20th CENTURY ENGLISH FICTION
It is traditional for literary historians to ignore their own contemporary setting or simply to give it a passing word. It is equally traditional for literature students to complain that their picture of modern literature is incomplete and that they spend all their time with the “ancients” and none with the “moderns”. Both attitudes have justification. The older periods have received their “baptism” of fire and the writers of lesser importance have been relegated (passed) into oblivion (they are forgotten) by time, because they contributed little or nothing to an over-all progress of culture. In one’s own times, many authors appear as important this year and are hardly mentioned the next. Again movements and permanent values are hard to see except in historical perspective.
The 20th century has not run far enough to make more than experimental and prejudicial guesses as to what the great movements and the major representative writers of those values will be. The 20th century fictional mass seems too great and the conflicting currents are too manyand not well defined in their beds.
1- Historical Background :
The death of Queen Victoria in 1901 found England as the master of a great world empire and strengthening the power of a great industrial middle class.
In the closing years of the last century England won her points in far off disputes over territorial limits, the most important of all being Boer Wars which added the union of South Africa to the Empire in 1902. But during the present century England was forced to liberalise her hold of her possessions until some have become self governing and still others looking ahead for propitious moment to gain a greater liberalisation of the policy which has bound them to England.
At home confidence and smugness of the monied middle class was receiving many heavy jolts (attacks) at the turn of the century. Victorian standards of morality and social justice were now attacked by both literary man and by younger generation within the class itself. The middle class went on the defensive and gave ground slowly in the face of mounting protest and scorn of the advocates of social and moral enlightenment. This century has seen many practical steps towards liberalisation of social legislation to raise the standard of the workers and to give them greater voice in government. It has seen Conservative and Labour parties alternating in the control of government.
2- Wars and Leanings
The world wars have cost England an awful price in men and in depletion (loss) of country’s resources. England went a long step toward socialism in 1945. When Labour Party, under Clement R. Attlee as prime minister, nationalised such things as the Bank of England, communication, electricity, and the coal industry, The National Insurance Act and the National Health Service Act of 1946 provided social security and socialised medicine for all. England travelled in a half century from imperialism through liberalism into a socialised democracy.
3- Elizabeth II
England has had able sovereigns and able prime ministers during the century. Victoria’s death brought her son, Edward VII , aged 60 to the throne. from 1910, George V ruled until 1936. Edward VIII renounced the throne in 1936 to wed a divorced commoner and his brother became King as George VI. At George’s death, his daughter Elizabeth came to the throne in 1953 and a second Elizabethan period began for England.
4- Diverse Literary Trends of the Time
The first half of the 20th century is a period of transition from Victorian materialism and imperialism to socialised democracy in England. Combined with this movement the necessity to tax heavily, to tighten the economy all the way round, and to become more world minded, brought many diverse tendencies to English literature. The facets (aspects) of English literature in this century have been many and varied.
The century began as a transition period in which science and religion had brought many conflicts in literary themes and attitudes, the urgent need for social reform had tempered, influenced the tone of a great amount of English writing; new romantic and aesthetic tendencies had come to protest that the beauty of literature had become an instrument for propaganda: social, imperialistic, political and religious. The warsand upheavals on the home front continued and literature went back and fort between disillusionment and hope, between a desire to appeal to the masses with a new democratisation and a desire to withdraw to a more artistic and aristocratic world, to a new dehumanisation of the arts. Thus many writers simply sought escape from reality through a harmless romanticism and fantasy. The urgent need among recent writers is for a new “humanism”, (as in Huxley, E.M. Forster and H.G.Wells), a movement to unify many of the experimental tendencies into major movement or “school” which would serve equally the spiritual and aesthetic needs of both the individual and society. Many writers ask: Cannot a better literature be created through united effort? Can a current education of man become convinced that a democracy cannot survive unless the majority have a literary norm for human relationships that will also satisfy individual and aesthetic needs?
5- Crisis and Confusion in Literature
The literary writers of today are confused among many ideologies, and their writings reflect a setting for a spiritual focus. A great new literature will wait until they find it, if they are able to find a way through the present pressures of scientific expansion, a new materialism, and the fear of war that is if the pressures above permit the writers to seek new values with the dignity that artistic genius demands in order to flourish.
In the mid-century there seems to be a hope that literature may again help to create a better life and thus to a new advance in cultural progress. Many potential literary geniuses are but half authors today, in England and elsewhere, for want of an aesthetic ideal that can command the minds of men in conflict among shifting values. The arts are in crisis, in a crucial state, and the artist or the creators of aesthetic expression will continue to fail to feel at home in their environment unless their ideas are such as will find nourishment in the minds of men who read as they run.(2)
III- GEORGE MEREDITH (1828-1909)
George Meredith was the son of a tailor. His mother was a Macnamara, the name is but little else Irish. He was thirteen when his father married again a former house keeper, he was sent to a famous Moravian school on the Rhine, where he studied not only books but also learned that spirit of charity and universal brotherhood which was inculcated by the gentle Moravians. These two years of Moravian education left a strong mark on Meredith. It did not eradicate the pride and individualism that even in old age kept him apart and somewhat arrogant and aloof. His education saved him from Victorian insularity, and gave him broader horizons than his contemporaries such as Dickens and Thackeray, Tennyson and Browning, Kingsley, George Eliot and even Matthew Arnold. He remained singularly free from the virtues and foibles of Victorianism. His rivals in fiction and poetry were Swinburne and Thomas Hardy.
After meeting Peacock’s daughter; a dashing widow of thirty, the susceptible young man fell in love, Meredith cut himself adrift from his father, now and entered upon an ill-assorted marriage. For a while all went well. The pair collaborated in writing poetry. Sometimes they lived with Peacock and sometimes they travelled on the Continent. Meredith read far and wide as well as writing poetry. He felt himself most at home with nature. He dedicated the poems of 1851 to his father in law, whose learning, general cynicism and leaning to extravaganza were by no means in disharmony with his own tendencies. Dr. Middleton in The Egoist reflects Peacock with his critical judgement of great wine and his humour.
Meredith achieved a perfect union when he married a second time, Marie Vulliamy, who came from an old family in Surrey. Her death in 1885 evoked “A Faith on Trial”, a poem of very different spirit and thought from “Modern Love”.
The novelist in his 81 years did not show much loss of power. He was the same as the novelist as 31 years. However he had become more Meredithian after living a long time with Peacock, the well known novelist and his father-in law.
Meredith’s standards for his observation of character are more of today than of Victorian society. He accepts an equality of women with men, he is open, in a truly sense, to the problems of the “intellectual woman”, “fallen woman”, “illicit love”, “the love triangle”, “man’s vanity and egotism” etc. He is not a Victorian novelist and he is not a rebel. He is considered to be neither a pagan nor an orthodox. He is a true observer and has a true 20th century concept that human dignity can be achieved through the resources of the human intellect combined with the forces of man’s nature. Meredith’s characters are ordinary people, not insane, not given to vice or crime by inherited characteristics. They are gifted with an intelligence by which they are capable of moving to a happy and fruitful fulfilment of individual and social destiny.
Meredith’s Major Works :
1- The Ordeal of Richard Feveral 1859
This novel deals with a father who is soured upon womankind since his wife left him. He is determined to bring up his son on a special educational system. The system provides that the boy has no contacts with females until he is 25. After that Sir Austin, the father, will scientifically select a wife for the boy. Needless to say the system fails to control nature’s processes and the boy reacts very much as one would expect him when he meets lovely Lucy. The continued conflict leads to the elopement of the young couple and finally to tragedy. It is questionable if the father ever remains convinced that his system was fallacious.
2- The Egoist 1879
The Egoist 1879 treats the vanity of man in his dealings with woman, is considered Meredith’s masterpiece in its subtle depiction of virtue andvice in society and its originality of novelistic technique.
3- Diana of the Crossways 1885
Diana of the Crossways 1885 studies the position of a beautiful and intellectual woman who faces the social conventions of her day andattempts to solve her problem with rare stubbornness. Although she feels the force of convention at every turn, she eventually wins through to happiness.
This is a penetrating study of a beautiful, intelligent and a very modern woman. Diana is not a typical sentimental and shallow 19th century heroine. She has a strong force of character and recognises the fallacy in the social conventions about her. She refuses to bow before the rulesand conventions that her reason tells her are hypocritical in spite of the wagging evil tongues.
Diana Marion married Agustus Warwick an ambitious politician, who felt that the beauty and charm of this Irish girl would aid him in his social obligations. Diana came to London with her husband and for a while her cold and calculating spouse seemed to be pleased with the manner in which she carried herself off as a social hostess.
Diana formed an innocent friendship with the elderly Lord Danisburgh and saw no harm in accepting his advice and being seen with him occasionally. Idle tongues wag, however, and the husband, refusing to listen to Diana’s explanations sues for divorce. Diana leaves Londonand goes to Crossways, her father’s old home, with her maid. Lady Emma Dunstane, an old friend of Diana’s family, persuades her that flight is an admission of guilt in society as it is constituted, and Diana returns to fight the charge that Warwick has brought against her.
The court returns a verdict of not guilty. Diana realises nevertheless, that society has judged her otherwise. She writes a book and leaves on a Mediterranean cruise. Sir Percy Darcier, Lord Dannisburgh’s nephew, is in love with her and is instrumental in promoting the sale of her book. Gossip is again aroused when it is learned that she attended Lord Danisburgh in his last days and has received a considerable amount of money from his estate.
Warwick has tried to get his wife to return to him but although still legally tied to him, Diana refuses absolutely to have anything to do with him. In a moment of passion she agrees to elope with Sir Percy but is suddenly called to the bedside of Lady Emma. Sir Percy angered, marries a young heiress, Constance Asper.
Shortly after this, Warwick is hit by a car and killed in the London streets as Diana is freed of her ties of him. She continues to live alone andtakes every occasion she can to turn her brilliant wit upon those who had gossiped about her.
Later she is forced to sell Crossways to pay her debts. She later finds that the estate had been bought by an old friend of Lady Emma, a wealthy railroad promoter and a member of Parliament called T. Redworth. Redworth renovated the estate in the hopes that Diana would marry him. She at first is afraid that the malicious gossip that had been linked with her name might hurt his reputation but finally is persuaded to become Redworth’s wife.
Conrad was born in the Ukraine, in a region that had once been a part of Poland but was then under Russian rule. Both his parents came fromfamilies that belonged to the educated “land-tilling” Polish gentry and to a long line of zealous Polish patriots. Conrad’s father was a talented poet and translator of French and English literature. Violently opposed to the Russian rule, he belonged to the revolutionary Polish Central Committee. In 1862 the family was banished to Vologda in Northern Russia, after the Russian officials discovered an impending plot in their house which was a meeting place for Polish insurrectionists. In consequence of hardships endured in exile, the mother died while Josef was still very young. The ¬circumstances of his early days made him a lonely brooding child without friends of his own age. He was driven in upon himself, and upon books which described countries where it was possible to breath and act freely, to fight openly, if necessary and to speak thoughts in whisper. When the father, in ill-health, was released from exile as being no longer dangerous, he and the boy settled in 1859 at Cracow where Josef attended a preparatory school. As a youth labouring under many repression, he began to desire to escape, at any cost, what it might, into a freer world. At sixteen he became a sailor on an English vessel against desperate opposition of his relatives. He travelled to Venice and Marseilles and to West Indies later. An important period of his life remains obscure at the time he was in Marseilles.
His first landing in England was at 1875, when he was 20 years old and knew only a few words in English. Six years later he obtained his Board of Trade Certificate as a master in the British merchant Service. He travelled to Australia and to the East, he had experiences in Congo which were reflected in his novels, in Heart of Darkness, The Nigger of Narcissus, and Youth (1902). His last voyage ended on 1894 after which his first novel was published. (Almayer’s Folly 1895). Within a few years he was a master of English prose style. Yet his fame grew slowlyand when he died in 1924 he had experienced only a few years of moderate popularity, though other writers recognised his mastery, years before the public discovered him on the appearance of Chance, one of his difficult novels.
Some readers may find Conrad tiresome because they say “he does not get on with the story”. This complaint is not unreasonable though it is not true of more than half of his books. It will be enough to suggest that that when he does not “get on with the story”, it is because he had what he considered a more important task in hand: namely, to give, as far as possible, a clear revelation of the truth underlying the particular human problem engaging his attention. and so, in Lord Jim 1900 and else where, he introduces Marlow as a receiver and shifter of evidence, collectedfrom several sources. Just as Browning, in The Ring and the Book, tells Pompilla’s story again and again from different points of view, so Conrad introduces a number of character for the purpose of considering the problem from their differing angles. At the close of Lord Jim a patient reader feels that many dark places in human personality have been explored and lighted up in a way that makes Jim’s acute consciousness of lost honour’ tremendously impressive. Jim deserted his ship; thereby violating ‘the solidarity of the craf’ and offending the immitigable law of Fidelity an offence for which expiation was to be made. For the rest of his life he had the relentless ghost of lost honour ever pursuing him, and nothing could appease that spectre except the vow, `I shall be faithful… I shall be faithful’, which brought him, after a dishonoured life, to a brave and honourable death. Jim is an important figure in the Conrad universe, he is in himself sympathetic and tragicand infect he is the reflection of Conrad himself.
1- Lord Jim
This is perhaps Conrad’s best novel, is the story of a man who becomes an outcast, seeking peace from troubled conscience. He begins his life at sea, dreaming of heroic deeds. His first assignment is aboard a ship carrying Moslem pilgrims to Mecca. This ship is unseaworthy and the officers are incapable and drunkards. In the Red Sea the ship strikes a sunken object. Jim reports that the folds are filling with water and the drunken captain orders the officers to abandon the ship in the only life boat. Jim refuses to join the other officers, but a the last minute, he leaps into the water and is picked up by them. The Moslems are left to their fate.
The vessel does not sink, however, but is towed to port by a French gunboat, without any of the officers aboard. The officers are hailed before an investigation board, but no charge is actually fill against them. Jim, however, feels that he has lost him moral identity and must become a wandered over the face of the globe, seeking opportunity to do some noble act which will redeem his soul. He must prove himself a hero in his own romantic imagination.
He wanders from job to job in the Eastern Island, but sailors everywhere have had his story and turn their eyes from him when he passes. Finally he settles as the advisor to a chief Patusan, in an island in the East Indies. Here he seems to find peace. The natives name him Tuan Jim-Lord Jim. The chief’s young son, Dain Waris, is his friend.
Tales reach neighbouring parts of Jim’s luck. Some say that he has found a very valuable emerald and that he is rich and living with a beautiful native girl. But Jim continues to live as a trusted adviser, endowed with supernatural powers, in his native village. One day a band of pirates attacks the village having heard of the riches that are supposedly there. With Jim’s aid the natives capture the pirates. Jim has persuaded Gentleman Brown, the cut-throat leader of the pirates to leave peacefully if he can intercede with the chief for them freedom. He finally succeeds in persuading the old chief to let them go. Jim feels that in saving some fellow beings he has in part repaid his debt to mankind andhas eased somewhat his own feeling of self hatred.
But Brown betrays his confidence and kills the son of the chief. Lord Jim can think of only one course to expiate his error and to re-establish his lost prestige with his native friends, who now believe that he is a devil who has brought misfortune upon them. He goes to the old chief andhands him his gun and begs that he be shot. without hesitation, the old chief shoots Jim through the heart. The name Tuan Jim has regained its lost honour with the natives.
2- Heart of Darkness
Charles Marlow an old, experienced seaman tells the story of a nightmarish youthful adventure as in Lord Jim.
Charles Marlow is talking to a group of his boy friends and the deck of the yawl Nellie, which is anchored in the Thames estuary (the river mouth). The old friends have now grown to be important people – lawyer, a director of companies, and an accountant- but between them there has always existed the “bond of the sea”. Marlow looking at the great city of London makes a cryptic remark: “and this also,” he says, “has been one of the dark places of the earth”.
Seeing London, now the apex of civilisation but at one time a barbaric port where Roman legionaries came in fear and trembling, reminds Marlow of his experience many years before, sailing up the Congo River search of the mysterious ivory trader, Mr. Kurtz. The mysterious figure of Mr. Kurtz fascinated Marlow. In spite of the ominous, strange hints that he gathered from various company officials, he became more andmore and more curious about what awaited him in the Congo. During the journey, as he passed along the African coast, he reflected that the wilderness and the unknown seemed to seep right out to the sea. Many trading posts and stations the ship past were falling to pieces andlooked barbaric. Finally, Marlow arrived at the seat of the government at the mouth of the river. Again he heard of the great distinction andpower of Mr. Kurtz who had, because of his plans to enlighten the natives and his success in gaining their confidence, an enormous reputation. Marlow also saw natives working in the hot sun until they collapsed and died.
Marlow arrived at the district manager’s station to find that the river boat and sunk a few days earlier. He met the district manager, a man whose only ability seemed to be the ability to survive. Being unconcerned with the fate of the natives, the manager was only interested in getting out of the country, he felt that Mr. Kurtz’s new methods were ruining the whole district. The district manager reported also that he had not heard fromKurtz for quite some time but received disquieting rumours about his being ill. Later Marlow heard that the district manager was Kurtz’s enemy who hoped that the climate would do away with his rival.
After the steamer was ready for use Marlow and the District manager sailed away to visit Kurtz at the inner station far up the river. The journey was difficult and perilous; the water shallow, there were frequent fogs. Just as they arrived within a few miles of Kurtz’s station, natives attacked the vessel with spears and arrows. Marlow’s helmsman, a faithful native, was killed by a long spear when he leaned from his window to fire at the savages. Marlow finally blew the steamboat whistle and the sound frightened the natives away. The district manager was sure that Kurtz had lost control over the blacks. When they docked, they met an enthusiastic Russian traveller who told them that Kurtz was very ill.
Gradually Marlow begins to learn the truth about the remarkable Mr. Kurtz. Entering the jungle as an idealist who thought that European commercial exploitation would bring culture and civilisation to the natives, Kurtz had eventually succumbed to the savage lure of the junglewhere he became all-powerful.
Although Kurtz has a fiancée back home in Brussels, whom he loftily refers to as “my intended”, Marlow sees a savage native girl wailing on the shore. She was obviously Kurtz’s mistress. As the jungle has taken its inexorable toll of Kurtz, he has allowed savage rites to be performed in his honour and has ruthlessly slain anyone who has stood in the way of his single-minded pursuit of ivory.
V- THOMAS HARDY (1840-1928)
Thomas Hardy was born of old yeoman stock on June 2, 1840 in a small hamlet in Dorsetshire. His father was a builder and Hardy was trained to be an architect specialising in church restoration. As a youth, he was fascinated by the lure of the old churches and by the old folk music anddances of the country side, which he later immortalised as the “Wessex” of his novels.
After working five years as an architect in London, Hardy feared his eyes would not stand the strain of architectural drawing. Self educated, he had read the great classics, especially the Greek tragedies, and he considered turning his hand to literature. He thought briefly, too, of entering the Church, but his readings in modern science and philosophy and his interests in architecture turned him in other directions.
His first novel The Poor Man and the Lady, was rejected George Meredith at first but then a publisher’s reader encouraged Hardy to continue writing. His third novel Under the Greenwood Tree 1872, was the first in which Hardy’s “Wessex” country appeared-a region of England closely resembling his native Dorsetshire but stamped with the imprint of Hardy’s own brooding, compassionate genius.
It was not until 1878, with The Return of the Native, that Hardy really hit his stride as a novelist. It is one of the four masterpieces that capped Hardy’s career as a novelist, the others being The Mayor of Casterbridge 1886, Tess of the D’Urbervilles 1891, Jude the Obscure 1896.
The bleak view of the human predicament expressed in these novels, combined with an honesty about sex unique the time, brought a storm of criticism down on Hardy. The uproar over Jude the Obscure was responsible for Hardy’s giving up the writing of fiction and spending the last three decades of his life writing poetry, his first love.
from 1898 until his death in 1928, Hardy wrote poetry exclusively, publishing seven distinguished volumes of sharply ironical lyrics, androunding out his poetic achievement with a massive verse drama about Napoleonic wars, The Dynasts (1904¬-1908).
As Victorian prudery or conservatism subsided in the 20th century, Hardy came to be appreciated as one of the master novelists of his day. In 1910 he received the “Order of Merit” as well as honorary degrees from the leading British universities. Reviled or subsided as a …..grapher during his middle years, Hardy found himself revered as a grand old man in his old age. When he died in 1928, his ashes were buried in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey, an irony Hardy would never have been the first to appreciate.
Hardy deals with rural settings and peoples of village in his novels. He is endowed with a philosophy of fatalism and for him man is a tragic creature, caught between his natural hopes and desires for happiness and the harsh limitations of the realities of the social structure which he has created to govern his hopes and aspirations. To Hardy, only the pessimistic view seems possible and life is a hopeless struggle.
Hardy has none of the cynicism of tone of the social satirist and none of the didactic moralising qualities of his Victorian predecessors. He is a stark realist and sees little humour in the face of an inalterable fate that strikes them down. His style is simple, precise and marvellously penetrating. He is serious and goes directly to his purpose of making minute and detailed observations of his settings and contradictions of human nature. He treats the philosophic fatalism of his peasant characters with scientific determinism that we are all victims circumstance, andhowever valiantly we struggle, there is little can do about it.
The novels that best illustrate Hardy’s style and uncompromising fatalistic analysis are:
Far from the Madding Crowd 1874 Tess of the D’Urbervilles 1891
1- Far from The Madding Crowd 1874
The plot is laid among shepherds and small farmers of the village of Weatherbury, “far from the Madding crowd’s ignoble strife”, struggle.
Bathsheba Everdene is a poor girl who comes to the village and immediately becomes object of attention of Gabriel Oak, an honest sheepman. At first the girl is thrilled at the idea of having a piano and the other small comforts which Gabriel can provide but she finally decides that she will be bored with married life.
One night Gabriel loses his flock of sheep because a dog had become excited and had driven them over a cliff. from this loss, he soon loses his entire farm and is forced to travel about seeking employment elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Bathsheba has inherited a farm in the vicinity from her uncle. One night her barn catches fire and the man who rushes from the road to help to put out the flames, is Gabriel. He becomes a hired man. Bathsheba’s beauty and prosperity attracted many suitors, among whom was the aristocratic William Boldwood, but suddenly the gay, young blade, sergeant Troy, comes upon the scene and Bathsheba is swept off her feet. Even at their wedding supper, when sergeant Troy becomes hopelessly drunk, realises that she has made a poor choice.
Even after the object of his love has married the worthless soldier, Gabriel continues to work patiently for his mistress. Bathsheba gradually learns that Sergeant Troy has had other affairs and one girl has just died (Fanny) after having given birth to his baby. Finally Troy leaves Bathsheba and the farm. A report is circulated that he is drowned.
William Boldwood enters the scene again and Bathsheba promises to marry him at the end of seven years when Troy would be legally declared dead and she would be free to marry. At a Christmas Eve party to celebrate the decision, Troy suddenly appears dead drunk. Boldwood shoots him. He is tried and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Bathsheba is prostrate with grief and gradually comes to realise that she had erred long before in not accepting the faithful Gabriel. When Gabriel decides to leave the vicinity she comes to his cottage and offers herself to him in marriage. The vain and beautiful Bathsheba at last finds contentment and peace with the man she had at first considered commonplace and unattractive.
2- Tess of the D’Urbervilles 1891
Young Tess was a simple village girl who learned that she descended from the famous D’Urberville family. Her father was a poor working man, but the news that family was a branch of the D’Urbervilles promoted the man and his wife to send their daughter to see a rich family nearby which claimed the name of D’Urberville. Tess went and found only an old Mrs. D’Urberville, who was blind, and her son Alec. Alec immediately contrived that Tess should come to work at the D’Urberville estate.
Alec continued to try to force his attentions upon Tess, who resisted valiantly for a while. Finally, one day he came upon her asleep and weary after a long walk.
Tess hurried home and told her mother about the harrowing experience with Alec. Tess continued to work in the fields during her pregnancy despite the gibes of her fellow workers and the unwelcome attentions which Alec kept paying her. Finally, Tess gave birth to her baby at a far away farm. The baby died shortly afterward.
Tess secured work as a dairy maid at a farm far to the south of her home. A minister’s son, Angel Clare, was staying at the farm, studying agriculture. He became attracted to Tess because of her innocent beauty. Tess tried to resist his attentions, thinking that it could be wicked for a person soiled as she was to accept the love of a minister’s son. She refused many times to accept his courtship but he persisted. She tried many times to force herself to tell him about her past but was unable to find the words to do so. Finally, the night before she had promised to marry him, she slipped mm letter of confession under his door, but Angel failed to find it.
On their wedding night, Angel told Tess about the one time in his life that he had sinned. She forgave him and told him but Alec, thinking that forgiveness would be mutual. Such, however, was not the case. Angel decided that he could not live with Tess under the circumstances. He left, finally going to Brazil to buy a farm, Tess came home, where her mother scolded her for telling her husband about her past.
Tess continued to work on the neighbouring farms to help support the family, the father being now too proud to work as believed himself too high-born to do ordinary labour Alec, apparently reformed, continued to bother Tess with his protestations of love.
She wrote to Angel begging for forgiveness. Months passed and finally Tess, believing that Angel was not going to reply to her letters, consented to live with Alec as his wife.
It had taken many years before Angel could make , a trip to England. When he finally did arrive with intention to forgive Tess, he found her with Alec in London. He turned away from her once more. Tess, now desperately unhappy and blaming Alec for alienating her husband once more, stabbed him as he slept. She ran away and found Angel telling him what she had done. He forgave her they went on together, passing hopeless but a desperately happy week in a lonely big house. They both knew that sooner or later the authorities would catch up with them.
When the officers came to lead Tess away, she went with them bravely, proud that she had a few days of happiness with the man that she truly loved.
At her death in the prison, her sister and her husband as Tess advised them to do .
VI- D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
D.H. Lawrence is the most incontestable case in the age of Hardy and Conrad, Kipling and Chasterton. He is a genius born not made that is he is neither the product of education nor tradition. He ran counter to such writers as Arnold Bennett and Galsworthy from the very beginning andin almost every particular of his character and his work. He hated abstractions, and protested against the “rather bony, bloodless drama” of his day. It was time for a reaction against Shaw and Galsworthy and Barker” the rule and measure mathematical folk”(3). Although Lawrence clearly saw the evils arising from materialism and the machine age, he disliked Galsworthy’s mode of attack accusing him of trifling with evil. Arnold Bennet he described, as a “sort of pig in a clover”, and let himself go with the tide: “Never let it be said I was a Bennett”(4). With defiant contempt for the formal qualities of art, he wrote his novels and poems as so much “pure passionate experience “(5) while Bennet followed his intuitions in the history of characters, and Galsworthy the intellectual method, Lawrence abandoned himself utterly and decisively to the powerful current of instinction. He put himself in immediate contact with the dark regions of semiconscious feeling and of impulses that resist analysis and confuse the understanding.
His characters are not the humorous treasure of Dickens school; he is blind to these riches of individuality. Some critics may think that Lawrence’s men and women are simply human nature, with elemental instincts and passional impulses more than the normal measure. People who are chosen as exponents of his view of life, live with something like the same intensity as himself. In his novels he let his characters live to the full and thus secured the virtue of immediacy. Unfortunately, he was a genius without a sense of humour. Most of his works revealed a certain bitterness. It seems that he will long remain a problem to those who would define him and determine his precise relation to the epoch circulated around him.
Lawrence is the son of a miner, who grew up in poverty in the dingy Nottinghamshire surroundings. He was a writer who shocked English andAmerican society in the interwar period and was in trouble with censorship during all of his writing career. He was the writer who attempted to translate to fiction his concepts of the theories about sex which had been advanced by the great Austrian psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. Lawrence believed that, in Puritan culture in which he lived, sexual revolt in the individual was responsible for much of the ills of society. Disgusted that much of English society did not agree that his frank discussion was fit a matter for fiction, Lawrence spent much of his time with his German wife, Frieda, abroad.
Lawrence was a crusader for love, which “universalises the individual”. Love is the great creative process, war is the opposite”, and he seems to be in direct opposition to the principle of war.(6) It almost killed him, he said, to think, as an artist, of the British public in its present state. “I hate democracy so much… But I think aristocracy is just as pernicious, only it is much more dead. They are both evil”. (7)
For the time being, he could only forget and turn his eyes towards another world, as yet uncreated. His letters are full of the perfectly valid reasons why he left England. “You must not think that I have not cared about England”, he wrote again Lady Cynthia, “I have cared deeply andbitterly. But something is broken. There is not any England. One must look now for another world. This is only a tomb”. (8) So the Lawrences went wandering from Italy to Sicily and Malta, right on to Australia, and then to California and Mexico, in search of a habitable country. They must have enjoyed themselves, but they met with disillusionment of some kind everywhere, and Lawrence’s travel books as well as his novels written by the way are full of quarulousness, besides his regular outbursts of subconscious dread stirred up by some experience which to others seemed innocuous or harmless. He long nursed a project for a new life and some new form of community, and intermittently sought to enlist assistants. He clung to the idea that after the War mankind would insist upon a new way of life. To live, all must unite, and bring all knowledge into a coherent whole, “cast all personalities into the melting-pot, and give a new humanity its birth”. One must destroy the old Moloch (9) of greediness and love of property and love of power. But think what a splendid world we shall have, when each man shall seek joyand understanding rather than getting and having”. (10) Lawrence beheld himself as the prophet of a new order, a sort of Blake, Shelley or Nietzche, almost a superman. He was a genius who was often mistaken for a devil. He was considered a heretic bit in no wise a charlatan.(11)
He took himself only too seriously, realising only in part his internal weakness that paralysed so much of what was great in him. His fundamental mistake was to despise the reasoning faculty, because it was weak in himself, in comparison with other ways of knowing. He built a philosophy of life, or, rather, a theosophy, on bases that he never tested or was able to test; and he could not give rational account of it, though he repeatedly tried and thought he had succeeded. It was the old doctrine, traceable in Shaftesbury, Rousseau, Blake, and indeed much further back, to “follow instinct” a sound doctrine if combined with the proviso that the dictates of our nature should be examined andcorrected. But Lawrence never saw such a necessity and went on blindly to the end, making remarkable discoveries in this obscure mental tract, but never clearly knowing by the intellect what he was discovering by his instincts. He had the makings of a great personality, but was unable to fuse together in a balanced unity. He himself was acutely aware of this inability, yet he obstinately followed his impulses. In spite of this, Lawrence was eagerly celebrated and adored by his disciples which seemed rather grotesque to others. Lawrence, as a critic said, had a gift for throwing others off their balance as well as himself.
Lawrence arrived at a conclusion of his own. Trusting his prenatal instincts, he found in them metaphysical authority for repudiating thoughtand accepting the dark admonitions of the unconscious as infallible. He expounded his doctrines with more and more confidence as he went on. They were creative works of art because he was possessed by creative imagination as his fundamental conviction. Lawrence felt sure that his reasoning could convince others.
His novels were definitely works of art although they were didactic, or, rather, apostolic, for he regarded the dictates of the unconscious as sacred: ‘Primarily’, he said, “I am passionately a religious man, and novels must be written from the depths of my religious experience”(12). Art, to him, was art for his sake. (13) He felt an irresistible urge to write, and found writing good for himself. “One sheds one’s sickness in books repeats and presents again one’s emotions to be master of them”(14). He also wrote, “I do think that art has to reveal the palpitating moment or the state of man as it is'(15). He told Middleton Murry that he considered art a social activity, and instanced Shakespeare in Hamlet and Lear as one working “towards a more perfect conception- of fraternity (brotherhood) as opposed to paternity (fatherhood), and now complete fraternity” on this earth (16). from the outset, his novels were an exposition of the self in its relations to others and to the universe, and it was inevitable that they should be based upon his own inmost experience. His first, The White Peacock 1911, Superficially like a Hardy novel, was about a set of young people, it might be Lawrences and their intimates, growing up together in the semi-rural region where he lived. The main story is of a disappointed lover who marries unhappily and takes to drink. But the most pregnant character is Annable the gamekeeper, an anticipation of Mellors in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Both are reflexes of Lawrence.
His autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers 1913 appeared after Lawrence had found the women he craved in Frieda, his German wife. Sonsand Lovers is a realistic novel developing two significant psychological themes. The first is the story of Paul Morel’s beautiful but terrible relationship with his mother, who gives him all her warm of feeling because her husband had denied her the love she needs. The second is a study of attraction and repulsion in love presented through Paul’s relations with two quite different women Clara and Miriam. It is, on the whole, a tragic, a desperate story of work, love and family relationships.
Paul’s mother and father were happy together for a while, the mother was refined and intellectual. The father was a dashing strong collier without education. They lived a life of poverty in a coal miner’s cottage near Nottingham. The father drank more and more and the mother retired to her own world she built around her children. The 3rd of the children, Paul grew up in a quarrelling atmosphere. Paul was a sensitive child who was most hurt by his father’s drinking and brutality. There grew in him a deep and tender attachment for his mother. The children andthe mother gradually shut out the father from family intimacies. He had no part in the family except to provide the meager living.
After the death of the oldest son, William, Paul’s mother centred all her attention on her second son. The two other children were capable of carrying their affairs without the constant attention that Paul demanded from his mother.
At sixteen Paul formed a passionate attachment for a charming and intellectual girl, Miriam. Paul tutored her Mathematics and French. They read together Hardy novels and discussed Tess of the D’Urbervilles and many others, but for a strange psychological reason Paul could not touch Miriam. Their love was on the spiritual level against which Paul’s mother protested. Paul realised that his mother was his real life and that he could not go on with Miriam in this desperate way, he left her. Thus they never married.
The Miriam in Lawrence’s life hoped that he would return to her; but she was deeply hurt by the unfair version of their attachment given in Sonsand Lovers, in which “Lawrence handed his mother the laurels of victory”, and the shock ” gave the death blow to our friendship”. (17)
By now Lawrence had met Frieda Weakly, wife of a professor at the University of Nottingham, a woman older than himself and mother of three children; and that he had found in her the strength and tenderness he needed. They went together to Germany, her native country, and as soon as she was free they married in 1913. (18)
Lawrence says it was at Miriam’s farm that he got his first incentive to write(19). He used to send her his poems and other work as it was finished, including the initial version of Sons and Lovers. They read together Fenimore Cooper, Stevenson, George Eliot, Thackeray, the poetsand then Maupassant and Flaubert, and talked them over earnestly. When they were most estranged, he begged her to read Sentimental Tommy and its sequel, and say if he was not a parallel case. It was she that sent some of his poems to Ford Madox Hueffer, who printed them in The English Review 1908. She knew his faults, no one better; she painted the most vivid and spontaneous portrait of Lawrence in his young manhood.
Lawrence’s wife Frieda was reflected in Clara in Sons and Lovers. She is the more sensuous woman, the siren in Paul’s or Lawrence’s life. While Clara holds a part of Paul, the other part craves for Miriam who is able to perceive the saint beneath his husk Miriam’s very soul belonged to him but he would not take her. He felt that in taking her he would be denying his own life and did not hope to give life to her by denying his own.
Sons and Lovers ends with a tragedy as Paul’s mother slowly dies of cancer. Paul is tortured to death by his mother’s pains. Finally Paul tried to help his mother die and gave her an extra amount of morphine to end the misery of his mother’s pains and of his desperate tortures. Paul thought that even at death his mother was a beautiful woman and he did not want others to see her.
After losing his mother he tried to seek comfort in Clara, but she failed to make him forget his mother and his misery. Then he went to the hospital to visit Clara’s sick husband, Baxter. He brought about a reconciliation between the husband and the wife since Clara wanted to return to Baxter Davies.
from Lawrence’s other important novels, The Rainbow 1915 studies the elements of marriage and an interplay of relationships between 3 families of successive generations.
Woman in Love 1921 is again an attempt to work out a successful relationship between 2 couples.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover 1929, is certainly Lawrence’s most notorious novel. There are many who think it is his best. It concerns a man, paralysed from the waist down as a result of war injuries, and his young wife’s search for fulfilment with the gamekeeper of the estate.
The Plumed Serpent 1926, is a rather unusual novel written as a result of Lawrence’s trip to Mexico. In it he has a new cult of the Aztec God, Quetzalcoatl, rise to challenge modern Catholicism among Mexico’s mixed Spanish Indian race.
VII- ENOCH ARNOLD BENNETT (1867 – 1931)
Born at Shelton on the outskirts of Hanley, Staffordshire, in 1867, E.A.Bennett as a child lived behind a draper’s shop (Baines, in his novels). Educated at local schools, he matriculated at London University, and was a London solicitor’s clerk at the age of 21. Next, after receiving 20 guineas for a humorous story in Titbits, he became a journalist; contributed short stories to evening papers and to literary quarterlies, andbecame assistant editor to the Woman for which he wrote fancy society paragraphs under the name of Gwendolen. His practice in paper enabled him to learn the ‘secret nature of women’ which he afterwards turned to account in his novels. from 1900 Bennett lived in France studying French literature. His enjoyment of society and good living was misunderstood by those who thought that he was spoiled by success.
His books are abundant and their quality is good. The most popular among the others is The Old Wife’s Tale 1908, the others are Clayhanger 1910, Riceman Steps 1923, Buried Alive 1908 and The Card 1911. These are his well-written humorous character novels. The Great Babylon Hotel 1902 is an entertaining comedy. His reputation was made and maintained by the first three books named above. His novel Buried Alive 1908 was later turned into a play, The Great Adventure.
Arnold Bennett’s masters in the early stages of his development were the French novelists, Maupassant, Flaubert, and Balzac to whom the first principle in literary creation is that this world is nothing but a spectacle-and it is the task of a novelist to record life with complete detachment-that is observing the facts of life with no sound of either approval or protest.
like his French masters Bennett was copyist of life and only indirectly (if at all) a commentator, and interpreter, or an apologist. UnlikeH.G.Wells, Galsworthy or Bernard Shaw who had never been dispassionate about human affairs Bennett was successful in remainingobjective and aloof. Bennett thought that the good and the bad aspects of life ought to be related in a novel without indignation, passion or prejudice. A wife-beating husband and a poor nursing mother can be reflected with the same objective tone, like a cinematography camera registers events without feeling and comment. Thus the audiences are supposed to be left at liberty to favour whatever attitude they may choose. The writer tries to create a sense that he is unconcerned with the attitude of the readers in front of the characters and the events reflected in his novels.
Arnold Bennett’s method is often described as naturalistic. Since he was not obsessed by life’s injustices nor was he tormented by them to feel the need of creating a better world in his novels as H.G.Wells, Bernard Shaw, or A. Huxley. It is true that he was a spectator of life but not completely unconcerned. He wanted to be detached merely as an artist from the current habit of protestation of the injustices and the habit of Victorian moralising or using literature only for the sake of teaching certain morals as most of the 18th and the 19th century writers did.
The purpose of the naturalistic novelist is to be detached and dispassionate as a camera, but it is often very difficult to sustain this attitude. Since no naturalistic novelist can relate the whole of life, nor the whole of any one period of life. He is compelled to make a selection-choose between the necessary and important facts and the irrelevant for his purpose, in determining his picture of life. For this one reason andbecause of his English temperament, Bennett can be considered partly a naturalistic novelist.
1- The Old Wife’s Tale 1908 (His Masterpiece)
Constance is a plump, pleasant girl and Sophia, the younger sister, is full with imagination and daring. She has a rebellious individuality. Her desire is to become a teacher.
Mr. and Mrs. Baines owned a draper’s shop. They were most respectable and they were horrified at their daughter’s unconventional plan, for it had been taken for granted that she, as well as Constance, would assist in the shop.
When Sophia was four years old John Baines had suffered a stroke of paralysis which had left him a hopeless invalid whose faculties were generally impaired. He and his capable wife opposed Sophia’s plans to become a teacher, but this strengthened Sophia’s purpose.
One day Sophia met a young man who was the representative of a wholesale firm. She instantly invented an errand to take him into the shop. His name she learned was Gerald Scales. When Sophia returned to her father’s room he had slipped of the bed, had been powerless to move himself and had died of asphyxia. Mr. Baines’s old friend Mr. Critchlow was called immediately, and he having seen Sophia in the shop with Gerald, instantly accused her of killing her father. Presumably she had hoped for an opportunity to see Gerald again, Sophia offered to give up her plans to teach.
Sophia worked in a millinery (shop for woman’s hats) while Constance assisted Samuel Povey, the clerk, a small quiet man with dignity andwithout imagination. He and Constance gradually fell in love and a short time after they were married.
After two years Gerald returned and Sophia managed to meet him alone. Mrs. Baines recognising Sophia’s infatuation-her foolish passion- sent her off to her aunt. Several weeks later Sophia ran off with Gerald Scales. She wrote her mother that they were married and planning to live abroad. Mrs. Baines turned over the house and the shop to Constance and her husband, and went to live with her sister.
The married life of Constance held few surprises and the couple soon settled into a routine existence. Nothing further was heard of Sophia except for an occasionally Christmas card giving no address. After six years of marriage a son Cyril was born. Constance centred her life about the baby, more so since her mother died shortly after his birth. Povey also devoted much attention to his child but he made life miserable for Constance by his insistence on discipline. When after 20 years of marriage Povey died of pneumonia and left Constance a widow, she devoted herself entirely to Cyril. He was a claiming intelligent boy but he was indifferent to his mother’s efforts to please him. When he was 18 he went to London to study art. His mother was left alone.
Life had not dealt so quietly with Sophia. In London hotel room after her elopement, she had suffered the first disillusionment when Gerald began to make his first excuses for delaying their marriage ceremony when Sophia refused to go to Paris with him except as his wife. In Paris Gerald and Sophia spent all the money that Gerald inherited without thinking about their future. Gerald’s weakness, his irresponsibility, andlack of morals and common sense soon became apparent. Sophia took two hundred pounds from Gerald’s pocked to hide against emergency. As Gerald lost more and more money at gambling, they lived in shabbier hotels, wore mended clothes and ate sparingly. Finally, Gerald left Sophia because she did not call her parents for financial help.
Sophia was left sick with the money she took from Gerald. Sophia gave some of the money to Gerald’s friend to whom Gerald owed money. Chirac, Gerald’s friend took her to a middle aged courtesan Madame Faucault and took in roomers and boarders (who ate their meals in the house). At that time France was in war with Germany, and soon the siege of Paris began. Food was scarce. Only by hard work and the most careful management, Sophia was able to feed her boarders. She grew hard and businesslike. When siege was lifted and Paris returned to normal, Sophia bought the pension Frensham at her own price. Sophia prospered and build up a modest fortune from the 200 pounds that she had taken at her own price.
After selling her pension for a large sum of money Sophia visited England to meet her sister Constance. The sisters lived together for 9 years. On the surface they got on well together, but Sophia never forgave her sister for her refusal to move from the ugly, inconvenient old house. Constance on her part, silently resented Sophia’s domineering ways.
Receiving a telegram that Gerald was very ill, Sophia went to him at once only to find that he was dead. Seeing Gerald was a great shock to Sophia. She had no feeling left for the shabby, thin and old man who had both made and ruined her life. On the way home she suffered a stroke and died. Cyril was left all Sophia’s money. Cyril lived in London completely absorbed in his art and still secretive and indifferent in his attitude toward his mother. When Constance died several years later, he did not even return for the funeral. When the servants went for Constance’s burial, only Sophia’s old poodle was left in the house. She waddled into the kitchen to see if any food had been left in her dish.
2- Anna of the Five Towns (1902)
This was the first of Bennett’s novels dealing with the pottery region of Five Towns. It is primarily a novel of character, but Anna changes so slightly that the reader is hardly aware of any development in her attitudes or action. In fact her tragedy occurs because she cannot change her original nature. But in spite of certain weaknesses, the story has touches of Bennett’s great writing still and human insight and is worth the time all Bennett lovers. The novel is also Bennett’s most detailed study of the repressive effects of Wesleyanism (20) which affects all his characters in one degree or another.
The Story :
Ephraim Tellwright was a miser, one of the wealthiest men in any of the Five Towns, a group of separate villages joined by a single road. He was a farmer preacher concerned more with the getting congregations (arranging religious meetings) in good financial shape, than with the souls of his parishioners. Although he made considerable money from rentals and foreclosures, he lived in the most frugal way possible andgave his daughters nothing but the barest essentials.
Both his wives had died, the first giving him his daughter Anna and the second producing Agnes before her death. Mr. Tellwright was usually kind hearted as long as his meals were on time, no money was wasted, and the house was never left alone and unguarded. He paid little attention to his daughters.
Anna loved her father even though she could never feel close to him. The two girls were especially close to each other because their father ignored them most of the time.
On Anna’s 21st birthday her father called her into his office and told her that she would that day inherit almost 50 thousand pounds from her mother’s estate. Anna who had never owned one pound, could not even comprehend an amount so large. She willingly gave her father the control of her fortune. Anna was not interested in her money since money made little difference in her life. It simply lay in bank until her father told her to invest it.
One result of the money however, was unhappy for Anna. Among her properties there was a factory owned by Titus Price and his son Willie Price who were unable to pay its rent. Anna’s father kept hounding the Prices for prompt payment of the rent. Each time Anna discussed the situation with Willie she was embarrassed but she was afraid to face her father without taking the money.
In Church Anna tried to repent and accept guilt publicly, but this did not ease her guilty conscience. She felt her repentance should be made privately not openly in a public meeting.
A teacher, Henry Myners, in the Sunday School became interested in Anna mainly because of her money. When people gossiped about this Anna refused to believe it.
After Anna received her fortune, she was invited to the House of Mrs. Sutton, the social leader of the town. There she won their affection by her unselfish nursing of the sick daughter of Mrs. Sutton. Thus she forgot her father’s vicious scolding for spending money on new clothes.
After returning home, Henry and Anna were engaged with her father’s consent since Henry knew the value of money. Anna was happy in her quiet love for Henry but her happiness was soon clouded by the news that old Price hanged himself. Anna that she and her father were to blame because they hounded him for his rent. Henry assured her that Mr. Price was in debt to many people and that she need not feel guilty. Nevertheless Anna worried great deal about the suicide and about Willie.
Later Willie confessed that a bank note he had given in payment of the rent had been forget. Anna decided to keep this secret and tried to protect Willie and his father’s reputation. She told his father that she had burned the bank note.
Henry made arrangements to buy the Price house since young Willie Price was planning to make a fresh start in Australia. Anna could not protest this, she was docile and let Henry make all the arrangements.
When Anna told her father she needed money for her linens and wedding clothes, she was denounced for spend-thrift.
Henry now made plans to use Anna’s fortunes since her father declared that he had nothing more to do with her money.
Then there was more bad news about the dead Price. He had defrauded the church of 50 pounds. Anna tried to cover up for him so that Willie would not know. Willie ready to leave for Australia heard the theft. When they were parting Anna knew suddenly that he had always loved herand she loved him. She let him go however, because she felt bound by her promise to Henry. She had been dutiful all her life; it was too late for her to change.
Willie was never heard from again. Had anyone in Five Towns happened to look into an abandoned pit-shaft, the mystery of Willie would have been solved. The meek lad had found his only way to peace.
VIII- JOHN GALSWORTHY (1867-1933)
Galsworthy was born in Surrey in 1867, he came from the well to do upper class of a Davonshire family. He was educated at Harrow andOxford; called to the bar in 1890. (a collective lawyer bar)
He practised little law but his legal knowledge was evident throughout his work, especially in Justice and the court scene in The Silver Spoon. He travelled widely, but of this there is little evidence in his books.
H.G. Wells and Bennett sprung from humble beginnings but Galsworthy was an aristocrat. If no biographical facts were known about anyone of the three it would be easy to deduce from a consideration of their literary styles their social origins. There is an occasional air of fussiness about the writing of Bennett and H.G. Wells, but the sentences of Galsworthy are athletic, crisp and clear-cut. This feature of his style is considered an advantage in his novels but less so in his plays. “Galsworthy created a curious sense of abstract beauty suspended in a clear, ethereal atmosphere”. This effect is obtained in parts of The Country House (1907), The Patrician (1911), and The Forsyte-Saga (1922), especially in the passage describing Old Jolyon’s death. (I) Galsworthy’s lucent prose may keep his novels alive long after they have become stale anduseless as social commentaries.
Galsworthy’s purpose as a novelist were stated by himself in The Inn of Tranquillity (1912). In that book a figure called Cethru is introduced whose function in the allegory is paralleled to what Galsworthy regarded as the function of the novelist in the modern world. Cethru is changed by the Prince of Fecilitas to go all his life up and down the dark street (Vita Publica) bearing a lantern, so that wayfarers may see where they are going and avoid danger in the darkness. The light shed by Cethru’s lantern compels the citizens to act against evil previously unseen andunchecked. The man with the lantern is hated and persecuted because he disturbs the complacent, smug people. He is the light-bearer, Cethru (reminding see-through) the man through whose ministry others are compelled to see. He is at length called before the judges, for disturbing “good citizens by showing to them without resentment disagreeable sights” and endangering “the laws by causing persons to desire to change them”. The defence of Cethru is that his lantern distorted nothing, it “did but show which was there, both fair and foul, no more, no less”. His advocate continues:
“Surely, reverend Judges, being just man,
you would not have this lantern turn its
light away from what is ragged and ugly
there are also fair things on which its
light may fall… and I would have you
note, Sirs, that by this impartial discovery
of the proportions of one thing to another
this lantern must indeed perpetually seem
to cloud and sadden those things which are
fair, because of the deep instincts of
harmony and justice in the human breast”
(The Inn of Tranquillity) (21)
It has been thought that there is a parallel between Galsworthy and Cethru, between Galsworthy’s novels and Cethru’s lantern. Galsworthy seemed to try to give an honest and partial presentation of his problems. The readers may incline towards one side or the other `because of deep instinct of harmony and justice planted in the human breast’ and that Galsworthy has not definitely inspired their inclination.
Galsworthy judged himself as a dispassionate observer of the fact. He weighed the evidences for each contestant and his intellect was on both sides at once; but his emotions disturbed the balance. On the one hand a clear and cold statement on the other a presentation warmed by emotion. The scarcely perceptible but powerful emotional current engages sympathy for one party rather than for the other. Some idea of the working of this emotional element can be gathered from an examination of the argument between Stanley and Felix Freeland concerning comparative conditions of life enjoyed by the `upper classes’ and endured by the farm labourer. Felix championing the under-dog, emphasises that the wealthy Malloving is `called up with a cup of tea, seven o’clock, out of a nice, clean, warm bed; he gets into a bath that has been got ready for him, into clothes and boots that have been brushed for him’. Gaunt, on the other hand, `gets up summer and winter much earlier out of bed that he cannot afford time or money to keep clean or warm, in a small room that probably has not a large enough window; into clothes stiff with work, and boots stiff with clay.’ The comparison is a just one, but the significant point is that Felix’s statement is charged with sentimentaland humanitarian feeling, where as Stanley’s contribution to the argument is brief and stubborn defence of things as they are. Stanley, indeed, is permitted to say far too little; Felix undertakes both prosecution and defence, with effects (upon the reader’s mind) that destroy the claim that Galsworthy was impartial.
The Galsworthy world is peopled mainly by two classes fugitives and pursuers. Love is closely related to pity, and hate was seen by Galsworthy as half-brother to fear. The hunted creatures, of the world, he felt, are hunted because of a blind insensible fear driving their pursuers. The hunters are therefore also to be pitied, for they are themselves hard driven by the hag Fear, the `black god mother’ of all mankind. In “The Black Godmother” the hunted creature is a lost puppy who snapped at a farm labourer, out of shear fright, when it was hungry and thirsty; and the farm labourer kicked it. Next, it encountered some schoolboys, who stoned it. The puppy then fell in with a kind-hearted man, but he drove it away out of fear that it might infect his own dog with disease. Later, the half maddened animal snapped at children who tried to stroke it, andwas hit on the head by the children’s father. An old stone breaker was the next assailant:
“Well! you see `the old man explained to me’,
the dog came smellin’ round my stones an’it
wouldn’ come near an’it wouldn’ go away; it
was all froth and blood about the jaw, and
its eyes glared at me. I thought to
myself,… I don’t like the look o’ you,
you look funny! So I took a stone an’ got it
here, just on the ear; an’ it fell over. and
I thought to myself: “Well, you’ve got to
finish it, or it’ll go bitin’ somebody for
sure! But I come to it with my hammer, to
dog, it got up-an’ you know how it is when
there’s somethin’ you ve `alf killed, and
you feel sorry and yet you feel you must
finish it, an’ you hit at it blind, you
hit at it agen an’ agen. The poor thing,
it wriggled an’ snapped, an’ I was terrified
it’d bite me, and some’ow it go away!” (22)
A farmer afterwards wounded the puppy with a pitchfork because he was afraid it would bite his lambs. In the middle of the night the wretched, hunted, harmless animal died in agony, in the house of the kind hearted man who finally took it in and tended it but too late. The pale coloured wretched little dog was hunted to death not by hatred but by Fear, `the black-godmother of all damnable things’, working through bewitched human beings. At the root of their fear was the possessive instinct, an idea which led up to Galsworthy’s outstanding book, the series of novelsand stories collectively named The Forsyte Saga, beginning with The Man of Property. The central character, Soames Forsyte obsessed by the lust of possession, cannot overcome his passion to acquire everything desirable within his reach. By marriage he acquired Irene Heron. He overpersuaded her into marrying him, but the result was disastrous, and ‘the profound subtle aversion which he felt in his wife was a mystery to him and a source of the most terrible irritation.’ But he was a ‘man of property’ and his wife was a property to be subjected to the exercise of full proprietary rights. Soames was at that time a selfish, acquisitive creature who would not endure beauty near him unless it was crushed andpinned in the specimen case which was his house. Yet here Galsworthy introduces evidence for Soames through the thoughts of young Jolyon, who is less impressed by Forsyte prejudice and arrogance or pride than most of his family. Young Jolyon meditates upon the dead lock in Soames household:
“Whence should a man like his cousin, saturated
with all the prejudices and beliefs of his class,
draw the insight or inspiration necessary to
break up this life? It was a question of imagination,
of projecting himself into the future beyond the
unpleasant gossip, sneers, and tattle that
followed on such separations, beyond the passing
pangs that the lack of the sight of her would
cause, beyond the grave disapproval of the
worthy. But few men, and especially few men
of Soames’s class, had imagination enough
for that. A deal of mortals in this world, and
not enough imagination to go round!… Most people
would consider such a marriage as that of Soames
and Irene quite fairly successful; he had money,
he had beauty; it was a case for compromise. There
was no reason why they should not jog along, even
if they hated each other… Half the marriages of
the upper classes were conducted on these lines:
Do not offend the susceptibilities of Society; do
not offend the Church. To avoid offending these is
worth the sacrifice of any private feelings. The
advantages of stable home are visible, tangible
, so many pieces of property; there is no risk in
the statues quo. To break up the home is at best
a dangerous experiment, and selfish into the bargain. (23)
Such is the evidence in defence of Soames. Galsworthy delivers judgement, but here, again, in this earlier part of the Saga, an emotional current runs against Soames. As the long record proceeds an interesting change is apparent. In the course of over 20 years in the bosom of the Forsyte family Galsworthy’s feelings mellowed in one respect and were exasperated afresh in another. For a long time Soames Forsyte, the Victorian was metaphorically in the dock, with the Younger (Edwardian) Generation in the Jury-box. The jury was determined to be fair and to hear all the evidence, but it was stern and implacable-it tended to be involved. In the second cycle of the Saga (24) a different figure stood in the dock: it was the Youngest Generation (the Neo-Georgian), educated at Eton and rouged. The Edwardians were still in the jury box, but with their faces lined by perplexity and regret. Soames Forsyte now a benevolent old gentleman and the Victorian is seen seated in the court. On the bench is Galsworthy, remarking sadly to the defendant, `in my earlier days it used to be said that your Victorian grandfather was an undesirable person. I am now being very reluctantly forced toward the conclusion that, compared with you, he was a perfect gentleman’.
Galsworthy had become uneasy about the future of Fleur Forsyte and indignant about the present of such a person as Marjorie Ferrar in The Silver Spoon, but he was still able to understand and sympathise with young people of the early 20th century who were animated by the restless spirit of the Age of Interrogation. The mentality of the age is seen best in the young daughter Nedda of Felix Freeland. A careless questioning was always going on within her; the thirst to know the answers to such questions as when people wrote and talked of God, why people had to suffer; and the world be black to so many millions? Why one could no love more than one man at a time? Why a thousandthings?
1- The Story of the Novel
The Forsyte Saga 1906-1933
The entire Saga concerns the growth of an upper middle class English family during the late Victorian era and for the first 20 years of the 20th century.
This very prosperous Forsyte clan is gathered in 1886 to celebrate the engagement of old Jolyon Forsyte’s granddaughter to a penniless architect, Philip Bossiney. Philip is hired by Soames Forsyte, the ‘man of property’, to build him a country house. Young Philip and Irene, Soames wife fall hopelessly in love with each other. After sometime, Soames discovers what is going on and bankrupts young Bossiney. Bossiney is killed in a motor accident. Irene leaves Soames.
The first interlude shows Irene, now a music teacher, comforting Jolyon Forsyte in his last days.
In the second novel, 12 years later, Soames has devoted himself to piling up money but he is worried about not having an hair to whom he can leave his property. He wishes to marry a French girl but cannot persuade Irene to divorce him. He tries to effect a reconciliation with her, but she refuses. He then hires a detective to find evidence for a divorce.
Irene has finally joined young Jolyon Forsyte and lives with him in Europe. Soames divorces her and marries the French girl, Anette. Anette presents him with one child, a girl, Fleur. Irene meanwhile has presented Jolyon with a boy, Jon.
The second interlude shows a happy reunion between Irene and her son, Jon.
The third novel opens some 20 years later, Jon and Fleur meet and fall in love. They are caught in the throes of the family feud which is taking place between Soames and Jolyon and Irene. When young Jon learned of the story of Irene and Soames, he decided that he could never marry Fleur. Jon, after his father’s death decides to stay by his mother. Fleur disappointed marries young Michael Mont, with the encouragement of Soames.
At the end of the book Soames reflects that man no longer owns his soul, his investments and his women. Now the state has stopped into private life and society means more than the individual. The age of Forsyte greatness is over.
Galsworthy’s first trilogy of the Forsytes is a penetrating psychological study of a social class. The author, a member of the class which he satirises, treats the characters and their foibles with a great deal of nostalgic sympathy. The Forsyte Saga is an excellent portrayal of the manners and morals of an age which gave way slowly to a new scientific age and a period of more socialised economy as the 20th century progressed.
IX- JAMES JOYCE 1882-1941
He was born in Dublin and educated for the priesthood in Jesuit schools. He took his bachelor’s degree in 1902. At about this time he rebelled against everything connected with his surroundings. He refused to have anything to do with the Irish Renaissance, although he was urged to participate by Yeats. He renounced Catholicism and departed for the Continent with an uneducated Irish girl with no interest in literature andlived with her in Europe until his death. By 1904 he had become a self-exile from the British Isles and settled in Paris where he lived until 1940 when they forced him to take refuge in Switzerland. He died in Zurich a few weeks later. He had had a fine classical education, and knew several languages and did odd jobs in various European countries to support his family.
Joyce isolated from society with, as he said, “silence, exile and cunning”, to produce some of the most unusual of all the novels in literature. For a great group of his readers, his two main works are almost a religion; for many others his books are interesting because of the psychological effect in them and for many others his books are not even worth reading.
Joyce became one of the most controversial literary figures in this century and the creator of the country’s most startling innovation in writing through his two masterpieces Ulysses 1922 and Finnegan’s Wake 1939. The Portrait of an Artist as Young Man 1916 was his first novel written twice by the author and reflects the author’s life in Stephen’s emotional and spiritual development. In other words it is an autobiographical novel written in original style.
1- A Portrait of The Artist as a Young_ Man (1914-16)
We first meet Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive Dublin boy, listening to nursery songs and nonsense verses at his mother’s knee. Before long he is enrolled in the Clongowes Wood School, run by strict Jesuit teachers. Young Stephen immensely from his shyness, his nearsightedness, andhis strange, UN-Irish last name. The older boys bully him unmercifully because his father is a humble civil servant. One of them, Wells, even shoulders him to a ditch of cold, filthy water crawling with rats, because Stephen will not trade him a valuable little snuff box for a marble.
As a result of his ducking, Stephen becomes sick and spends some time in the school infirmary. Filled with self-pity, he dreams about how sorry everyone would be if he were to die. While Stephen is in the infirmary, the great Irish patriot and leader Parnell dies. The sailing of the people outside fixes this date, Oct.6, 1891, forever in the boy’s memory.
Home for Christmas, Stephen finds that the death of Parnell has aroused intense antagonism in his family. His father, Simon Dedalus, staunchly defends the dead leader, while his aunt, Tante Riordan, attacks Parnell as a heretic who betrayed both the Catholic Church andIreland by having an …..erous affair with Kitty O’Shea, another man’s wife. Simon Dedalus protests bitterly that the church and the country for which Parnell fought all his life hounded him to death for one moral slip.
This fierce dispute ruins the first Christmas dinner that Stephen remembers. He feels that he is already being forced to take sides in religiousand political disputes that do not really concern him. He sees them dividing his family as they have divided all Ireland.
More misfortunes await Stephen when he returns to school after the holiday. A student on a bicycle collides with him while Stephen is walking on a cinder path, and breaks his glasses. Stephen is excused from work until his father can send him a new pair, but Father Dolan, prowling upand down Father Arnall’s Latin class looking for lazy and mischievous boys, spots Stephen not doing his lesson. Without waiting for an explanation, Father Dolan accuses Stephen of having broken his glasses intentionally and beats Stephen’s hand furiously with a “pandybat” a hard stick. As he fights back his tears, his classmates, even “Nasty Roche”, seems to sympathise with him for the first time. Graving for excitement, they egg or urge Stephen on to complain to the rector of the school about the unjust punishment. The rector sympathises with himand promises to tell Father Dolan to excuse Stephen until the glasses arrive. His courage in speaking to the rector makes Stephen a sort of hero among his classmates, and they carry him about the campus in their arms. Later Stephen finds out that the rector and Father Dolan had enjoyed a good laugh over the incident.
As Stephen grows older, he becomes better able to handle bullies. At one point, Mr. Tate, the English teacher, accuses Stephen of inserting a heretical statement into one of his compositions. Stephen immediately apologises and changes and the essay, but later a group of boys attack him for being a heretic and for liking the “immoral” poet, Byron. Stephen sticks to his guns, however, and tells them that a poet’s greatness has nothing to do with his private morality. The boys gang up on him and beat him with a cane.
Family embarrassments hound Stephen at this time, too. His father a shallow, easygoing man, given to sentimental talk about his own youth, takes Stephen on a trip to Cork where he embarrasses his rigorously honest son by treating everyone he meets to sentimental harangues over glasses of bear. from this point on, the fortunes of Simon Dedalus decline, and the family keeps moving to cheaper and drearier quarters.
Stephen is able to improve their financial lot temporarily by winning some prizes at the end of the term. Filled with ambition to live less grimy life, he buys all sorts of delicacies, decorates his room, and even establishes a family loan service. With the last of his money Stephen wanders into Dublin’s red-light district, at the age of sixteen, has his first unsatisfactory experience with sex.
This experience torments him when he is back at school where a religious retreat is being held. During the retreat, Stephen, almost constantly in the chapel, hears a priest describe the torments of hell in lurid terms. Stephen is thoroughly frightened and believes that his experience with the prostitute will send him to endless damnation. He has nightmares every night, and yet feels he cannot confess at school. Instead he goes to Dublin church where nobody knows him. There a kindly, wise old priest hears his confession and directs him on the road to repentance.
Stephen is so relieved by the old priest’s comforting words that he studies very hard and resolves to lead a life free of all sensual temptations. He tries to imitate the monks and saints by mortifying his flesh, seeking out disagreeable experience in order to rise above them. He tries not to dream about girls and plunges into the study of Aristotle, St. Agustine, and St. Thomas Aquines.
Stephen is so successful at his new regimen that the director of the college tries to persuade him to enter priesthood. The director thinks that Stephen, with his intelligence and will power, must have a vocation. Stephen is flattered by the director’s attention. He soon begins to see himself in the role of a priest. In his egoism he enjoys the idea of having all the power of the Catholic Church behind him.
As Stephen grows older, however, religious doubts begin to plague him. The more he doubts the more he studies, and the more he studies the more he becomes confused about the Church and its dogma. He finds some measure of intellectual companionship with his friends, Davin Lynch, and Cranly, although they cannot match his intelligence. He gives up a girl, Emma, because he thinks he saw her flirting with a priest. Stephen’s friendships are not very successful. Most of his classmates are involved in the Church or in the Irish nationalist movement, now gaining momentum. Many of them are studying Gaelic, hoping it will eventually replace the hated English. But Stephen admires English poetry too much to throw the language overboard. He begins to have his doubts about the wisdom of the Church, and insultingly calls Ireland “the old sow that eats her farrow” (oglunu yiyen disi domuz gibi). He has not forgotten the Christmas dinner discussion of how Parnell was betrayed by his own people. When his fellow students as Stephen are called to sign a petition for world peace, he rejects it on the grounds that the movement is headed by the Russian Czar. Also, he tells them, he has determined to become a writer, and an artist cannot waste his time with politics.
2- Commentary on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
“A Portrait … is in some ways like any number of novels written between 1890 and the World War I about the growing up of an artistic young man in an insensitive family and a hostile environment. What distinguishes it, however from such novels as Butler’s The Way of All Flesh or Maugham’s Of Human Bondage is the originality of the style.
Since every incident is filtered through Stephen’s sensibility, the prose at the beginning of the book is almost baby talk. As Stephen matures, however, the writing grows more and more complex, keeping pace with the growth of his mind.
Joyce is coolly objective about both his hero and the environment against which the hero is struggling. Throughout the novel Joyce is detached; he never comments or moralises. The result is a classic of fictional method as well as an intense and exciting account of the development-against all odds-of the artistic mind and soul” (p.281-282)
Abraham H. Lass, A Student’s Guide to 50 British Novels Pocket Books New York
“On Joyce’s view of literary art the artist must be an exile, and A Portrait of The Artist is a cunning patterning of elements from his own childhoodand youth so as to show how for potential artist to grow up is to move steadily toward the recognition of the necessity of exile”. (p.85)
“A portrait is an autobiographical study as well as a piece of prose fiction” (p.83)
“As autobiography, the work has an almost terrifying honesty; as fiction, it has unity, consistency, probability, and all the other aesthetic qualities we look for in a work of art.” (p.83)
“A Portrait of the Artist is organised with supreme skill to show the movement toward self-realisation as an artist and acceptance of the necessity of exile as coterminous. There is nothing in the book that is not in some way relevant to his theme, so that the book is precisely what its title says, a portrait of the artist as a young man”. (p.87)
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young-Man is perhaps the most flawless of all Joyce’s work. The welding of form and content, the choice of detail that seems inevitable once it has been made, the brilliant yet unobtrusive style, these and other qualities give the work a wholeness, a unity,and a completeness possessed by hardly a handful of works in our literature” (p. 90)
(David Daiches, The Novel and the Modern Chicago,1973 )
“like all the bildungsromane that preceded it, the portrait traces the emerging self-awareness of a sensitive youth and his painful revolt against restrictive environment… There is humour as well as realistic vividness in the major episodes, such as a family Christmas dinner that explodes into political argument, a school football game, a sermon on sin preached by the college chaplain, a day at the beach when Stephen spies on a girl wading. But these commonplace incidents acquire significance as clues to Stephen’s development-his revulsion from Irish nationalist bigotry, his imaginative and emotional susceptibility, his phase of religious devotion, his nascent sexual impulses. The climax of the story, when he rejects his mother’s appeal to him to abandon his scepticism, marks his emancipation from the oppressive control of the family, creed, andcommunity and thereupon he dedicates himself ecstatically to a purely aesthetic ideal…”Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race” (p. 215)
“A Portrait of the Artist was as baffling to Anglo-Saxon readers not merely because of its technique but because the Dublin local colour and the Romanist atmosphere were unfamiliar. The other significant new novelists of the epoch-Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf were in their ways as unorthodox as Joyce; but they emerged from the matrix of English life and English fiction and so there was a basis of Communication that was lacking in Joyce, who seemed like a voice from another planet” (p.215)
“A Portrait, brief and personal though it is, clearly signalises the arrival of two new principals that were soon to dominate modern literature: the concept of the writer as an alienated seeker of artistic perfection and spiritual identity beyond the comprehension of ordinary man, and the exploring interior processes by methods consistent with the new science of psycho-analysis. Both Joyce and Dorothy Richardson insisted that they had not encountered the ideas of Freud until they were well advanced in the writing of their novels… The emphasis upon sex was an outcome of the demand for realism and frankness, part of the general revolt against conventional taboos;… Nevertheless, the resemblance to FREUD was close enough to link the vogue of the new novelists with his.” (p.215-216)
Comment on Style:
“A Portrait is made up of 5 chapters rigorously enclosed within the consciousness of the central character. Though written in the 3 rd person, it is more profoundly introspective than any autobiographical novel had previously been, shifting back and forth between immediate impressionsand inner recollections. The style was manipulated to suit the psychological revelation. The first 2 pages, recording Stephen’s earliest memories are phrased in baby-talk and list the indiscriminate trivialities that happen to attract a small child’s attention. The rest of the opening chapter deals with his first school days in trite language with an admixture of juvenile slang. But as he grows older and advances toward college the style becomes melodious and uredite, adorned with poetic metaphor and outbursts of exuberant grandiloquence.” (p.214)
(Lionel Stevenson, The History of the English Novel, vol. XI New York, 1970)
3- The Story of Ulysses
Ulysses is a plotless novel, for all its mass of pages, only records 16 hours of trivial experience of the life of Leopold Bloom and his Dublin surroundings on June 16, 1904. Joyce connects the experiences of Bloom to those of Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey. This book is a novel of mental adventure, a detailed analysis of Bloom and the very commonplace people he encounters during one waking day of his life.
Ulysses is the masterpiece of the so-called “stream-of consciousness” fiction. This type of psychological novel tries to follow entire workings of the mind of the principal characters as they go through external actions, however trivial and commonplace they may be. Thus the bulk of the “stream-of-consciousness” novel is the stream of thoughts and feelings, retrospective and introspective (observation and analysis of oneself)and reflective of the main characters.
Buck Mulligan, a medical student, shaves and has breakfast with Stephen Dedalus, a teacher. Stephen is worried about his duty to his dead mother. He had refused to pray for her and his hatred of church discipline prevented him from doing so. He also feels that his life has become more aimless through his association with Buck and Haines, a young English man, who is given to drunken spears. He is happy when school is out and he can walk upon the beach and meditate.
Mr. Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising salesman gets out of bed his morning and prepares breakfast for himself and his wife, an awkward woman who is unfaithful to him. He reads a letter from his daughter Milly and thinks of his son Rudy, who died when he was 2 days old. He goes to various stores and to the post office where he picks up a letter from a woman with whom he is having flirtation. He joins the funeral procession of his old friend Paddy Dignam. He thinks again of his dead son and of his father who had committed suicide.
Bloom and Stephen meet once in a newspaper office again in the public library where Stephen is slightly drunk and expounding his theories about Shakespeare. They do not speak.
During the afternoon and the evening Bloom meets various acquaintances and finally runs into Stephen and Mulligan in a pub Bloom follows Stephen and a medical student as they go to a brothel in the slums of Dublin. Bloom is thinking of his wife’s infidelity Stephen very drunk now, thinks again of his dead mother. He is engaged in a scuffle with two British soldiers when Bloom rescues him and takes him home.
As Bloom fumbles for his key, he begs Stephen to leave the drunken medical students and come with him. Stephen refuses this fatherly invitation and goes off alone down the street as Bloom enters his house. He stands looking down at his huge wife who is lying in bed thinking or dreaming of her lovers and of her romantic meeting and honeymoon with Bloom in Spain. Her thoughts continue to flow on as Bloom begins to snore by her side.
Ulysses is an immensely complex novel. All the action of the novel takes place in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Stephen is living in a tower on the beach with a medical student friend, Buck Mulligan. His mother has died tragically after Stephen, in his atheistic pride, has refused to give benediction at her death bed. His father Simon Dedalus has become a hopeless drunkard.
Closely paralleling Homer’s Odysseus, the novel concerns itself with Stephen’s search for an adequate father, just as Homer’s Telemachus searches for his father, Odysseus. Stephen ultimately finds a father in Leopold Bloom, a middle aged Dublin Jew who also wonders through Dublin trying to sell newspaper advertisements Bloom and his sensual wife, Molly, represent a modern Odysseus and Penelope who undergo a series of erotic and comic misadventures culminating in Molly’s famous long, unpunctuated monologue as she is lying in bed after midnight pondering over the events of the day.
In addition to close parallels to Homer’s Odysseus which govern the action of the book, Ulysses represents the full flowering of Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness technique. The point is restricted to what is seen, thought and remembered by the three main characters, Stephen Dedalusand Leopold and Molly Bloom. Since everything is seen through their eyes, the reader must figure out what specific sight or memory is evoking any particular thought. Flashbacks are used with great technical skill, since the action of the book is restricted to a single day. Finally the novel abounds in puns and word play and alludes to actual Dublin characters of the period whom Joyce knew or heard about but who are not remembered today.
By the time Ulysses was finished the war had been over for 3 years. Its copies were denied importation into Britain and the USA on the grounds of obscenity. Copies were extensively smuggled and a bitter critical controversy raged. Even Shaw, Wells and Lawrence deplored Joyce’s libidinous excesses though quite unrightly. Eleven years elapsed before Ulysses was legalised in the USA by a court decision that came to be crucial in the long campaign between realistic fiction and censorship.
4- Criticisms on Ulysses :
” Ulysses, for all its difficulties and its strangeness, is more of an English work, seeming to result from a sort of combination of traditions founded respectively by having none of his personal savagery and interest; nor has he anything of Blake’s prophetic and apocalyptic power. Perhaps it is better not to attempt to link Joyce with any tradition in English literature but to approach his work from a study of the books themselves. What, then, is Ulysses ?
Ulysses is the product of a certain transitional period rare in the history of literature, a suspension of faith the disappearance of once background of public belief and the establishment of another. This fact may account for some of its qualities and explain the work historically, sociologically, or in terms of some other human science. But besides being generally a product of its period Ulysses is also specifically a particular work of art, and as such it presents for our evaluation what is essentially a new type of literary art, a new type of imitation. Mimesis, imitation in literature, depends for its value on the implied or in some way suggested application of known facts of experience to provide depth, background, even meaning…” (p.92)
” Ulysses is different. Though unlike a fairy tale, it deals carefully and meticulously with the real world…, Ulysses creates, as it moves, a whole system in itself, outside which the author once needs to trespass. True there is dependence on Homer and other external sources, but it is dependence of a very special kind-the Odyssey is simply a clue to Joyce’s symbols,…
Joyce’s procedure in Ulysses, as in Finnegans Wake, does not involve mimesis at all; it is re-creation, not imitation.” (p.92-93)
” a work of art is a pattern which has value for us because the world, and our experience of it, exists.” (p.93)
” Joyce, however, in Ulysses seeks to create all his own value as he goes along. He will not use the outside world: he himself creates all that he wishes to use. and that is one reason why this work confines itself to the incidents of one day and the experiences in that day of a very limited number of character. To create your universe as you go along is an exhausting task, and if you are to be successful you must limit very strictly the field of your activity. So Ulysses opens at 8 o’clock in the morning of June 16, 1904 and closes at 2 o’clock the following morning. ” (p.93)
” The growth of the more frankly psychological novel in the later half of the 19th century represents a movement which tended to force the writer, if not completely outside of or at least to some distance away from, the world he imitated. Joyce’s Ulysses is, in one of its aspects, the culmination of this movement; omniscience and aloofness are now seen in some casual relation.
” In some ways Joyce is more terrible than Swift, for Swift at least hated man in the mass, and to hate is to admit some sort of personal relation. But Joyce would no more think of hating Leopold Bloom than he would think of hating a grain of sand or a law of dynamics. To assert that such attitude makes for too perfect art. Art is to attempt another definition from another point of view – a state of unstable equilibrium between what is expected and what is assured. ” (p.95)
” Perfection tends to thwart artistic value. Art cannot replace the object of imitation; it has value only if the imitated object exists and the imitation reflects back on it.” (p.75)
” The disturbing quality of Ulysses comes from its implication that art has an independent value, independent of everything. and this is not so. If we were to relate Joyce’s aesthetic attitude to any historical movement, we should have to see it as a direct descendent of the L’art pour L’art theories of the late 19th century. That such theories may produce valuable art is no proof of their truth… The values of art exist because of the values of life. Joyce is almost 100 per cent an artist,…”(p.96)
Joyce has consciously endeavoured to remain aloof from his work probably to a greater extend than any other writer in our literature; but that endeavour is, in the nature of things, unsuccessful, and it can be argued that Ulysses is all the better as a novel for this lack of success.” (p.97)
David Daiches, The Novel and the Modern World Chicago and London 1973 .
” Joyce used his fiction as a vehicle for vengeance upon prominent people against whom he harboured a grudge because he felt they had ignored him or been unjust to him, and against former friends whom he accused of disloyalty.” (p.218)
” The major component in the psychology of the three central personages is sex. Molly Bloom is cheerfully promiscuous, her husband is frustrated and suspicious, Stephen is eager for erotic experiment. The subject occupies their thoughts obsessively and appears in the talk of the many characters in starkly explicit terms, sometimes approaching obscenity.” (p.218)
” What lingers unforgettably is the creation of three profoundly human individuals in their environment, portrayed with satire and compassionand epitomising the twilight of a doomed way of life. Whether fully aware of it or not, Joyce was depicting the termination of the middle-class Christian culture that had prevailed since the end of feudalism……
This theme links him with the other eminent novelists of his era. Wells and Galsworthy, Forster and Ford, all uncomfortably recognised that the world of their forebears was collapsing around them; and they sought to define the catastrophe in sociological terms. Joyce deals with the name phenomenon subjectively. He was intuitively aware of the crisis through his own irresolvable tensions ¬between Catholic orthodoxy andscientific Scepticism, between family solidarity and individual impulse, between archaic mores of Dublin and Continental sophistication. ” (p.223)
Lionel Stevenson, The History Of English Novel New York, 1970