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Anglų literatūra 20 amžiuje

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Anglų literatūra 20 amžiuje


1.Introduction 3

2.George Bernard Shaw 4

3.George Herbert Wells 6

4.Richard Aldington 8

5.Modernism 10

6.James Joyce 12

7.Thomas Stearns Eliot 15

8.David Herbert Lawrence 19

9.Post Modernism 21

10. Conclusion 23

11.Literary list 24


I am writing this paper work because I like English. English is almost like my second native language. This language is very famous and beautiful. Even if I think English is rather difficult language I like it very much. I guess that is why I chose “20th century English language” as a subject of my paper work.

In this paper you will find much information about XX cc. English literature and the most famous authors. This time was especially important to the whole Europe. The war and other political situations had a huge influence over 20th c. literature and authors. The events and mood reflects in poetry and other literature. All main historical events of the 20th century are written in this period literature.

The century is characterized by great diversity of artistic values & methods. This age had a great impact on the literary process. Variety of ssocial, ethic & aesthetic attitudes. New achievements in science have their impact on literature. Literature absorbs & transforms the material of their influences:

The First World War

Russian Revolution

Freud’s psychoanalysis

Bergson’s philosophy of subjective idealism

Einstein’s theory of relativity

Existentialists thought

Economic crises 1919-1921 & consequent uupheaval of social movement

Marxist ideology

Strike 1926

All these factors lead to literature of social problematics. There existed three trends: critical realism, beginning of social realism, modernism. The writers revolutionized, changed literary form, as well as continued the traditional forms. This inter. is a distinctive feature of the XX c. English literature reflected Britain’s new position in the world affairs. By the end of the XIX Victorian tradition began to deteriorate. The desire to liberate art & literature from the contents of the Victorian society. Thus, criticism is the dominant mood in the beginning of the XX c. Criticism took different forms. Some of them – modernist, others – spiritual exploiters. Artist’s duty was to reflect truly thoughts of people. Realists in tthe beginning of the XX – Hardy, Galsworthy, Shaw, Wells, Conrad, Mansfield, Bennett, etc.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

He was born in Dublin, the son of a civil servant. His education was irregular, due to his dislike of any organized training. After working in an estate agent’s office for a while he moved to London as a young man (1876), where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic in the eighties and nineties and became a prominent member of tthe Fabian Society, for which he composed many pamphlets. He began his literary career as a novelist; as a fervent advocate of the new theatre of Ibsen (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891) he decided to write plays in order to illustrate his criticism of the English stage. His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Among these, Widower’s Houses and Mrs. Warren’s Profession savagely attack social hypocrisy, while in plays such as Arms and the Man and The Man of Destiny the criticism is less fierce. Shaw’s radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas, and nowhere more openly than in the famous discourses on the Life Force, «Don Juan in Hell», the third act of the dramatization of woman’s love chase of man, Man and Superman (1903).

In the plays of his later period discussion sometimes drowns the drama, in Back to Methuselah (1921), although in the same period he worked on his masterpiece Saint Joan (1923), in which he rewrites the well-known story of the French maiden and extends it from the Middle Ages to the present.

Other important plays by Shaw aare Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), a historical play filled with allusions to modern times, and Androcles and the Lion (1912), in which he exercised a kind of retrospective history and from modern movements drew deductions for the Christian era. In Major Barbara (1905), one of Shaw’s most successful «discussion» plays, the audience’s attention is held by the power of the witty argumentation that man can achieve aesthetic salvation only through political activity, not as an individual. The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906), facetiously classified as a tragedy by Shaw, is really a comedy the humour of which is directed at the medical profession. Candida (1898), with social attitudes toward sex relations as objects of his satire, and Pygmalion (1912), a witty study of phonetics as well as a clever treatment of middle-class morality and class distinction, proved some of Shaw’s greatest successes on the stage. It is a combination of the dramatic, the comic, and the social corrective that gives Shaw’s comedies their special flavour.

Shaw’s complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award aand later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

He introduced intellectual play in the English theatre. He was much influenced by Ibsen. “In 1889 British stage came into collision with Norwegian giant Ibsen. He passed as a tornado & left nothing but ruin.” Everybody wanted to create something like Ibsen. Shaw also experienced Marx’s influence especially “Das Kapital”. The society was in crisis. The article “The Quintessence of Ibsentism”. Here he underlines his belief that the real slavery of today is the slavery to ideas of goodness. Ibsen was accused of being immoral. But it implies the conduct that doesn’t conform to current ideals. The spirit of is constantly outgrowing his moral ideals & that is why conformity to those ideals produces results not less tragic than thoughtless violation of them. The main effect of Ibsen’s plays on public is that his plays stress the importance of being always prepared to act immorally. He insists that living will, humanistic choices are more important than abstract law, abstract moral norms. Ibsen: “The Doll’s House” let everybody

refuse to sacrifice. There is no formula how to behave.

English drama of the passed years was centered on some imaginary event. Ibsen did not write about accidents, he wrote about “slice of life” (life experience). He introduced open play – a play that has no end (if you show a slice of life you obviously have open play). Shaw objected “art for art’s sake”. It means only money’s sake. Every great artist has a message to communicate. His role is tto interpret life, to create mind. All art is didactic. “Heartbreak House” reflects the state of Europe before the war.

George Bernard Shaw died on November 2, 1950.

George Bernard Shaw

George Herbert Wells (1866-1946)

A novel was also developing. In the beginning – a time of crisis for English novel. The XIX model was not acceptable any more. The novel of the past years developed to describe a social hierarchy. In the beginning of the century the dominant belief was that tthe Victorian society fell apart. Wells was attempting to escape the traditional novel forms. The novel was seen as a means to create future.

His lecture – “The Contemporary Novel”.

Wells was a very prolific writer. He wrote more than 100 books, hhe is best known for his science fiction. He had a very definite aim – political & social. He was trying to combine critical analysis of present civilization to the picture what it might be in future. He believed in science. But he understood that it can be dangerous because the power for destruction is huge.

“The War of the Worlds”. He was considered utopiographer. To build utopic they needed to destroy the relics of the past – class distinction (unenlightenment). He analyzed the feelings of the present in the life of nation’s future.

“Ann Veronica: A Modern Love Story” depicts the problem of emancipation. The novel was written as a reaction to eugenics movement. He affirmed the need of gifted individuals tto find the appropriate patterns & the choice must not be constrained by any social restrictions.

“Tono-Bungay” is a novel about the life of gentry in the rural England. It combines science fiction & realistic novel. Bladesover – a place, where George Pondervo (the main character) grew up. It becomes a symbol of dominant influence of the past models of life. The novel is episodic in form, doesn’t have classical structure. Wells was the first person who ushered in English literature tthe theme of lost generation.

“Mr. Britling Sees It Through” (1916) was called by him “the history of his own concern”. The responsibility of everyone for the war. It is autobiographical. Tried to write about the evolution of consciousness of his contemporaries. Concentrates on the inner life of his heroes. Fantasy & reality mingles here. As to the reasons of the war – he brings his heroes to the conclusion that wars are inherited in human nature. He started as an optimistic liberalist but as he lived on he was very much disappointed.

“You Fools” is his last word to humanity.

* * *

There are many novels & poetry about war. These writers are known as “lost generation” writers. The term was introduced by Gertrude Stein. She uses it metaphorically: old values & beliefs were lost in the war but unfortunately new moral values were not formed yet. Majority of these writers went through the war themselves.

This was a certain tendency in poetry – Trench poetry. They wrote about war. Young people who served as soldiers expressed their outcry: Wilfred Owen ”Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg. Many of the poems have pacifist character. They were among the ffirst to create the true picture of trench life. They gave rather naturalistic pictures, the imagery was very vivid & appalling, scenes of massacre, they wrote about the smell of the corpses, heavy job, gas attacks, deaths of young & promising people. They created the image of war as very ugly & senseless deed. Other writers responded to that huge catastrophe.

The classical example of novel about lost generation is “The Death of a Hero” by R. Aldington.

Richard Aldington (1892-1962)

He started as a poet close to decadence, aestheticism, he belonged to imagist poets (formalism). He published “Old & New Images”- his first collection of poems. He propagated the doctrine escapism – movement to escape in to the world of beauty (in Ellinism) from the ugliness of the world. This ideal world was shattered by the WWI. He came from it another man; he broke with imagists & continued to work in realistic trend.

In 1929 “The Death of a Hero” was published. The novel was started after the war but had not been completed until 15 years later. It’s a social novel disclosing tragic consequence & reasons of war. He made readers see that the war was inevitable. But the pprotagonist tries to find the answer for the question – who is responsible for that? Everybody was! Everybody is guilty for the rivers of spilt human blood. This book is a cry for redemption for the writer.

It is a novel of big generalization. There are many autobiographical touches in the book. He starts farther in the war to unmask the hypocrisy of the English society, respected English families. Aldington wants to show that this is a pack of lies that the war is a noble deed, a salvation. He tries to show that lies started much earlier. His ideals are truth & beauty. Aldington says that this generation was lost before the war started. War was not the source of the tragedy but rather result of it.

The life story of George Winterborne is given in a reverse order. We see Winterborne family in which all relations are based on deceit & lies. Later we see George at school where he is supposed to develop into a strong & aggressive individual, the defender of imperialism. He tries to escape from the influence of society & turns to art in search of his place under the sun. He moves to

London but among “intellectual” people he found only hypocrisy. He is inherently lonely; his ideas of truth & beauty are frustrated by snobs, who pretended to be leaders of artistic movement. He sees all their cynicism. In that period of his London life he still shows his early tendency to resist to circumstances. He expresses his disillusionment in angry talks but he cannot achieve peace. He remains passive.

Much is said about his love because love was the only harbour ffor other “lost generation” heroes. It is not so for G.Winterborne. These relations are coloured with cynicism (realization of Freud’s ideas of free love between George’s wife & her lover). When he tried to put these ideas into practice, he faced with constant quarrels & was eventually turned down by both his women. Then the war starts. He volunteers to the front. War becomes a period of his maturity. He finds himself side by side with common soldiers & this cconfrontation with simple people makes him aware of real human values – those of courage, friendship, support. Nothing can be more precious than pure trust in man. Life in the trenches makes him think about life in general & he sstarted to ask questions. How does it happen that government finds huge amount of money to kill Germans in the war but cannot find it to fight poverty in London. He becomes aware of social contradiction & antagonism. He thought that social hostility broke through in the outburst of hatred. He still feels very much lonely & isolated. He feels that he differs from others; he is very much of an individual soul. He doesn’t belong to the soldiers; their roughness makes him feel very uncomfortable. He is completely lost. With all these problems he doesn’t see any way out but to terminate his life by his own free will (he commits a suicide). By all the narration Aldington makes uus see that this way is the logical ending for the person who was lost before the war started.

It is a sarcastic book. Aldington was eager to tell the truth about the society openly. But it was impossible to overcome individualism, the author is not objective, he shows the whole range of feelings. That’s why the end of the book is so bitter & hopeless. The title itself is very sarcastic. His death is also a symbol how senseless tthe war is, it’s just a torture. His satire has many shades, but also a definite target & purpose. Sometimes it reminds Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” because of the social character of satire. “Death of a Hero” is an absolutely disillusioned novel. Aldington called this book “a jazz novel”. This jazz effect is achieved by kaleidoscopic change of contrasted images. The novel is characterized by multitude of emotional states. The style is rather nervous. He is easily overcome by despair & negation, carried to the very extreme. These feelings are the features of the lost generation people. “The Death of a Hero” is the first big & most successful of all his works. His other novels are:

“Colonel’s Daughter”

“All Men Are Enemies”

“Very Heaven”

All are about those people who came back from the war alive but still couldn’t find their place in life. The main characters are akin to George Winterborne. The critics say that Aldington predominantly is the writer of one theme & one hero, & that he just treats this topic in different aspects.

He also wrote some critical works on D. H. Lawrence, & other writings.

He died in 1962.

Richard Aldington


The word “modern” means “up-to-date”. Critics & historians used it to ddenote roughly the first half of the XX century. The representatives of this movement were anxious to set themselves apart from the previous generations. They totally rejected their predecessors. The term was suggested by the authors themselves. The difference between past & present tradition is qualitative. Modernist writers clearly defined the borderline between Victorian age & modernism: in 1910 – the death of King Edward & the first post-impressionist exhibition in London (Virginia Woolf), in 1915 – the first year of World War I (D. H. Lawrence). They had a deep conviction that modern experience is a unique one. They tried to point the change in modernism. This change was – massive disillusionment, destruction of faith in a number of basic social & moral principles, which laid the foundation of Western civilization. This change was to some degree intellectual as the result of late XIX theories & discoveries.

Karl Marx “Das Kapital”. He shaped the imperialistic ideology; he showed it was not the pattern of progress. He believed that the world would not be dominated by enlightened bourgeoisie. The struggle is inevitable.

Charles Darwin “On Origin of Species” (1859) & “The Descent of Man” (1871). A human being was placed in tthe animal world. The forces that determine human behaviour are not of intellect & reason but are determined by the need of physical survival.

James Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” (1890-1915) showed similarities between primitive & civilized cultures. The primitive tribes appeared to be not as savage as they seemed to be. They were just like the civilized ones.

Nietzsche’s “Birth of Tragedy”. In this book he exposes dark sides of human psyche, glorified the belief in ancient heroic philosophers.

Max Planck’s “Quantum Theory of Atomic & Subatomic Particles”. This model of discreet beats of energy behaving in apparently unpredictable ways seize the imagination of people so much that they extrapolated it beyond the limits of physics. They believed that human behaviour was also chaotic, disorderly & unpredictable.

Freud’s “Interpretation of Dream”. This work created a new model of human personality itself as a complex, multilayed & governed by irrational & unconscious survival of fantasies.

These theories were in fact not very new they were known in the XIX but in XIX they never destroyed the general principles & ideas.

Modern writers after the WWI found themselves in so-called “empty world”. Their world was deprived of its stability. Nothing can be taken for granted. They didn’t

believe that life they were living. Being disillusioned & contemplating the society & cosmos most of them looked within themselves for the principles of order. They turned to eternal things. For that matter we see modern literature being pre-occupied with its own self, process of perception, nature of consciousness. In its extreme subjectivity modern literature went parallelly with other modern arts (e.g. painting).

The main feature – subjectivity & self-interest. Modernist aesthetics was formed under the influence of French symbolist poets: <

Charles Baudleúr

Arthur Rimbaut

Paul Verlaine

Stephan Mallarmé

Their aim was to capture the most perishable of personal experience in open-ended & essentially private symbols, to express the inexpressible, to express the slightest movements of the soul, or at least evoke it subtly if not express, create the atmosphere of the soul. The symbolist concentration upon single moments of individual perception. Life in their reproduction was reduced to small fragments of experience. This fragmentation influenced not only composition of the work but also the ccharacter. The character was disassembled in fragmentary pieces & these pieces of human character were not held together by any theory of human type, like a collagé, juxtaposition – all transitions are removed. You just put the fragments together. The wwidely used technique “stream of consciousness” takes the form from a fluid association, often illogical moment to moment sequence of ideas, feelings & impressions of a single mind. Traditional literary forms & genres merged & overlapped. The introduction of poetry into prose became possible, imagery characteristic of poetry – into prosaic text. The forms of the past were also employed but to produce the satirical effect.

An equally important principle – “the stream of unconsciousness” – the use of irrational logic of dreams & fantasies, denies ordinary logic (“exhausted rationality”). They employed the shadowy structure of dream. The idea “time & space” didn’t exist & the imagination was only slightly grounded in reality but generally it created new patterns by combining pprevious experiences, etc.

The authors employed myth very much as a kind of collective dream. Modernist’s myth was stripped of its religious & magical associations. Joyce’s “Ulysses” is based on the ground of Homer’s”Odyssey”. Eliot said: “In using the myth, in manipulating the contentious parallel between contemporaniety & antiquity Mr. Joyce is pursuing the method which others must persue after him. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape & significance to an immense panorama of ffutility & anarchy which is contemporary history”. Myth is the way of organizing history. The writers’ quest for order lead to their preoccupation with the artist himself & with the artistic process. The imaginary character stood for the author himself:

Marsel Proust “Remembrance of the Things Past”

Lawrence “Sons & Lovers”

Joyce “The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”

We can’t say that the artist became modernists’ hero. Not all writers of that period were modernists. There was the co-existence of different styles.

James Joyce (1882 – 1941)

He was born in Ireland (Dublin). Although he spent many years not in Ireland he is considered one of Irish writers. Primarily he wrote about himself, transforming his experiences in his books, & relatives & friends – into symbols. His works are said to be “expansive & inclusive”. Expansive – because he gave a very wide panorama of Dublin life at the turn of the century, inclusive – because his works seemed to include all the human history. These novels still are the stories & novels about life in general.

He started to attend an expensive private boarding school but his father became bankrupt & he continued his education at home. Then he attended “University College” in DDublin. He read very much & began to write seriously. He produced critical articles, essays but also poems & notebooks of epiphanies (theological term – an intense moment in a human life when the truth of a person or some thing is being revealed). He studied in Paris, then returned to Ireland & in 1904 left it. He lived in different places in Europe. First, he earned money by giving English lessons. In 1905 he submitted to the publisher his first version of the collection of stories “Dubliners”. But it was repeatedly rejected & even after acceptance it was subjected to severe censorship for ...

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