Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1927: Bridge of San Luis Rey to Elmer Gantry

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Thornton Wilder. American. 1927. Novel. Bridge of San Luis Rey. Was the broken bridge an accident or a deliberate plan of the Almighty to take five lives?

Arnold Zweig. German. 1927. Novel. The Case of the Sergeant Grischa. Longing for home, Russian POW escapes prison camp. He is caught by the Germans, says he is a Russian deserter, not knowing that deserters are shot. Confesses the truth; some officers agree to commute his sentence, but a vicious general has him executed anyway.

Willa Cather. American. 1927. Novel. Death Comes for the Archbishop. Missionary efforts of French bishop Latour and vicar Vaillant to start a diocese in New Mexico.

Sinclair Lewis. American. 1927. Novel. Elmer Gantry. Ex-football player becomes successful evangelist. Exposé of the evangelist ministries.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

1927: American Songbag to Aspects of the Novel

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Carl Sandburg. American. 1927. Folk. The American Songbag. Sandburg sang many of these songs on tour with banjo or guitar; “The Boll-Weevil.”

Franz Kafka. German. 1927. Amerika. Social misfit encounters numerous difficulties in attempts to settle down. Unfinished novel.

Don Marquis. American. 1927. Newspaper Feature. archy and mehitabel. Ribald adventures of cat mehitabel by archy, the cockroach, who can’t work the shift key on the typewriter.

EM Forster. British. 1927. Literary Criticism. Aspects of the Novel. All art aspires to the depth and effects of music. The novel is like a symphony. Flat and round characters.

Monday, March 29, 2010

1926: The Romantic Comedianst to The Sun Also Rises

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Ellen Glasgow. American. 1926. Novel. The Romantic Comedians. Ironical comedy of manners. January/June marriage. Generational differences.

Edna Ferber. American. 1926. Novel. Show Boat. Showboat captain marries New England school marm. Daughter runs away with leading man. Their daughter grows up to be a Broadway star.

Sidney Howard. American. 1926. Play. The Silver Cord. Early psychological study of dominant mother. Two sons struggle to break free.

Ernest Hemingway. American. 1926. Novel. The Sun Also Rises. Lost generation of Americans who had fought in France in WWI and expatriated themselves. No change, no direction, no point toward which to develop.

Friday, March 26, 2010

1926: If It Die.... to Red Cavalry

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Andre Gide. French. 1926. Autobiography. If It Die…. Trips to North Africa. Confession of homosexuality. Issue normally avoided.

Thomas Beer. American. 1926. Nonfiction. The Mauve Decade. American literary and social scene of the 1890s. Pink turning to purple.

Carl Van Vechten. American. 1926. Novel. Nigger Heaven. One of the first novels about black life in Harlem. Jazz era. Written by a white. Understanding of black suffering and aspiration.

D.H. Lawrence. British. 1926. The Plumed Serpent. Vivid evocation of Mexico and ancient Aztec religion revived in modern Mexico. Female Irish visitor to Mexico passively submits to male domination.

Isaak Babel. Russian. 1926. Stories. Red Cavalry. Based on the Soviet author’s experiences with his cavalry regiment during the civil war in Russia.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

1926: Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years to The Great God Brown

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Carl Sandburg. American. 1926. Biography. Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years. For Sandburg, Lincoln was the archetypal American.

Andre Gide. French. 1926. Novel. The Counterfeiters. Counterfeit personalities with which people disguise themselves to conform to convention and to deceive themselves.

Mikhail Bulgakov. Russian. 1926. Play. Days of the Turbins. Czarist White Guard vs. the forces of the Red Army during the Russian Revolution. Balanced account.

Ricardo Guiraldes. Argentina. 1926. Novel. Don Segunda Sombra (Shadows in the Pampas). First gaucho fiction. Boy learns to live with courage and honor by the gaucho code. Outstanding example of gaucho literature.

Eugene O’Neill. American. 1926. Play. The Great God Brown. Masks symbolize varying personalities of characters as they are and as they appear to others.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1925: The Pot of Earth to A Vision

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Archibald MacLeish. American. 1925. Poetry. The Pot of Earth. Description of an ancient fertility rite.

Mary Webb. British. 1925. Novel. Precious Bane. Harsh farming life. Fierce, morose country people. Narrator (she) marries despite harelip.

Robinson Jeffers. American. 1925. Poetry. Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems. Religious feeling for the beauty of the red stallion which tramples her brutal husband to death. She shoots the stallion “out of some obscure human fidelity.”

Hugo Von Hofmannstahl. German. 1925. Poetic drama. The Tower. Adapted from Calderon’s Life Is a Dream, with changes.

Franz Kafka. German. 1925. Novel. The Trial. Confrontation of an individual and a baffling bureaucracy. Accused by mysterious legal authority of an unnamed crime about which he knows nothing. Fruitless attempts to gain justice from authority with which he cannot effectively communicate. Utter frustration, complete loss of human dignity, and cruel death by stabbing. Novel lends itself to innumerable allegorical interpretations.

William Butler Yeats. Irish. 1925. Book. A Vision. History is cyclical and recurrent for the individual and mankind, in a gyre or corkscrew pattern; all human personality types have their opposite and antithetical selves or masks. Complete man should assimilate the characteristics of his mask. Supposedly dictated by spirits in automatic writing recorded by his medium wife.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

1925: Making of Americans to Porgy

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Gertrude Stein. American. 1925. Novel. The Making of Americans. History of three generations of the author’s family. Ignores the conventional fictional devices of dialogue, plot and action.

John Dos Passos. American. 1925. Novel. Manhattan Transfer. New York City during the 1920s; panoramic impression of the swarming metropolis is frustration, defeat.

Virginia Woolf. British. 1925. Novel. Mrs. Dalloway. One day in the life of…. She and Septimus never meet but they are alike in their emotionally bankrupt lives. He commits suicide. Lives connected by external events: airplane and passing bus. Stream of consciousness.

Dubose Heyward. American. 1925. Novel. Porgy. Charleston, S.C. Crippled beggar becomes involved in a murder.

Monday, March 22, 2010

1925: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to The Informer

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Anita Loos. American. 1925. Novel. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. “Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady.” Useful handbook on how to get rich?

F. Scott Fitzgerald. American. 1925. Novel. The Great Gatsby. Exposes wealthy society in the “Jazz Age”: false glamour, boredom, cultural barrenness and moral emptiness.

T.S. Eliot. American/British. 1925. Poetry. The Hollow Men. Eliot’s view of the spiritual emptiness and doom of the 20the century.

William Carlos Williams. American. 1925. Essays. In the American Grain. Historical figures speak for themselves; history is the outcome of individual confrontations with the continent.

Liam O’Flaherty. Irish. 1925. Novel. The Informer. Last day of an Irish revolutionary who turned his comrade into the police for 20 pounds.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

1925: An American Tragedy to Death in Venice

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Theodore Dreiser. American. 1925. Novel. An American Tragedy. Indicts America’s industrial society for dazzling people like Clyde Griffiths with dreams of unattainable luxury.

Sinclair Lewis. American. 1925. Novel. Arrowsmith. In quest for pure science, Arrowsmith encounters  meanness, corruption and misunderstanding. Medicine.

Feodor Vasilyevich Gladkov. Russian. 1925. Novel. Cement. Reconstruction and industrialization in the Soviet Union after the civil war.

George Kelly. American. 1925. Play. Craig’s Wife. Woman is obsessed by her house. In the end she has lost everything but the house.

Thomas Mann. German. 1925. Novel. Death in Venice. Artist experiences decadence. Succumbs to consuming love for beautiful Polish boy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

1924: We to Parade's End

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Yevgeny Azmyatin. Russian. 1924. Novel. We. Describes the regimented totalitarian society in the 26th century. Ancestor of Brave New World, et.

Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings. American. 1924. Play. What Price Glory? WWI. Profanity and brutality of professional soldiers and the wearying ugliness of war.

Herman Melville. American. 1924 (published). Novel. Billy Budd, Foretopman. Collision of innocence and evil. Captain upholds military law, although Billy is justified in killing the cruel officer.

Ole Rolvaag. Norwegian. 1924/25. Novel. Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie. Mental and physical hardships of Norwegian family in 1873 Dakota Territory.

Ford Maddox Ford. British. 1924/28. Four Novels. Parade’s End. Social changes brought about by WWI. Gentleman throws off his social standards and traditions.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1924: Tamar.... to The Vortex

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Robinson Jeffers. American. 1924. Poetry. Tamar and Other Poems. Based on the biblical story of Tamar, daughter of David who seduces her brother. Modern Tamar seduces her brother, father, neighbor and brings destruction on everyone.

Sidney Howard. American. 1924. Play. They Knew What They Wanted. California wine grower misleads his mail-order bride by sending a picture of his handsome hired man. He breaks his legs on his wedding day. She allows herself to be seduced by the hired man and becomes pregnant. He almost kills the hired man but relents.

Robinson Jeffers. American. 1924. Poetry. The Tower Beyond Tragedy. Based on the first two plays of the Oresteia of Aeschylus. Enlarges Cassandra’s role; incestuous desires of Electra and Orestes’ desire to break away from her.

Jose Eustacio Rivera. Colombia. 1924. Novel. The Vortex (La Voragine). Poet ventures into the Colombian jungle and discovers how thin is the veneer of civilization. In the face of the fierce, terrifying life of the Amazon basin, he succumbs to madness. Despair at not having lived to become a poet.

Monday, March 15, 2010

1924: Juno and the Paycock to A Passage to India

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Sean O’Casey. Irish. 1924. Play. Juno and the Paycock. Juno (reality) vs. the husband, the “paycock,” a vain, funny weakling who hides from reality behind a bottle.

Virginia Woolf. British. 1924. Essay. “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown.” Attacks naturalistic novels. They disregard moment-by-moment workings of the human mind.

Edith Wharton. American. 1924. Four Novels. Old New York. Each novel deals with a decade from 1840-1880. False Dawn: Buys pictures far in advance of his time and is disinherited by his father. The Old Maid. Illegitimate girl raised without knowing her origin. The Spark. Elderly man comes under the influence of Walt Whitman. New Year’s Day. Wife sacrifices herself to obtain money for her sick husband and is scorned by society.

EM Forster. British. 1924. Novel. A Passage to India. Difficulties of friendship between the races in British-ruled India.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

1924: Green Bay Tree to In Our Time

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Louis Bromfield. American. 1924. Novel. The Green Bay Tree. Lily begins her life in a Midwestern industrial town; goes to Paris to bear her illegitimate child.

Michael Arlen. British. 1924. Novel. The Green Hat. Captures the licentious, disillusioned spirit of the time. Sexual license among the wealthy.

Ring Lardner. American. 1924. Stories. How to Write Short Stories (with Samples). “Art” of writing short stories. Examples are Lardner classics, “Alibi Ike,” etc.

Ernest Hemingway. American. 1924. Stories. In Our Time (Nick Adams). Development of young Nick Adams who bears resemblance to Hemingway.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1924: All God's Desire Under the Elms

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Eugene O’Neill. American. 1924. Play. All God’s Chilun Got Wings. White woman marries black struggling to become a lawyer. Tragic results of her mental inferiority.

PC Wren. British. 1924. Novel. Beau Geste. Life in the French Foreign Legion.

Margaret Kennedy. British. 1924. Novel. The Constant Nymph. Sanger’s large family “circus.” 15-year-old nymph has to deal with the adult problems of love and fidelity.

Eugene O’Neill. American. 1924. Play. Desire Under the Elms. Based on the Phaedra-Hippolytus story. Father’s young wife seduces his youngest son.

Monday, March 8, 2010

1923: Saint Joan to "Sunday Morning."

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

George Bernard Shaw. British. 1923. Play. Saint Joan. Presents Joan as an early nationalist; prototype of the Protestant thinker who puts conscience before the judgment of the Church.

Rainer Maria Rilke. German. 1923. Poetry. The Sonnets to Orpheus. Sonnets center around the myth of Orpheus: man must be fluid to exist in a changing world. Death is one metamorphosis among many.

Wallace Stevens. American. 1923. Poetry. “Sunday Morning.” Narrator debates with woman who feels the need for some imperishable bliss. Death is the mother of beauty; earth is all the paradise we will know.

Friday, March 5, 2010

1923: A Lost Lady to The Prophet

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Willa Cather. American. 1923. Novel. A Lost Lady. Frontier woman moves from her husband to a lover, then disappears; rumored to be the wife of a wealthy Englishman in South America. She is seen through the eyes of an adoring young boy.

Wallace Stevens. American. 1923. Poetry. “Le Monocle de Mon Oncle.” Affirmation of the imagination of middle age vs. the invalid fancy of youth.

Wallace Stevens. American. 1923. Poetry. “Peter Quince at the Clavier.” Recalls part of the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders: “beauty is momentary in the mind, but in the flesh it is immortal.”

Kahlil Gibran. Syrian. 1923. Prose and Poetry. The Prophet. Presents the elements of Gibran’s mystical faith.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

1923: "Stopping by Woods...." to Kangaroo.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Robert Frost. American. 1923. Poetry. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Stops horse to contemplate beauty of the scene, but then must move on. Frost has said he could have added forty pages of footnotes.

Aldous Huxley. British. 1923. Novel. Antic Hay. Long, futile conversations of London intellectuals; everything seems valueless. Despair.

Rainer Maria Rilke. German. 1923. Poetry. Duino Elegies. Personal solutions to existential problems and to those posed by the industrial age.

Edna St. Vincent Millay. American. 1923. Poetry. The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems.39 sonnets. “Euclid alone has looked on Beauty Bare.”

DH Lawrence. British. 1923. Novel. Kangaroo. Vivid account of Australia. Husband keeps trying to assert his will over his wife, unsuccessfully.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1922: Ulysses and The Wasteland

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

James Joyce. Irish. 1922. Novel. Ulysses. Greatest 20th century novel written in English. Obscurity. TS Eliot: A landmark because it destroys our civilization. Disillusioned study of estrangement, paralysis and disintegration of society. Records events of one average day, June 16, 1904, in the lives of the three leading characters. Journeys about the city of Dublin, matched by inward journeys into the consciousness. Dispassionate description of details of daily life; details become symbols. Relates time in world of Dublin to timeless myth, history, religion. Plan of book parallels Odyssey; echoes episodes in the Odyssey. Central theme is exile; cannot find key to loneliness and frustration. Molly Bloom: embodiment of feminine regenerative principle of the universe. Her soliloquy in one uninterrupted long sentence ends with “yes.” Joyce perfected interior monologue; parodies variety of literary styles.

TS Eliot. American/British. 1922. Poetry. The Wasteland. Breaks from conventional modes of poetic expression in its condensed use of language. Wealth of literary and historical references; lack of narrative sequence. Violent literary controversy on publication. Explores different psychic stages of soul in despair, struggling for redemption. Wasteland = central image of spiritual drought; contrasts with sources of regeneration. Doubt is not resolved; literary, religious fragments offer hope of rebirth, however, in foreign languages, suggesting unassimilated memories. In medieval legend, wasteland ruled by Fisher King, sterile by curse. Cured by purifying ordeals undertake by a knight. Important event in development of modern English poetry. Like Joyce’s Ulysses. Contrast spiritual stagnation with myths from the past. Both use city as major symbol of paralysis. Full of scenes, phrases, references with little meaning in themselves, but echo, explain one another. Both depend on readers’ knowledge of many works of literature, religions and history.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

1922: One of Ours to Les Thibaults

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Willa Cather. American. 1922. Novel. One of Ours. Boy grows up on farm, goes to university, enters army, killed in France in WWI.

Carl Sandburg. American. 1922. Children’s Stories. Rootabaga Stories. Rich in language and cadences of folk song.

Hermann Hesse. German. 1922. Novel. Siddhartha. Search for ultimate reality through profligacy and asceticism. Wisdom cannot be taught; must come from one’s own inner struggle. Parallels to Buddha’s life, but not a fictionalized life of Buddha.

DH Lawrence. British. 1922. Story. “Things.” Cynical account of two American idealists who devote their lives to art, beauty, Buddhism and European culture. Succeed only in collecting “things.”

Roger Martin du Gard. French. 1922/40. Novels. Les Thibaults. Brothers react as individuals to bourgeois environment. One leads simple, dutiful existence. The other rebels. Both killed in WWI.

Monday, March 1, 2010

1922: Facade to Lady into Fox

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Edith Sitwell. British. 1922. Poetry. Façade. Sound and imagery rather than meaning.

Katherine Mansfield. New Zealand. 1922. Story. “The Garden Party.” Preparing for a party; wealthy Laura encounters reality in the death of a poor laborer.

Eugene O’Neill. American. 1922. Play. The Hairy Ape. Crude stoker disillusioned with his life when inspected by a society girl in the depths of the ship.

Virginia Woolf. British. 1922. Novel. Jacob’s Room. Life and death of a promising young man from childhood through death in  war. Describes his empty room.

David Garnett. British. 1922. Novel. Lady into Fox. Fantasy about man whose wife suddenly turns into a fox.