D.H. Lawrence’s writing: the peculiarities of the author’s creative method and writing style.

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D.H. Lawrence’s writing: the peculiarities of the author’s creative method and writing style.

David Herbert Lawrence was an English novelist, poet, playwright, short story writer, essayist, literary critic and painter who published as D. H. Lawrence. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.

Effects of dehumanizing modernity. Influenced by Nietzsche, Freud, Berkson. He left England after 1 WW, he called his voluntary exile as salvaged pilgrimage. Most prolific writer of his poch. He combined some realistic and modernistic techniques and methods. Open final is characteristic of his novels. Themes: sex, gender relationships. His characters are usually representatives of social types but he often applies psychological analysis.

Lawrence’s writing is notable for its intensity and its erotic sensuality; several of his works, including Lady Chatterley’s Lover, were banned as obscene. All of Lawrence’s novels are written in a lyrical, sensuous, often rhapsodic prose style. He had an extraordinary ability to convey a sense of specific time and place, and his writings often reflected his complex personality. Lawrence’s works include volumes of stories, poems, and essays. Lawrence also wrote several plays, books and volumes of literary criticism, notably Studies in Classic American Literature. Lawrence was a very distinct author, his works were a bit explicit and not everyone agreed with his style of writing.

D.H. Lawrence's major theme was the relationship between men and women.

Lawrence feels that the most sacred thing is love, and the sacred can be realized only in the love between a man and a woman. Only in love can man restore his true emotional self.

Lawrence is perhaps best known for his novels Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love and Lady Chatterley's Lover. Within these Lawrence explores the possibilities for life and living within an industrial setting. In particular Lawrence is concerned with the nature of relationships that can be had within such settings. Though often classed as a realist, Lawrence's use of his characters can be better understood with reference to his philosophy. His depiction of sexual activity, though shocking at the time, has its roots in this highly personal way of thinking and being. It is worth noting that Lawrence was very interested in human touch behaviour and that his interest in physical intimacy has its roots in a desire to restore our emphasis on the body.

Lawrence's best-known short stories include The Captain's Doll, The Fox, The Ladybird, Odour of Chrysanthemums, The Princess, The Rocking-Horse Winner, St Mawr, The Virgin and the Gypsy and The Woman who Rode Away. Although best known for his novels, Lawrence wrote almost 800 poems, most of them relatively short. His first poems were written in 1904 and two of his poems, Dreams Old and Dreams Nascent, were among his earliest published works in The English Review.

13. The architectonics of A.Huxley’s novels of ideas.

The novel of ideas is a narrative form, one in which the standards are not fixed beyond alteration, or removal. It assumes a diversity of mood and intonation, but it is careful not merely to label its characters. They are not allegorical figures, for there is no single thing which the drama of their interaction is designed to illustrate. Such a novel has a development, which consists of the demonstration in terms of human events of the effects of a point of view upon the person who holds it. The drama implicit in an idea becomes explicit when it is shown as a point of view which a person holds and upon which he acts. There is never any fixed struggle between right and wrong, or between true and false, from which we are supposed to get the comfort we can or want.

The novels of ideas contain men of different temperaments and attitudes within the scope of one narrative. The chief objective of the novelist of ideas is to dramatize the conflict of opinions of these attitudes in his novel. Each character has given him a point of view drawn from the prevailing intellectual interests of his creator. Thus, the character stands, moves, or falls. In this type of novel there is the drama of ideas rather than of persons, or the drama of individualized ideas. The requirements of these novels of ideas is rather simple. One is to get these people together in one place where circumstances are favourable to a expression of intellectual diversity. The drawing room, the party, the dinner-these are points of structural focus. To supplement them, there are the notebooks (as in Point Counter Point), correspondence which serves as a substitute for conversation and varies the narrative procedure, the accidental meeting of two or three persons, who continue their discussions.

The best examples of the novel of ideas are Huxley’s novels of the 1920’s.He did not always use this form; nor is any of his novels purely a novel of ideas. The works which mark the development of Huxley as a novelist: ”Crome Yellow”, ”Antic Hay”, ”Point Counter Point”, are novels of ideas. The position, the point of view of the Huxley character is usually revealed in the course of Huxley’s discussion of his tastes, his intellectual preferences, his manner of behaving himself in the society of his fellows. Thus, the idea which is to demonstrate becomes in the novel the point of view he adopts-or actually is.

In his “Point Counter Point”, Aldous Huxley has Philip Quarles occasionally noted in his notebook random observations on the craft of fiction. This may be considered a kind of handbook for a study of “the novel of ideas”-not the novel which uses them for characterization and other qualities of the traditional narrative:

“Novel of ideas. The character of each personage must be implied; as far as possible, in the ideas of which he is mouthpiece. In so far as theories are rationalizations of sentiments, instincts, dispositions of soul, this is feasible. The chief defect of the novel of ideas is that you must write about people who have ideas to express, which excludes all but about 01per cent of the human race. Hence the real, the congenital novelists don’t write such books. But then, I never pretend to be a congenital novelist”.

“Point Counter Point” is more deliberately planned; the novel seems at least to have given each of its points of view some beginning, middle, and end. By interweaving these points of view, giving them a thematic structure, Huxley has placed a large premium upon his view of supplementary ideas. It is interesting how the several points of view are acted out, tested as the novel were, in the modern world, and the limitations of each are demonstrated in the individual fates of the persons who hold them. Spandrell, is himself not concerned with large social issues, lends courage to Illidge, scientist-Communist, so that Webley, Fascist, comes to a violent end. Lord Edward’s devotion to science is free, because he chooses it to be, of embarrassing complications which Illidge suffers through involvement in political action. He has instead what his assistant calls “a shameful and adulterous passion for idealistic metaphysics.” In each case, the point of view, which becomes quite clear very early in the novel, is so given as to form an essence of responsibility for the action consequent upon differences of opinion and opposing.

The author of a novel of ideas is a person of such greater interest in his own novel; his presence is more obvious, too. In the case of Huxley, there is a close interaction of the essayist with the novelist. They parallel each other for a time; they frequently supplement each other. The essayist is a kind of “supply station”, to which the novelist has recoursed. He is the novelist who steps where necessary. Huxley’s chiefly reputation is that of the novelist. In another sense, Huxley is the essayist-commentator upon twentieth-century morals and ideas.

The novel of ideas requires an equilibrium. Once the novelist deserts this position, his novels may become essays almost purely, the narrative itself being an exposition rather than a dramatization of ideas. This is what happened in Huxley’s later novels. He is alternately a caricaturist and an essayist; no longer a novelist of ideas but a philosopher.

Huxley’s novels of the 1920’s are novels of ideas-ideas put into a world in which they may test themselves. These novels are an expression of the vitality of ideas in the 1920’s, but at the same time they are a testimony of the “intellectual confusion” of that period. Most important of all, the novel of ideas are really portraits of the age.


14. The life and work of J.Joyce: his impact on the whole literary process of the 20th century.

James Joyce (1882-1941) is a colossus of modernist fiction. Joyce combined stream-of-consciousness, absurdist drama, mythical parallelism, and other techniques in a formal mélange that has had a profound impact on other modernists and future generations of novelists.

Joyce was born in the Dublin suburbs in 1882 to a Roman Catholic family. His father, John Joyce, a renowned drinker, singer, and storyteller who was on a steady social decline throughout his son’s childhood, would serve as a model for Simon Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. As a young student, Joyce attended first Clongowes Wood College and then Belvedere College, both Jesuit schools. At the age of 16, Joyce rejected Catholicism; the symbols, rituals, history, and theology of the Church, however, would remain important sources for his later fiction.

Starting in 1898, Joyce attended University College Dublin, where he began dabbling in lyric poetry and wrote a review of Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken that received an appreciative response from the playwright himself. After graduating in 1902, Joyce left for Paris to study medicine; he soon found this career unpalatable, however, and instead embarked upon a literary career. In 1903, Joyce returned to Dublin to see his dying mother, refusing to kneel at her bedside, a decision that would haunt Joyce’s future fictional avatar Stephen Dedalus.

On June 16, 1904, Joyce went on his first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle; the date would later be immortalized as the day, on which the action of Ulysses is set.

Joyce’s first published book, Dubliners(1914), consisting of stories he had written over the previous decade, was a naturalistic look at what Joyce called the spiritual paralysis of Dublin. Although he had completed most of the book by 1905, most prospective publishers feared prosecution for obscenity and libel, since the book contained the word "bloody" and an unflattering reference to King Edward VII. When it was finally published, no prosecution followed, but it would not be Joyce's last experience of censorship.

During the decade it took to get Dubliners published, Joyce had been working on an autobiographical novel that eventually became A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ezra Pound, who had learned about Joyce's work from William Butler Yeats, took up Joyce's cause, publishing oen of his poems in his anthology Des Imagistes(1914), and arranging gor the publication of Portrait in The Egoist, beginning on Feruary 2, 1914 (Joyce's thirty-second birthday). In this novel, the free indirect discourse of Dubliners gave way to more daring formal experimentation, such as the mimicking of an infant’s language in the novel’s opening pages and the representation of a young aesthete’s mind at work throughout.

. Pound and Yeats convinced the Royal Literary Fund and the Civil List to make grants to Joyce that permitted him to spend the war years working on Ulysses, serialized (again thanks to Pound's intervention) in the Little Review from 1918 onwards until censorship prevented its continuation in 1920. The novel was published in book form by Sylvia Beach on Joyce's fortieth birthday, February 2, 1922; it remained unavailable in Britain, Ireland, and the United States for over a decade because of continuing censorship.

All of the formal devices of Joyce's earlier work were put into the shadows by the pyrotechnics of Joyce’s last two novels, Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). T.S. Eliot wrote of Ulysses, "It is a book to which we are all indebted and from which none of us can escape." Ulysses is often cited as the exemplary instance of the stream of consciousness in modernist fiction. Finnegans Wake, a dizzying web of allusions and languages, is perhaps even bolder in its technical innovations. Joyce considered this novel to be his masterpiece. One of the masterpieces of twentieth-century literature, Finnegans Wake possesses the characteristics that have made Joyce one of the most maddening and rewarding of modernists: a seriocomic engagement with myth and history; a labyrinthine complexity and recursive form; and a sense of humour that provokes laughter despite obscurity. The novel was published in May 1939, shortly before the start of the Second World War. Joyce died two years later, as a result of surgery for an ulcer.


15. “Ulysses” as the most important mythopoeic novel of 20th century.

Joyce’s novel describes a day in the life of an advertising canvasser in pre-war Dublin, drawing implicit parallels between his adventures and those described in Homer’s Odyssey. Joyce began the novel in a stream-of-consciousness or “interior monologue” technique that developed naturally out of his experiments in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). During the course of writing Ulysses, however, he largely abandoned this method and replaced it with a vast array of styles, so that the reader’s attention is directed as much to Joyce’s use of a variety of literary techniques as to the events he describes.

Ulysses demonstrates most of the notable characteristics of the modern novel. As an exploration of consciousness or the inner life, it inspired Woolf’s injunction that the novelist should “consider the ordinary mind on an ordinary day.” For Joyce this entails a preference for an anti-hero, or at any rate a hero who does not resemble the heroes of earlier novels, as well as an exploration of subject matter that, while a part of ordinary consciousness, is often taboo in art, such as defecation and masturbation. As a notable experiment in the rendering of time, Ulysses displays a modernist skepticism about the linear or sequential arrangement of events into traditional plots. In contrast with the earlier tendency to make the prose of novels generally referential, Joyce was particularly self-conscious about the literary quality or style of novelistic language he used; he experimented with narrative devices and combined the realist representation of the world with esoteric symbolism. Finally, Ulysses called attention to its own status as fiction and to relationship between fiction and history, the question of the novel as a modern form of epic.

Ulysses is set in Dublin on June 16, 1904. The day has no particular historical significance, except that it was on June 16, 1904 that Joyce had his first date with his future wife Nora Barnacle. (Joyce and Nora lived together for twenty-seven years before marrying; Joyce objected to most institutions, including that of marriage, but eventually submitted to it for the sake of his children’s legal status.) It is, in Woolf’s phrase, “an ordinary day,” although with more hours of daylight than most because of its proximity to midsummer and Dublin’s northerly latitude. Along with a seemingly endless cast of Dubliners, the novel features three major characters, Stephen Dedalus (the protagonist of Portrait), Leopold Bloom (the advertising canvasser), and Molly Bloom (Leopold’s wife). Through the course of the novel, the attentive reader learns that Leopold and Molly have not had sexual intercourse since the death of their infant son Rudy, ten and a half years earlier. On the afternoon of June 16, Molly is expecting a visit from Blazes Boylan, who will become her lover. Bloom suspects his wife of having had many adulterous affairs, but Blazes is the only clear-cut case. According to the parallel with the Odyssey, Bloom spends the day in exile, like Odysseus on his way back from the Trojan war, before returning home at the end of the day. Where Odysseus slaughtered the suitors who had tried to seduce his faithful wife Penelope, however, Bloom meekly accepts Molly’s unfaithfulness.

The novel’s other plot-line features Stephen as a modern equivalent of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. Like Bloom, Stephen is exiled from his home, a tower on Dublin Bay, by a usurper, his sometime friend Buck Mulligan. Stephen’s mother has recently died, so, like Hamlet, he wears black. Bloom too dresses in black, for the funeral of a friend, Paddy Dignam, who has fallen off a ladder in a drunken stupor (paralleling the death of a minor character, Elpenor, in the Odyssey). Stephen thinks of himself as Hamlet, but Joyce casts him as Telemachus, in search of a father, and the “quest for a father” became a major theme of early criticism of the novel. The novel associates Bloom with Hamlet’s father’s ghost as well as with Odysseus. Stephen’s real father, Simon, is quite incompetent, and when Bloom rescues Stephen from a brawl near the end of the novel, the two men return to Bloom’s home together. Their meeting is fairly brief, however, and it is unclear whether or not Stephen has really found the spiritual father he needs. (The encounter is loosely based on an occasion when Joyce himself was rescued from a fracas by Arthur H. Hunter, one of the models for Bloom). The novel ends, after Bloom returns to bed, with the unsurpassable interior monologue of Molly Bloom, a sort of soliloquy that gives her account of her childhood, her married life, and her other loves, as well as her views on matters such as war and music.

Joyce wrote Ulysses while living in Trieste, Zürich, and Paris, having gone into voluntary “exile” from Ireland because of its conservative social and intellectual climate. He was in close touch with avant-garde circles in all three cities, and their experiments influenced his. In order to make the novel easier to understand, Joyce gave his French and Italian translators schemas explaining that each “episode” had its own distinctive time, scene, style, bodily organ, art, colors, and symbol, and outlining the correspondences between characters and their counterparts in The Odyssey and, to a lesser extent, Hamlet. (The “episodes,” as the chapters are called, are known by the names Joyce gave them in his schemas, although these are not usually printed in editions of the novel itself.) There are also Biblical parallels, but they have a somewhat different status; the characters themselves are unaware of the similarities between their own lives and those of the characters in The Odyssey, but they frequently invoke the Bible to explain their circumstances.

The Homeric references in Ulysses raise a number of critical issues. The use of parallels with one of the great classical epics to describe the humdrum and sordid marital affairs of a reasonably intelligent but not otherwise remarkable lower middle-class hero can be understood as a form of mock epic, in which high style is applied to low matter. Joyce’s attitude would then be seen as satirical, like Eliot’s attitude towards such characters as Sweeney and the typist in The Waste Land. More frequently, however, readers have seen Joyce as trying to represent what Baudelaire called the “heroism of modern life.” Bloom, who appears merely comic at the beginning of the novel, seems to become more heroic, more like Odysseus, as the narrative progresses.

Another debate concerns how much weight readers should place on the schemas in which Joyce outlined the mythic parallels. Eliot praised Joyce’s “mythic method,” but many critics disagree with Eliot and see the parallels as a kind of scaffolding, not essential to the structure of the work, and interpret Joyce’s purpose as less unifying than Eliot suggests. In other words, they see Joyce not as a high modernist, but as the first postmodernist, discarding the unifying myths that Eliot wanted to maintain. The reality is complex: both Joyce and Eliot did seek myths that could make sense of contemporary history, but they both also recognized that, to be compelling, these modern myths must be complex, ironic, and multifarious. The seeds of postmodernism are present in the highest of high modernist works.


16. Anglo-American modernist poetry: imagism.

From 1908 to 1914 there was a remarkably productive period of innovation and experiment as novelists and poets undertook, in anthologies and magazines, to challenge the literary conventions not just of the recent past but of the entire post-Romantic era. For a brief moment, London, which up to that point had been culturally one of the dullest of the European capitals, boasted an avant-garde to rival those of Paris, Vienna, and Berlin, even if its leading personality, Ezra Pound, and many of its most notable figures were American.

The spirit of Modernism—a radical and utopian spirit stimulated by new ideas in anthropology, psychology, philosophy, political theory, and psychoanalysis—was in the air, expressed rather mutedly by the pastoral and often anti-Modern poets of the Georgian movement (1912–22) and more authentically by the English and American poets of the Imagist movement, to which Pound first drew attention in Ripostes (1912), a volume of his own poetry, and in Des Imagistes (1914), an anthology. Prominent among the Imagists were the English poets T.E. Hulme, F.S. Flint, and Richard Aldington and the Americans Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) and Amy Lowell.

Reacting against what they considered to be an exhausted poetic tradition, the Imagists wanted to refine the language of poetry in order to make it a vehicle not for pastoral sentiment or imperialistic rhetoric but for the exact description and evocation of mood. To this end they experimented with free or irregular verse and made the image their principal instrument. In contrast to the leisurely Georgians, they worked with brief and economical forms.

World War I brought this first period of the Modernist revolution to an end and, while not destroying its radical and utopian impulse, made the Anglo-American Modernists all too aware of the gulf between their ideals and the chaos of the present. Novelists and poets parodied received forms and styles, in their view made redundant by the immensity and horror of the war, but, as can be seen most clearly in Pound's angry and satirical Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), with a note of anguish and with the wish that writers might again make form and style the bearers of authentic meanings.

In his two most innovative novels, The Rainbow (1915) and Women in Love (1920), D.H. Lawrence traced the sickness of modern civilization—a civilization in his view only too eager to participate in the mass slaughter of the war—to the effects of industrialization upon the human psyche. Yet as he rejected the conventions of the fictional tradition, which he had used to brilliant effect in his deeply felt autobiographical novel of working-class family life, Sons and Lovers (1913), he drew upon myth and symbol to hold out the hope that individual and collective rebirth could come through human intensity and passion.

On the other hand, the poet and playwright T.S. Eliot, another American resident in London, in his most innovative poetry, Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) and The Waste Land (1922), traced the sickness of modern civilization—a civilization that, on the evidence of the war, preferred death or death-in-life to life—to the spiritual emptiness and rootlessness of modern existence. As he rejected the conventions of the poetic tradition, Eliot, like Lawrence, drew upon myth and symbol to hold out the hope of individual and collective rebirth, but he differed sharply from Lawrence by supposing that rebirth could come through self-denial and self-abnegation. Even so, their satirical intensity, no less than the seriousness and scope of their analyses of the failings of a civilization that had voluntarily entered upon the First World War, ensured that Lawrence and Eliot became the leading and most authoritative figures of Anglo-American Modernism in England in the whole of the postwar period.

During the 1920s Lawrence (who had left England in 1919) and Eliot began to develop viewpoints at odds with the reputations they had established through their early work. In Kangaroo (1923) and The Plumed Serpent (1926), Lawrence revealed the attraction to him of charismatic, masculine leadership, while, in For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on Style and Order (1928), Eliot (whose influence as a literary critic now rivaled his influence as a poet) announced that he was a “classicist in literature, royalist in politics and anglo-catholic in religion” and committed himself to hierarchy and order. Elitist and paternalistic, they did not, however, adopt the extreme positions of Pound (who left England in 1920 and settled permanently in Italy in 1925) or Lewis. Drawing upon the ideas of the left and of the right, Pound and Lewis dismissed democracy as a sham and argued that economic and ideological manipulation was the dominant factor. For some, the antidemocratic views of the Anglo-American Modernists simply made explicit the reactionary tendencies inherent in the movement from its beginning; for others, they came from a tragic loss of balance occasioned by World War I. This issue is a complex one, and judgments upon the literary merit and political status of Pound's ambitious but immensely difficult Imagist epic The Cantos (1917–70) and Lewis's powerful sequence of politico-theological novels The Human Age (The Childermass, 1928; Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta, both 1955) are sharply divided.


17. T.S.Eliot’s activity as a poet , playwright, literary critic and theorist. “Waste Land” as a mythopoeic poem.

Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965) was a publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and "one of the twentieth century's major poets."

He was born in 1888 in St. Louis. He was the son of a prominent industrialist who came from a well- connected Boston family. Eliot began graduate study in philosophy at Harvard and completed his dissertation, although the outbreak of World War I prevented him from taking his examinations and receiving the degree. By that time, though, Eliot had already written “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and the War, which kept him in England, led him to decide to pursue poetry full-time.

Eliot met Ezra Pound in 1914, as well, and it was Pound who was his main mentor and editor and who got his poems published and noticed. During a 1921break from his job as a bank clerk (to recover from a mental breakdown), Eliot finished the work that was to secure him fame, The Waste Land. This poem, heavily edited by Pound and perhaps also by Eliot’s wife, Vivien, addressed the fragmentation and alienation characteristic of modern culture, making use of these fragments to create a new kind of poetry. It was also around this time that Eliot began to write criticism, partly in an effort to explain his own methods. In 1925, he went to work for the publishing house Faber & Faber. Despite the distraction of his wife’s increasingly serious bouts of mental illness, Eliot became interested in religion in the later 1920s and eventually converted to Anglicanism. His poetry from this point onward shows a greater religious bent, although it never becomes dogmatic the way his sometimes controversial cultural criticism does. Four Quartets, his last major poetic work, combines a Christian sensibility with a profound uncertainty resulting from the war’s devastation of Europe. Eliot died in 1965 in London.


For a poet of his stature, Eliot produced a relatively small amount of poetry and he was aware of this early in his career.

Typically, Eliot first published his poems individually in periodicals or in small books or pamphlets, and then collected them in books. His first collection was Prufrock and Other Observations (1917). In 1920, he published more poems in Ara Vos Prec (London) and Poems: 1920 (New York). These had the same poems (in a different order) except that "Ode" in the British edition was replaced with "Hysteria" in the American edition. In 1925, he collected The Waste Land and the poems in Prufrock and Poems into one volume and added The Hollow Men to form Poems: 1909–1925. From then on, he updated this work as Collected Poems. Exceptions are Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939), a collection of light verse; Poems Written in Early Youth, posthumously published in 1967 and consisting mainly of poems published between 1907 and 1910 in The Harvard Advocate, and Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917, material Eliot never intended to have published, which appeared posthumously in 1997.


With the important exception of Four Quartets, Eliot directed much of his creative energies after Ash Wednesday to writing plays in verse, mostly comedies or plays with redemptive endings. He was long a critic and admirer of Elizabethan and Jacobean verse drama; witness his allusions to Webster, Thomas Middleton, William Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd in The Waste Land.

After The Waste Land (1922), he wrote that he was "now feeling toward a new form and style". One project he had in mind was writing a play in verse, using some of the rhythms of early jazz. The play featured "Sweeney", a character who had appeared in a number of his poems. Although Eliot did not finish the play, he did publish two scenes from the piece. These scenes, titled Fragment of a Prologue (1926) and Fragment of an Agon (1927), were published together in 1932 as Sweeney Agonistes. Although Eliot noted that this was not intended to be a one-act play, it is sometimes performed as one.

A pageant play by Eliot called The Rock was performed in 1934 for the benefit of churches in the Diocese of London. Much of it was a collaborative effort; Eliot accepted credit only for the authorship of one scene and the choruses. After this, he worked on more "commercial" plays for more general audiences: The Family Reunion (1939), The Cocktail Party (1949), The Confidential Clerk, (1953) and The Elder Statesman (1958). The Broadway production in New York of The Cocktail Party received the 1950 Tony Award for Best Play.

Literary criticism

Eliot also made significant contributions to the field of literary criticism, strongly influencing the school of New Criticism. In his critical essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent", Eliot argues that art must be understood not in a vacuum, but in the context of previous pieces of art. This essay was an important influence over the New Criticism by introducing the idea that the value of a work of art must be viewed in the context of the artist's previous works, a "simultaneous order" of works (i.e., "tradition"). Eliot himself employed this concept on many of his works, especially on his long-poem The Waste Land.

Also important to New Criticism was the idea—as articulated in Eliot's essay "Hamlet and His Problems"—of an "objective correlative", which posits a connection among the words of the text and events, states of mind, and experiences.

More generally, New Critics took a cue from Eliot in regard to his "'classical' ideals and his religious thought; his attention to the poetry and drama of the early seventeenth century; his deprecation of the Romantics, especially Shelley; his proposition that good poems constitute 'not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion'; and his insistence that 'poets... at present must be difficult'."

Eliot's essays were a major factor in the revival of interest in the metaphysical poets. Eliot particularly praised the metaphysical poets' ability to show experience as both psychological and sensual, while at the same time infusing this portrayal with—in Eliot's view—wit and uniqueness. Eliot's essay "The Metaphysical Poets", along with giving new significance and attention to metaphysical poetry, introduced his now well-known definition of "unified sensibility", which is considered by some to mean the same thing as the term "metaphysical".

His 1922 poem The Waste Land also can be better understood in light of his work as a critic. He had argued that a poet must write "programmatic criticism", that is, a poet should write to advance his own interests rather than to advance "historical scholarship. Late in his career, Eliot focused much of his creative energy on writing for the theater, and some of his critical writing, in essays like "Poetry and Drama," "Hamlet and his Problems," and "The Possibility of a Poetic Drama," focused on the aesthetics of writing drama in verse.


18. The development of the utopian genre in English literature in the 20th century.

Early utopias were usually very idealistic and perfect, where all the evils of society have been removed. The earliest examples, such as those of Plato and Cicero were more exercises in philosophical argument than novels as such, and were not necessarily written with either the practicability of the system or the entertainment value of the writing in mind. Typically, the plot revolved around a visit to, or a shipwreck on, a newly-discovered island, long isolated from the rest of civilization.

But what distinguishes utopian literature from a political or philosophical treatise is the attempt to weave the discussion of an idealized social set-up into the form of a novel, containing individual characters with whom we can empathise or disapprove, and at least a rudimentary plot progression.

Some utopian authors were influenced by the ideas of the 18th Century philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau about an ideal Arcadian society, or Golden Age, which was thought to have existed in ancient times before the development of civilization corrupted it. Henry David Thoreau (and particularly his Walden reflections) were another big inspiration. Some had more overtly political leanings and were influenced by the 19th Century revolutionary writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

The genre of scientific romance developed during Victorian times, a precursor to 20th Century science fiction and speculative fiction. In the late 19th and 20th Centuries, a more satirical variant of utopian literature known as the anti-utopia or dystopia, (for example, Samuel Butler’s Erewhon or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World), became increasingly popular, often as a direct response to the harsh economic conditions of the 19th Century, industrialization and rampant capitalism.

Gradually, the distinction between utopian and science fiction literature became increasingly blurred and many, if not most, sci-fi novels contain at least some elements of utopian or dystopian ideas. However, many modern utopias and dystopias are maybe better described as “speculative fiction” rather than science fiction, in that they do not necessarily involve the invention or anticipation of futuristic technologies, merely extrapolations or exaggerations of currently available technologies.

Generally speaking, the perfect societies in utopian novels are often communistic or socialistic in character, and dystopias are often fascistic in their underlying nature, but both tend to result in a very controlling society where individuals are discouraged from interfering with the primary goals of the state, and where the state to a greater or lesser extent tends to replace religious or family values.

Some utopias are more specific in their focus. For example, there are feminist utopias (such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland), ecological utopias (like Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia), technological utopias (including Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and Kurt Vonnegut’s Piano Player), religious utopias (like St. Augustine’s City of God) and communist utopias (such as Efremov’s Andomeda Nebula).

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