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.

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