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.

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