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【转载】美国文学简史笔记(常耀信)2.doc  

2014-05-10 23:26:28|  分类: 关于英美文学教学 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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1.         point of view

(1)      He expressed what the young people believed in the 1920s, the so-called “American Dream” is false in nature.

(2)      He had always been critical of the rich and tried to show the integrating effects of money on the emotional make-up of his character. He found that wealth altered people’s characters, making them mean and distrusted. He thinks money brought only tragedy and remorse.

(3)      His novels follow a pattern: dream – lack of attraction – failure and despair.

2.         His ideas of “American Dream”

It is false to most young people. Only those who were dishonest could become rich.

3.         Style

Fitzgerald was one of the great stylists in American literature. His prose is smooth, sensitive, and completely original in its diction and metaphors. Its simplicity and gracefulness, its skill in manipulating the relation between the general and the specific reveal his consummate artistry.

4.         The Great Gatsby

Narrative point of view – Nick

He is related to everyone in the novel and is calm and detected observer who is never quick to make judgements.

Selected omniscient point of view

I.                   Ernest Hemingway

1.         life

2.         point of view (influenced by experience in war)

(1)      He felt that WWI had broken America’s culture and traditions, and separated from its roots. He wrote about men and women who were isolated from tradition, frightened, sometimes ridiculous, trying to find their own way.

(2)      He condemned war as purposeless slaughter, but the attitude changed when he took part in Spanish Civil War when he found that fascism was a cause worth fighting for.

(3)      He wrote about courage and cowardice in battlefield. He defined courage as “an instinctive movement towards or away from the centre of violence with self-preservation and self-respect, the mixed motive”. He also talked about the courage with which to face tragedies of life that can never be remedied.

(4)      Hemingway is essentially a negative writer. It is very difficult for him to say “yes”. He holds a black, naturalistic view of the world and sees it as “all a nothing” and “all nada”.

3.         works

(1)      In Our Time

(2)      Men Without Women

(3)      Winner Take Nothing

(4)      The Torrents of Spring

(5)      The Sun Also Rises

(6)      A Farewell to Arms

(7)      Death in the Afternoon

(8)      To Have and Have Not

(9)      Green Hills of Africa

(10)  The Fifth Column

(11)  For Whom the Bell Tolls

(12)  Across the River and into the Trees

(13)  The Old Man and the Sea

4.         themes – “grace under pressure”

(1)      war and influence of war on people, with scenes connected with hunting, bull fighting which demand stamina and courage, and with the question “how to live with pain”, “how human being live gracefully under pressure”.

(2)      “code hero”

The Hemingway hero is an average man of decidedly masculine tastes, sensitive and intelligent, a man of action, and one of few words. That is an individualist keeping emotions under control, stoic and self-disciplined in a dreadful place. These people are usually spiritual strong, people of certain skills, and most of them encounter death many times.

5.         style

(1)      simple and natural

(2)      direct, clear and fresh

(3)      lean and economical

(4)      simple, conversational, common found, fundamental words

(5)      simple sentences

(6)      Iceberg principle: understatement, implied things

(7)      Symbolism

II.                Sinclair Lewis – “the worst important writer in American literature”

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Main Street

(2)      Babbitt

(3)      Arrowsmith

(4)      Dodsworth

(5)      Elmer Gantry

3.         point of view – satirical critic of American middle class

(1)      Lewis showed the villagers to be narrow-minded, greedy, pretentious and corrupt.

(2)      He attacked middle class for its indifference to art and culture, and its assumption that economic success made it superior.

4.         style

(1)      photographic, verisimilitude

(2)      colloquialism

(3)      characterization: he often created a type of character rather than an individual

(4)      old fashioned in theme

(5)      lack in psychological exploration

III.             Willa Cather

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Alexander’s Bridge

(2)      O Pioneers

(3)      The Song of the Lark

(4)      My Antonia

3.         features of her works

(1)      She was one of the few “uneasy survivors of the nineteenth century”. Hanging onto the traditional values, she was never able to come to terms with modernity.

(2)      Old west becomes in most of her novels the centre of moral reference against which modern existence is measured.

(3)      She withdraws in her later fiction into the historical past.

(4)      She often uses women protagonists in her novels.

Southern Literature

I.                   Heritage

American southern literature can date back to Edgar Allen Poe, and reach its summit with the appearance of the two “giants” – Faulkner and Wolfe. There are southern women writers – Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor.

 

II.                Southern Myths – guilt, failure, poverty

1.         Chevalier heritage

2.         Agrarian virtue

3.         Plantation aristocracy

4.         Lost cause

5.         White supremacy

6.         Purity of womanhood

Southern literature: twisted, pessimistic, violent, distorted

Gothic novel: Poe

III.             William Faulkner

1.         life

2.         literary career: three stages

(1)      1924~1929: training as a writer

l         The Marble Faun

l         Soldier’s Pay

l         Mosquitoes

(2)      1929~1936: most productive and prolific period

l         Sartoris

l         The Sound and the Fury

l         As I Lay Dying

l         Light in August

l         Absalom, Absalom

(3)      1940~end: won recognition in America

l         Go Down, Moses

3.         point of view

He generally shows a grim picture of human society where violence and cruelty are frequently included, but his later works showed more optimism. His intention was to show the evil, harsh events in contrast to such eternal virtues as love, honour, pity, compassion, self-sacrifice, and thereby expose the faults of society. He felt that it was a writer’s duty to remind his readers constantly of true values and virtues.

4.         themes

(1)      history and race

He explains the present by examining the past, by telling the stories of several generations of family to show how history changes life. He was interested in the relationship between blacks and whites, especially concerned about the problems of the people who were of the mixed race of black and white, unacceptable to both races.

(2)      Deterioration

(3)      Conflicts between generations, classes, races, man and environment

(4)      Horror, violence and the abnormal

5.         style/features of his works

(1)      complex plot

(2)      stream of consciousness

(3)      multiple point of view, circular form

(4)      violation of chronology

(5)      courtroom rhetoric: formal language

(6)      characterization: he was able to probe into the psychology of characters

(7)      “anti-hero”: weak, fable, vulnerable (true people in modern society)

He has a group of women writers following him, including O’Connor and Eudora Welty

Section 2 The 1930s

Radical 1930s

I.                   Background

Great Depression (1929 “Black Thursday”)

II.                Literature

1.         Writers of the 1920s were still writing, but they didn’t produce good works.

2.         The main stream is left-oriented.

III.             Writers of 1930s

1.         social concern and social involvement

2.         revival of naturalistic tradition of Dreiser and Norris

IV.              John Steinbeck

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Cup of Gold

(2)      Tortilla Flat

(3)      In Dubious Battle

(4)      Of Mice and Men

(5)      The Grapes of Wrath

(6)      Travels with Charley

(7)      Short stories: The Red Pony, The Pearl

3.         point of view

(1)      His best writing was produced out of outrage at the injustices of the societies, and by the admirations for the strong spirit of the poor.

(2)      His theme was usually simple human virtues, such as kindness and fair treatment, which were far superior to the dehumanizing cruelty of exploiters.

4.         style

(1)      poetic prose

(2)      regional dialect

(3)      characterization: many types of characters rather than individuals

(4)      dramatic factors

(5)      social protect: spokesman for the poverty-stricken people

5.         The Grapes of Wrath

Chapter 6 The Post-War Period: 50s & 60s

I.                   Historical Background – multi-faceted

1.         Cold War

2.         McCarthyism (persecution of communists)

3.         Korean War

4.         Civil Rights Movement

5.         Counter-culture Movement – political, economical and military achievement

II.                Literature in the 1950s

1.         Regional literature emerged from the south, etc. Many women writers appeared.

2.         Dramatists wrote about everyday people, e.g. Arthur Miller.

3.         Minority literature developed quickly.

III.             Literature in the 1960s

This period is the rising period of post-modern literature. Many forms of post-modern fiction appeared, such as metafiction, surfiction, parafiction, self-reflexive fiction, self-begetting fiction, anti-novel, etc. The literature in this period is considered as “multi-cultural” literature. The same mood in this period is despair, but continuing to search absurdity of modern life; lonely, but searching for the meaning of existence; identity.

Section 1 Poetry

I.                   Features

1.         Some poets found inspiration in the past.

2.         Poetry became more attuned to political and social issues of the period.

3.         Poets became more visible in American public life.

4.         There was no prescribed form for poetry.

5.         Poets became more political. Themes such as homosexuality, racism, etc. are included in the poems. In 1960s, poetry became more and more political.

II.                Schools of Poetry (time, representatives, major features)

1.         Confessional Poets: Robert Lowell

The greatness of Lowell lies in the fact that, in talking candidly about himself, he is examining the culture of his nation. The identification of personal experience with that of an age has always ensured greatness and even immortality as it did.

2.         Black Mountain Poets: Charles Olson

There is an emphasis on the importance of the moments of awareness. It portrays a world of “awakened, contemplative awareness”, one in which civilization appears alien, cold, and almost unreal.

3.         Beat Generation: Alien Ginsberg

In the fifties, there was a widespread discontentment among the post-war generation, whose voice was one of protest against all the mainstream culture America had come to represent.

Section 2 Fiction

I.                   General Features

1.         matter of fact

2.         frank, amazingly detailed about war experiences

3.         lacking social consciousness

II.                Overview

1.         Post-war Realism: Cheever, Oates

2.         Black Novel: Richard Wlight, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Malcolm, Leroi Jones

3.         Jewish Novel: Saul Bellow

III.             Post-War Realism

1.         Features

(1)      Naturalistic depiction has become explicit: old-fashioned realism is combined with modernism.

(2)      While following the realistic and naturalistic tradition, these writers borrowed various experimental forms and techniques in probing the inner world in detail.

(3)      It has been a search for a way to connect an oppressed response to society and history and an awareness of individual loneliness.

2.         J. D. Salinger

(1)      Life

(2)      Point of view

One of his frequent themes is young people longing for simplicity and truth instead of complexity and hypocrisy of the life they observed around them. In his novels, he questions the moral foundations of society and often places innocent idealist characters in setting where a vicious, corrupt society could destroy them. Although his stories are often pessimistic, the characters represent hope rather than despair. They want to affirm truth. They deplore the lies with which the society conceals its own corruption. They withdraw the society, become drop-outs rather than participants in the society.

(3)      Catcher in the Rye

IV.              Black Humour

1.         definition: to deal with tragic things in comic ways to make it more powerful and more tragic.

It refers to the use of morbid and absurd for darkly comic purpose. It carries the tone of anger, bitterness in the grotesque situation of suffering, anxiety, and death. It makes the reader laugh at the blackness of modern life. The writers usually do not laugh at the characters.

2.         Features

(1)      Comic way to express tragic situations

(2)      Creation of anti-hero

(3)      Illogical narrative structure

3.         Joseph Heller

(1)      Life

(2)      Catch-22

It is not only a war novel, but also a novel about people’s life in peaceful time. This novel attacked the dehumanization of all contemporary institutions and corruptions of individuals who gain power in institutions. Armed-forces are the most outrageous example of the two evils.

Language: circular conversation, wrenched cliché

Jewish Literature

I.                   Definition

Jewish literature refers to published creative writings by American Jews about their American experiences. This kind of writings is shown in Jewish perspective.

II.                Historical Background

III.             Emergence: after WWII

IV.              Jewish Point of View

1.         Jews believe that God has sent perpetual sufferings to his chosen people to strengthen and purify them, and they are the “chosen people”.

2.         Humour is a prominent aspect of Jewish point of view. It is often a twisted kind of comedy to keep them from despair. Jews are able to laugh at themselves, so some of their best humour is self-mocking.

3.         Jews lay emphasis upon the power of intellects. The power to understand their own experience to judge their own life rationally to think well is considered a high virtue.

4.         Self-teaching is at the heart of almost all Jewish novels. The Jewish heroes often try to seek a rational interpretation of the world through their own experience in it.

V.                 Saul Bellow

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Dangling Man

(2)      The Adventures of Augie March

(3)      Henderson the Rain King

(4)      Herzog

(5)      Mr. Sammler’s Planet

(6)      Humboldt’s Gift

(7)      The Dean’s December

3.         point of view

(1)      Saul Bellow’s strength lies in his faith in man and man’s ability to offer a “spirited resistance to the forces of our time”. As he sees it, modern man has lived through frustration and defeat, managed to grapple with destructive historical pressures, and striven for “certain durable human goods” – truth, freedom, and wisdom.

(2)      He is highly critical of modern life in which the old value system is no longer functioning. His major characters are all concerned to find a way that would keep American civilization from going under. They body forth Bellow’s credo that art has “something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos”, and that “a novelist begins with disorder and disharmony and goes toward order by an unknown process of the imagination”.

4.         characteristics of his heroes

Most of Saul Bellow’s heroes are marginal men, alienated or absurd characters caught between their own inadequacies and those imposed upon them by their friends and society. Most of them are Jewish intellectuals or writers who try to discover the queerness of existence and overcome it. Struggling with the impersonality of the physical world, agonized by their own awareness of morality, his protagonists laugh at their own deficiency with irony because it relieves despair. The hunger for community, yet they hold back because that world have to betray the sanctity of their private self in order to achieve it.

5.         style: realism + modernism

Chapter 7 American Drama

I.                   Brief Introduction

1.         17th century

l         Ye Bare and Ye Cubb (1665) by William Darby

2.         18th century

l         American subjects began to be treated seriously. The first tragedy is The Contrast (1787) by Royal Tyler. It is considered “typical American play” about American soldiers.

3.         19th century

l         poetical plays, esp in the first half of a group of playwrights

l         after civil war: realism, melodrama, emotional incidents (domestic melodrama), with simple plots

4.         20th century

separation from the old tradition

l         1920s: “Little Theatre Movement” began after 1912, Washington Square Players, Provincetown Players (New York City, Greenage Village). They are freed from the conventional theatre and can be as experimental as they like.

l         1930s: Eugene O’Neil, Clifford Odets

l         Post-war: second climax of American drama, Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman

l         60s: Theatre of the Absurd, Edward Albee

II.                Eugene O’Neil

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Bound East for Cardiff

(2)      Beyond the Horizon

(3)      The Emperor Jones

(4)      The Hairy Ape

(5)      Desire under the Elms

(6)      The Iceman Cometh

(7)      Long Day’s Journey into Night

3.         point of view

His purpose is to get the root of human desires and frustrations. He showed most characters in his plays as seeking meaning and purpose in their lives, some through love, some through religion, some through revenge, all met disappointment. The characters seem to share O’Neil’s perplexities of human nature. As a result of his tragic and nihilistic view of life, his works, in general, indicated chaos and hopelessness.

4.         The Hairy Ape

Yank

5.         style

(1)      O’Neil was a tireless experimentalist in dramatic art. He paid little attention to the division of scenes. He introduced the realistic or even the naturalistic into the American theatre.

(2)      He borrowed freely from the best traditions of European drama, especially the stream of consciousness.

(3)      He made use of setting and stage property to help in his dramatic representation.

(4)      He wrote long introduction and directions for all the scenes, explaining the mood and atmosphere.

(5)      He sometimes wrote the actors’ lines in dialect.

6.         His position

He was the first playwright to explore serious themes in theatre. With him, American drama developed into a form of literature. And in him, American drama came of age (mature). He came only after Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw in the world of drama.

III.             Tennessee Williams

1.         life

2.         point of view and themes

He writes about violence, sex, homosexuality (taboos in drama). Some of his plays rooted in southern social scene. The characters are often unhappy wanderers; lonely, vulnerable women indulged in memory of the past or illusion of the future. He was attracted to bizarre characters and their predicament. He looked deeply into the psychology of the outcasts of society. He saw life a game which cannot be won. Almost all his characters are defeated.

3.         his plays

(1)      The Glass Menagerie

(2)      A Streetcar Named Desire

(3)      Summer and Smoke

(4)      Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

4.         style

(1)      combination of coarseness and poetry

(2)      vivid southern speech

(3)      He helped to break taboos, long imposed on the American literature.

IV.              Arthur Miller

1.         life

2.         theme: dilemma of modern man in relation to family and work

3.         his plays

(1)      The Man Who Had All the Luck

(2)      All My Sons

(3)      Death of a Salesman

(4)      The Crucible

(5)      A View for the Bridge

V.                 Theatre of the Absurd

1.         introduction: existentialist philosophy, mainly in Europe

2.         four founders: Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov

3.         What is “absurd”?

Humorous and meaningless

4.         features

(1)      The basic assumption: human life lacks coherence and is chaotic. Life operates without any rules.

(2)      The world is meaningless, so the play appears meaningless.

(3)      It examines the problems of life and death, of isolation and communication.

(4)      It satirizes people who are unaware of the ultimate reality (death).

(5)      In absurd drama, situation is more important than characters and events. The dramatist wants to show people what their situation in their life is. Therefore, he constructs a play which presents a picture of the universal situation. One result of these is that the characters are often comic and humorous.

5.         Edward Albee

(1)      Life

(2)      Works

a.       Zoo Story

b.       Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Chapter 8 Black American Literature

I.                   Overview

Negro – coloured (legally free) – black (after civil rights movement)

1.         oral tradition

(1)      songs and ballads

(2)      spirituals: sorrow of the singers’ earlier condition and longing for freedom

(3)      blues: after civil war, derived from work songs – loneliness, separation, losses, wonderings, love, desperation, sense of doom

(4)      jazz: after WWI, developed from blues, died out in the Great Depression

2.         written literature (from 1760s)

(1)      poetry: religious, enduring, patient to the white

(2)      slave narrative: autobiographical experience of the person

(3)      1920s: Harlem Renaissance – New York, black – black dialect and black folklore – “the new negro” – representatives: Langston Hughes (“black poet laureate”), Huston, Claude McKay

(4)      1940s: Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison

(5)      50s~60s: a lot of black writers emerged in the civil rights movement: James Baldwin, Brooks, Jones

(6)      70s~80s: publishing of “Root” (Alex Haley), Walker – “The Colour Purple”, Morrison (the second woman writer and the only black who won Nobel Prize)

II.                Richard Wright

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Uncle Tom’s Children: Four Novellas

(2)      Native Son

(3)      Black Boy

(4)      The Outsider (the first novel of existentialism in America, published in France)

3.         themes and subjects

His common theme is to condemn racism, urge reform, criticize evils of society. His books focus on racial conflict and physical violence. They review the devastating effect of institutionalized hatred (hatred brought by social system) and humiliation on black males’ psyche. They affirmed dignity and humility of society’s outcasts.

4.         writing techniques – realism, naturalism

He tries to show that people cannot escape from society. Therefore, society must be changed. He is a father figure, especially to the writers of violence.

III.             Ralph Ellison

1.         life

2.         works: Invisible Man

significance: It has a universality of theme (problems of all modern people), not only regional dilemma of existence.

3.         attitude: complexity of art – the best art makes good politics, not vice versa.

IV.              James Baldwin

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Go Tell It on the Mountain

(2)      Notes of a Native Son

(3)      Nobody Knows My Name

(4)      The Fire Next Time

3.         point of view

Baldwin calls for the blacks to resort to means including force so as to bring about the nation’s self-realization. He saw love and understanding as difficult but necessary way to overcome racial conflict.

4.         themes: race, homosexuality

V.                 Alice Walker

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      Once (a collection of poems)

(2)      In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (“womanism” instead of feminism)

(3)      The Colour Purple (epistolary)

VI.              Toni Morrison

1.         life

2.         works

(1)      The Bluest Eye

(2)      Sula

(3)      Song of Solomon (the best black novel after Native Son and Invisible Man)

(4)      Tar Baby

(5)      Beloved

(6)      Jazz

(7)      Love (trilogy)

3.         themes: love, guilt, history, individual, gender, race, religion

4.         purpose: to empower the black people to act for themselves, to recognize for their own world, own history, own reality

5.         style – many kinds of factors: naturalism, realism, fantasy, reality, magical realism

 

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