THE PPHILOSOPHICAL NOVEL. W.GOLDING, I.MURDOCH, J.FOWLES



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THE PPHILOSOPHICAL NOVEL. W.GOLDING, I.MURDOCH, J.FOWLES



The serious events of the 20th c (2 world wars, revolutions, downfall of the British Empire, etc.) made the writers of the 2nd half of the XX century think over the problems of universal significance: human nature, human lot, prospects of human civilization, causes of evil in Man & society, etc. The political & social developments in the second half of the 20th century led the literary men of England to serious meditations on the future of mankind, the aim of man's life, man's place in society. These problems are the essence of the so-called ''philosophical novel'" which came into existence in the early 1950s.

En. writers who touched upon the philosophical problems of human existence were influenced by the works of French modernists, especially those who professed the philosophy of existentialism, such as J.-P.Sartre & A.Camus. A human being is a unique & isolated individual in an indifferent or hostile universe, responsible for his/her own actions & free to choose his/her destiny. According to this, society is a combination of independent individuals where each is free to act according to their free will & their freedom is loneliness. The spirit of pessimism & despair characterizes that type of philosophy. People's life is purposeless & absurd because of inevitable death, estrangement & estrangement that govern people’s relations. The writers influenced by existentialism very often placed their characters in some extreme situations which helped to bring out the very essence of human nature. There exist 2 categories of novels: discussion & parables. The writers present their characters as archetypes which can be found in every generation. The main archetypes come from the folklore, mythology, Bible. The woks of William Golding, Iris Murdoch, John Fowles belong to the trend of the philosophical novel.

The novelist W. Golding is concerned with arcetypes of human experience. "Lord of the Flies"(1954) is one of his most significant novels. It is the story of the evil in Man. Common English schoolboys lose their civilization speedily when they found themselves after an air crash in the wild environment of an uninhabited island. The book which is full of symbols is about the fight for supremacy & survival. "The Spire" (1964) is about the raising of a cathedral spire. It's the symbol of the longing for God. The sense of sin, separation from God, the sense of being guilty are fundamental to Golding's deeply pessimistic view of the human race & of its conduct in the 20th century in particular. His artistic message is a warning against the danger coming out of the dark and negative powers in human soul.

Iris Murdoch is one of the most prolific & well-known novelists in Great Britain. As she is a professional philosopher her novels very often illustrate her philosophical views which evolved from existentialism in the 1950s towards the Gothic horrors & neo-Platonism in the following decades. The first existential period is represented by the novels "Under the Net", "The Sandcastle" which are influenced by Sartre. Different actions of individuals often leading to tragic collisions are described as realization of the right or free choice. We all are made equal & lonely in the world of absurdity. There are no guilty & no right: all are victims & hunters at the same time. "The Bell", "The Unicorn" & other Gothic novels of the second period are about the horrors & sins of our existence. The books of that period are full of demonic characters, violence, evil, dark allegorical images & symbols. Freudian themes are clearly expressed. The postulate "life is a problem with many solutions & all of them are true is mainly reduced to one thing — love affair". In the 70s Murdoch was influenced by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. In the society that lost the idea of God, in the chaos full of cruel accidents only Plato’s idea of love & the good helps people in their fight with other people’s vices & their own ones (the novel "A Fairly Honorable Defeat"). The double nature of her creative method consists in the following: realistic enclosed in the frames of fantastic plots. One of her most famous novels is "Black Prince" which is based on the allusions to Hamlet.

John Fowles is a highly imaginative & innovating writer. He plays a very important role in English Literature as he raises very significant problems such as the role of art in people's lives, the freedom of choice, an individual vs. society He analyzes human relations, especially those b/n the opposite sexes. His male is always limited by his partial understanding of woman who he can only softly comprehend. He portrays an Englishman's attempt to see himself & his time through his past & present. His first novel "A Collector" is a psychological thriller. The protagonist of the novel who is a butterfly collector kidnaps a girl & keeps her captive in a remote house seeking her love. He finally kills her & after
her death begins to look for another "specimen" for his terrible collection. His novel "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1969) is a semi-historical study of Victorian England. Fowles studies the roots of the spiritual crisis of people in the Victorian epoch. The author chose a love triangle set against a Victorian background. The main hero Charles Smithson is in a state of conflict with the environment. He is engaged to a common girl but falls under the spell of eccentric, sensual, "fallen" Sarah Woodruff who is believed to be deserted by a French lover. He breaks his engagement but Sarah leaves him. When he finds her again (in the protection of the famous poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti) she has become "a new woman". The novel is intentionally left incomplete by the author. It displays some features of a postmodernist work, such as the suggestion of alternative endings, citation, the use of irony, the relativity of the concept of truth, etc. The readers must decide for themselves which actions of their characters are more justified psychologically. The text with such a complicated multilevel organization is aimed at both an elitist & a common reader.

 

22. ENGLISH WRITERS OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY. M.SPARK, M.DRABBLE & OTHERS

The 60s were a time of important changes, f.e. the abolition of capital punishment, legalization of abortion & homosexuality. The censorship of plays for public performance came to an end. The reading public for serious fiction declined with the rise of television. These changes had an obvious effect on the content of literature.

One of the most prominent contemporary writers isMuriel Spark (b.1918). She is an intelligent & witty master of satire, a follower of the English satirical school. Taken together her short stories & novels present a sort of comic encyclopedia of morals & customs of her countrymen. It is the snobbery & hypocrisy of the middle class presented in the cold objective manner that are the main objects of Spark's criticism. She sees no hero in the society. The novel "The Public Image"(1968) deals with the problem of creating fake idols & false ideals which are offered to the public in order to divert its attention from serious problems. The novel is about making the public idol out of an ordinary, not very talented & pretty actress.

Margaret Drabble (1939) is another female writer who in the 60-80s wrote a series of novels most of which are about educated women caught in the numerous conflicting claims (maternity, sexuality, intellectual & economic aspirations): "The Millstone" (1966), "The Realms of Gold"(1975), "The Middle Ground"(1980) & others.

The theatrical revival of the 50s took new impetus with the plays ofHarold Pinter (b.l930).

After the late 60s English literature has become postmodernist. One of the dominant features of postmodern literature is its obsession with history. Many authors of historical novels isMartin Amis, the son of Kingsly Amis. Nowadays the development of literature in GB is characterized by the widening of the ethnic paradigm.



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