginning of spring, then died on April 3rd, 1991, in La Povidence Hospital.
Patrick Hamilton (17 March 1904 - 23 September 1962) was an English playwright and novelist. He was well regarded by Graham Greene and J. B. Priestley and study of his novels has been revived recently because of their distinctive style, deploying a Dickensian narrative voice to convey aspects of inter-war London street culture. They display a strong sympathy for the disadvantaged, as well as an acerbic black humour. Doris Lessing wrote in The Times in 1968: "Hamilton was a marvellous novelist who's grossly neglected".
J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) gained a reputation during the 1960s and 1970s as a cult figure among youths disillusioned with war and the technological age; his continuing popularity evidences his ability to evoke the oppressive realities of modern life while drawing audiences into a fantasy world.
Tolkien was born on Jan. 3, 1892, the son of English-born parents in Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State of South Africa, where his father worked as a bank manager. To escape the heat and dust of southern Africa and to better guard the delicate health of Ronald (as he was called), Tolkien's mother moved back to England with him and his younger brother when they were very young boys. Within a year of this move their father, Arthur Tolkien, died in Bloemfontein, and a few years later the boys' mother died as well. The boys lodged at several homes from 1905 until 1911, when Ronald entered Exeter College, Oxford. Tolkien received his B.A. from Oxford in 1915 and an M.A. in 1919. During the interim he married his longtime sweetheart, Edith Bratt, and served for a short time on the Western Front with the Lancashire Fusiliers. While in England recovering from "trench fever" in 1917, Tolkien began writing "The Book of Lost Tales, " which eventually became The Silmarillion (1977) and laid the groundwork for his stories about Middle-earth. After the Armistice he returned to Oxford, where he joined the staff of the Oxford English Dictionary and began work as a free-lance tutor. In 1920 he was appointed Reader in English Language at Leeds University, where he collaborated with E. V. Gordon on an acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which was completed and published in 1925. (Some years later, Tolkien completed a second translation of this poem, which was published posthumously.) The following year, having returned to Oxford as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Tolkien became friends with a fellow of Magdalen College, C. S. Lewis. They shared an intense enthusiasm for the myths, sagas, and languages of northern Europe; and to better enhance those interests, both attended meetings of "The Coalbiters, " an Oxford club, founded by Tolkien, at which Icelandic sagas were read aloud.
During the rest of his years at Oxford - twenty as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, fourteen as Merton Professor of English Language and Literature - Tolkien published several esteemed short studies and translations. Notable among these are his essays "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" (1936), " Chaucer as a Philologist: The Reeve's Tale" (1934), and "On Fairy-Stories" (1947); his scholarly edition of Ancrene Wisse (1962); and his translations of three medieval poems: "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, " "Pearl, " and "Sir Orfeo" (1975). As a writer of imaginative literature, though, Tolkien is best known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, tales which were formed during his years attending meetings of "The Inklings, " an informal gathering of like-minded friends and fellow dons, initiated after the demise of The Coalbiters. The Inklings, which was formed during the late 1930s and lasted until the late 1940s, was a weekly meeting held in Lewis's sitting-room at Magdalen, at which works-in-progress were read aloud and discussed and critiqued by the attendees, all interspersed with free-flowing conversation about literature and other topics. The nucleus of the group was Tolkien, Lewis, and Lewis's friend, novelist Charles Williams; other participants, who attended irregularly, included Lewis's brother Warren, Nevill Coghill, H. V. D. Dyson, Owen Barfield, and others. The common thread which bound them was that they were all adherents of Christianity and all had a love of story. Having heard Tolkien's first hobbit story read aloud at a meeting of the Inklings, Lewis urged Tolkien to publish The Hobbit, which appeared in 1937. A major portion of The Fellowship of the Ring was also read to The Inklings before the group disbanded in the late 1940's.
Tolkien retired from his professorship in 1959. While the unauthorized publication of an American edition of The Lord of the Rings in 1965 angered him, it also made him a widely admired cult figure in the United States, especially among high school and college students. Uncomfortable with this status, he and his wife lived quietly in Bournemouth for several years, until Edith's death in 1971. In the remaining two years of his life, Tolkien returned to Oxford, where he was made an honorary fellow of Merton College and awarded a doctorate of letters. He was at the height of his fame as a scholarly and imaginative writer when he died in 1973, though critical study of his fiction continues and has increased in the years since.
A devout Roman Catholic throughout his life, Tolkien began creating his own languages and mythologies at an early age and later wrote Christian-inspired stories and poems to provide them with a narrative framework. Based on bedtime stories Tolkien had created for his children, The Hobbit concerns the reluctant efforts of a hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, to recover a treasure stolen by a dragon. During the course of his mission, the hobbit discovers a magical ring which, among other powers, can render its bearer invisible. The ability to disappear helps Bilbo fulfill his quest; however, the ring's less obvious faculties prompt the malevolent Sauron, Dark Lord of Mordor, to seek it. The hobbits' attempt to destroy the ring, thereby denying Sauron unlimited power, is the focal point of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which consists of the novels The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), The Two Towers (1954), and The Return of the King (1955). In these books Tolkien rejects such traditional heroic attributes as strength and size, stressing instead the capacity of even the humblest creatures to prevail against evil.
The initial critical reception to The Lord of the Rings varied. While some reviewers expressed dissatisfaction with the story's great length and one-dimensional characters, the majority enjoyed Tolkien's enchanting descriptions and lively sense of adventure. Religious, Freudian, allegorical, and political interpretations of the trilogy soon appeared, but Tolkien generally rejected such explications. He maintained that The Lord of the Rings was conceived with "no allegorical intentions …, moral, religious, or political, " but he also denied that the trilogy is a work of escapism: "Middle-earth is not an imaginary world…. The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live." Tolkien contended that his story was "fundamentally linguistic in inspiration," a "religious and Catholic work" whose spiritual aspects were "absorbed into the story and symbolism." Tolkien concluded, "The stories were made … to provide a world for the languages rather than the reverse."
Throughout his career Tolkien composed histories, genealogies, maps, glossaries, poems, and songs to supplement his vision of Middle-earth. Among the many works published during his lifetime were a volume of poems, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962), and a fantasy novel, Smith of Wootton Major (1967). Though many of his stories about Middle-earth remained incomplete at the time of Tolkien's death, his son, Christopher, rescued the manuscripts from his father's collections, edited them, and published them. One of these works, The Silmarillion, takes place before the time of The Hobbit and, in a heroic manner which recalls the Christian myths of Creation and the Fall, tells the tale of the first age of Holy Ones and their offspring. Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth (1980) is a similar collection of incomplete stories and fragments written during World War I. The Book of Lost Tales, Part I (1984) and The Book of Lost Tales, Part II (1984) deal respectively with the beginnings of Middle-earth and the point at which humans enter the saga. In addition to these posthumous works, Christopher Tolkien also collected his father's correspondence to friends, family, and colleagues in The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1981).It is as a writer of timeless fantasy that Tolkien is most highly regarded today. From 1914 until his death in 1973, he drew on his familiarity with Northern and other ancient literatures and his own invented languages to create not just his own story, but his own world: Middle-earth, complete with its own history, myths, legends, epics, and heroes. "His life's work, " Augustus M. Kolich has written, "… encompasses a reality that rivals Western man's own attempt at recording the composite, knowable history of his species. Not since Milton has any Englishman worked so successfully at creating a secondary world, derived from our own, yet complete in its own terms with encyclopedic mythology; an imagined world that includes a vast gallery of strange beings: hobbits, elves, dwarfs, orcs, and, finally, the men of Westernesse." His works - especially The Lord of the Rings - have pleased countless readers and fascinated critics who recognize their literary depth.
The British novelist and essayist Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was an established literary figure whose impact is increasingly recognized by scholars and teachers.
On November 29, 1898, Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland. He was the son of A. J. Lewis, a solicitor, and Flora August Hamilton Lewis, whose father was a clergyman. The death of his mother occurred when he was a child. After spending a year in studies at Malvern College, he continued his education privately under the tutelage of W. T. Kirkpatrick, formerly headmaster of Lurgan College.
During World War I he served as a second lieutenant in the infantry, interrupting his career as scholar begun in 1918 at University College, Oxford. Wounded in the war, he returned to Oxford, where in 1924 he was appointed lecturer at University College. In 1925 he was appointed fellow and tutor at Magdalen College, England, where he lectured on English literature.
Lewis early grew disillusioned with religion and only later "converted" to Christianity, joining the Anglican Church. Taciturn about the details of his early life, his autobiography, Surprised by joy: The Shape of My Early Life, fails to provide enlightenment and leaves the Lewis scholar to speculations about his childhood and early disenchantment with emotional Christianity. Perhaps his headmaster, a clergyman who urged him to "think" by application of the rod, contributed to his dissuasion.
His autobiography does reveal, however, that he had little interest in sports as a boy and that he was a voracious reader. Among his early favorite authors was G. K. Chesterton who was himself a paradoxical and religious writer.
Widely read as an adult, his knowledge of literature was prodigious and made of him a superb conversationalist much sought after for his company. Lewis thoroughly enjoyed sitting up into the wee hours in college rooms" … talking nonsense, poetry, theology, and metaphysics over beer, tea, and pipes."
His subjects at Oxford were medieval and Renaissance English literature, in which he became a scholar, lecturer, and tutor of renown. His reputation was made secure by his English Literature in the 16th Century (1954) and Experiment in Criticism (1961). Aside from scholarly writings, his output included science-fiction, children's stories, and religious apology.
In 1926 his first publication, Dymer, a narrative versification in Rime Royal, appeared under the pseudonym Clive Hamilton. Dymer revealed something of his satirical gift. The Pilgrims' Regress, an allegory published in 1933, presented an apology for Christianity. It was not until the appearance of his second allegorical work, The Allegory of Love (1936), however, that Lewis received acclaim by winning the coveted Hawthornden prize.
His Pilgrims' Regress is a work of allegorical science fiction, in which a philologist is kidnapped by evil scientists. The Screwtape Letters (1942), for which he is perhaps best known, is a satire in which the devil, here known as Screwtape, writes letters instructing his young nephew, Wormwood, how to tempt souls to damnation.
Of his seven religious allegories for children titled Chronicles of Narnia (1955) he commented that, "stories of this kind could steal past … inhibitions which had dissuaded him from his own religion." … "An obligation to feel can freeze feeling." His later rejoining of Christianity was philosophical, not emotional.
Lewis was married, rather late in life, in 1956, to Joy Davidman Gresham, the daughter of a New York Jewish couple. She was a graduate of Hunter College and for a time belonged to the Communist Party. She had previously been married twice. When her first husband suffered a heart attack, she turned to prayer. Reading the writings of Lewis, she began to attend Presbyterian services. Later, led by his writings to Lewis himself, she divorced her second husband, Williams Gresham, left the Communist Party, and married Lewis. Her death proceeded her husband's by some three years. C. S. Lewis died, at his home in Headington, Oxford, on November 24, 1963. A major collection of his works is held by Wheaton College in Illinois.
Alexander Baron (4 December 1917 - 6 December 1999) was a British author and screenwriter. He is best known for his highly acclaimed novel about D-Day entitled From the City from the Plough (1948) and his London novel The Lowlife (1963). His father was Barnet Bernstein, a Polish-Jewish immigrant to Britain who settled in the East End of London in 1908 and later worked as a furrier. Alexander Baron was born in Maidenhead and raised in the Hackney district of London. He attended Hackney Downs School. During the 1930s, with his schoolfriend Ted Willis, Baron was a leading activist and organiser of the Labour League of Youth (at that time aligned with the Communist Party), campaigning against the fascists in the streets of the East End. Baron became increasingly disillusioned with far left politics as he spoke to International Brigade fighters returning from the Spanish Civil War, and finally broke with the communists after the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939.
Baron served in the Pioneer Corps of the British Army during World War II, experiencing fierce fighting in the Italian campaign, Normandy and in Northern France and Belgium. As a pioneer, he was among the first Allied troops to be landed in Sicily, Italy and on D-Day. He used his wartime experiences as the basis for his three best-selling war novels. After the war he became assistant editor of Tribune before publishing his first novel From the City from the Plough (1948). At this time, at the behest of his publisher Jonathan Cape, he also changed his name from Bernstein to Baron.
As well as continuing to write novels (for a list of his works, see below), in the 1950s Baron wrote screenplays for Hollywood, and by the 1960s he had become a regular writer on BBC's Play for Today. He wrote several episodes of the A Family at War series: 'The Breach in the Dyke' (1970), 'Brothers in War' (1970), 'A Lesson in War' (1970), 'Believed Killed' (1971), 'The Lost Ones' (1971), and 'Two Fathers' (1972). Later he became well known for drama serials like Poldark and A Horseman Riding By, and in the 1980s for BBC classic literary adaptions including Sense And Sensibility (1981), Jane Eyre (1983), Oliver Twist (1985) and Vanity Fair (1987). He contributed several episodes to Granada Television's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984-1985). 
Baron's personal papers are held in the archives of the University of Reading. His wartime letters and unpublished memoirs were used by the historian Sean Longden for his book To the Victor the Spoils, a social history of the British Army between D Day and VE Day. Baron has also been the subject of essays by Iain Sinclair and Ken Worpole.
Since Baron's death in December 1999 his novels have been republished several times, including his first war book From the City, From the Plough (Black Spring Press, 2010); his cult novel about the London underworld of the early 1960s, The Lowlife (Harvill, 2001; Black Spring Press, 2010), which was cited in Jon Savage's England's Dreaming as a literary antecedent of punk; King Dido (Five Leaves, 2009), a story of the violent rise and fall of an East End London gangster in Edwardian England; and Rosie Hogarth (Five Leaves, 2010). Further books are under contract, testifying to a strong resurgence of interest among in Baron's work among the reading public as well as among critics and academics. In spring 2011 Sort Of Books will bring back into print Baron's second war novel There's No Home; and Baron's third work based on his wartime experiences, The Human Kind, will be republished by Black Spring Press in autumn 2011. Several of his novels are attracting the attention of film producers.
english literature twentieth century
1 Lewis, Barry. "Postmodernism and Literature." The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism NY: Routledge, 2002, p. 121.
2 Seiler, Andy (December 16, 2003). "'Rings' comes full circle". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-03-12.
3 Diver, Krysia (October 5, 2004). "A lord for Germany". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-03-12.
4 Cooper, Callista (December 5, 2005). "Epic trilogy tops favourite film poll". ABC News Online. Retrieved 2006-03-12.
5 O'Hehir, Andrew (June 4, 2001). "The book of the century". Salon.com. Retrieved 2006-03-12.List of years in literature
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