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.