Friday, December 11, 2009


This blog will resume on January 4, 2010. It consists of a chronology of World, British and American Literature, each work described in a sentence or two. RayS.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1902: Anna of the five Towns to The Lower Depths.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Arnold Bennett. British. 1902. Novel. Anna of the Five Towns. Naturalistic account of ordinary woman’s life. Repressive effects of Wesleyan religion.

Joseph Conrad. British. 1902. Story. “Heart of Darkness.” The “heart of darkness’ is the jungle and the primitive subconscious heart of man.

Andre Gide. French. 1902. Tale. The Immoralist. Effects of rising above the conventions of good and evil.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1902. Stories. Just So Stories. Why the Leopard has spots, etc.

Maksim Gorky. Russian. 1902. Play. The Lower Depths. Derelicts in sleazy flophouse. Whether to live without illusions on one’s own strength or to shield oneself from pain of life by accepting romanticized view of the world.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

1901: Sacred Fount to Jerusalem

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Henry James. American/British. 1901. Novel. The Sacred Fount. Narrator’s theory: in unequal marriages or liaisons, older, weaker partner is replenished; younger, stronger personality becomes depleted.

Louis Couperus. Dutch. 1901. Novel. The Book of Small Souls. Van Lowe family, large and diverse group, with little in common but pleasing Granny Lowe.

Anton Chekhov. Russian. 1901. Play. The Three Sisters. Dull existence in small provincial garrison town. One drab day to the next. Diversions with officers and dream of going to Moscow keep the sisters going. When regiment leaves, the sisters are left as they were. Frustrated by their attempts to escape this way of life.

Selma Lagerlof. Swedish. 1901/1902. Stories. Jerusalem. Relationship of family to farm, sold to pay for a trip to Jerusalem.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1901: Buddenbrooks to The Octopus.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Thomas Mann. German. 1901. Novel. Buddenbrooks. Material and spiritual decline of prosperous patrician family. Art = decadence.

Winston Churchill. American. 1901. Novel. The Crisis. Inevitability of the Civil War although neither side wanted it.

August Strindberg. Swedish. 1901. Play. The Dance of Death. Love-hate relationship between husband and wife.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1901. Novel. Kim. Brilliant descriptions of Indian scenes and sympathetic portraits of people.

Frank Norris. American. 1901. Novel. The Octopus. Struggle between the California wheat farmers and the railroad.

Monday, December 7, 2009

1900: Lord Jim to Whilomville Stories

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Joseph Conrad. British. 1900. Novel. Lord Jim. Lifelong effort to atone for an act of instinctive cowardice. Wandering outcast. Betrayed by whites who kill Jim’s best friend, the son of an old chief. Jim gives himself up to tribal justice and regains honor as he loses his life.

Mark Twain. American. 1900. Story. “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” Comic story with grim ending. People abandon their integrity to gain a treasure that turns out to be lead.

Theodore Dreiser. American. 1900. Novel. Sister Carrie. Innocent country girl exposed to the impersonal cruelty of Chicago in the 1890s. Rescued first by a traveling salesman. Then a wealthy married man embezzles funds and takes her to New York. As her star rises, his sinks. He commits suicide, a destitute Bowery bum.

Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1900. Play. When We Dead Awaken. Artist had feared to love because he thought it would interfere with his art. Meets again the model for his masterpiece. She says they have both been dead for many years. To regain the spirit of life, they go up into the mountains and are swallowed up in a storm. Spiritual death is the price of denying love.

Stephen Crane. American. 1900. Stories. Whilomville Stories. Thirteen stories set in a town thought to be Port Jervis, New York. Realistic, unsentimental sketches of childhood. Less nostalgic than most stories about childhood.

Friday, December 4, 2009

1900: "Ariel" to Leutnant Gustl.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Jose Enrique Rodo. Spanish. 1900. Essay. “Ariel.” Aspire to spirituality, idealism, rationality symbolized by Shakespeare’s Ariel (Tempest).

Joachim Machado de Assis. Brazil. 1900. Novel. Dom Casmurro. “Mr. Peevish.” Middle class lawyer reflects on his adolescence and his youthful romance.

Gabriele D’Annunzio. Italian. 1900. Novel. The Flame of Life. Passion consumes and destroys both lovers. Based on novelist’s affair with Eleanora Duse.

Anton Chekhov. Russian. 1900. Story. “In the Ravine.” Brutal lives of the peasantry in a small provincial town.

Arthur Schnitzler. German. 1900. Novel. Leutnant Gustl. Early experiment in the stream of consciousness. Mind of conceited officer who must decide between suicide or resignation for lost honor. Satire on the military honor code.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1899: Stalkey and Co. to Caesar and Cleopatra.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1899. Stories. Stalkey and Co. Pranks and adventures of three schoolboys.

Stephen Crane. American. 1899. Story. “The Blue Hotel.” Swede in the West expects violence, provokes it and is killed. Universe that cares not for man’s fate.

George Bernard Shaw. British. 1899. Play. Caesar and Cleopatra. Wise, unsentimental Caesar. Cleo is a “giddy teenager.” Caesar amused by Cleo, history and himself.

Next: The twentieth century.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

1899: War is Kind to McTeague

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Stephen Crane. American. 1899. Poetry. War is Kind. Good example of dramatic irony used by Crane in both poetry and prose.

George Ade. American. 1899. Sketches. Fables in Slang. Humorous tales illustrate the common sense of ordinary people. Rendering of contemporary American speech.

Gerhart Hauptmann. German. 1899. Play. Drayman Henschel. Man who promised to be faithful to his late wife is trapped into marriage, bullied and commits suicide.

Winston Churchill. American. 1899. Novel. Richard Carvel. One of the most popular novels ever written about the American Revolution.

Frank Norris. American. 1899. Novel. McTeague
. Phony dentist kills wife and the man who has informed on his lack of credentials. However, he is handcuffed to the corpse in the desert and dies of thirst.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1898: "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" to "The Ballad of Reading Gaol."

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Stephen Crane. American. 1898. Story. “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.” Gunfighter faces a sheriff who has no gun. Realizes that the old days are over.

H.G. Wells. British. 1898. SciFi. The War of the Worlds. Invasion of England by Martians. Radio dramatization caused panic in 1938 in the U.S.

Gabriele D’Annunzio. Italian. 1898. Play. La Gioconda. Models for brilliant sculptor. He leaves his wife for her, believing that she is the real inspiration for his art.

Emile Zola. French. 1898. Letter. “J’accuse” (“I Accuse”). Open letter to the president of France denouncing the Dreyfus affair.

Oscar Wilde. British. 1898. Poetry. “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” Story of a man condemned to die, based on the author’s experiences in prison.

Monday, November 30, 2009

1897 - 1898: The Fruits of the Earth to Turn of the Screw.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Andre Gide. French. 1897. Poetry. The Fruits of the Earth. Hymn to the beauty of all experience. Cast off all that is artificial or merely conventional.

Anton Chekhov. Russian. 1897. Story. “Peasants.” Somber picture of peasant life in Russia. Stirred debate.

Arthur Wing Pinero. British. 1898. Play. Trelawny of the Wells. Actress becomes engaged to an aristocrat. When she returns to the stage, he becomes an actor, too.

Stephen Crane. American. 1898. Story. “The Open Boat.” Escape from a sinking ship. Three survive. One dies, just as he is about to reach safety.

Henry James. American/British. 1898. Novel. The Turn of the Screw. Governess vs. children who are malevolently inspired by two ghosts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1897: Recessional to The Devil's Disciple

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1897. Poetry. Recessional. Celebrates the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Victoria. Warning to the British not to be overconfident in their hour of greatest glory.

Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1897. Nonfiction. What Is Art? Considered art an extension of morality. Felt it should have a morally uplifting spirit. Work of art must be simple enough for every one, not just the well educated, to understand. Tolstoy’s views became the framework for Soviet extraliterary standards by which to judge a work of art: “Socialist Realism.”

Joseph Conrad. British. 1897. Novel. The Nigger of the Narcissus. Study of men’s characters under stress. Black sailor dying of TB. Presence of death brings out the best and worst of the crew.

Henry James. American/British. 1897. Novel. What Maisie Knew. Twelve-year-old Maisie sees divorced parents’ extra marital infidelities. Gives her a realistic knowledge of the adult world. Chooses to live with her governess, not her parents.

George Bernard Shaw. British. 1897. Play. The Devil’s Disciple. American Revolution. Convention and circumstances fix one’s life. In crises, people change, learn about themselves.

Note: Will resume blog on Monday, November 30, 2009. RayS.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1896: Weir of Hemiston to John Gabriel Borkman.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Robert Louis Stevenson. British. 1896. Novel. Weir of Hermiston. Battle of wills between father and son with father, a judge, convicting his son of murder and condemning him to death. Son is rescued by relatives of his lover for whom he had murdered. Unfinished at Stevenson’s death. Promised to be his masterpiece.

Sarah Orne Jewett. American. 1896. Stories. The Country of the Pointed Firs. Maine seaport town from the point of view of a summer resident. Townspeople sympathetically drawn.

Joseph Conrad. British. 1896. Novel. An Outcast of the Islands. Marries native girl and is shot by her.

Anton Chekhov. Russian. 1896. Story. “My Life.” Member of intelligentsia becomes a laborer. Criticism of Tolstoy?

Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1896. Play. John Gabriel Borkman. Story of a man who sacrificed love for ambition. The unforgivable sin is to murder love in a human soul.

Monday, November 23, 2009

1896: Sunken Bell to La Ronde.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Gerhart Hauptmann. German. 1896. Verse Drama. The Sunken Bell. Artist caught between the world of nature and man, between paganism and Christianity. Experiences life of bliss on mountain with a beautiful sprite. Returns to earth. Realizes he cannot exist in either world, accepts lethal poison and dies.

Anton Chekhov. Russian. 1896. Play. The Sea Gull. Failed writer kills a seagull as a symbol of his destroyed love for an actress. She leaves him for another lover. Abandoned, she returns when he is successful, but compares herself to the dead seagull, destroyed by a man’s mere momentary whim. She leaves him again and he succeeds in his second attempt at suicide.

H Sienkiewicz. Polish. 1896. Novel. Quo Vadis? Rome of Nero and early Christian martyrs. Petronius represents dying paganism. Richly colorful life of ancient Rome. Christian girl eventually marries her converted seducer.

Alfred Jarry. French. 1896. Play. Ubu Roi. Satirizes tendency of successful bourgeois to abuse their authority and become complacent. Anticipates Dada movement and Theatre of the Absurd.

Arthur Schnitzler. Austrian. 1896. Play. La Ronde. Ten scenes, each ending before ten couples have sexual intercourse. Interlocking. Circular. Begins and ends with a prostitute. Symbolizes the unending frenetic quality and sameness of erotic behavior.

Friday, November 20, 2009

1895 - 1896: The Importance of Being Earnest to "My Lost Youth."

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Oscar Wilde. British. 1895. Play. The Importance of Being Earnest. Satire on the British nobility and clergy. Apparently lower class, Worthing is found to have had noble parents.

Alexandre Dumas. French. 1895. Historical Romance. The Black Tulip. Set in Holland in the 17th century. Tale revolves about the struggle between two political factions.

H. G. Wells. British. 1895. ScFi. The Time Machine. Travels into the future; stages in the evolutionary degeneration of life.

Marcel Proust. French. 1895-99. Novel. Jean Santeui (Unfinished). Adapted version of his own life to 1895. Characters, incidents are prototypes of Remembrance of Things Past.

H W Longfellow. American. 1896. Poem. “My Lost Youth.” “A boy’s will is the wind’s will…, etc.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1895: Red Badge of Courage.... to Light o' Love.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Stephen Crane. American. 1895. Novel. The Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War. Psychological study of fear. Romantic notions about war are soon destroyed. “Red badge” is from the gun butt of a fellow soldier. Merges with the body of soldiers.

Andrew Paterson. Australian. 1895. Ballad. “Waltzing Matilda.” Swagman (hobo) steals and butchers a jumbuck (sheep), leaps to death in a billabong (pond after heavy rains) when pursued by squatter (landowner) and police. Pack bouncing as he hikes is nicknamed “Waltzing Matilda.” Rollicking verse epitomizes Australian gusto. Theme is of little man against repressive Establishment. Australia’s unofficial national anthem.

Thomas Hardy. British. 1895. Novel. Jude the Obscure. Dramatizes conflict between carnal and spiritual life. Traces Jude’s life from boyhood aspirations of intellectual achievement to miserable early death.

Stephen Crane. American. 1895. Poetry. The Black Riders and Other Lines. Inspired by Emily Dickinson. After watching waves beat on the shore, dreamed of black horses coming from the surf.

Arthur Schnitzler. German. 1895. Play. Light o’ Love. Man torn between two women, one of low, the other of high social standing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

1894: ...Pudd'nhead Wilson to Arms and the Man.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Mark Twain. American. 1894. Novel. The Tragedy of Puddnhead Wilson. Puddnhead is a combination of wisdom and eccentricity. White, mulatto children switched at birth. Mulatto is a scoundrel, finally convicted of murder by fingerprints. Epigrams.

George DuMaurier. French. 1894. Novel. Trilby. Under the influence of Svengali’s mesmeric powers, woman becomes a great singer. Loses her voice when he suddenly dies of heart failure. She dies soon after.

Theodor Fontane. German. 1894. Novel. Effi Briest. Effi is impetuous, spontaneous and open. She is married to a cold, calculating, rational Prussian husband. She is seduced by a mustachioed gambling ladies’ man. Husband duels and wins. Effie is sent home to her parents without her children. She enjoys the simple pleasures of everyday life in the days before her death. German realism. On a par with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina.

William Dean Howells. American. 1894. Novel. Traveller from Altruria. Returned from a utopia, traveler contrasts it with the American system.

George Bernard Shaw. British. 1894. Play. Arms and the Man. Set in Bulgaria. Satirizes romantic attitudes about war. Libretto of The Chocolate Soldier is based on it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1893 - 1894: Magda to Prisoner of Zenda.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Hermann Sudermann. German. 1893. Play. Magda. Conflict between the mores of provincial bourgeoisie and the bohemian life of urban artists.

Stephen Crane. American. 1893. Novel. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Darwinian jungle of New York streets, daughter of brutal father, drunken mother, seduced by Pete, disowned by mother. In despair, suicide. Episodic. Irony. In ’96 version, less melodrama. First realistic American novel. Doomed by family, environmental forces, unable to escape.

Gerhart Hauptmann. German. 1893. Play. Hannele. Dying girl hallucinates, turning the wretched almshouse and it dreary inhabitants into a fairy-tale paradise. Dies.

George Bernard Shaw. British. 1893. Play. Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Relationship between a madam and her daughter whom she has supported in style.

Anthony Hope Hawkins. British. 1894. Romance. The Prisoner of Zenda. Hero impersonates imprisoned king, secures his release.

Monday, November 16, 2009

1892 - 1893: Lady Windermere's Fan to Death and the Fool.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Oscar Wilde. British. 1892. Play. Lady Windermere’s Fan. Lady W’s mother saves her from the rash step of running away with Lord Darlington.

Ambrose Bierce. American. 1892. Stories. In the Midst of Life. 26 stories. Life subject to accident, coincidence. Twist endings. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is one of his best known stories.

Francis Thompson. British. 1893. Poetry. “The Hound of Heaven.” “Autobiography” of a fugitive from God’s redemptive love.

Arthur Wing Pinero. British. 1893. Play. The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. Woman with a past tries to warn her husband that his daughter is involved with her former lover. His daughter charges her with her past and she commits suicide.

Hugo Von Hofmannstahl. German. 1893. Play. Death and the Fool. Three dead people whom he had treated with indifference appear to a nobleman on his approaching death.

Friday, November 13, 2009

1892: Barrack-Room Ballads to "Gunga Din."

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1892. Poetry. Barrack-Room Ballads. Celebrates the British soldier and army life throughout the Empire. Ballad meters. Cockney diction.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1892. Poem. “Fuzzy Wuzzy.” Celebrates the bushy-haired warriors of Sudan who fought Gordon and Kitchener.

Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1892. Play. The Master Builder. Spirit of the artist trying to surpass its limiitations. Conflict of one’s needs and the needs of others. Fear of being crushed by a new generation of architects as he crushed builders before him. Tries to build a castle in the air but falls to his death.

Maurice Maeterlinck. Belgian. 1892. Play. Pelleas et Melisande. Girl found wandering in the forest is married to her rescuer, but she falls in love with his brother.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1892. Poem. “Gunga Din.” In praise of a Hindu water-carrier for a British Indian regiment. “You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1891 - 1892: Gosta Berlings Saga to The Weavers.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Selma Lagerlof. Swedish. 1891. Novel. Gosta Berlings Saga. Magnetic, impulsive, temperamental hero involves himself, and those attracted to him, in misfortune.

Oscar Wilde. British. 1891. Novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Painting mirrors a man’s moral degeneration.

Rudyard Kipling. British. 1891. Story. “The Man Who Was.” Survivor of Russian imprisonment during the Crimean War. Testament to their cruelty. Dies shortly after release.

Anton Chekhov. Russian. 1892. Story. “Ward No. 6.” Gradual disintegration of the head of a mental hospital. Neglects the miserable condition of his patients. Withdraws into private study, thought, alcohol. Finally unable to communicate with any one. Unscrupulous assistant has him committed and he experiences the miserable treatment for which he has been responsible. Realization of his part in the horror comes just before his death.

Gerhart Hauptmann. German. 1892. Play. The Weavers. Silesian weavers’ rebellion in 1844. Their ghastly conditions and economic plight. One version is in dialect; the other version in High German. The weavers are the collective hero.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1890 - 1891: The Golden Bough to The Countess Cathleen.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

George Frazer. Scottish. 1890/1915. Nonfiction. The Golden Bough. Comparative religion and mythology. Cross-cultural analysis. Archetypal elements in religion and magic.

Hamlin Garland. American. 1891. Stories. Main-Travelled Roads. Set in Dakotas, Iowa; local color, realistic. Grim lives of farmers at the mercy of the elements and rapacious landlords. “Under the Lion’s Paw” is an excellent example.

Thomas Hardy. British. 1891. Novel. Tess of the D’urbervilles; a Pure Woman. Working for wealthy woman, Tess is forced into sexual relations and becomes pregnant. She falls in love with the rector’s son. On the eve of their wedding, they make mutual confessions. He expects to be forgiven, but he cannot forgive her past. She returns to her wealthy seducer and kills him, fleeing with her true love. She is caught and executed.

George Gissing. British. 1891. Novel. New Grub Street. Grim, realistic treatment of the struggles and compromises of the modern literary world. Success goes to the critic with no moral or artistic integrity.

William Butler Yeats. Irish. 1891. Verse Drama. The Countess Cathleen. Countess sells her soul to the devil for the souls of the starving Irish peasants. God saves her soul in the end.