Friday, July 30, 2010

1951: The Catcher in the Rye to The Greek Passion

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.
JD Salinger. American. 1951. Novel. The Catcher in the Rye. Contemporary youth's dissatisfaction with adult society.
Eugene Ionesco. Italian. 1951. Play. The Chairs. Lighthouse keeper preparing to die. Frenzied effort to seat imaginary guests for his last words of wisdom.
James Jones. American. 1951. Novel. From Here to Eternity. Life in the regular U.S. Army before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nikos Kazantzakis. Greek. 1951. Novel. The Greek Passion. Persecution of Greek refugees by Turks and cruel fellow Greeks. Cast picked for pageant plays out roles in real life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

1950: The Bald Soprano to The Third Man

Chronology of World, British and American Literature
Eugene lonesco. Italian. 1950. Play. The Bald Soprano. Characters without identity repeat empty gestures and banal commonplaces in a parody of existence.
RHS Grossman, ed. American. 1950. Essays. The God That Failed. Essays written by persons attracted to Communism in the 1930s but were later disillusioned.

Octavio Paz. Mexico. 1950. Essay. "The Labyrinth of Solitude." Penetrating essay on Mexican history. The true Mexican is obscured by masks, hiding solitude.
Charles Olson. American. 1950. Essay. "Projective Verse." Poet rejected closed traditional forms of poetry. Poet writes, not knowing the form it will take. Projective: combination of projectile, percussive, prospective. Principles of the "Black Mountain Poets."

Graham Greene. British. 1950. Novel. The Third Man. Love and intrigue in Cold War Vienna.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

1949: The Lady's Not for Burning to The Man with the Golden Arm

Chronology of World, British and American Literature
Christopher Fry. British. 1949. Verse Drama. The Lady's Not for Burning. Set in the middle ages.
Shirley Jackson. American. 1949.Story. "The Lottery." Describes an annual lottery held since time immemorial in a small American town. The "winner" is stoned to death.

Nelson Algren. American. 1949. Novel. The Man with the Golden Arm. Slums of Chicago. Pure touch with a pool cue, dice, drums and the heroin needle. Prisoner of the slum environment. Suicide.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1949: Nineteen Eighty-Four to The Heat of the Day

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.
George Orwell. British. 1949. Novel. 1984. Society of the future. No place for truth. Historical records destroyed. Propaganda replaces information. Thought and love punished. Big Brother is Stalin.
TS Eliot. American/British. 1949. Verse Drama. The Cocktail Party. Contemporary drawing-room comedy, but also profound religious work dealing with redemption.
Arthur Miller. American. 1949. Play. Death of a Salesman. Indictment of American values. Traveling salesman experiences profound sense of failure. Suicide.

Elizabeth Bowen. British. 1949. Novel. The Heat of the Day. London, WWII. Espionage, counter­espionage, suicide and emotions of people involved.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

1948: The Naked and the Dead to The Young Lions

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.
Norman Miler. American. 1948. Novel. The Naked and the Dead. Infantry ;platoon invading a Japanese-held island in the Pacific.
Truman Capote. American. 1948. Novel. Other Voices, Other Rooms. Teenager achieves self-awareness and a sense of the emptiness of Skully's Landing.
Ezra Pound. American. 1948. Poetry. The Plsan Cantos. Turns to essentials, to nature, to regain lost emotional and spiritual balance.
Robert Graves. British. 1948. Nonfiction. The White Goddess. White goddess, ancient goddess of female fertility, mother goddess, goddess of the moon. Also the muse of poetry which originated in ritual worship of the goddess in primitive societies.
Irwin Shaw. American. 1948. Novel. The Young Lions. Stories of three men who meet only in the climactic scene. Attempts to salvage meaning from the wreckage of WWII.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1948: Dirty Hands to The Maids

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Jean-Paul Sartre. French. 1948. Play. Dirty Hands. Motiveless murder in the context of change to diametrically opposite principles by a political party.

Graham Greene. British. 1948. Novel. The Heart of the Matter. West Africa. English Roman Catholic torn between adulterous love and duty to wife and religion.

William Faulkner. American. 1948. Novel. Intruder in the Dust. White teenager fights to prove the innocence of an aging black accused of murdering a white man.

Evelyn Waugh. British. 1948. Novel. The Loved One. Satire on American life, especially Hollywood mortuary practices.

Jean Genet. French. 1948. Play. The Maids. Genet’s view of humanity: identity consists of shifting masks, roles and states.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

1947: The Plague to Under the Volcano.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Albert Camus. French. 1947. Novel. The Plague. Overwhelmed and isolated from the rest of the world by bubonic plague, residents reveal their characters.

Tennessee Williams. American. 1947. Play. The Streetcar Named Desire. French Quarter of New Orleans. Streetcars named Desire and Cemetery run on the same track. Faded Southern belle’s pretensions annoy her brother-in-law, Stanley. He rapes her but with illusions still strong, she is taken to a mental institution.

Malcolm Lowry. British. 1947. Novel. Under the Volcano. Ex-British consul and alcoholic living in Mexico. Author explores gradual disintegration of a human being in despair.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

1947: The Age of Anxiety to The Pearl

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

WH Auden. British. 1947. Poetry. The Age of Anxiety. Man: guilt, isolated, rootless. In common dream, quest through barren wasteland. Christianity is the solution to man’s problems.

Thomas Mann. German. 1947. Novel. Doktor Faustus. Intense, tragic career of the hero, a composer, made to parallel the collapse of Germany in WWII.

John Steinbeck. American. 1947. Novel. The Pearl. Large pearl brings Kino only tragedy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

1946: All the King's Men to Zorba the Greek

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Robert Penn Warren. American. 1946. Novel. All the King’s Men. Rise and fall of Willie Stark, Southern demagogue modeled on Louisiana politician Huey Long.

Carl Zuckmayer. German. 1946. Play. The Devil’s General. German general wrestles with his conscience over serving the Nazis.

Carson McCullers. American. 1946. Novel. The Member of the Wedding. 12-year-old Frankie wants to accompany her brother and his wife on their honeymoon. Wedding is seen through her eyes. In the end, “Frankie” becomes “Frances.”

William Carlos Williams. American. 1946. Poetry. Paterson. Poet’s essential ordering function in the chaos of modern life. Book I: Contemporary man is “divorced” from language. Book II: Brutalized by industrial chaos and social inequity. Book III: Indictment of American literary tradition, grounded in European conventions. Book IV: Pastoral idyll warped by usury, divorce, sterile sophistication.

Nikos Kazantzakis. Greek. 1946. Novel. Zorba the Greek. Vigorous, passionate old Greek personifies the Dionysian approach to life. Contrasted with the pallid narrator who prefers to contemplate life rather than to live it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

1945: Christ Stopped at Eboli to The Roads to Freedom.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Carlo Levi. Italian. 1945. Autobiography. Christ Stopped at Eboli. Life the author shared with peasants of two hamlets in southern Italy. Misery, neglected, exploited.

Henry Green. British. 1945. Novel. Loving. Irish castle during WWII. Each character loves a person or idea. Different kinds of love revealed.

Jean Giraudoux. French. 1945. Play. The Madwoman of Chaillot. Eccentric old woman exploits and defeats the exploiters, the financiers of Paris.

Jean-Paul Sartre. French. 1945. Novels. The Roads to Freedom. Trilogy. People involved in and reacting to the fall of France.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1945: Animal Farm to Cannery Row

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

George Orwell. British. 1945. Novel. Animal Farm. Satire on the development of the Russian Revolution under Stalin.

Evelyn Waugh. British. 1945. Novel. Brideshead Revisited. Families’ individual responses to their Catholic faith.

Ivo Andric. Bosnia. 1945. Chronicle. The Bridge on the Drina. History of a bridge near the Bosnian town of Visegrad over three and one-half centuries.

John Steinbeck. American. 1945. Novel. Cannery Row. Adventures and misadventures of workers in a California cannery.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

1944: The Lost Weekend to The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Charles Jackson. American. 1944. Novel. The Lost Weekend. Realistic study of an alcoholic. On a five-day “lost weekend,” much of his life flashes before him.

Albert Camus. French. 1944. Play. Le Malentendu (Cross Purpose). Failure of men and women to communicate with each other in an unresponsive universe.

Jean-Paul Sartre. French. 1944. Play. No Exit. Unable to leave, characters discover that “hell is other people.” When the door finally opens, characters are inseparable and cannot leave.

Bertolt Brecht. German. 1944/45. Play. The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Chinese play, Circle of Chalk, is used to help resolve a problem when two Russian communes vie for the same valley after WWII. Social ties more important than the ties of blood.

Monday, July 12, 2010

1944: Caligula to I Remember Mama..

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Albert Camus. French. 1944. Play. Caligula. Emperor is horrified by the absurd condition of human life. Severs all ties with humanity. Asserts freedom.

Tennessee Williams. American. 1944. Play. The Glass Menagerie. Mother absorbed in the past. Crippled sister a absorbed with her glass animals. She briefly experiences, then retreats from reality.

Joyce Cary. British/Irish. 1944. Novel. The Horse’s Mouth. Story of a passionate artist, an exuberant, rascally, comic old man whose hero is William Blake. Gully Jimson.

John Van Druten. American. 1944. Play. I Remember Mama. Norwegian mother and father raising children in America in the early days of the twentieth century.

Friday, July 9, 2010

1943: Magister Ludi.... to Two Serious Ladies

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Hermann Hesse. German. 1943. Novel. Magister Ludi: The Glass-Bead Game. Bildungsroman. Utopian society in the 23rd century. Highest form of the game played without beads. Game represents fusion of active, contemplative disciplines, music, math, art, science. Becomes master of the game. Doubts the virtues of pure intellect. Renounces order. Dies, the result of a life dedicated entirely to the world of the spirit.

George Bernanos. French. 1943. Novel. Monsieur Ouine (The Open Mind). Hero comes to loathe his own flesh and feels tormented scorn for all mankind.

Eugene O’Neill. American. 1943. Play. A Moon for the Misbegotten. Unfulfilled love between an alcoholic and a farm woman. Autobiographical, his brother.

Betty Smith. American. 1943. Novel. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Life of a sensitive child growing up in a Brooklyn slum with her parents.

Jane Bowles. American. 1943. Novel. Two Serious Ladies. Two women seek opposite goals of sainthood and self-fulfillment. Each achieves the opposite of what she sought. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

1943: Being and Nothingness to Four Quartets.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Jean-Paul Sartre. French. 1943. Nonfiction. Being and Nothingness. Freedom to shape existence is limited by the facts of the external world but not by human nature. The nothingness of human essence, without God or meaning in life, allows infinite potentialities in shaping of life.

Jean-Paul Sartre. French. 1943. Play. The Flies. Adaptation of Aeschylus’ Orestes. Flies (furies) represent acceptance of consequences of one’s acts.

Jose Lins do Rego. Brazil. 1943. Novel. Fogo Morto. Plantation life in northeastern Brazil. Decadence of dying aristocracy. New society. Consciousness of passing time.

Ayn Rand. Russian/American. 1943. Novel. The Fountainhead. Modeled on Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect of enormous conceit, but who has faith in the values of design.

TS Eliot. American/British. 1943. Poetry. Four Quartets. Four poems named for four different places. Elaborately constructed as a piece of music. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1942: The Screwtape Letters to The Stranger.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

C.S. Lewis. British. 1942. Novel. The Screwtape Letters. Letters in which Screwtape, a devil, advises his nephew on how to deal with human beings.

Thornton Wilder. American. 1942. Play. The Skin of Our Teeth. Panoramic ;picture of man through the centuries; unconventional structure.

Albert Camus. French. 1942. Novel. The Stranger. Feels himself a stranger in the world; refuses to abide by social convention. Unemotional style of narrative; complete absence of motive or emotions like grief or love or regret for killing. Can’t explain or justify his existence. In prison awaiting execution, develops passion for the simple fact of life itself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

1942: Antigone to Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Jean Anouilh. French. 1942. Play. Antigone. Allegory of France under the Vichy government.

William Faulkner. American. 1942. Stories. Go Down, Moses. Unified by a common theme: ritual of the hunt.

Albert Camus. French. 1942. Essay. “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Outline of the theory of the absurd: man yearns to know; absolute knowledge is impossible. Life and creation are possible within the limits of what man does know. Sisyphus is the hero of the absurd. He is happy with the rock and aware of his fate, the futile struggle toward the heights. 

Wallace Stevens. American. 1942. Poetry. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction. Abstract ; poetic statement about the nature of poetry.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

1941: Between the Acts to What Makes Sammy Run?

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Virginia Woolf. British. 1941. Novel. Between the Acts. Describes a pageant on English history and its effects on the audience, most of whom misunderstand. Order on chaos.

Arthur Koestler. Hungarian/British. 1941. Novel. Darkness at Noon. Abuses and brutalities of the totalitarian prison state. Perpetuates atmosphere of fear.

Franz Werfel. Austrian. 1941. Novel. The Song of Bernadette. Author escaped Germans in the Church of St. Bernadette; vowed to write a book about her.

Lillian Hellman. American. 1941. Play. Watch on the Rhine. One of the first successful anti-Nazi plays on the American stage. German refugee kills informer in the U.S. German embassy; helps alert to the danger of tyranny.

Budd Schulberg. American. 1941. Novel. What Makes Sammy Run? Tough New York youth works his way into a position of power in Hollywood. Harshness and crude manners are not out of place there. Realistic details of life in the movie colony.