Tema 58- La novela actual en Gran Bretaña. Selección de textos y análisis de una obra representativa

Tema 58- La novela actual en Gran Bretaña. Selección de textos y análisis de una obra representativa

Present English novel:

Main iniciators:

The modern English novel appears in the inter-war period and it is universalised with writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Wolf, James Joyce and Aldous Huxley. It is the inter war- group and it establishes the basis of the new novel which consisted in the Bergson idea of the pssing of time and the ieda that beliefs and the way facing life are not valis for the rest. The period is one of great instability.

D. H. Lawrence (1885- 1930). He is in contradiction with civilization. It isn´t very easy to specify if the conflict is in himself or between his culture and life. The consequence is that his behaviour is one of great individualism.

The most important features in his novels is the contempt towards reason and his trust in instincts. He addresses the heart and not intelligence. He tries to convince not with the reasoning but with the impact of his art.

Virginia Wolf and James Joyce are the most important novelists of the stream of consciousness technique.

Virginia Wolf gests rid of the plot and characterization in the traditional sense. She has a careful prose and she approaches poetry in her way of expressing sensations and the setting. She uses other literary genres such as drama and poetry.

Some critics think that her novles are not exactly novels but a presentation of situations and characters in a poetic form, evocations of the character´s internal worlds which are mixed with the objective ambience.

Her main works are: Jacob´s room, Mrs. Dallaway, Lighthouse, The waves.

James Joyce (1882-1941). The portrait of the artist as a young man is his most perfect work. In Ulysses and Finnegans wake Joyce presents himself as the discoverer of a new belief: a kind of myth represented by the city of Dublin. He believes in the city being everlasting and its inhabitants being lapsed. Nother important work is Dubliners 1914

The post-war novels:

The war as a topic didn´t attract the novelists who lived it, so the post-war English novel went on as with previous famous novelists who didn´t write about the war. The most important ones are: Ivy Compton Burnett, Elizabeth Bowen, Joyce Cary, L.P. Hartley, Robet Graves, Henry Green and Samuel Beckett.

Ivy Compton Burnett (1892- 1969). She only wants to write about what she is completely conscious. That´s why she writes about English life through her adolescence.

Brothers and sisters, Daughters and sons, Parents and children in which we can see the virtues and defects of the high middle class of that time in a very similar way as Henry James did.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899- 1973). Her main works are: The hotel, The death or the heart, The little girls. Her settings and characters are very limited and realistic and life is not described in such a brilliant way as Henry James did. She interested in the recent past and in childhood and that´s why she is not concerned about coming into high levels of introspection for instance if her main characters were adults.

She reflects the frustration and triviality of the human existence. She presents the dissatisfaction of living, the absence of hope.

If we read her novels we can see that the past is irretrievable, the present is unsatisfactory and that future doesn´t have any hope

Joyce Cary (1888- 1957) began to write novels with African setting when he came back from Nigeria, where he had an official post. As a result of his colonial experiences, he wrote Mister Johnson where we can see that the main character is disoriented, an African whose failure is the impossibility of harmonizing in his conscience the European culture and the racial one.

L.P. Hartley (1895- 1973). He is interested in childhood and adolescence. He follows the Victorian tradition. In his novels we can see how was life at the beginning of the 2oth century. Eustace and Hilda, The sixth heaven, The go-between was his best novel.

The poet Robet Graves (1895) wrote historical novels when he had a family to maintain and he couldn´t do it with poetry. However, Gravesdis his task seriously and studying deeply the past. Claudius and Claudius the God show us a vision of the Roman past.

Henry Green (1905) He is the author of novels whose titles are in gerund in which he wants to give a meaning to life: Living, Loving, Concluding, Doting.

Samuel Beckett (1906) He is more famous for being a playwright, but he was also a novelist. Murphy, Watt, How it is in which he shows us characters who are the rubbish of society and in which the author wants to show the desperation and absurd condition of man. He has a tragic vision of life.

Catholic novelists:

Percy Wyndham Lewis (1884- 1957) wrote meticulous and slow novels in which the most important thing is the detail. His way of writing novles makes a contrast with Joyce and Virginia Woolf. His novels are very satirical for instance Apes of God which is an attack to the literary and artistic snobism of the third decade in London.

Evelyn Waugh (1903- 1966). He is a satirical writer. In his novels he ridicules the ways of national planification, political propaganda, the absence of state organization, death dissimulation. For insatnce in Black Mischief he tries to organise in the European way an African country according to the theoretical and rational planification and the result is achaos worse than the way it was life before.

In his novels he satirizes the idea that present man has of getting rid of history, religion and providence.

Graham Greene (1904) is attracted by religion values such as salvation and by the procedures God uses to save souls in a world in which virtues and vices and God and Evil coexist.

He wrote novels about violence and social problems in which we can see how society is damaged by evil, vices and crimes. He converted himself to Catholicism what didn´t prenvent him from thinking that Evil however will exist but God will know how to take advantage of human weaknesses and misfortunes.

His philosophy says that dying for something beautiful such as our children, our homes, our civilization is very easy but dying for an indifferent and corrupted human race one must be God.

His main works are: Brighton Rock, The power and the glory, The heart of the matter, The end of the affair.

Graham Greene´s importance lays in the courage of showing the Catholic defy to an accommodated society which gets rid of God and abandons itself to pleasures.

John Braine (1922) is interested in the existing difficulties to establish a solid relationship between people of a different social scale.

His main works are: Room at the top and Life at the top its continuation.

There is also a group of authors who have written novel sequences such as Anthony Powell with The music of time which is similar to Marcel Proust. It is composed by 12 novels. The narrator is Nicholas Jenkins, a teenager in Eaton and Oxford and then making his way in life in London. Then he learns that power destroys society. The sequence conveys the meaning that a person changes during his life but his personality remains during his whole life.

During the years around the second world war, there was an incompatibility between science and letter people. The first group was characterized by an optimistic attitude towards an evident material progress while the second group regarded it as a spiritual regression and a devaluation of man.

C.P. Snow was at the same time a scientist and a novelist and so he tries to fill in the gap between these 2 incompatible cultures and show that even if they are far away from each other, both constitute different aspects of the same civilisation.

Strangers and brothers is the title of the sequence in which the main character Lewis Eliot observes and takes part in multitude of problems which England has faced as a nation.

William Golding (1911) is the allegoric novelist par excellence who tries to show the difficulties man encounters in life to be able to behave according to the natural law.

In The lord of the flies a group of well- brought-up English children land on an isle due to a plane accident. Even if they would be able to behave in a rational way, imitating the society from which they come, the power of Evil and their primary instincts take possession of them and produce a savage situation.
In The inheritors the human but corrupted race runs over innocent Neanderthal man.

In England the angry movement begins with William Cooper (1910) with Scenes from provincial life. Its main character is a secondary school teacher who faces the bourgeoisie of society even if he is incapable of creating anything positive from what he rejects.

In Scenes from married life Cooper is realistic enough so as to accommodate the anarchic hero of his previous novel to routine.

Cooper was followed by John Wain with Hurry on down and Kingsley Amis with Lucky Jim, authors who projected the angry movement. With these 2 novels, we find the 2 first university heroes who come from a low social class whose university education has been paid by the state.

Analysis of The lord of the flies by William Golding:

1.  The Author and His Times:

William Gerald Golding was born on September 19, 1911 in Cornwall England.  His father was a schoolmaster and his mother was a suffragette.  His parents had wanted him to study science, so he did from grammar school until the second year of college.  After his second year of college, he abandoned the study of science in favour of English literature.  He wrote poetry and worked in amateur theatre for a while before becoming a teacher where he was at the beginning of World War II.  At the start of World War II, he entered the Royal navy and served with distinction on mine sweepers, destroyers, and rocket launchers.  He believed that the horrors of World War II can be based on some innate evil which he explores in Lord of the Flies.  After the war, he returned to teaching and writing, although had little success getting published.  He was able to get Lord of the Flies published and it experienced great success.

2.  Form, Structure, and Plot:

The Lord of the Flies contains twelve titled chapters.  The plot is simple and rarely splits into more than one plot lines, although it does sometimes.  Occasionally, the story separates from the general group and follows one child.  For example, the story followed the first of Jack’s hunts into the jungle, and also Simon’s wanderings to be alone.  One of the techniques he uses in organizing plot is foreshadow.  Through the use and manipulation of many symbols, he gives the reader and idea of what is to come foreshadowing future events.

3. Outline of Events:

  • Exposition – The exposition is basically all of chapter 1 and the first part of chapter 2.  The characters are introduced and so is the problem.  The readers learn that because of the war, the children was taken to be transported someplace by plane when the place was attacked and crashed on the island.  Ralph is made the leader of the entire group and Jack is made the leader of the hunting party.  Piggy tries to maintain order.  This takes the period of 1 day.
  • Rising action –   The rising action starts in the middle of chapter 2 where the boys attempt to make a signal fire but it rages out of control.  One of the boys are lost.  After this, order is slowly lost and chaos slowly takes its place.
  • Climax / Crises – The climax occurs when order is completely lost, the conch is crush, and Piggy is killed.  Jack takes over the group.
  • Falling action – The falling action is the brief period between the time where Jack takes over and the officer arrives.  We see the innate evil within the boys which is a reflection of the evil within the entire mankind.
  • Resolution – The jungle catches fire and a naval ship spots the smoke.  An officer comes ashore just as Ralph is being hunted by the other boys and all are rescued and taken back into society.  

3.  Point of View:

Golding wrote the novel in the third person perspective.  There is one omniscient narrator.  Although the book generally follows Ralph, it occasionally breaks off and follows another character for a time.  This entire book is autobiographical in that it tells us something the author wants to show us.  Golding tries to teach us and warn us of the evil nature of mankind.  He says through the book that we are evil and that it is only society that keeps us from committing crimes.

4.  Characters:

Golding’s characters have a depth and are believable for the somewhat unbelievable situation they are put in.  Each character has his own fully developed personality.  He does this while maintaining a certain symbolism in the characters.  Each characters, while being their own person, symbolizes some idea, but not to the point where the characters are flat.

  • Ralph – Ralph is 12 and one of the older boys on the island.  He is the leader throughout most of the book being determined, rational, and understanding.  He is dressed as in a typical school uniform, but not as the choir boys.  He tries to understand the problem and the people on the island trying to give rational solutions.  However, psychologically, he loses faith in the boys and decides that he has little hope to restore order into the island.  His purpose is to show the reader through his eyes the degradation of the society on the island, and thereby show the innate evil within man.  “This expresses his understanding and caring side.”
  • Jack – Jack is also one of the older boys and about Ralph’s age.  He starts as the leader of the choir boys, and develops into the leader of the hunters eventually taking over everyone on the island.  He is dressed nicely in a choir boy outfit.  He is strong, villainous, and proud perpetuating the crimes committed by the boys on the island.  He cares only for his own power and not for the common good.  He disregards order and in him the reader clearly sees the innate evil of man since he was the one that cast off society earliest.  He becomes Ralph’s most powerful antagonist because of this. 
  • Piggy – Piggy is slightly younger than Ralph and in the weakling in the group being overweight and suffering from asthma.  He is dressed similar to Ralph in a typical school uniform and ears glasses.  He is weak, smart, and friendly.  While is put down by the other boys, he is necessary on the island as a source of intelligence and insight.  His insights are often ignored because of his weak appearance and he is killed by the Jack and his savages. 
  • Simon – Simon is the saint in the story.  He is skinny and dressed similar to Ralph in the school uniform.  He is kind, caring and sincere.  In the novel, he serves to bring a certain insight into the story.  He is the one that seems to best understand the inner evil, and the first to understand the beast.  He takes care of the littluns.  Sadly, his insight is lost among the boys as he is killed being mistaken for the beast. 

5.  Setting:

The Lord of the Flies takes place on an island during World War II.  This is significant since the isolation forms a sort of civilization and community, a sort of microcosm to the real world.  At the same time, the island lacks a society and the societal laws and rules allowing for the boys to run wild and show their true, ugly, inner selves.  Since the island is a microcosm, Golding uses it to reflect our world and give comments on our world and his view of human nature.  In this book, the setting is used less to create a mood than to put the characters in a particular situation

6.  Themes:

1. This book traces the faults in society to the faults in the individual person.  Golding says that each person has in evil inner nature poorly covered by society.  If the society is taken away, then the inner nature comes out and chaos and lawlessness erupt.

2. Each person has an evil nature and is capable of committing heinous crimes.  In this book, virtually every person fell to the level of Jack’s savagery except those that were able to see that evil such as Ralph, Simon, and Piggy.

3. The beast is human.  In the beginning of the book, a littlun told the others that he saw a beast in the jungle starting everyone’s fears.  However, it turns out that the beast is actually a parachutist and human, symbolizing that what they should be scared of is not some evil creature, but their own selves and other humans.

7.  Style:

Golding makes his novel come alive with a significant use of symbolism, physiological development, and general truths.  His writing style is simple but the subject matter is deep.  He uses a rather comparatively simple story to convey a weighty idea.

8.  Diction:

In The Lord of the Flies, Golding’s language is neutral.  However, it is simple and it is as if he is telling the story himself rather than writing prose.  The vocabulary and sentence structure are simply and easy to understand.  Golding uses a lot of imagery and symbolic devices. Golding’s writes in a simple neutral style.  His language is not complicated or flowery.  At the same time, it is not too informal. 

9.  Symbolism:

Golding uses a lot of symbolism in The Lord of the Flies.  The entire book is symbolic of the nature of man and society in general as the island becomes a society metaphorical to society as a whole and the hunt at the end of the book symbolic of the war.  A symbol Golding uses throughout the book is the conch.  It represents authority and order.  The person holding the conch had the power, and it created order and rules since when it was called, everyone had to listen.  Another symbol is Piggy’s glasses.  It symbolized knowledge and insight.  While Piggy had them, he was able to give advice to the group, such as that of the signal fire.  It was the glasses that created the fire.  However, after the glasses are broken, the group loses what insight they had.  The war paint is also a symbol.  It symbolized the rejection of society.  In a way, when they put on the mask of war paint, they took off the mask of society and revealed their true inner selves which was savage.