Edwardian men of letters were important public figures who enjoyed great popularity. In the 1920s they were denounced by Virginia Woolf for their materialism & lack of true insight into human life. Some intellectuals looked for new ways of explaining human nature by means of lit-re. The realistic approach to man & society was rejected by writers who were united under the name of modernists. Modernism was a logical continuation of decadent trends which appeared in the late 19th c. The term modernism first denoted smth. new & gradually it began to mean a literary term, which was in many ways contrary to realism. It differs from realism in the most essential aesthetic principles, in the views on the task & the mission of art. M-sts declared realism as out-dated.They refused to depict man’s character & his life as predetermined by concrete historical events. M-sts were pessimistic about human nature: Man is a primitive, low, beastly creature, guided mostly by his biological instincts: self-preservation, fear, hunger, sex, will to power. M-sts saw the causes of human actions in man's subconsciousness. The main subject of modernistic art is the inner life of a person which is dependent on the subconscious sphere. M-sts intentionally tended to be comprehensible only to the selected few - elite, high-brow intellectuals. They elaborated a new literary technique, known as "stream-of-consciousness" with the help of which they recorded human inner thoughts or interior monologue. This stylistic device show's unspoken words & phrases & is based on the violation of logic & syntactic structures.

In their treatment of human characters modernists were influenced by the ideas of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who split the human nature into 3 levels: 1) The Superego — the sphere of the social morals, laws regulations people have to comply with. 2) The Ego - the part of human nature which combines both the Id & the Superego. 3) The Id - the sphere of subconscious impulses & natural instincts. Freud stressed that a human being's life is influenced by the Id, though he or she doesn't realize it. Modernist narration is often based on association rather than on logical grounds. The works written by modernists abound in historical, literary, mythological allusions. Some modernists rejected the recent past (the 19th century) in favour of remoter periods of history, f.e. T.S. Eliot was interested in the 17th century & the writings of John Donne, J.Joyce focused on the time of Homer. The most prominent of English modernists were:

James Joyce is considered the founder of the European modernist novel & one of the greatest novelists of the century. Joyce was born in Dublin & studied at Dublin University. At the end of the 19th century there emerged in Ireland a literary movement known as the Irish Literary Revival. Its participants took a great interest in the past of Ireland & folklore. Though Joyce shared most of their ideas he isolated himself from any limitations imposed on him. He was of the opinion that a genuine artist could work freely only beyond his native country. He left Ireland forever. His novel "A portrait of an artist as a young man" (1915) is centered round intellectual & spiritual growth of the main character – Stephen Dedalus. Family, religion, Motherland & art are the main themes of the novel. It traces the formation of the protagonist's character & has 3 parts. In his famous modernist novel "Ulysses" Joyce aimed at creating a contemporary Odyssey reflecting complexity of the 20th century lie. He also attempted to create a work which would deal with universal problems of Good and Evil. He built his novel along the lines of Homer's Odyssey. The novel consists of 18 episodes, reflecting feelings, emotions & thoughts of the main characters. One day from the character's life presents all stages of human existence, starting from childbirth to death. The main character Leopold Bloom is an advertising agent who is mistreated by his nymphomaniac wife. Bloom & Dedalus symbolize opposite aspects of human nature - primitive, low & spiritual, intellectual. The novel is characterized by numerous literary, historical, mythological allusions, the use of the stylistic device ''stream-of -consciousness". It had an immense influence on world lit-re by its novelty of presentation, implications, interior monologue etc. On the other hand it was so complicated & unconventional that many readers found it difficult to understand. Joyce's last novel "Finigan's Wake"which is even more experimental was left unfinished. The title of the novel is based on the Irish folklore. The author's literary origins were in the main movements of the late 19th century - naturalism and symbolism. David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) made the traditional novel wider & deeper. He professed the philosophy of primitivism, because he was sure that human beings are guided by the natural instincts, by the subconscious. So the influence of Freud on his method of writing is quite evident. To find evidence in support of his theory he explored the pure primitive consciousness of American Indians. Industrialization, art, sexuality & their role in human life constitute the main themes of his novels. His autobiographical novel "Sons & Lovers" is often considered a talented literary illustration of Oedipus complex (a child's attraction to a parent of the opposite sex). Paul Morel wants to be an independent personality but his mother's influence is an opposing factor. The girls he meets can not be compared to his mother, with her refinement & strong will. After his mother's death from cancer he nearly ruined himself & was thinking of going after her. His novels, such as "Lady Chatterley's Lover" & others are directed against intellectual women — independent intellectuals who were called "new women" in the epoch of modernism. In his novels he shows the constant struggle b/n man & woman, the working of human basic instincts. Lawrence was often accused of immorality. The publication of his "Lady Chatterley's Lover" caused a public scandal. The publishers were brought to court for advertising immorality. The main heroine of the novel prefers a woodcutter to an educated man because of his greater sexuality.Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an experimenting novelist, a literary critic, a short story writer & an essayist. She organized the Bloomsbury group of writers & artists & was one of the most vivid representatives of the psychological school of writing. As a modernist she used interior monologue or "stream-of-consciousness" & poetic symbolism. For her the characters' inner world was more important than the development of the plot that's why her plots may seem static. Her novels are: Mrs.Dalloway (1935), To the Lighthouse (1927)), The Waves(1931), Orlando (1928), A Room of One's Own (1929) (a feminist essay). Her novel Mrs. Dalloway represents a series of moments of being, i.e. momentary pictures, interconnected & yet disunited. She gives a description of one day as it was experienced by Mrs.Dalloway. Orlando presents a picture of En. history from The Renaissance to modem Times as seen through the eyes of the character who is immortal & changes sex from hero to heroine. 1 of the most important images in her works is the image of water which found reflection in the novel The Waves. She committed suicide by drowning.


The 2nd WW influenced greatly ideological and economic life of Britain. During the war GB suffered heavy financial losses. The post-war programme of the Labour Party became the only hope for a better future for the Br. people, but soon they saw that the policy of the labour leaders didn't differ much from that of their predecessors. From 1946 GB faced strong resistance on the part of the oppressed people of India and Egypt. GB was losing one colony after another and becoming more dependent on the USA. These factors & the cold war & the atomic threat, the rapid intensification of the cultural and moral crisis influenced the minds of the British people, particularly the intellectuals,& caused their disillusionment. Due to the deepening of the capitalist economic crisis the position of the working masses became worse in the 70s. Prices were rapidly going up. All this was reflected in the literature of that time. Graham Green (1904-1991) is one of the best & most popular representatives of the contemporary prose. He was a novelist, a short storywriter, a playwright, a journalist. He traveled a lot & the geography of his works is very wide. The so-called Greeneland stretches very wide. His characters inhabit Vietnam, Cuba, some colonial countries. In his novels he touches upon such topical issues of the postwar II world as the US invasion in Vietnam (The Quiet American), the Haitian people's struggle against dictatorship (The Comedians), racism in South Africa (The Human Factor), the situation in Argentina (The Honorary Consul). Greene can be compared to Dickens as he was a good story-teller, enjoyed melodrama & sentiment & was interested in life in all its forms. The scope of his writings is also very wide. His central characters are complicated, never quite sure of themselves. His novels fall into 2 categories: 1) Serious novels: "The Heart of the Matter", "The Quiet American", "A Burnt out Case", "The Comedians", "The Human Factor". They deal with social, political, moral and psychological issues & contain anti-colonial & anti-war problematics. 2) Entertaining novels: "Istanbul Train", "A Gun for Sale", "Our Man in Havana", "The Ministry of Fear" and others. This group is more of a detective type. The political events serve as a background against which essential human problems of good & evil or right & wrong are raised. The author shows that human nature is very complicated & contradictory. Theoretically Greene preached non-involvement, yet his characters as a rule eventually have to take sides. His works are psychologically profound & are permeated with philosophical meditation on human predicament.

Eric Blair (1903 - 1950), better known by the pen name George Orwell (1903-1950) was a public school leaver but one of the great English radicals. He wrote several novels in the 30s but his fame rests mainly on his later books where he describes the future society. This picture of the totalitarian future, influenced by the hardships and dangers of the 2nd WW & the political events that followed is a dark one. A political allegory “Animal Farm”(1945) is his most famous work. It tells the story of a political revolution that went wrong. The Animals on a farm led by the pigs drive out the master & take control of the farm. But the purity of their political ideas is soon destroyed & they end by being just as greedy & dishonest as the farmer whom they drove out. In fact it's the story of the revolution betrayed in Soviet Russia. His other anti-utopia "1984" is about a totalitarian society where every individual is under control. It is a parody on socialist regulations & mores. Noted as a novelist, critic, political and cultural commentator, Orwell is among the most widely admired En-l-ge essayists of the 20th century. Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) is one of the greatest En. comic novelists of the 20th century. His most characteristic works are very satirical with comically unsympathetic characters that are often cruelly described. His military career was no more successful than that of his hero Guy Crouchback who is trying to do his best for God & Man but always ends by doing something foolish. His works are "Men & Arms" (1952), "Officers & Gentlemen" (1955),"Unconditional Surrender"(1961). He believed that society was breaking down because people didn't stick to the old rules of conduct.

Charles Percy Snow (1905-1986) is a novelist of unique experience. Literary critics call him "a novelist-technocrat". He is the author of an 11-novel epic cycle ''Strangers & Brothers" which covers the period from 1914 to 1968. The characters are scientists, academics, administrators. The main theme of the sequence is as follows: all people are lonely, strangers to each other while similarity, in their joys & sufferings, they are all brothers.The author also raises the problem of scientists' responsibility in modem society.


The En. Lit-re of the 1950s tended to reflect some of the difficulties facing the young generation of the time. Disillusionment & scepticism had become the main features of the young post-war generation. Those youngsters stood up against bourgeois morals, protested angrily against reality & tried to find new aims in life. The literature of 50s reflected the "anger" of the young. The writers who dwelt on this problem became known as "the angry young men". The representatives of this group were K. Amis, J. Braine, J. Osborne, J. Wain & many others. These young writers did not put forward a definite programme that could unite them. They didn't even consider themselves as belonging to the same trend. What made them a group was their hero. They all chose for their main character an intelligent young man from the lower middle class; he had a university education, but was unable to find his place in a society that was suffering from class contradictions.

Thus the characters in the novels & plays written by "the angry young men" were a true-to-life reflection of post-war English society & the thoughts & hopes of the young people of England. They showed the bitter disappointment of the young people who graduated from universities, but because of the growing unemployment could not even find proper jobs & worked as sweet-shop managers, window-cleaners etc. This disillusionment & disbelief in the future made them feel betrayed & lost & brought about their angry protests against everything & everybody. The weak point of the protests lay in their futility. The rebellion of the "angry young men" would not have been so fruitless, if they understood what it was directed against. All their attempts to fight the existing order got them nowhere. It's interesting to note that the works of "the angry young men" appeared in different genres of English literature - in drama, prose & poetry.

All political changes in the 1950s took place in conditions of economic hardships caused by the consequences of the war. The new world required new writers. Those of the 30s & 40s or the most part had not been close enough to the social reality. One possible reaction to the failure to understand what is happening is anger & fear. They were the dominant emotions in the 50s. The writers appeared who were called "angry young men". Among them wereKingsley Amis &John Osborne. They became famous with their first works "Lucky Jim" by Amis & "Look Back in Anger"by Osborne. Jimmy Porter from the play "Look Back in Anger" is a typical angry young man who speaks about life in Britain: "Nobody thinks, nobody cares, no beliefs, no convictions & no enthusiasm. Just another Sunday evening." The play is an explosion of frustration. The revolt of the "angry young men" didn't presuppose any positive actions & was to a large extent emotional & individualist. When the works were written the writers & their characters had much in common but later they stopped being angry after they had acquired a position in the society.

The man who reflected the mood of the time wasSamuel Beckett (1909-1989) whose "Waiting for Godot" was a dramatic sensation which took place in London in 1955. It was originally written in French & staged in Paris. Beckett was an Irishman who settled in France & wrote in French & English. "Waiting for Godot" is a play in which nothing happens. Two tramps Vladimir & Estragon are on a country road in the evening waiting for some mysterious Godot who never turns up. The play is written in the tradition of a symbolic drama connected with French existentialist philosophy & experimentation of the Theatre of Absurd.

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