History of Literature, Fhilosophy and Religions



A Brief History of Western Literature
Introduction Western Literature
The Foundations of Western Literature
The Bible
Classical  Literature
The Middle Ages and the Renaissance
The 17-18th Century
The 18-19th Century 



see also texts:

BRETON ANDRE Manifesto of Surrealism

"The Master and Margarita"

 ELIOT T. S. "The Waste Land"


see illustrations:

Alexandr Blok "Dvenadtzat" llustrations by Yuri Annenkov

see also:

EXPLORATION (in Russian)


Osip Mandelshtam - Marina Tsvetaeva - Anna Achmatova - Joseph Brodsky



The dramatic changes that took place in literature between 1900 and 1930 can justly be called a revolution. In rejecting the traditional forms and values of 19th-century literature, Modernism included the adoption of new subject matter as well as new style and new technique. The visual arts were affected no less, more obviously in fact, than literature, and some movements, such as Dada and Surrealism, Italian Futurism, and English Vorticism, spanned both art and literature. Like most such convenient labels, however, 'Modernism' is elastic. The first great modernists in the English novel — James, Conrad - were in action well before 1900, and they were strongly influenced by still earlier writers such as Balzac, Hawthorne and George Eliot.



The period between the 1890s and the First World War was a period of transition. Writers were acutely aware of changes in society, particularly those relating to science and technology, and to human consciousness. The certainties of the Victorian era were lost, and the modern age loomed as a frightening, unknowable future. However, such insecurity was not exactly new. It had activated the often-noted malaise that affected so many 19th-century writers, including such pillars of the Victorian age as Tennyson or Matthew Arnold. Literary historians see the 'modern' revolution as two movements, the first, relatively optimistic phase, which ended in 1914, and a second, pessimistic phase in the
wake of the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917.



Like every new movement in the arts. Modernism was antagonistic to the tradition it displaced. It was hostile not only to 19th-century moral values, but also to 19th-century techniques, the general structure of rational narrative, description and resolution. Instead of the omniscient narrator, for example, novelists preferred to convey personality through unspoken thoughts and feelings in the 'stream of consciousness' technique (the phrase originated by the American philosopher William James, brother of Henry). Modernism was self-consciously and determinedly experimental, which is one reason why it is hard to categorize as a 'movement'. Incidentally, it represented a further widening of the division between the upper reaches of literature and the lower slopes occupied by the reading public. Poetry, in particular, was to become an increasingly a minority interest.


Of course not all writers of the early 20th century were modernists. In English literature, critics draw a distinction between modernists and Edwardians - broadly, those who followed the realist tradition, such as Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), John Galsworthy (1867-1933) or H. G. Wells (1886-1946). It is today increasingly evident that this distinction is far from straightforward, and that the most revered names among the modernists (James, Conrad, the early D. H. Lawrence, even Joyce) often wrote in an 'Edwardian' way. The influential novelist and critic Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), a major figure in contemporary thinking about literary form, who scoffed at amateurish 'nuvvles', nevertheless published, as editor of the English Review, Bennett and Galsworthy, as well as James, Conrad, the Voracist Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound. His four-volume masterpiece. Parade's End (1924— 28), though employing many characteristic modernist experimental devices, can be seen as a direct successor of the old, three-decked, 'condition-of-Fngland' type novel. Altogether, Modernism was more pragmatic than is often assumed.


Probably no one had more influence on modern literature than the Viennese psychologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). In an elegy written on Freud's death, W. H. Auden called him, without exaggeration, "no more a person now but a climate of opinion'.
Freud's ideas arose from his study of neuroses. Freudian criticism, though perhaps not Freud himself, sees creativity as a form of sublimation, typically deriving from traumatic experiences in childhood, and art as a pathological phenomenon. In the words of the critic Lionel I rilling, 'the poet is a poet by reason of his sickness as well as by reason of his power'. I he greatest impact of Freud himself resulted from his theories of the unconscious mind and the nature of repression, his study of the development of sexual instincts in young children, and his 'interpretation of dreams' (the title of his first great book). Many of his ideas have given rise to popularised conceptions with which everyone is now familiar: for example, the Oedipus Complex, the sexual rivalry between a son and father for the mother (whence the Electra Complex, rivalry between daughter and mother for the father); the death wish; phallic symbols, the significance, conscious or unconscious, of any penis-shaped object as a symbol of male sexuality; penis envy, the desire of a girl for such an organ. The latter doctrine in particular has aroused outrage amongst feminists, and in fact very little of Freud's teaching is now accepted without considerable qualification. However, that does not lessen its impact on the modernists.
Freud would have been less influential had he not also been a fine writer. Some of his case studies are true works of art, and he was also a penetrating literary critic, his writings on Hamlet, Oedipus and other characters marking the beginning of a long, continuous, tradition of Freudian biography.


After the writings of Freud, the most influential work was The Golden Bough of the British anthropologist. Sir James G. Frazer (1854— 1941), the first volume of which was published m 1907. It is a monumental comparative study of myth and religion, the fundamental thesis of which is that humanity progresses from magic, through religion, to science. Frazer's eloquent style added to its appeal. His work inevitably relied on secondary sources and his ideas have long been overtaken, but his description of primitive society and his discussion of such matters as fertility rites, sacrifice, the dying god, etc. had a profound effect on writers - which was in fact a greater effect than they had on anthropologists.



The novel thrived in the early years of this century, and so did the idea of the novel which, among the modernists, was turning into a very different creature. According to the literary theories of Flaubert and Henry James, style and form were everything, or almost everything, and subject matter was unimportant. The novel was an autonomous aesthetic creation, not an imitation of life, on which the creator - the novelist -should not intrude. Aesthetic considerations of this kind were the chief concern of the greatest novelists of the period, including Proust, Joyce, Woolf and Faulkner.


Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was physically frail, an asthmatic, who as a young man moved freely m Parisian high society. There he acquired the material for his single great masterpiece, A la recherche dii temps perdu (published in seven sections between 1913 and 1927), translated as Remembrance of Things Past. The work became practically his only interest during his latter years when he lived as a recluse, seldom venturing outside in daytime, an existence only partly prescribed by deteriorating health. The subject of this seminal novel, which ran to about 3,000 pages, is Time and Memory. The authentic past can only be recaptured through involuntary memory, triggered by an apparently insignificant incident or object. Through such 'privileged moments', the past is recaptured. All traditional ideas of narrative are abandoned, and events and feelings are fed through a narrator figure, Marcel (not, in spite of similarities, an alter ego). Proust's precision in describing human consciousness echoes Henry James and Joyce; his idea of insignificant past incidents assuming later importance is found in Virginia Woolf, and his notion of human relationships forming a pattern like a piece of music was adopted by Anthony Powell in A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-75).

Marcel Proust

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, essayist and critic, best known as the author of À la recherche du temps perdu (in English, In Search of Lost Time; earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past), a monumental work of twentieth-century fiction published in seven parts from 1913 to 1927.
Proust was born in Auteuil (the southern sector of Paris's then-rustic 16th arrondissement) at the home of his great-uncle, two months after the Treaty of Frankfurt formally ended the Franco-Prussian War. His birth took place during the violence that surrounded the suppression of the Paris Commune, and his childhood corresponds with the consolidation of the French Third Republic. Much of In Search of Lost Time concerns the vast changes, most particularly the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the middle classes, that occurred in France during the Third Republic and the fin de siècle. Proust's father, Achille Adrien Proust, was a prominent pathologist and epidemiologist, responsible for studying and attempting to remedy the causes and movements of cholera through Europe and Asia; he was the author of many articles and books on medicine and hygiene. Proust's mother, Jeanne Clémence Weil, was the daughter of a well-off and cultured Jewish family. She was a literate and well-read woman. Her letters demonstrate a well-developed sense of humour, and her command of English was sufficient for her to provide the necessary impetus to her son's later attempts to translate John Ruskin.By the age of nine, Proust had had his first serious asthma attack, and thereafter he was considered by himself, his family and his friends as a sickly child. Proust spent long holidays in the village of Illiers. This village, combined with aspects of the time he spent at his great-uncle's house in Auteuil became the model for the fictional town of Combray, where some of the most important scenes of In Search of Lost Time take place. (Illiers was renamed Illiers-Combray on the occasion of the Proust centenary celebrations). Despite his poor health, Proust served a year (1889–90) as an enlisted man in the French army, stationed at Coligny Caserne in Orléans, an experience that provided a lengthy episode in The Guermantes' Way, part three of his novel. As a young man, Proust was a dilettante and a social climber, whose aspirations as a writer were hampered by his lack of application. His reputation from this period, as a snob and an amateur, contributed to his later troubles with getting Swann's Way, the first part of his large-scale novel, published in 1913. Proust had a close relationship with his mother. In order to appease his father, who insisted that he pursue a career, Proust obtained a volunteer position at the Bibliothèque Mazarine in the summer of 1896. After exerting considerable effort, he obtained a sick leave which was to extend for several years until he was considered to have resigned. He never worked at his job, and he did not move from his parents' apartment until after both were dead (Tadié).
Proust, who was homosexual, was one of the first European novelists to treat homosexuality openly and at length. His life and family circle changed considerably between 1900 and 1905. In February 1903, Proust's brother Robert married and left the family home. His father died in September of the same year. Finally, and most crushingly, Proust's beloved mother died in September 1905, leaving him a considerable inheritance. (In today's terms, a principal of about $6 million, with a monthly income of about $15,000.) His health throughout this period continued to deteriorate. Proust spent the last three years of his life largely confined to his cork-lined bedroom, sleeping during the day and working at night to complete his novel. He died in 1922 and is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Proust was involved in writing and publishing from an early age. In addition to the literary magazines with which he was associated, and in which he published, while at school, La Revue verte and La Revue lilas, from 1890–91 Proust published a regular society column in the journal Le Mensuel (Tadie). In 1892 he was involved in founding a literary review called Le Banquet (also the French title of Plato's Symposium), and throughout the next several years Proust published small pieces regularly in this journal and in the prestigious La Revue Blanche. In 1896 Les Plaisirs et les Jours, a compendium of many of these early pieces, was published. The book included a foreword by Anatole France, drawings by Mme. Lemaire, and was so sumptuously produced that it cost twice the normal price of a book its size. That year Proust also began working on a novel which was eventually published in 1954 and titled Jean Santeuil by his posthumous editors. Many of the themes later developed in In Search of Lost Time find their first articulation in this unfinished work, including the enigma of memory and the necessity of reflection; several sections of In Search of Lost Time can be read in first draft in Jean Santeuil. The portrait of the parents in Jean Santeuil is quite harsh, in marked contrast to the adoration with which the parents are painted in Proust's masterpiece. Following the poor reception of Les Plaisirs et les Jours, and internal troubles with resolving the plot, Proust gradually abandoned Jean Santeuil in 1897 and stopped work on it entirely by 1899.
Beginning in 1895 Proust spent several years reading Carlyle, Emerson and John Ruskin. Through this reading Proust began to refine his own theories of art and the role of the artist in society. Also, in Time Regained Proust's universal protagonist recalls having translated Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies. The artist's responsibility is to confront the appearance of nature, deduce its essence and retell or explain that essence in the work of art. Ruskin's view of artistic production was central to this conception, and Ruskin's work was so important to Proust that he claimed to know "by heart" several of Ruskin's books, including The Seven Lamps of Architecture, The Bible of Amiens, and Praeterita (Tadié 350). Proust set out to translate two of Ruskin's works into French, but was hampered by an imperfect command of English. In order to compensate for this he made his translations a group affair: sketched out by his mother, the drafts were first revised by Proust, then by Marie Nordlinger, the English cousin of his friend and sometime lover Reynaldo Hahn, then by Proust again finally polished. Confronted about his method by an editor, Proust responded, "I don't claim to know English; I claim to know Ruskin" (Tadié). The Bible of Amiens, with Proust's extended introduction, was published in French in 1904. Both the translation and the introduction were very well reviewed; Henri Bergson called Proust's introduction "an important contribution to the psychology of Ruskin" and had similar praise for the translation (Tadié 433). At the time of this publication, Proust was already at work on translating Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies, which he completed in June 1905, just prior to his mother's death, and published in 1906. Literary historians and critics have ascertained that, apart from Ruskin, Proust's chief literary influences included Saint Simon, Montaigne, Stendhal, Flaubert, George Eliot, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. 1908 was an important year for Proust's development as a writer. During the first part of the year he published in various journals pastiches of other writers. These exercises in imitation may have allowed Proust to solidify his own style. In addition, in the spring and summer of the year Proust began work on several different fragments of writing that would later coalesce under the working title of Contre Saint-Beuve. Proust described what he was working on in a letter to a friend: "I have in progress: a study on the nobility, a Parisian novel, an essay on Sainte-Beuve and Flaubert, an essay on women, an essay on pederasty (not easy to publish), a study on stained-glass windows, a study on tombstones, a study on the novel" (Tadié 513). From these disparate fragments Proust began to shape a novel on which he worked continually during this period. The rough outline of the work centered on a first-person narrator, unable to sleep, who during the night remembers waiting as a child for his mother to come to him in the morning. The novel was to have ended with a critical examination of Sainte-Beuve and a refutation of his theory that biography was the most important tool for understanding an artist's work. Present in the unfinished manuscript notebooks are many elements that correspond to parts of the Recherche, in particular, to the "Combray" and "Swann in Love" sections of Volume 1, and to the final section of Volume 7. Trouble with finding a publisher, as well as a gradually changing conception of his novel, led Proust to shift work to a substantially different project that still contained many of the same themes and elements. By 1910 he was at work on À la recherche du temps perdu.
Begun in 1909, À la recherche du temps perdu consists of seven volumes spanning some 3,200 pages and teeming with more than 2,000 literary characters. Graham Greene called Proust the "greatest novelist of the 20th century", and W. Somerset Maugham called the novel the "greatest fiction to date." Proust died before he was able to complete his revision of the drafts and proofs of the final volumes, the last three of which were published posthumously and edited by his brother, Robert. The book was translated into English by C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, appearing as Remembrance of Things Past between 1922 and 1931. In 1995, Penguin undertook a fresh translation of the book by editor Christopher Prendergast and seven translators in three countries, based on the latest and most authoritative French text. Subsequently, the title of the novel was more accurately translated as In Search of Lost Time and is now often referred to as such. Its six volumes were published in Britain under the Allen Lane imprint in 2002. The first four (those which under American copyright law are in the public domain) have since been published in the U.S. under the Viking imprint and in paperback under the Penguin Classics imprint.


Born and raised in Catholic Ireland, James Joyce (1882—1941) set all his fiction in his native city of Dublin, although from 1904 he abandoned country and religion and lived abroad. His first, autobiographical novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published, largely clue to the enthusiasm of Ezra Pound, in 1916, throws light on his early life and his discover}' of his vocation. It adopts a stream-of-consciousness narrative reflecting the hero's development and foreshadows the astonishingly original use of language that characterises his greatest work, Ulysses (1922; not published in Britain until 1936 due to alleged obscenities). Ostensibly it covers a single day in the life of three characters in Dublin (Leopold and Molly Bloom and Stephen Daedalus, the hero of Portrait of the Artist). Its 18 episodes roughly reflect equivalents in the Odyssey, and this mythic structure contributes to the creation of an epic from superficially mundane material. Past and present interact, trivial events acquire sometimes profound significance, and extreme erudition mingles with coarse humour. Joyce's highly allusive style, including parodies of various literary forms, does not make for easy reading, and his last book Finnegans Wake (1939) is inaccessible to the ordinary reader without a comprehensive gloss. Newcomers to Joyce, possibly the most influential novelist of the century, wisely start with his early short stories, Dubliners (1914), which are relatively conventional in technique.

James Joyce

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish expatriate writer, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its highly controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).

Although he spent most of his adult life outside Ireland, Joyce's psychological and fictional universe is firmly rooted in his native Dublin, the city which provides the settings and much of the subject matter for all his fiction. In particular, his tempestuous early relationship with the Irish Roman Catholic Church is reflected through a similar inner conflict in his recurrent alter ego Stephen Dedalus. As the result of his minute attentiveness to a personal locale and his self-imposed exile and influence throughout Europe, notably in Paris, Joyce became paradoxically one of the most cosmopolitan yet one of the most regionally-focused of all the English language writers of his time.

Dublin, 1882–1904

In 1882, James Augustine Joyce was born into a Roman Catholic family in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar. He was the oldest of 10 surviving children; two of his siblings died of typhoid. His father's family, originally from Fermoy in Cork, had once owned a small salt and lime works. Joyce's father and paternal grandfather both married into wealthy families. In 1887, his father, John Stanislaus Joyce, was appointed rate (i.e., a local property tax) collector by Dublin Corporation; the family subsequently moved to the fashionable adjacent small town of Bray 12 miles (19 km) from Dublin. Around this time Joyce was attacked by a dog; this resulted in a lifelong canine phobia. He also suffered from a fear of thunderstorms, which his deeply religious aunt had described to him as being a sign of God's wrath.
In 1891, Joyce wrote a poem, "Et Tu Healy," on the death of Charles Stewart Parnell. His father was angry at the treatment of Parnell by the Catholic church and at the resulting failure to secure Home Rule for Ireland. The elder Joyce had the poem printed and even sent a copy to the Vatican Library. In November of that same year, John Joyce was entered in Stubbs Gazette (an official register of bankruptcies) and suspended from work. In 1893 John Joyce was dismissed with a pension. This was the beginning of a slide into poverty for the family, mainly due to John's drinking and general financial mismanagement. James Joyce was initially educated by the Jesuit order at Clongowes Wood College, a boarding school near Sallins in County Kildare, which he entered in 1888 but had to leave in 1892 when his father could no longer pay the fees. Joyce then studied at home and briefly at the Christian Brothers school on North Richmond Street, Dublin, before he was offered a place in the Jesuits' Dublin school, Belvedere College, in 1893. The offer was made at least partly in the hope that he would prove to have a vocation and join the Order. Joyce, however, was to reject Catholicism by the age of 16, although the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas would remain a strong influence on him throughout his life.He enrolled at the recently established University College Dublin in 1898. He studied modern languages, specifically English, French and Italian. He also became active in theatrical and literary circles in the city. His review of Ibsen's New Drama, his first published work, was published in 1900 and resulted in a letter of thanks from the Norwegian dramatist himself. Joyce wrote a number of other articles and at least two plays (since lost) during this period. Many of the friends he made at University College Dublin would appear as characters in Joyce's written works. He was an active member of the Literary and Historical Society, University College Dublin, and presented his paper "Drama and Life" to the L&H in 1900. After graduating from UCD in 1903, Joyce left for Paris to "study medicine", but in reality he squandered money his family could ill afford. He returned to Ireland after a few months, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Fearing for her son's "impiety", his mother tried unsuccessfully to get Joyce to make his confession and to take communion. She finally passed into a coma and died on August 13, Joyce having refused to kneel with other members of the family praying at her bedside. After her death he continued to drink heavily, and conditions at home grew quite appalling. He scraped a living reviewing books, teaching and singing — he was an accomplished tenor, and won the bronze medal in the 1904 Feis Ceoil.On 7 January 1904, he attempted to publish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, an essay-story dealing with aesthetics, only to have it rejected by the free-thinking magazine Dana. He decided, on his twenty-second birthday, to revise the story and turn it into a novel he planned to call Stephen Hero. However, he never published this novel in this original name. This was the same year he met Nora Barnacle, a young woman from Galway city who was working as a chambermaid at Finn's Hotel in Dublin. On 16 June 1904, they went on their first date, an event which would be commemorated by providing the date for the action of Ulysses. Joyce remained in Dublin for some time longer, drinking heavily. After one of his alcoholic binges, he got into a fight over a misunderstanding with a man in St. Stephen's Green; he was picked up and dusted off by a minor acquaintance of his father, Alfred H. Hunter, who brought him into his home to tend to his injuries. Hunter was rumored to be Jewish and to have an unfaithful wife, and would serve as one of the models for Leopold Bloom, the main protagonist of Ulysses. He took up with medical student Oliver St John Gogarty, who formed the basis for the character Buck Mulligan in Ulysses. After staying in Gogarty's Martello Tower for 6 nights he left in the middle of the night following an altercation which involved Gogarty shooting a pistol at some pans hanging directly over Joyce's bed. He walked all the way back to Dublin to stay with relatives for the night, and sent a friend to the tower the next day to pack his possessions into his trunk. Shortly thereafter he eloped to the continent with Nora.

1904–1920: Trieste and Zurich

Joyce and Nora went into self-imposed exile, moving first to Zürich, where he had supposedly acquired a post teaching English at the Berlitz Language School through an agent in England. It turned out that the English agent had been swindled, but the director of the school sent him on to Trieste, which was part of Austria-Hungary until World War I (today part of Italy). Once again, he found there was no position for him, but with the help of Almidano Artifoni, director of the Trieste Berlitz school, he finally secured a teaching position in Pula, then also part of Austria-Hungary (today part of Croatia). He stayed there, teaching English mainly to Austro-Hungarian naval officers stationed at the Pula base, from October 1904 until March 1905, when the Austrians — having discovered an espionage ring in the city — expelled all aliens. With Artifoni's help, he moved back to the city of Trieste and began teaching English there. He would remain in Trieste for most of the next 10 years.
Later that year Nora gave birth to their first child, Giorgio. Joyce then managed to talk his brother, Stanislaus, into joining him in Trieste, and secured him a position teaching at the school. Ostensibly his reasons were for his company and offering his brother a much more interesting life than the simple clerking job he had back in Dublin, but in truth, he hoped to augment his family's meagre income with his brother's earnings. Stanislaus and James had strained relations the entire time they lived together in Trieste, with most arguments centering on James' frivolity with money and drinking habits.With chronic wanderlust much of his early life, Joyce became frustrated with life in Trieste and moved to Rome in late 1906, having secured a position working in a bank in the city. He intensely disliked Rome, however, and ended up moving back to Trieste in early 1907. His daughter Lucia was born in the summer of the same year. Joyce returned to Dublin in the summer of 1909 with Giorgio, in order to visit his father and work on getting Dubliners published. He visited Nora's family in Galway, meeting them for the first time (a successful visit, to his relief). When preparing to return to Trieste he decided to bring one of his sisters, Eva, back to Trieste with him in order to help Nora look after the home. He would spend only a month back in Trieste before again heading back to Dublin, this time as a representative of some cinema owners in order to set up a regular cinema in Dublin. The venture was successful (but would quickly fall apart in his absence), and he returned to Trieste in January 1910 with another sister in tow, Eileen. While Eva became very homesick for Dublin and returned a few years later, Eileen spent the rest of her life on the continent, eventually marrying Czech bank cashier František Schaurek. Joyce returned to Dublin briefly in the summer of 1912 during his years-long fight with his Dublin publisher, George Roberts, over the publication of Dubliners. His trip was once again fruitless, and on his return he wrote the poem "Gas from a Burner" as a thinly veiled invective against Roberts. It was his last trip to Ireland, and he never again came closer to Dublin than London, despite the many pleas of his father and invitations from fellow Irish writer William Butler Yeats. Joyce came up with many money-making schemes during this period of his life, such as his attempt to become a cinema magnate back in Dublin, as well as a frequently discussed but ultimately abandoned plan to import Irish tweeds into Trieste. His expert borrowing skills saved him from indigence. His income was made up partially from his position at the Berlitz school and from taking on private students. Many of his acquaintances through meeting these private students proved invaluable allies when he faced problems getting out of Austria-Hungary and into Switzerland in 1915. One of his students in Trieste was Ettore Schmitz, better known by the pseudonym Italo Svevo; they met in 1907 and became lasting friends and mutual critics. Schmitz was a Catholic of Jewish origin, and became the primary model for Leopold Bloom; most of the details about the Jewish faith included in Ulysses came from Schmitz in response to Joyce's queries. Joyce would spend most of the rest of his life on the Continent. It was in Trieste that he first began to be plagued by major eye problems, which would result in over a dozen surgeries before his death. In 1915, when Joyce moved to Zürich in order to avoid the complexities (as a British subject) of living in Austria-Hungary during World War I, he met one of his most enduring and important friends, Frank Budgen, whose opinion Joyce constantly sought through the writing of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. It was also here where Ezra Pound brought him to the attention of English feminist and publisher Harriet Shaw Weaver, who would become Joyce's patron, providing him thousands of pounds over the next 25 years and relieving him of the burden of teaching in order to focus on his writing. After the war he returned to Trieste briefly, but found the city had changed, and his relations with his brother (who had been interned in an Austrian prison camp for most of the war due to his pro-Italian politics) were more strained than ever. Joyce headed to Paris in 1920 at an invitation from Ezra Pound, supposedly for a week, but he ended up living there for the next twenty years.

1920–1941: Paris and Zurich

During this era, Joyce traveled frequently to Switzerland for eye surgeries and treatments for Lucia, who, according to the Joyce estate, suffered from schizophrenia. Lucia was even analyzed by Carl Jung at the time, who was of the opinion that her father had schizophrenia after reading Ulysses. Jung noted that she and her father were two people heading to the bottom of a river, except that he was diving and she was falling. In-depth knowledge of Joyce's relationship with his schizophrenic daughter is scant, because the current heir of the Joyce estate, Stephen Joyce, burned thousands of letters between Lucia and her father that he received upon Lucia's death in 1982. Stephen Joyce stated in a letter to the editor of the New York Times that "Regarding the destroyed correspondence, these were all personal letters from Lucia to us. They were written many years after both Nonno and Nonna [i.e. Joyce and Nora Barnacle..] died and did not refer to them. Also destroyed were some postcards and one telegram from Samuel Beckett to Lucia. This was done at Sam's written request."
In Paris, Maria and Eugene Jolas nursed Joyce during his long years of writing Finnegans Wake. Were it not for their unwavering support (along with Harriet Shaw Weaver's constant financial support), there is a good possibility that his books might never have been finished or published. In their now legendary literary magazine "transition," the Jolases published serially various sections of Joyce's novel under the title Work in Progress. He returned to Zurich in late 1940, fleeing the Nazi occupation of France. On 11 January 1941, he underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. While at first improved, he relapsed the following day, and despite several transfusions, fell into a coma. He awoke at 2 a.m. on 13 January 1941, and asked for a nurse to call his wife and son before losing consciousness again. They were still en route when he died 15 minutes later. He is buried in the Fluntern Cemetery within earshot of the lions in the Zurich zoo. Although two senior Irish diplomats were in Switzerland at the time, neither attended Joyce's funeral, and the Irish government subsequently declined Nora's offer to permit the repatriation of Joyce's remains. Nora, whom Joyce had finally married in London in 1931, survived him by 10 years. She is buried now by his side, as is their son Giorgio, who died in 1976. Ellmann reports that when the arrangements for Joyce's burial were being made, a Catholic priest tried to convince Nora that there should be a funeral Mass. Ever loyal, she replied, 'I couldn't do that to him'. Swiss tenor Max Meili sang Addio terra, addio cielo from Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at the funeral service.

Marilyn on Long Island (New York) Reading
James Joyce's Ulysses
by Eve Arnold (1955)

'Can't hear with the waters of. The chit-
tering waters of. Flittering bats, fieldmice
bawk talk. Ho! Are you not gone ahome?
... Dark hawks hear us. Night! Night!.
My ho head halls. 1 feel as heavy as
yonder stone ... Beside the rivering waters
of, hitherandthithering waters of. Night!'
Joyce, Finnegans Wake.


Place is no less important in William Faulkner (1897-1962), whose mythical Yoknapatawpha County reflects Lafayette County in Mississippi where his family had long been established and where he lived nearly all his life. The history and legends of the South, including his own family, furnish the material for most of his books and all of the better ones. Encouraged by Sherwood Anderson (1876—1941), a leading naturalistic writer famous for his stories of Winesburg, Ohio, he began writing fiction while working as a journalist in New Orleans. His first two novels were based respectively on his experiences as a trainee pilot in the Royal (British) Air Force and bohemian life in contemporary New Orleans.
Moving back to his home town of Oxford (Jefferson in the novels), Faulkner began to write the remarkable novels that presented a fictional illustration of the doom-laden history of the South, containing plenty of tragedy and horror but also much humour. Though his literary career was long and productive, Faulkner's fame rests chiefly on the novels written in the late 1920s and early 1930s, persistently experimental in style and earning him recognition as a leader of Modernism (a slightly later development in North America). The Sound and the Fury (1929) has several narrators, one of them mentally disabled. As I Lay Dying (1930) brilliantly employs the stream-of-consciousness technique. Light in August (1932), the immense and complex Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and Intruder in the Dust (1940) consolidated his reputation. Faulkner also wrote short stories, including the classic 'The Bear' which is an episode in Go Down, Moses (1942), and two volumes of poetry. By the time he won the Nobel Prize in 1949, his best work was some years behind him, though his last novel, The Reivers (1962) is genial and entertaining.


William Faulkner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Faulkner (born William Cuthbert Falkner), (September 25, 1897–July 6, 1962) was an American author. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, he was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. His reputation is based on his novels, novellas, and short stories. However, he was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter. Most of Faulkner's works are set in his native state of Mississippi, and he is considered one of the most important "Southern writers," along with Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams. While his work was published regularly starting in the mid 1920s, he was relatively unknown before receiving the Nobel Prize. He is now deemed among the greatest American writers of all time.Faulkner was born William Cuthbert Falkner in New Albany, Mississippi. He was raised in and heavily influenced by the state of Mississippi, as well as by the history and culture of the South as a whole. When he was four years old, his entire family moved to the nearby town of Oxford, where he lived on and off for the rest of his life. Oxford is the model for the town of "Jefferson" in his fiction, and Lafayette County, Mississippi which contains the town of Oxford, the model for his fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Faulkner's great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, was an important figure in northern Mississippi who served as a colonel in the Confederate Army, founded a railroad, and gave his name to the town of Falkner in nearby Tippah County. He also wrote several novels and other works, establishing a literary tradition in the family. Colonel Falkner served as the model for Colonel John Sartoris in his great-grandson's writing. The older Falkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which they lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of blacks and whites, his characterization of Southern characters and timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the façades of good old boys and simpletons. After being snubbed by the United States Army because of his height, (he was 5' 5½"), Faulkner first joined the Canadian and then the British Royal Air Force, yet did not see any World War I wartime action. The definitive reason for Faulkner's change in the spelling of his last name is still unknown. Faulkner himself may have made the change in 1918 upon joining the Air Force or, according to one story, that a careless typesetter made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of Faulkner's first book and the author was asked about it, he supposedly replied, "Either way suits me."Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was living in New Orleans in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay, after being influenced by Sherwood Anderson to try fiction. The small house at 624 Pirate's Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral, is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, and also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia from 1957 until his death at Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi of a heart attack at the age of 64.

In the early 1940s, Howard Hawks invited Faulkner to come to Hollywood to become a screenwriter for the films Hawks was directing. Faulkner happily accepted because he badly needed the money, and Hollywood paid well. Thus Faulkner contributed to the scripts for the films Hawks made from Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. Faulkner became good friends with director Howard Hawks, the screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides, and the actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. An apocryphal story regarding Faulkner during his Hollywood years found him with a case of writer's block at the studio. He told Hawks he was having a hard time concentrating and would like to write at home. Hawks was agreeable, and Faulkner left. Several days passed, with no word from the writer. Hawks telephoned Faulkner's hotel and found that Faulkner had checked out several days earlier. It seems Faulkner had spoken quite literally, and had returned home to Mississippi to finish the screenplay. Faulkner's Hollywood experience is fictionalized in the Joel and Ethan Coen 1991 film Barton Fink, whose supporting character, W.P. Mayhew, is intended as a composite of Faulkner and his Lost Generation peer, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Faulkner married Estelle Oldham in June 1929 at College Hill Presbyterian Church just outside of Oxford, Mississippi. They honeymooned on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Pascagoula, then returned to Oxford, first living with relatives while they searched for a home of their own to purchase. In 1930 Faulkner purchased the antebellum home Rowan Oak, known at that time as "The Bailey Place". He and his family lived there until his daughter Jill, after her mother's death, sold the property to the University of Mississippi in 1972. The house and furnishings are maintained much as they were in Faulkner's day. Faulkner's scribblings are still preserved on the wall there, including the day-by-day outline covering an entire week that he wrote out on the walls of his small study to help him keep track of the plot twists in the novel A Fable. Faulkner accomplished what he did despite a lifelong serious drinking problem. As he stated on several occasions, and as was witnessed by members of his family, the press, and friends at various periods over the course of his career, he did not drink while writing, nor did he believe that alcohol helped to fuel the creative process. It is now widely believed that Faulkner used alcohol as an "escape valve" from the day-to-day pressures of his regular life, including his financial straits, rather than the more romantic vision of a brilliant writer who needed alcohol to pursue his craft[citation needed]. Faulkner is known to have had two extramarital affairs. One was with Howard Hawks's secretary and script-girl, Meta Carpenter. The other, lasting from 1949 to 1953, was with a young writer, Joan Williams, who considered him her mentor. She made her relationship with Faulkner the subject of her 1971 novel The Wintering.
From the early 1920s to the outbreak of WWII, when Faulkner left for Hollywood, he published 13 novels and numerous short stories, the body of work that grounds his reputation and for which he was awarded Nobel Prize at the early age of 52. This prodigious output, mainly driven by an obscure writer's need for money, includes his most celebrated novels such as The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). Faulkner was also a prolific writer of short stories. His first short story collection, These 13 (1932), includes many of his most acclaimed (and most frequently anthologized) stories, including "A Rose for Emily," "Red Leaves", "That Evening Sun," and "Dry September." Faulkner set many of his short stories and novels in Yoknapatawpha County—based on, and nearly geographically identical to, Lafayette County, of which his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi is the county seat. Three novels, "The Hamlet", "The Town" and "The Mansion", known collectively as the "Snopes Trilogy" document the town of Jefferson and its environs as an extended family headed by Flem Snopes insinuates itself into the lives and psyches of the general populace. It is a stage wherein rapaciousness and decay come to the fore in a world where such realities were always present, but never so compartmentalized and well defined; their sources never so easily identifiable. Additional works include Sanctuary (1931), a sensationalist "pulp fiction"-styled novel, characterized by André Malraux as "the intrusion of Greek tragedy into the detective story." Its themes of evil and corruption, bearing Southern Gothic tones, resonate to this day. Requiem for a Nun (1951), a play/novel sequel to Sanctuary, is the only play that Faulkner published, except for his The Marionettes, which he essentially self-published -- in a few hand-written copies -- as a young man. Faulkner is known for an experimental style with meticulous attention to diction and cadence. In contrast to the minimalist understatement of his peer Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner made frequent use of "stream of consciousness" in his writing, and wrote often highly emotional, subtle, cerebral, complex, and sometimes Gothic or grotesque stories of a wide variety of characters—ranging from former slaves or descendents of slaves, to poor white, agrarian, or working-class Southerners, to Southern aristocrats. In an interview with The Paris Review in 1956, Faulkner remarked, "Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him". Another esteemed Southern writer, Flannery O'Connor, stated that, "The presence alone of Faulkner in our midst makes a great difference in what the writer can and cannot permit himself to do. Nobody wants his mule and wagon stalled on the same track the Dixie Limited is roaring down." Faulkner also wrote two volumes of poetry which were published in small printings, The Marble Faun (1924) and A Green Bough (1933), and a collection of crime-fiction short stories, Knight's Gambit.

Faulkner received the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel". He donated a portion of his Nobel winnings "to establish a fund to support and encourage new fiction writers", eventually resulting in the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He donated another portion to a local Oxford bank to establish an account to provide scholarship funds to help educate African-American education majors at nearby Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Faulkner won two Pulitzer Prizes for what are considered as his "minor" novels: his 1954 novel A Fable, which took the Pulitzer in 1955, and the 1962 novel, The Reivers, which was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer in 1963. He also won two National Book Awards, first for his Collected Stories in 1951 and once again for his novel A Fable in 1955. In 1946, Faulkner was one of three finalists for the first Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Award. He came in second to Manly Wade Wellman.



Bloomsbury is an area of west London containing the University, the British Museum (and Library), many publishers, bookshops, and residential Georgian streets and squares which, in the early years of the century, were home to many mutually acquainted literary and artistic people. 'Bloomsbury', in the sense of an intellectual social circle, extended much further. It represented the essence of the post-Victorian, modernist culture, extending from literature and art to sex, family life and international relations. Bloomsbury in this sense had a profound effect on Britain, although its truly international figures were few, the most notable being the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and the novelist Virginia Woolf. Today, Bloomsbury has become a cult, and an apparently inexhaustible subject of books. Tourists have worn a path along the bank of the River Ouse in Sussex to the spot where Virginia Woolf committed suicide in 1941.



Virginia Woolf
(1882-1941) came from a prominent literary family. Her father, Leslie Stephen, was the originator of the (British) Dictionary of National Biography, and her mother was a Duckworth, the publishing family Her sister Vanessa Bell was, like her husband Clive, an artist, who designed jackets for the Hogarth Press, set up by Virginia and her husband Leonard in 1917. Virginia, a woman of ethereal beauty and, like so many of the Bloomsbury group, bisexual, married Leonard, social reformer and author, in 1912.
Woolf, whose life was punctuated by nervous breakdowns, was an experimental novelist often compared with [ovce. Besides her own work, she was a stimulating commentator in her luminously intelligent essays and in her feminist criticism, for example, A Room of One's Own, 1929. Her early novels, The Voyage Out (1915, but written earlier) and Night and Day (1919) were relatively realistic. The interval between them was largely occupied with the Hogarth Press, which published Katharine Mansfield and T. S. Eliot, among others.
Her reputation as England's leading modernist author was established in the 1920s by Jacob's Room (1922), based on the life and death of a beloved brother; Mrs Dalloway (1925), a classic using the stream-of-conscious-ness technique; To the Lighthouse (1927), employing the same technique to explore male-female conflict and based on her parents; and The Waves (1931), her most boldly experimental (and difficult) novel, and considered by some critics to be her masterpiece. The eponymous Orlando (1928), is alternatively male and female through four centuries. Something of a departure, it was her most successful novel and dedicated to Vita Sackville West, a woman of shared affinities. Her last novel Between the Acts (1941) returns to the stream-of-consciousness technique and celebrates traditional English values in the shadow of war.


Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell

Virginia Woolf




Vanessa Bell

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Adeline) Virginia Woolf (née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English novelist and essayist, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929) with its famous dictum, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
Born Adeline Virginia Stephen in London to Sir Leslie Stephen, considered the father of the Bloomsbury Group, and Julia Prinsep Stephen (born Jackson) (1846–1895), she was educated by her parents in their literate and well-connected household at 22 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington. Virginia's parents had each been married previously, and their spouses had died. Consequently, the household contained the children of three marriages: Julia's children with her first husband Herbert Duckworth: George Duckworth (1868–1934); Stella Duckworth (1869–1897); and Gerald Duckworth (1870–1937). Laura Makepeace Stephen (1870–1945), Leslie's daughter with Minny Thackeray, who was declared mentally disabled and lived with them until she was institutionalised in 1891 to the end of her life; and Leslie and Julia's children: Vanessa Stephen (1879–1961); Thoby Stephen (1880–1906); Virginia; and Adrian Stephen (1883–1948). Sir Leslie Stephen's eminence as an editor, critic, and biographer, and his connection to William Thackeray (he was the widower of Thackeray's eldest daughter) meant that Woolf was raised in an environment filled with the influences of Victorian literary society. Henry James, George Eliot, George Henry Lewes, Julia Margaret Cameron (an aunt of Julia Stephen), and James Russell Lowell, who was made Virginia's godfather, were among the visitors to the house. Julia Stephen was equally well connected. Descended from an attendant of Marie Antoinette, she came from a family of renowned beauties who left their mark on Victorian society as models for Pre-Raphaelite artists and early photographers. Supplementing these influences was the immense library at 22 Hyde Park Gate, from which Virginia (unlike her brothers, who were formally educated) was taught the classics and English literature. According to her memoirs her most vivid childhood memories, however, were not of London but of St Ives in Cornwall, where the family spent every summer until 1895. The family stayed in their home called the Talland House, which looked out over the Porthminster Bay. Memories of the family holidays and impressions of the landscape, especially the Godrevy Lighthouse, informed the fiction she wrote in later years, notably To the Lighthouse. She also based the summer home in Scotland after the Talland House and the Ramsay family after her own family. The sudden death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was 13, and that of her half sister Stella two years later, led to the first of Virginia's several nervous breakdowns. The death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse and she was briefly institutionalized. Her breakdowns and subsequent recurring depressive periods, modern scholars have claimed, were also induced by the sexual abuse she and Vanessa were subject to by their half-brothers George and Gerald (which Woolf recalls in her autobiographical essays A Sketch of the Past and 22 Hyde Park Gate). Throughout her life, Woolf was plagued by drastic mood swings.
Though these recurring mental breakdowns greatly affected her social functioning, her literary abilities remained intact. Modern diagnostic techniques have led to a posthumous diagnosis of bipolar disorder, an illness which coloured her work, relationships, and life, and eventually led to her suicide. Following the death of her father in 1904 and her second serious nervous breakdown, Virginia, Vanessa, and Adrian sold 22 Hyde Park Gate, and bought a house at 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury. Following studies at King's College London, Woolf came to know Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Duncan Grant, and Leonard Woolf, who together formed the nucleus of the intellectual circle known as the Bloomsbury Group which came to notorious fame in 1910 with the Dreadnought hoax Virginia Woolf participated in, dressed as a male Abyssinian royalty. Virginia Stephen married writer Leonard Woolf in 1912, referring to him during their engagement as a "penniless Jew." The couple shared a close bond, and in 1937 Woolf wrote in her diary "Love-making — after 25 years can’t be attained by my unattractive countenance ... you see it is enormous pleasure being wanted, a pleasure that I have never felt." They also collaborated professionally, in 1917 founding the Hogarth Press, which subsequently published most of Woolf's work. The ethos of Bloomsbury discouraged sexual exclusivity, and in 1922, Woolf met Vita Sackville-West. After a tentative start, they began a relationship that lasted through most of the 1920s. In 1928, Woolf presented Sackville-West with Orlando, a fantastical biography in which the eponymous hero's life spans three centuries and both genders. It has been called by Nigel Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West's son, "the longest and most charming love letter in literature." After their affair ended, the two women remained friends until Woolf's death. After completing the manuscript of her last (posthumously published) novel Between the Acts, Woolf fell victim to a depression similar to that which she had earlier experienced. The war, the Luftwaffe's destruction of her London homes, as well as the cool reception given to her biography of her late friend Roger Fry, worsened her condition until she was unable to work.On 28 March 1941, after having a nervous breakdown, Woolf drowned herself by weighing her pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home. Her body was not found until April 18. Her husband buried her cremated remains under a tree in the garden of their house in Rodmell, Sussex. In her last note to her husband she wrote:

"I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier 'til this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been. "

Woolf began writing professionally in 1905, initially for the Times Literary Supplement with a journalistic piece about Haworth, home of the Brontë family.[5] Her first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 by her half-brother's imprint, Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd. This novel was originally entitled Melymbrosia, but Woolf repeatedly changed the draft. An earlier version of The Voyage Out has been reconstructed by Woolf scholar Louise DeSalvo and is now available to the public under the intended title. DeSalvo argues that many of the changes Woolf made in the text were in response to changes in her own life.Woolf went on to publish novels and essays as a public intellectual to both critical and popular success. Much of her work was self-published through the Hogarth Press. She has been hailed as one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century and one of the foremost Modernists, though she disdained some artists in this category. Woolf is considered one of the greatest innovators in the English language. In her works she experimented with stream-of-consciousness and the underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters. Woolf's reputation declined sharply after World War II, but her eminence was re-established with the surge of Feminist criticism in the 1970s. After a few more ideologically based altercations, not least caused by claims that Woolf was anti-Semitic and a snob, it seems that a critical consensus has been reached regarding her stature as a novelist. Her work was criticised for epitomizing the narrow world of the upper-middle class English intelligentsia. Some critics judged it to be lacking in universality and depth, without the power to communicate anything of emotional or ethical relevance to the disillusioned common reader, weary of the 1920s aesthetes. She was also criticized by some as an anti-Semite, despite her marriage to a Jewish man. She wrote in her diary, "I do not like the Jewish voice; I do not like the Jewish laugh." However, in a 1930 letter to Ethel Smyth quoted in Nigel Nicolson's biography,Virginia Woolf, she recollects her boasts of Leonard's Jewishness confirming her snobbish tendencies, "How I hated marrying a Jew- What a snob I was, for they have immense vitality."Virginia Woolf's peculiarities as a fiction writer have tended to obscure her central strength: Woolf is arguably the major lyrical novelist in the English language. Her novels are highly experimental: a narrative, frequently uneventful and commonplace, is refracted—and sometimes almost dissolved—in the characters' receptive consciousness. Intense lyricism and stylistic virtuosity fuse to create a world overabundant with auditory and visual impressions. The intensity of Virginia Woolf's poetic vision elevates the ordinary, sometimes banal settings - often wartime environments - of most of her novels. For example, Mrs Dalloway (1925) centres on the efforts of Clarissa Dalloway, a middle-aged society woman, to organize a party, even as her life is paralleled with that of Septimus Warren Smith, a working-class veteran who has returned from the First World War bearing deep psychological scars. To the Lighthouse (1927) is set on two days ten years apart. The plot centers around the Ramsay family's anticipation of and reflection upon a visit to a lighthouse and the connected familial tensions. One of the primary themes of the novel is the struggle in the creative process that beset painter Lily Briscoe while she struggles to paint in the midst of the family drama. The novel is also a meditation upon the lives of a nation's inhabitants in the midst of war, and of the people left behind. The Waves (1931) presents a group of six friends whose reflections, which are closer to recitatives than to interior monologues proper, create a wave-like atmosphere that is more akin to a prose poem than to a plot-centered novel. Her last work, Between the Acts (1941) sums up and magnifies Woolf's chief preoccupations: the transformation of life through art, sexual ambivalence, and meditation on the themes of flux of time and life, presented simultaneously as corrosion and rejuvenation - all set in a highly imaginative and symbolic narrative encompassing almost all of English history. While nowhere near a simple recapitulation of the coterie's ideals, Woolf's work can be understood as consistently in dialogue with Bloomsbury, particularly its tendency (informed by G.E. Moore, among others) towards doctrinaire rationalism.


Technically, E. M. Forster (1879-1970) was a more traditional novelist. The novel, he famously said, 'tells a story'. He established his reputation with Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room With a View (1907) and, conclusively, with Howard's End (1910), a brilliant encapsulation of contemporary middle-class mores, which ends with Forster's famous motto, 'Only Connect ... ', signifying his commitment to sympathetic relationships as the foundation of a civilized existence. During the rest of his life he wrote only two more novels: Maurice (1971), celebrating a homosexual relationship, which he declined to publish during his lifetime, and his most famous, A Passage to India (1924), the fruit of two visits to the subcontinent that cemented his hatred of imperialism. Sexual deviance, then highly improper, no doubt contributed to Forster's humane liberalism (he was the first president of the National Council for Civil Liberties). Besides his few but intensely evocative novels, he wrote short stories and fine and accessible commentaries on English literature, notably in Aspects of the Novel (1927).


As the son of a Nottingham miner, the connections of D. H. Lawrence (1883-1930) with Bloomsbury were remote, though when living in London he became friendly with several of the group, including the critic David Garnett, the new Zealand short-story writer Katherine Mansfield and the philosopher Bertrand Russell. He was a born — and prolific - writer, of poetry, criticism, travel, plays, essays and short stories, as well as novels. His first novel, The White Peacock (1911), was published thanks to Ford Madox Ford, who had been impressed by his early poetry. Sons and Lovers (1914), based on his childhood, exemplified the intensity of Lawrence's passions, but The Rainbow (1915), one of his best, ran into trouble through alleged obscenity and for some time he was unable to find a publisher for Women in Love (privately printed 1920).
In 1912, Lawrence ran off with Frieda, the German wife of a Nottingham professor, and from 1919 they lived a peripatetic life. Australia provided the setting for Kangaroo (1923) and Mexico for The Plumed Serpent (1926). Although the real subject of his last novel is the destructive effects of industrialism on human consciousness, Lawrence's frank treatment of sex prevented publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover until 30 years after his death from tuberculosis at the age of 44.


Poetry of the modern period, as one literary historian put it, 'has not escaped the atmosphere of controversy.' Few groups of poets have endured such censure as the English 'Georgians' (1920s), seen as artificial and shallow. French symbolism remained an important influence, especially in Germany, where it stimulated one of the finest lyric poets of the century, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) and the Austrian Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929), while in France Surrealism, a term coined by the 'evangelist of Modernism', Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), aimed, under the vigorous leadership of Andre Breton (1896-1966), to overturn all accepted doctrine in poetry and the arts. Other influential movements included German Expressionism and Italian Futurism. The last note of English Romanticism was sounded by A. E. Housman (1859-1936), and a powerful influence was exercised, not for the best, by the highly original work of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), almost unknown before 1918. The exotic appeal of the East surfaced in James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915); Walter de la Mare (1973-1956), champion anthologist, wrote technically distinguished lyrics untouched by modern fashion. In short, variety, like controversy, was not lacking. Nevertheless, poetry in English in the first half of the 20th century was largely dominated by an Irishman, Yeats, and an American, Eliot.


The First World War had a dramatic effect on literature. All the great works of Modernism, if not actually concerned with the War, are affected by it. The term 'war poets' signifies a disparate group in whose work the War plays the major part, often because, sadly, the poet himself did not survive it.
Rupert Brooke, a young Georgian, was probably the most popular with - civilian -readers, though not with critics. He died early (April 1915), before the hideous experience of the trenches had obliterated the curiously exalted spirit in which, at the outset, war was regarded as a liberating, cleansing experience.Julian Grenfell (fatally wounded May 1915) also died before disillusion led Edmund Blunden (a survivor) to the realisation that only 'the War had won, and would go on winning'. Other survivors included Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, a major though idiosyncratic writer, and Ivor Gurney. Among non-survivors were Edward Thomas, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen.



Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and educated at Harvard, where he wrote some of the satirical poems in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1917), T(homas) S(tearns) Eliot (1888-1965) left the U.S.A. in 1914 and settled in London, eventually becoming an influential publisher at Faber and Faber. Like many others, he was encouraged by Ezra Pound, to whom The Waste Land (1922) is dedicated. Among other important influences were Dante, the Elizabethans Jacobeans, especially Donne, and Christian mystics (Eliot joined the Anglican Church in 1927). The Waste Land, the most influential (though not the most read) poem of the century, is a pessimistic view of the desolation of European civilization after the war. In five books, mainly in free verse, it is uncompromisingly intellectual, full of complex and learned references which are not much clarified by Eliot's notes (for further elucidation of a transcription from the Sanskrit Upanishads, the reader is advised to consult a scholarly work in German). Eliot's poetic drama. 'Sweeney Agonistes' (published in the 1936 Collected Poems, but written ten years earlier) turned him towards the theatre. His most successful verse play, often revived, was Murder in the Cathedral (1935), about the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and first staged there. The Cocktail Party (1950) was also a popular and critical success. The work that some critics think challenges The Waste Land as Eliot's masterpiece is the sequence Four Quartets (1943), 'Burnt Norton', 'East Coker', "The Dry Salvages' and 'Little Gidding'. It is suffused with Anglo-Catholic mysticism, dwells on time, memory and consciousness and offers some hope of reconciliation that is hardly discernible in The Waste Land. Eliot also wrote several volumes of profound and original social and literary criticism, not forgetting humorous verses for children about cats.

T. S. Eliot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM (26 September 1888–4 January 1965), was a poet, dramatist, and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. He wrote the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent". Eliot was born in the United States, moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at age 25), and became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39. Of his nationality and its role in his work, T.S. Eliot said: "[My poetry] wouldn’t be what it is if I’d been born in England, and it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d stayed in America. It’s a combination of things. But in its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America."
treasurer of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company in St. Louis; his mother, born Charlotte Champe Stearns (1843–1929), wrote poems and was also a social worker. Eliot was the last of six surviving children; his parents were both 44 years old when he was born. His four sisters were between eleven and nineteen years older than he; his brother was eight years older. Known to family and friends as Tom, he was the namesake of his maternal grandfather, Thomas Stearns. From 1898 to 1905, Eliot was a day student at Smith Academy, a preparatory school for Washington University. At the academy, Eliot studied Latin, Greek, French, and German. Upon graduation, he could have gone to Harvard University, but his parents sent him to Milton Academy (in Milton, Massachusetts, near Boston) for a preparatory year. There he met Scofield Thayer, who would later publish The Waste Land. He studied at Harvard, where he earned a B.A., from 1906 to 1909. During this time, he read Arthur Symons's The Symbolist Movement in Literature, where, by his own admission, he first came across Laforgue, Rimbaud, and Verlaine. The Harvard Advocate published some of his poems, and he became lifelong friends with Conrad Aiken. The next year, he earned a master's degree at Harvard. In the 1910–1911 school year, Eliot lived in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne and touring the continent. Returning to Harvard in 1911 as a doctoral student in philosophy, Eliot studied the writings of F. H. Bradley, Buddhism and Indic philology (learning Sanskrit and Pāli to read some of the religious texts). He was awarded a scholarship to attend Merton College, Oxford, in 1914, and, before settling there, he visited Marburg, Germany, where he planned to take a summer program in philosophy. When the First World War broke out, however, he went to London and then to Oxford. In a letter to Aiken late in December 1914, Eliot, aged 26, wrote "I am very dependent upon women (I mean female society)" and then added a complaint that he was still a virgin. Less than four months later, he was introduced by Thayer, then also at Oxford, to Cambridge governess Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Eliot was not happy at Merton and declined a second year there. Instead, on 26 June 1915, he married Vivienne in a register office. After a short visit, alone, to the U. S. to see his family, he returned to London and took a few teaching jobs such as lecturing at Birkbeck College, University of London. He continued to work on his dissertation and, in the spring of 1916, sent it to Harvard, which accepted it. Because he did not appear in person to defend his dissertation, however, he was not awarded his PhD. (In 1964, the dissertation
was published as Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley.) During Eliot's university career, he studied with George Santayana, Irving Babbitt, Henri Bergson, C. R. Lanman, Josiah Royce, Bertrand Russell, and Harold Joachim. Bertrand Russell took an interest in Vivien (the spelling she preferred) while the newlyweds stayed in his flat. Some scholars have suggested that Vivien and Russell had an affair , but these allegations have never been confirmed. Eliot, in a private paper, written in his sixties, confessed: "I came to persuade myself that I was in love with Vivienne simply because I wanted to burn my boats and commit myself to staying in England. And she persuaded herself (also under the influence of Pound) that she would save the poet by keeping him in England. To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land."After leaving Merton, Eliot worked as a schoolteacher, most notably at Highgate School where he taught the young John Betjeman, and later at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. To earn extra money, he wrote book reviews and lectured at evening extension courses. In 1917, he took a position at Lloyds Bank in London, where he worked on foreign accounts. In August 1920, Eliot met James Joyce on a trip to Paris, accompanied by Wyndham Lewis. After the meeting, Eliot said he found Joyce arrogant (Joyce doubted Eliot's ability as a poet at the time), but the two soon became friends with Eliot visiting Joyce whenever he was in Paris. In 1925, Eliot left Lloyds to join the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer (later Faber and Faber), where he remained for the rest of his career, becoming a director of the firm. In 1927, Eliot took two important steps in his self-definition. On June 29 he converted to Anglicanism and in November he dropped his American citizenship and became a British subject. In 1928, Eliot summarised his beliefs when he wrote in the preface to his book, For Lancelot Andrewes that "the general point of view [of the book's essays] may be described as classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and anglo-catholic in religion." By 1932, Eliot had been contemplating a separation from his wife for some time. When Harvard University offered him the Charles Eliot Norton professorship for the 1932-1933 academic year, he accepted, leaving Vivien in England. Upon his return in 1933, Eliot officially separated from Vivien. He avoided all but one meeting with his wife between his leaving for America in 1932 and her death in 1947. (Vivien died at Northumberland House, a mental hospital north of London, where she was committed in 1938, without ever having been visited by Eliot, who was still her husband.) From 1946 to 1957, Eliot shared a flat with his friend, John Davy Hayward, who gathered and archived Eliot's papers and styled himself Keeper of the Eliot Archive. He also collected Eliot's pre-"Prufrock" verse, commercially published after Eliot's death as Poems Written in Early Youth. When Eliot and Hayward separated their household in 1957, Hayward retained his collection of Eliot's papers, which he bequeathed to King's College, Cambridge in 1965. Eliot's second marriage was happy but short. On January 10, 1957, he married Esmé Valerie Fletcher, to whom he was introduced by Collin Brooks. In sharp contrast to his first marriage, Eliot knew Miss Fletcher well, as she had been his secretary at Faber and Faber since August 1949. Like his marriage to Vivien, the wedding was kept a secret to preserve his privacy. The ceremony was held in a church at 6.15 a.m. with virtually no one other than his wife's parents in attendance. Valerie was 37 years younger than her husband. Since Eliot's death she has dedicated her time to preserving his legacy; she has edited and annotated The Letters of T. S. Eliot and a facsimile of the draft of The Waste Land.
Eliot died of emphysema in London on January 4, 1965. For many years, he had health problems owing to his heavy smoking, often being laid low with bronchitis or tachycardia. His body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and, according to Eliot's wishes, the ashes taken to St Michael's Church in East Coker, the village from which Eliot's ancestors emigrated to America. There, a simple wall plaque commemorates him with a quote from his poem, "East Coker": "In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning." On the second anniversary of his death, a large stone placed on the floor of Poets' Corner in London's Westminster Abbey was dedicated to Eliot. This commemoration contains his name, an indication that he had received the Order of Merit, dates, and a quotation from his poem, "Little Gidding": "the communication / Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond / the language of the living."

Rainer Maria Rilke

see also (in Russian): Marina Tsvetaeva "Rainer Maria Rilke"


Rainer Maria Rilke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rainer Maria Rilke (also Rainer Maria von Rilke) (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century poets. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets. He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two most famous verse sequences are the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.


He was born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke in Prague, Bohemia (then within Austria-Hungary, now the Czech Republic). His childhood and youth in Prague were sorrowful. His father, Josef Rilke (1838-1906), became a railway official after an unsuccessful military career. His mother, Sophie ("Phia") Entz (1851-1931), came from a well-to-do Prague family, the Entz-Kinzelbergers, who lived in a palace on the Herrengasse (Panská) 8, where René also spent much of his early years. Despite his mother's Jewish background, Rilke was raised Roman Catholic[citation needed]. The relationship between Phia and her only son was encumbered by her prolonged mourning for her elder daughter who was lost after only a week of life. In fact, during Rilke's early years Phia acted as if she sought to recover the lost girl through the boy by dressing him in girl's clothing when he was young, and making him act like a girl, etc.. The parents' marriage fell apart in 1884. His parents pressured the poetically and artistically gifted youth into entering a military academy, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left due to illness. From 1892 to 1895 he was tutored for the university entrance exam, which he passed in 1895. In 1895 and 1896, he studied literature, art history, and philosophy in Prague and Munich.

In 1897 in Munich, Rainer Maria Rilke met and fell in love with the widely traveled intellectual and lady of letters Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937). (Rilke changed his first name from "René" to the more masculine Rainer at Lou's urging.) His intense relationship with this married woman, with whom he undertook two extensive trips to Russia, lasted until 1900. But even after their separation, Lou continued to be Rilke's most important confidante until the end of his life. Having trained from 1912 to 1913 as a psychoanalyst with Sigmund Freud, she shared her knowledge of psychoanalysis with Rilke. In 1898, Rilke undertook a journey lasting several weeks to Italy. In 1899, he traveled with Lou and her husband, Friedrich Andreas, to Moscow where he met the novelist Leo Tolstoy. Between May and August 1900, a second journey to Russia, accompanied only by Lou, again took him to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where he met the family of Boris Pasternak and Spiridon Drozhzhin, a peasant poet. Later, "Rilke called two places his home: Bohemia and Russia".In autumn 1900, Rilke stayed at the artists' colony at Worpswede, where his portrait was painted by the proto-expressionist Paula Modersohn-Becker (illus. above). It was here that he got to know the sculptress Clara Westhoff (1878-1954), whom he married the following spring. Their daughter Ruth (1901-1972) was born in December 1901. However, Rilke was not one for a middle-class family life; in the summer of 1902, Rilke left home and traveled to Paris to write a monograph on the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Still, the relationship between Rilke and Clara Westhoff continued for the rest of his life.

At first, Rilke had a difficult time in Paris, an experience that he called on in the first part of his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. At the same time, his encounter with modernism was very stimulating: Rilke became deeply involved in the sculpture of Rodin, and then with the work of Paul Cézanne. For a time he acted as Rodin's amanuensis, eventually writing a long essay on Rodin and his work. Rodin taught him the value of objective observation, which led to Rilke's Dinggedichten ("thing-poems"), a famous example of which is "Der Panther" ("The Panther"). During these years, Paris increasingly became the writer's main residence. The most important works of the Paris period were Neue Gedichte (New Poems) (1907), Der Neuen Gedichte Anderer Teil (Another Part of the New Poems) (1908), the two "Requiem" poems (1909), and the novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, started in 1904 and completed in January 1910.

Between October 1911 and May 1912, Rilke stayed at the Castle Duino, near Trieste, home of Countess Marie of Thurn and Taxis. There, in 1912, he began the poem cycle called the Duino Elegies, which would remain unfinished for a decade due to a long-lasting creativity crisis. The outbreak of World War I surprised Rilke during a stay in Germany. He was unable to return to Paris, where his property was confiscated and auctioned. He spent the greater part of the war in Munich. From 1914 to 1916 he had a turbulent affair with the painter Lou Albert-Lasard. Rilke was called up at the beginning of 1916, and he had to undertake basic training in Vienna. Influential friends interceded on his behalf, and he was transferred to the War Records Office and discharged from the military on 9 June 1916. He spent the subsequent time once again in Munich, interrupted by a stay on Hertha Koenig's Gut Bockel in Westphalia. The traumatic experience of military service, a reminder of the horrors of the military academy, almost completely silenced him as a poet.

On 11 June 1919, Rilke traveled from Munich to Switzerland. The outward motive was an invitation to lecture in Zürich, but the real reason was the wish to escape the post-war chaos and take up once again his work on the Duino Elegies. The search for a suitable and affordable place to live proved to be very difficult. Among other places, Rilke lived in Soglio, Locarno, and Berg am Irchel. Only in the summer of 1921 was he able to find a permanent residence in the Chateau de Muzot in the commune of Veyras, close to Sierre in Valais. In May 1922, Rilke's patron Werner Reinhart purchased the building so that Rilke could live there rent-free. In an intense creative period, Rilke completed the Duino Elegies within several weeks in February 1922. Before and after, he wrote both parts of the poem cycle Sonnets to Orpheus containing 55 entire sonnets. Rilke afterwards called it "the great giving."[citation needed] Both works together constitute the high points of Rilke's work. From 1923 on, Rilke increasingly had to struggle with health problems that necessitated many long stays at a sanatorium in Territet, near Montreux, on Lake Geneva. His long stay in Paris between January and August 1925 was an attempt to escape his illness through a change in location and living conditions. Despite this, numerous important individual poems appeared in the years 1923-1926 (including Gong and Mausoleum), as well as a comprehensive lyrical work in French. Only shortly before his death was Rilke's illness diagnosed as leukemia. The poet died on 29 December 1926 in the Valmont Sanatorium in Switzerland, and was laid to rest on 2 January 1927 in the Raron cemetery to the west of Visp. Rilke had believed that his death would be from blood poisoning as the result of having been pricked by a rose thorn. He chose his own epitaph as:

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel

Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy
of being No-one's sleep, under so
many lids.

Rilke's literary style
Rilke's work was highly influenced by his education and knowledge of classic authors. Ancient gods Apollo, Hermes and hero Orpheus can be found often as motifs in his poems and are depicted in new ways and original interpretations (e. g. story of Eurydice, apathetic and dazed by death, not even recognising her lover Orpheus, who descended to hell for her, in the poem Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes). Other characteristic figures in Rilke's poems are angels, roses and a character of a poet and his creative work. Rilke often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions (e. g. as in his epitaph, rose is represented as a symbol of sleep - rose petals remind of closed eye lids, and of awakened senses - colour, scent and fragility of a rose). Rilke's 1898 poem, "Visions of Christ" depicted Mary Magdalene as the mother to Jesus' child.

Quoting Susan Haskins:

"It was Rilke's explicit belief that Christ was not divine, was entirely human, and deified only on Calvary, expressed in an unpublished poem of 1893, and referred to in other poems of the same period, which allowed him to portray Christ's love for Mary Magdalene, though remarkable, as entirely human."


Fall Day

Lord, it is time. This was a very big summer.

Lay your shadows over the sundial,

and let the winds loose on the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full;

give them two more sunny days,

urge them on to fulfillment and throw

the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who has no house now, will never build one.

Whoever is alone now, will long remain so,

Will watch, read, write long letters

and will wander in the streets, here and there

restlessly, when the leaves blow.

What fields are fragrant as your hands?

You feel how external fragrance stands

Upon your stronger resistance.

Stars stand in images above.

Give me your mouth to soften, love;

Ah, your hair is all in idleness.

See, I want to surround you with yourself

And the faded expectation lift

From the edges of your eyebrows;

I want, as with inner eyelids sheer,

To close for you all places which appear

By my tender caresses now.


Tanslated J.B. Leishman

Rainer Maria Rilke - Rainer Maria Rilke "Elegie fur Marina" -  Marina Tsvetaeva


Marina Tsvetaeva

see also (in Russian):

Marina Tsvetaeva


Marina Tsvetaeva

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (Marina Ivanovna Cvetaeva) (26 September/8 October 1892 – 31 August 1941) was a Russian poet and writer.

Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow. She was one of the most original of the Russian 20th-century poets. Her work was not looked kindly upon by Stalin and the Bolshevik régime; her literary rehabilitation only began in the 1960s. Tsvetaeva's poetry arose from her own deeply convoluted personality, her eccentricity and tightly disciplined use of language. Among her themes were female sexuality, and the tension in women's private emotions; she bridges the mutually contradictory schools of Acmeism and symbolism.
Much of Tsvetaeva's poetry has its roots in the depths of her displaced and disturbed childhood. Her father was Ivan Vladimirovich Tsvetaev, a professor of art history at the University of Moscow, who later founded the Alexander III Museum, which is now known as the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Tsvetaeva's mother, Maria Alexandrovna Meyn, was Ivan's second wife, a highly literate woman. She was also a volatile (and a frustrated) concert pianist, with some Polish ancestry on her mother's side. (This latter fact was to play on Marina's imagination, and to cause her to identify herself with the Polish aristocracy.) Marina had two half-siblings, Valeria and Andrei, who were the children of Ivan's deceased first wife, Varvara Dmitrievna Ilovaisky (daughter of the historian Dmitry Ilovaisky). Her only full sister, Anastasia, was born in 1894. Quarrels among the children were frequent and occasionally violent. There was considerable tension between Tsvetaeva's mother and Varvara's children, and Tsvetaeva's father maintained close contact with Varvara's family. Maria favoured Anastasia over Marina. Tsvetaeva's father was kind, but deeply wrapped up in his studies and distant from his family. He was also still deeply in love with his first wife; he would never get over her. Maria, for her part, had had a tragic love affair before her marriage, from which she never recovered. Maria Alexandrovna particularly disapproved of Marina's poetic inclination. She wished her daughter to become a pianist and thought her poetry was poor. In 1902, Tsvetaeva's mother contracted tuberculosis. Because it was believed that a change in climate could help cure the disease, the family travelled abroad until shortly before her death in 1906. They lived for a while by the sea at Nervi, near Genoa. There, away from the rigid constraints of a bourgeois Muscovite life, Marina was able for the first time to run free, climb cliffs, and vent her imagination in childhood games. It should be noted that there were many Russian émigré revolutionaries residing at that time in Nervi, and undoubtedly these people would have had some influence on the impressionable Marina. The children began to run wild. This state of affairs was allowed to continue until June 1904, when Marina was dispatched to school in Lausanne. Changes in the Tsvetaev residence led to several changes in school, and during the course of her travels she acquired the Italian, French, and German languages. In 1908, Tsvetaeva studied literary history at the Sorbonne. During this time, a major revolutionary change was occurring within Russian poetry: the flowering of the Russian Symbolist movement, and this movement was to colour most of her later work. It was not the theory which was to attract her, but the poetry and the immense gravity which writers such as Andrey Bely and Aleksandr Blok were capable of generating. Her own first collection of poems, Evening Album, was self-published in 1910. It attracted the attention of the poet and critic Maximilian Voloshin, whom Tsvetaeva described after his death in 'A Living Word About a Living Man'. Voloshin came to see Tsvetaeva and soon became her friend and mentor.
She began spending time at Voloshin's home in the Black Sea resort of Koktebel (trans. "Blue Height"), which was a well-known haven for writers, poets and artists. She became enamoured of the work of Aleksandr Blok and Anna Akhmatova, although she never met Blok and did not meet Akhmatova until the 1940s. Describing the Koktebel community, the émigré Viktoria Schweitzer wrote: "Here inspiration was born." At Koktebel, Tsvetaeva met Sergei (Seryozha) Yakovlevich Efron, a cadet in the Officers' Academy. She was 19, he 18: they fell in love instantly and were married in 1912, the same year as her father's project, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, was ceremonially opened, an event attended by Czar Nicholas II. Tsvetaeva's love for Efron was intense, however, this did not preclude her from having affairs, including one with Osip Mandelstam, which she celebrated in a collection of poems called Mileposts. At around the same time, she became involved in an affair[citation needed] with the poet Sofia Parnok, who was 7 years older than Tsvetaeva. The two women fell deeply in love, and the relationship profoundly affected both women's writings. She deals with the ambiguous and tempestuous nature of this relationship in a cycle of poems which at times she called The Girlfriend, and at other times The Mistake. Tsvetaeva and her husband spent summers in the Crimea until the revolution, and had two daughters: Ariadna, or Alya (born 1912) and Irina (born 1917). Then, in 1914, Efron volunteered for the front; by 1917 he was an officer stationed in Moscow with the 56th Reserve. Tsetsaeva was to witness the Russian Revolution first hand. On trains, she came into contact with ordinary Russian people and was shocked by the mood of anger and violence. She wrote in her journal: "In the air of the compartment hung only three axe-like words: bourgeois, Junkers, leeches". After the 1917 Revolution, Efron joined the White Army, and Marina returned to Moscow hoping to be reunited with her husband. She was trapped in Moscow for five years, where there was a terrible famine. She wrote six plays in verse and narrative poems, including The Tsar's Maiden (1920), and her epic about the Civil War, The Swans' Encampment, which glorified those who fought against the communists. The cycle of poems in the style of a diary or journal begins on the day of Czar Nicholas II's abdication in March 1917, and ends late in 1920, when the anti-communist White Army was finally defeated. The 'swans' of the title refers to the volunteers in the White Army, in which her husband was fighting as an officer. The Moscow famine was to exact a terrible toll on Tsvetaeva. Starvation and worry were to erode her looks. With no immediate family to turn to, she had no way to support herself or her daughters. In 1919, she placed Irina in a state orphanage, mistakenly believing that she would be better fed there. Tragically, she was mistaken, and Irina died of starvation in 1920. The child's death caused Tsvetaeva great grief and regret. In one letter, she said, 'God punished me.' During these years, Tsvetaeva maintained a close and intense friendship with the actress Sofia Evgenievna Holliday, for whom she wrote a number of plays. Many years later, she would write the novella "Povest' o Sonechke" about her relationship with Holliday, who ended up betraying her.


Berlin and Prague
In May 1922, Tsvetaeva and Ariadna left the Soviet Union and were reunited with Efron in Berlin. There she published the collections Separation, Poems to Blok, and the poem The Tsar Maiden. In August 1922, the family moved to Prague. Unable to afford living accommodation in Prague itself, with Efron studying politics and sociology at the Charles University in Prague and living in hostels, Tsvetaeva and Ariadna found rooms in a village outside the city. In Prague, Tsvetaeva had a passionate affair with Konstantin Boeslavovich Rozdevitch, a former military officer. This affair became widely known throughout émigré circles, and even to Efron himself. Efron was devastated by the affair (this is well-documented and supported particularly by a letter which he wrote to Voloshin on the matter). It was bound to end disastrously, and it did. Her break-up with Rozdevitch in 1923 was almost certainly the inspiration for her great 'The Poem of the End'. This relationship was also the inspiration for "The Poem of the Mountain". At about the same time, a more important relationship began: Tsvetaeva's correspondence with Boris Pasternak, who had stayed in the Soviet Union. The two were not to meet for nearly twenty years, but for a time they were in love, and they maintained an intimate friendship until Tsvetaeva's return to Russia. In summer 1924, Efron and Tsvetaeva left Prague for the suburbs, living for a while in Jiloviste, before moving on to Vsenory, where Tsvetaeva completed "The Poem of the End", and was to conceive their son, Georgy, whom she was to later nickname 'Mur'. Tsvetaeva wanted to name him Boris (after Pasternak); Efron would have none of it and insisted on Georgy. He was to be a most difficult and demanding child. Nevertheless, Tsetaeva loved him in the only way she knew, obsessively. Ariadna was relegated immediately to the role of mother's helper and confidante, and was consequently robbed of much of her childhood. However, the child did not reciprocate. The older he grew, the more difficult and obstreperous he became.


In 1925, the family settled in Paris, where they would live for the next 14 years. At about this time Efron contracted tuberculosis, adding to the family's difficulties. Tsvetaeva received a meagre stipend from the Czechoslovak government, which gave financial support to artists and writers who had lived in Czechoslovakia. In addition, she tried to make whatever she could from readings and sales of her work. She turned more and more to writing prose because she found it made more money than poetry. Tsvetaeva did not feel at all at home in Paris's predominantly ex-bourgeois circle of Russian émigré writers. Although she had written passionately pro-White poems during the Revolution, her fellow émigrés thought that she was insufficiently anti-Soviet, and that her criticism of the Soviet régime was altogether too nebuluous. She was particularly criticised for writing an admiring letter to the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. In the wake of this letter, the émigré paper The Latest News, to which Tsvetaeva had been a frequent contributor, refused point blank to publish any more of her work. She found solace in her correspondence with other writers, including Boris Pasternak, Rainer Maria Rilke, the Czech poet Anna Teskova, and the critics D. S. Mirsky and Aleksandr Bakhrakh.


Husband's involvement with espionage
Meanwhile, Tsvetaeva's husband was rapidly developing Soviet sympathies and was homesick for Russia. He was, however, afraid because of his past as a White soldier. Eventually, either out of idealism or to garner acceptance from the Communists, he began spying for the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB. Alya shared his views, and increasingly turned against her mother. In 1937, she returned to the Soviet Union. Later that year, Efron too had to return to Russia. The French police had implicated him in the murder of the former Soviet defector Ignaty Reyss in September 1937, on a country lane near Lausanne. After Efron's escape, the police interrogated Tsvetaeva, but she seemed confused by their questions and ended up reading them some French translations of her poetry. The police concluded that she was deranged and knew nothing of the murder. (Later it was learned that Efron possibly had also taken part in the assassination of Trotsky's son in 1936). Tsvetaeva does not seem to have known that her husband was a spy, nor the extent to which he was compromised. However, she was held responsible for his actions and was ostracised in Paris because of the implication that he was involved with the NKVD. World War II had made Europe as unsafe and hostile as Russia. Tsvetaeva felt that she no longer had a choice.


Return to the Soviet Union
In 1939, she and her son returned to the Soviet Union. She could not have foreseen the horrors which were in store for her. In Stalin's Russia, anyone who had lived abroad was suspect, as was anyone who had been among the intelligentsia before the Revolution. Tsvetaeva's sister had been arrested before Tsvetaeva's return; although Anastasia survived the Stalin years, the sisters never saw each other again. Tsvetaeva found that all doors had closed to her. She got bits of work translating poetry, but otherwise the established Soviet writers refused to help her, and chose to ignore her plight; Aseyev, who she had hoped would assist, shyed away, fearful for his life and position. Efron and Alya were arrested for espionage. Alya's fiancé, it turned out, was actually an NKVD agent who had been assigned to spy on the family. Efron was shot in 1941; Alya served over eight years in prison. Both were exonerated after Stalin's death. In 1941, Tsvetaeva and her son were evacuated to Yelabuga, while most families of the Union of Soviet writers were evacuated to Chistopol. Tsvetaeva had no means of support in Yelabuga, and on August 24, 1941 she left for Chistopol desperately seeking for a job. On August 26, 1941, Marina Tsvetaeva and poet Valentin Parnakh applied to the Soviet of Literature Fund asking for a job at the LitFund's canteen. Valentin Parnakh was accepted as a doorman, while Tsvetaeva's application for a permission to live in Chistopol was turned down and she had to return to Yelabuga on August 28. On 31 August, 1941 while living in Yelabuga, Tsvetaeva hanged herself. She was buried in Yelabuga cemetery on September 2, 1941, but the exact location of her grave remains unknown. There have always been rumours that Tsvetaeva's death wasn't suicide. On the day of her death she was home alone (her host family was out) and, according to Yelabuga residents, NKVD agents came to her house and forced her to commit suicide. These rumours remain unconfirmed. In the town of Yelabuga, the Tsvetaeva house museum can be visited, as well as a monument to her. In the museum, Tsvetaeva's farewell note, written just before her death, can be seen.

Her work
From a poem she wrote in 1913, in which she displays her propensity for prophecy:

Scattered in bookstores, greyed by dust and time,
Unseen, unsought, unopened, and unsold,
My poems will be savoured as are rarest wines -
When they are old.

Conversely, her poetry was much admired by poets such as Valery Bryusov, Maximilian Voloshin, Osip Mandelstam, Boris Pasternak, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Anna Akhmatova. Today, that recognition is sustained by the poet Joseph Brodsky, pre-eminent among Tsvetaeva's champions. Tsvetaeva is primarily a poet-lyricist, since her lyrical voice remains clearly audible in her narrative poetry. Her lyric poems fill ten collections; the uncollected lyrics would add at least another volume. Her first two collections indicate their subject matter in their titles: Evening Album (Vechernii al'bom, 1910) and The Magic Lantern (Volshebnyi fonar', 1912). The poems are vignettes of a tranquil childhood and youth in a professorial, middle-class home in Moscow, and display considerable grasp of the formal elements of style. The full range of Tsvetaeva's talent developed quickly, and was undoubtedly influenced by the contacts which she had made at Koktebel, and was made evident in two new collections: Mileposts (Versty, 1921) and Mileposts: Book One (Versty, Vypusk I, 1922). Three elements of Tsvetaeva's mature style emerge in the Mileposts collections. First, Tsvetaeva dates her poems and publishes them chronologically. The poems in Mileposts: Book One, for example, were written in 1916 and resolve themselves as a versified journal. Secondly, there are cycles of poems which fall into a regular chronological sequence among the single poems, evidence that certain themes demanded further expression and development. One cycle announces the theme of Mileposts: Book One as a whole: the "Poems of Moscow." Two other cycles are dedicated to poets, the "Poems to Akhmatova" and the "Poems to Blok", which again reappear in a separate volume, Poems to Blok (Stikhi k Bloku, 1922). Thirdly, the Mileposts collections demonstrate the dramatic quality of Tsvetaeva's work, and her ability to assume the guise of multiple dramatis personae within them. The collection entitled Separation (Razluka, 1922) was to contain Tsvetaeva's first long verse narrative, "On a Red Steed" (Na krasnom kone). The poem is a prologue to three more verse-narratives written between 1920 and 1922. All four narrative poems draw on folkloric plots. Tsvetaeva acknowledges her sources in the titles of the very long works, The Maiden-Tsar: A Fairy-tale Poem (Tsar'-devitsa: Poema-skazka, 1922) and "The Swain", subtitled "A Fairytale" (Molodets: skazka, 1924). The fourth folklore-style poem is entitled "Byways" (Pereulochki, published in 1923 in the collection Remeslo), and it is the first poem which may be deemed incomprehensible in that it is fundamentally a soundscape of language. The collection Psyche (Psikheya, 1923) contains one of Tsvetaeva's best-known cycles "Insomnia" (Bessonnitsa) and the poem The Swans' Encampment (Lebedinyi stan, Stikhi 1917-1921, published in 1957) which celebrates the White Army. Subsequently, as an émigré, Tsvetaeva's last two collections of lyrics were published by émigré presses, Craft (Remeslo, 1923) in Berlin and After Russia (Posle Rossii, 1928) in Paris. There then followed the twenty-three lyrical "Berlin" poems, the pantheistic "Trees" (Derev'ya), "Wires" (Provoda) and "Pairs" (Dvoe), and the tragic "Poets" (Poetry). "After Russia" contains the poem "In Praise of the Rich", in which Tsvetaeva's oppositional tone is merged with her proclivity for ruthless satire.

In 1924, Tsvetaeva wrote "Poem of the End", which details a walk around Prague and across its bridges; the walk is about the final walk she will take with her lover Konstantin Rodzevitch. In it everything is foretold: in the first few lines (translated by Elaine Feinstein) the future is already written:

A single post, a point of rusting
tin in the sky
marks the fated place we
move to, he and I

Again, further poems foretell future developments. Principal among these is the voice of the classically-oriented Tsvetaeva heard in cycles "The Sibyl," "Phaedra," and "Ariadne." Tsvetaeva's beloved, ill-starred heroines recur in two verse plays, Theseus-Ariadne (Tezei-Ariadna, 1927) and Phaedra (Fedra, 1928). These plays form the first two parts of an incomplete trilogy entitled Aphrodite's Rage. The satirist in Tsvetaeva plays second fiddle only to the poet-lyricist. Several satirical poems, moreover, are among Tsvetaeva's best-known works: "The Train of Life" (Poezd zhizni) and "The Floorcleaners' Song" (Poloterskaya), both included in After Russia, and The Rat-catcher (Krysolov, 1925-1926), a long, folkloric narrative. The target of Tsvetaeva's satire is everything petty and petty bourgeois. Unleashed against such dull creature comforts is the vengeful, unearthly energy of workers both manual and creative. In her notebook, Tsvetaeva writes of "The Floorcleaners' Song": "Overall movement: the floorcleaners ferret out a house's hidden things, they scrub a fire into the door... What do they flush out? Coziness, warmth, tidiness, order... Smells: incense, piety. Bygones. Yesterday... The growing force of their threat is far stronger than the climax." The poem which Tsvetaeva describes as liricheskaia satira, The Rat-Catcher, is loosely based on the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The Rat-Catcher, which is also known as The Pied Piper, is considered by some to be the finest of Tsvetaeva's work. It was also partially an act of hommage to Heinrich Heine's poem Die Wanderatten. The Rat-Catcher appeared initially, in serial format, in the émigré journal Volia Rossii in 1925-1926 whilst still being written. It was not to appear in the Soviet Union until after the death of Stalin in 1956. Its hero is the Pied Piper of Hamelin who saves a town from hordes of rats and then leads the town's children away too, in retribution for the citizens' ingratitude. As in the other folkloric narratives, The Ratcatcher's story line emerges indirectly through numerous speaking voices which shift from invective, to extended lyrical flights, to bathos. Tsvetaeva's last ten years of exile, from 1928 when "After Russia" appeared until her return in 1939 to the Soviet Union, were principally a "prose decade", though this would almost certainly be by dint of economic necessity rather than one of choice.


Translators of Tsvetaeva's work into English include Elaine Feinstein and David McDuff. Nina Kossman translated many of Tsvetaeva's long (narrative) poems, as well as her lyrical poems; they are collected in two books, Poem of the End and In the Inmost Hour of the Soul. J. Marin King translated a great deal of Tsvetaeva's prose into English, compiled in a book called A Captive Spirit. Tsvetaeva scholar Angela Livingstone has translated a number of Tsvetaeva's essays on art and writing, compiled in a book called Art in the Light of Conscience. Livingstone's translation of Tsvetaeva's "The Ratcatcher" was published as a separate book. Mary Jane White has translated the early cycle "Miles" in a book called "Starry Sky to Starry Sky," as well has Tsvetaeva's elegy for Rilke, "New Year's," (Adastra Press 16 Reservation Road, Easthampton, MA 01027 USA) and "Poem of the End" and "Poem of the Hill." (New England Review). In 2002, Yale University Press published Jamey Gambrell's translation of post-revolutionary prose, entitled Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922, with notes on poetic and linguistic aspects of Tsvetaeva's prose, and endnotes for the text itself. The Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich set six of Tsvetaeva's poems to music. Later the Russian-Tatar composer Sofia Gubaidulina wrote a Hommage à Marina Tsvetayeva featuring her poems. Her poem, Mne Nravitsya (it pleases me), was performed by Alla Pugacheva in the film Irony of Fate.


My poems, written early, when I doubted
that I could ever play the poet’s part,
erupting, as though water from a fountain
or sparks from a petard,

and rushing as though little demons, senseless,
into a sanctuary, where incense spreads,
my poems about death and adolescence,
-that still remain unread!

collecting dust in bookstores all this time,
where no one comes to carry them away,
my poems, like exquisite, precious wines,
will have their day!



My poems, written early, when I doubted
that I could ever play the poet’s part,
erupting, as though water from a fountain
or sparks from a petard,

and rushing as though little demons, senseless,
into a sanctuary, where incense spreads,
my poems about death and adolescence,
- that still remain unread! -

collecting dust in bookstores all this time,
where no one comes to carry them away,
my poems, like exquisite, precious wines,
will have their day!



You, walking past me and racing
After charms that you’ll hardly attain, -
If you knew how much fire is wasted,
How much life is wasted in vain!

And what flames, so heroically rash,
An occasional shade can evoke,
And how my heart was burnt into ash
By this useless gunpowder smoke.

O, those trains leaving terminals nightly,
Carrying sleep wherever they go …
Then again, it’s rather unlikely
That you’d know, even if you would know -

Why my speeches are sharp and brief,
In the smoke of my cigarette, -
How much dark and menacing grief
Is crammed in my golden-haired head.


Translated by Andrey Kneller

Hugo von Hofmannsthal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hofmannsthal was born in Vienna, the son of an upper-class Austrian mother and an Austrian-Italian bank manager. His great-grandfather, Isaak Löw Hofmann, Edler von Hofmannsthal, from whom his family inherited the noble title "Edler von Hofmannsthal," was a Jewish merchant ennobled by the Austrian emperor. He began to write poems and plays from an early age. He met the German poet Stefan George at the age of seventeen and had several poems published in George's journal, Blätter für die Kunst. He studied law and later philology in Vienna but decided to devote himself to writing upon graduating in 1901. Along with Peter Altenberg and Arthur Schnitzler, he was a member of the avant garde group Young Vienna (Junges Wien). In 1900, Hofmannsthal met the composer Richard Strauss for the first time. He later wrote libretti for several of his operas, including Elektra (1909), Der Rosenkavalier (1911), Ariadne auf Naxos (1912, rev. 1916), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), Die ägyptische Helena (1927), and Arabella (1933). In 1901, he married Gertrud (Gerty) Schlesinger, the daughter of a Viennese banker. Gerty, who was Jewish, converted to Christianity before their marriage. They settled in Rodaun, not far from Vienna, and had three children. In 1912 he adapted the 15th century English morality play Everyman as Jedermann, and Jean Sibelius (amongst others) wrote incidental music for it. The play later became a staple at the Salzburg Festival. During the First World War Hofmannsthal held a government post. He wrote speeches and articles supporting the war effort, and emphasizing the cultural tradition of Austria-Hungary. The end of the war spelled the end of the old monarchy in Austria; this was a blow from which the patriotic and conservative-minded Hofmannsthal never fully recovered. Nevertheless the years after the war were very productive ones for Hofmannsthal; he continued with his earlier literary projects, almost without a break. In 1920, Hofmannsthal, along with Max Reinhardt, founded the Salzburg Festival. His later plays revealed a growing interest in religious, particularly Roman Catholic, themes. Among his writings was a screenplay for a film version of Der Rosenkavalier (1925) directed by Robert Wiene.

On July 13, 1929 his son Franz committed suicide. Two days later, Hofmannsthal himself died of a stroke at Rodaun.

On October 18, 1902, Hoffmannsthal published a fictive letter in the Berlin Daily, Der Tag (The Day) titled simply "Ein Brief" ("A Letter"). It was purportedly written in 1603 by Philip, Lord Chandos to Francis Bacon. In this letter Chandos says that he has stopped writing because he has "lost completely the ability to think or to speak of anything coherently"; he has given up on the possibility of language to describe the world. This letter reflects the growing distrust of and dissatisfaction with language that so characterizes the Modern era, and Chandos's dissolving personality is not only individual but societal. Growing up the son of a wealthy merchant who was well connected with the major artists of the time, Hofmannsthal was raised in what Carl Schorske refers to as "the temple of art". This perfect setting for aesthetic isolation allowed Hofmannsthal the unique perspective of the privileged artist, but also allowed him to see that art had become a flattened documenting of humanity, which took our instincts and desires and framed them for viewing without acquiring any of the living, passionate elements. Because of this realization, Hofmannsthal’s idea of the role of the artist began to take shape as someone who created works that would inspire or inflame the instinct, rather than merely preserving it in a creative form. He also began to think that the artist should not be someone isolated and left to his art, but rather a man of the world, immersed in both politics and art. Hofmannsthal saw in English culture the ideal setting for the artist. This was because the English simultaneously admired Admiral Nelson and John Milton, both war heroes and poets, while still maintaining a solid national identity. "In [Hofmannsthal’s] view, the division between artist (writer) and man of action (politician, explorer, soldier) does not exist in England. Britain provides her subjects with a common base of energy which functions as equilibrium, a force lacking in fragmented Germany". (Weiss) This singular and yet pragmatic identity must have appealed to Hofmannsthal to a certain degree due to the large scale fragmentation of Austria at the time, which was in the throes of radical nationalism and anti-Semitism, a nation in which the progressive artist and the progressive politician were growing more
different and hostile to each other by the day.

Guillaume Apollinaire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guillaume Apollinaire (August 26, 1880 – November 9, 1918) was a French poet, writer, and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.
Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word surrealism and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1917, later used as the basis for an opera in 1947). Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died at 38 of the Spanish flu during the pandemic.
Born Wilhelm Albert Vladimir Apollinaris Kostrowitzky and raised speaking French, among other languages, he emigrated to France and adopted the name Guillaume Apollinaire. His mother, born Angelica Kostrowicka, was a Polish noblewoman born near Navahrudak (now in Belarus). His father is unknown but may have been Francesco Flugi d'Aspermont, a Swiss Italian aristocrat who disappeared early from Apollinaire's life. He was partly educated in Monaco. Apollinaire was one of the most popular members of the artistic community of Montparnasse in Paris. His friends and collaborators during that period included Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Max Jacob, André Salmon, Marie Laurencin, André Breton, André Derain, Faik Konica, Blaise Cendrars, Pierre Reverdy, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Ossip Zadkine, Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp. In 1911, he joined the Puteaux Group, a branch of the cubist movement. On September 7, 1911, police arrested and jailed him on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa, but released him a week later. Apollonaire then implicated his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning in the art theft, but he was also exonerated. He fought in World War I and, in 1916, received a serious shrapnel wound to the temple. He wrote Les Mamelles de Tirésias while recovering from this wound. During this period he coined the word surrealism in the program notes for Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie's ballet Parade, first performed on 18 May 1917. He also published an artistic manifesto, L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes. Apollinaire's status as a literary critic is most famous and influential in his recognition of the Marquis de Sade, whose works were for a long time obscure, yet arising in popularity as an influence upon the Dada and Surrealist art movements going on in Montparnasse at the beginning of the twentieth century as, "The freest spirit that ever existed."

The war-weakened Apollinaire died of influenza during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. He was interred in the Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

Apollinaire's first collection of poetry was L'enchanteur pourrissant (1909), but Alcools (1913) established his reputation. The poems, influenced in part by the Symbolists, juxtapose the old and the new, combining traditional poetic forms with modern imagery. In 1913, Apollinaire published the essay Les Peintres cubistes on the cubist painters, a movement which he helped to define. He also coined the term orphism to describe a tendency towards absolute abstraction in the paintings of Robert Delaunay and others. In 1907, Apollinaire wrote the well-known erotic novel, The Eleven Thousand Rods (Les Onze Mille Verges). Officially banned in France until 1970, various printings of it circulated widely for many years. Apollinaire never publicly acknowledged authorship of the novel. Another erotic novel attributed to him was The Exploits of a Young Don Juan (Les exploits d'un jeune Don Juan), in which the 15-year-old hero fathers three children with various members of his entourage, including his aunt. The book was made into a movie in 1987. Shortly after his death, Calligrammes, a collection of his concrete poetry (poetry in which typography and layout adds to the overall effect), was published. In his youth Apollinaire lived for a short while in Belgium, but mastered the Walloon language sufficiently to write poetry through that medium, some of which has survived.


Realism in drama encouraged Realism in the theatre - in sets and stagecraft, as well as acting. Among the leaders in this development were Sir Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre in London, where he induced nightly fainting fits with his highly detailed production of the famous melodrama, The Bells (1871); Duke George II of Saxe-Meiningen, who with his actress-wife formed a touring company in which the actors spoke rather than enunciated; and the American impresario David Belasco, a truly 'theatrical' personality, famous for special effects of which his own popular plays were often the vehicle (Madame Butterfly and The Girl of the Golden West, attained greater fame as Puccini operas).


Belasco's lavish, brilliantly-lit interiors could not be equalled by what appeared in the 20th century as a potential rival to the theatre - film. Few theatre people were worried by this dim innovation. It had no colour and, crucially, no dialogue. But in spite of these drawbacks (and it has been suggested that silent movies in America actually gained thereby, since many of the audience were immigrants with an imperfect command of English) the impact was soon felt. Even the primitive early silent movies, especially Hollywood's action spectaculars which even Belasco could hardly imitate on stage, had a dramatic effect on theatre attendance. In the U.S.A. between 1900 and 1920, a fertile period for drama as it happened, the theatre lost a large percentage of its audience. It would never regain them.


The most obvious casualties were the 'popular' theatres and music halls which catered to the working class, but they were not the only ones. The middle classes were also deserting the theatre. For this, however, the cinema was only partly to blame. From Ibsen and on, people simply did not like the new drama: it broke cherished taboos and demanded that they think for themselves, something they had no desire to do. With the arrival of Modernism, in its various anti-Realist guises, all the old conventions appeared to have been abandoned, and anarchy, it seemed, strode the stage. Experimental drama did not provide 'a good night out', and theatres contracted to adjust to their reduced audience.


The reaction against experimental drama was noticeable in France as early as the 1850s; a dramatisation of Zola's Tberese Raquin was booed off the stage. Zola was a Symbolist only in the rather general sense in which symbolism is a characteristic of nearly all literature. More specifically, Symbolism refers to certain French writers and artists around the turn of the century, perhaps to a group of Russians somewhat later and sometimes to Modernism in Latin America.
The most influential figure was Mallarme whose advice to depict not the thing but the effect is a kind of Symbolist motto. He advocated a new drama portraying the mental life, not the world of the senses. For the Symbolists, art is a means of understanding rather than feeling, and since they despised mundane reality, the Symbolists were antagonistic towards Realist drama. Symbolist drama tends to be learned and decidedly static.
The Art Theatre founded in the 1890s by the poet Paul Fort, was at the centre of the movement, set up largely in reaction against the predominantly Realist Theatre Libre of the actor-director Andre Antoine, a friend of Zola. Playwrights patronized by the Art Theatre included Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), best known for Pelleas et Melisande (1892, later the basis of Debussy's opera) and The Blue Bird (1908), Hoffmansthal (1874-1929), Paul Claudel (1869—1955) and the young Yeats, whose interest in the occult the Symbolists shared. The influence of Symbolism was widespread, not only m Russia and Latin America, but also on Pound, Joyce, Eliot, Rilke and Virginia Woolf.

August Strindberg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Johan August Strindberg (January 22, 1849 – May 14, 1912) was a Swedish writer, playwright, and painter. Along with Knut Hamsun, with whom he fraternized with while in Paris in the mid 1890s, Henrik Ibsen, Soren Kierkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen he is arguably the most influential and most important of all Scandinavian authors. Strindberg is known as one of the fathers of modern theatre. His work falls into two major literary movements, Naturalism and Expressionism.
Strindberg was the third son of Carl Oscar Strindberg, a shipping agent from a bourgeois family, and Ulrika Eleonora (Nora) Norling. Ulrika was twelve years Carl's junior and of humble origin, called a "servant woman" in the title of Strindberg's autobiographical novel, Tjänstekvinnans son (The Son of a Servant). Strindberg's paternal grandfather Zacharias was born in 1758 to a clergyman in Jämtland and settled in Stockholm, where he became a successful spice tradesman and a major in the Burghers' Military Corps. Strindberg's aunt Johanna Magdalena Elisabeth Strindberg (1797-1880), also called "Lisette", was married to the inventor and industrialist Samuel Owen (born 1774 in Norton-in-Hales, Shropshire, England, died February 15, 1854 in Stockholm) who went to Sweden in 1804 to help with the installation of the first steam engines for industrial use in Sweden and later in 1806 set up his own workshop 'Kungsholms Mekaniska Verkstad' in Stockholm. Carl Oscar Strindberg's older brother Johan Ludvig Strindberg was a successful businessman, the model for the protagonist Arvid Falk's wealthy and socially ambitious uncle in Strindberg's novel Röda rummet (The Red Room). Strindberg's own version of his childhood is available in his novel The Son of a Servant, but at least one of his biographers, Olof Lagercrantz, warns against its use as a biographical source. Much of what Strindberg wrote has an autobiographical character, but Lagercrantz notes Strindberg's "talent to make us believe what he wants us to believe," and his unwillingness to accept any characterization of his person other than his own. From the age of seven, Strindberg grew up in the Norrtull area on the northern, almost-rural periphery of Stockholm, not far from Tegnérlunden, the park where Carl Eldh's grand statue of Strindberg was later placed. He went to the elementary schools of Klara and Jakob parishes, continuing to the Stockholms Lyceum, a progressive private school for boys from upper and upper middle class families. He completed his graduation exams studentexamen on May 25, 1867, and matriculated at the University of Uppsala in the fall.
A mural of August Strindberg at the Rådmansgatan subway stationStrindberg would spend the next several years between Uppsala and Stockholm, alternately studying for exams and trying his hand at non-academic pursuits. As a young student, Strindberg also worked as an assistant in a chemist's shop in the university town of Lund in southern Sweden. He first left Uppsala in 1868 to work as a schoolteacher, but then studied chemistry for some time at the Institute of Technology in Stockholm in preparation for medical studies, later working as a private tutor before becoming an extra at the Royal Theatre in Stockholm. He returned to Uppsala in January 1870 to study and work on a set of plays, the first of which opened at the Royal Theatre in September 1870, a biography of the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. In Uppsala, he started Runa, a small literary club with friends who all took pseudonyms from Nordic mythology; Strindberg called himself Frö after the god of fertility. He spent a few more semesters in Uppsala, finally leaving in March 1872 without graduating. He would often ridicule Uppsala and its professors, as when he published Från Fjerdingen och Svartbäcken ("From Fjerdingen and Svartbäcken", 1877), short stories depicting Uppsala student life. After leaving university for the last time, he embarked on his career as a journalist and critic for newspapers in Stockholm.
Strindberg was married three times, to Siri von Essen (1850-1912), Frida Uhl (1872-1943), and Harriet Bosse (1878-1961). He had children with all his wives, but his hypersensitive, neurotic character led to bitter divorces. Late in his life he met the young actress and painter Fanny Falkner (1890-1963), whose book illuminates his last years, but the exact nature of their relationship is debated. He had a brief affair in Berlin with Dagny Juel before his marriage to Frida; it has been suggested that the shocking news of her murder was the reason he cancelled his honeymoon with his third wife, Harriet. Strindberg's relationships with women were troubled and have often been interpreted as misogynistic by contemporaries and modern readers. Most acknowledge, however, that he had uncommon insight into the hypocrisy of his society's gender roles and sexual morality. Marriage and the family were under stress in Strindberg's lifetime as Sweden industrialized and urbanized at a rapid pace. Problems of prostitution and poverty were debated heatedly among writers, critics and politicians. His early writing often dealt with the traditional roles of the sexes imposed by society, which he criticized as unjust.
The rise and fall of the Paris Commune in 1871 became a political awakening for the young Strindberg, and he started to see politics as a conflict between the upper- and lower classes. Strindberg was admired by the Swedish working class as a radical writer. He was a Socialist (or maybe more of an Anarchist which he himself claimed on at least one occasion) and his daughter Karin Strindberg married Vladimir Smirnov, one of the leading Russian Bolsheviks. Because of his political standpoints, Strindberg was heavily promoted in socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in the Soviet Union and Cuba.
A multi-faceted author, Strindberg was often extreme. His novel The Red Room (Röda rummet) (1879) brought him fame. His early plays were written in the Naturalistic style, and his works from this time are often compared with the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Strindberg's best-known play from this period is Miss Julie (Fröken Julie). Strindberg wanted to attain what he called "Greater Naturalism." He did not prefer expository character backgrounds seen in the work of Ibsen, or write plays that gave his audiences a "slice of life" because he felt that these plays were mundane and uninteresting. Strindberg felt that true naturalism was a psychological battle of the brains (hjarnornas kamp). Two people who hate each other in the immediate moment and strive to drive the other to doom is the type of mental hostility that Strindberg strove to capture. Furthermore, he intended his plays to be impartial and objective, citing a desire to make literature somewhat of a science. Later, he underwent a time of inner turmoil known as the Inferno Period, which culminated in the production of a book written in French, Inferno. He also exchanged a few cryptic letters with Nietzsche. Strindberg subsequently broke with Naturalism and began to produce works informed by Symbolism. He is considered one of the pioneers of the Modern European stage and Expressionism. The Dance of Death (Dödsdansen), A Dream Play (Ett drömspel) and The Ghost Sonata (Spöksonaten) are well-known plays from this period.
Strindberg was also a telegrapher, painter, photographer and alchemist. Painting and photography offered venues for his belief that chance played a crucial part in the creative process. Strindberg's paintings were unique for their time, and went beyond those of his contemporaries for their radical lack of adherence to visual reality. The 117 paintings that are accepted as being by his hand were mostly painted within the span of a few years, and are now seen as among the most original works of nineteenth century art. Though Strindberg was friends with Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin, and was thus familiar with modern trends, the spontaneous and subjective expressiveness of his landscapes and seascapes can be ascribed also to the fact that he painted only in periods of personal crisis.
Carl Eldh's grand statue of Strindberg in Tegnérlunden, StockholmStrindberg's last home was Blå tornet in central Stockholm, where he lived from 1908 until 1912. Today it is a museum. By the end of his life Strindberg had returned to Christianity, authoring religious works inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg. One year before his death, his main book publisher Albert Bonniers förlag bought the rights to all his writings for 200,000 Swedish crowns, a fortune at that time, which Strindberg promptly shared with his children. On Christmas 1911, Strindberg became sick with pneumonia, and he never fully recovered. At this time he also started to suffer from a stomach disease, presumably cancer. He died in May 1912 at the age of 63. Strindberg was interred in the Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm, and thousands of people followed him during the funeral proceedings.

Several statues and busts of him have been erected in Stockholm; most prominently Carl Eldh's erected in 1942 in Tegnérlunden, a park next to the house were Strindberg lived the last years of his life.

Maurice Maeterlinck

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard, Count Maeterlinck (August 29, 1862 - May 6, 1949) was a Belgian poet, playwright, and essayist writing in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life.
Count Maurice Maeterlinck was born in Ghent, Belgium to a wealthy, French-speaking family. His father, Polydore, was a notary, who enjoyed tending the hothouses on their property. His mother, Mathilde, came from a wealthy family.In September, 1874 he was sent to the Jesuit College of Sainte-Barbe, where works of the French Romantics were scorned. Only plays on religious subjects were permitted. His experiences at this school undoubtedly influenced his distaste for the Catholic Church and organized religion.He had written poems and short novels during his studies, but his father wanted him to go into law. After finishing his law studies at the University of Ghent in 1885, he spent a few months in Paris, France. He met there some members of the then new Symbolism movement, Villiers de l'Isle Adam in particular. The latter would have a big influence on the work of Maeterlinck. In 1889, he became famous overnight after his first play, La Princesse Maleine, had received enthusiastic praise from Octave Mirbeau, the literary critic of Le Figaro (August 1890). In the following years, he wrote a series of symbolist plays characterized by fatalism and mysticism, most importantly L'Intruse (The Intruder, 1890), Les Aveugles (The Blind, 1890) and Pelléas et Mélisande (1892). He had a relationship with the singer and actress Georgette Leblanc from 1895 till 1918. Leblanc influenced his work for the following two decades. With the play Aglavaine et Sélysette Maeterlinck began to create characters, especially female characters, more in control of their destinies. Leblanc performed these female characters on stage. Even though mysticism and metaphysics influenced his work throughout his career, he slowly replaced his Symbolism with a more existential style. In 1895, with his parents frowning upon his open relationship with an actress, Maeterlinck and Leblanc moved to the district of Passy in Paris. The Catholic Church was unwilling to grant her a divorce from her Spanish husband. They frequently entertained guests, including Mirbeau, Jean Lorraine, and Paul Fort. They spent their summers in Normandy. During this period, Maeterlinck published his Douze Chansons (1896), Treasure of the Humble (1896), The Life of the Bee (1901), and Ariane et Barbe-Bleue ("Ariadne and Bluebeard," 1902).In 1903, Maeterlinck received the Triennial Prize for Dramatic Literature from the Belgian government.In 1906, Maeterlinck and Leblanc moved to a villa in Grasse. He spent his hours meditating and walking. As he emotionally pulled away from Leblanc, he entered a state of depression. Diagnosed with neurasthenia, he rented the Benedictine Abbey of St. Wandrille in Normandy to help him relax. Leblanc would often walk around in the dress of an abbess; he would wear roller skates as he moved about the house. During this time, he wrote his essay L'Intelligence des fleurs ("The Intelligence of Flowers," 1906), in which he discussed politics and championed socialist ideas. He donated money to many workers' unions and socialist groups. At this time he conceived his greatest contemporary success: the fairy play L'Oiseau Bleu (The Blue Bird, 1908). He also wrote Marie-Victoire (1907) and Mary Magdalene (1908) with lead roles for Leblanc. Aside from L'Oiseau Bleu, critics did not praise these plays, and they considered Leblanc no longer an inspiration to the playwright. Even though alfresco performances of some of his plays at St. Wandrille had been successful, Maeterlinck felt that he was losing his privacy. The death of his mother on June 11, 1910 added to his depression.In 1910 he met the eighteen-year-old actress Renée Dahon during a rehearsal of The Blue Bird. She became his lighthearted companion. Winning the Nobel Prize for Literature served to heighten his spirits, as well. By 1913, he was more openly socialist and sided with the Belgian trade unions against the Catholic party during a strike. In fact, he began to study mysticism and lambasted the Catholic church in his essays for construing the history of the universe. By a decree of 26 January 1914, his opera omnia was placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum by the Roman Catholic Church. When Germany invaded Belgium in 1914, Maeterlink wished to join the French Foreign Legion, but his application was denied due to his age. He and Leblanc decided to leave Grasse for a villa near Nice, where he spent the next decade of his life. He gave speeches on the bravery of the Belgian people and placed guilt upon all Germans for the war. While in Nice he wrote the plays Le Bourgemestre de Stilmonde (The Burgomaster of Stilmonde), which was quickly labeled by the American press as a "Great War Play." He also wrote Les Fiancailles (The Betrothal), a sequel to The Blue Bird, in which the heroine of the play is clearly not a Leblanc archetype.On February 15, 1919 Maeterlinck married Dahon. He accepted an invitation to the United States. Samuel Goldwyn asked him to produce a few scenarios for film. Only two of Maeterlinck's submissions still exist; Goldwyn didn't use any of his submissions. Maeterlinck had prepared one based on his The Life of a Bee. After reading the first few pages Goldwyn burst out of his office, exclaiming: "My God! The hero is a bee!" Dahon gave birth to a stillborn child in 1925. By the 1920s, Maeterlinck found himself no longer in tune with the times. His plays of this period (La Puissance des morts, Le Grand Secret, Berniquel) received little attention. At this time he penned his first works on entomology. In 1926 he published La Vie des Termites (The Life of the Termite), plagiarising The Soul of the White Ant, researched and written by the South African poet and scientist Eugene Marais (1871 - 1936). Marais' later suicide has been attributed to this act of plagiarism by some. Maeterlinck's own words in La Vie de Termites indicate that the possible discovery or accusation of plagiarism worried him: It would have been easy, in regard to every statement, to allow the text to bristle with footnotes and references. In some chapters there is not a sentence but would have clamoured for these; and the letterpress would have been swallowed up by vast masses of comment, like one of those dreadful books we hated so much at school. There is a short bibliography at the end of the volume which will no doubt serve the same purpose. Despite these misgivings, there is no reference to Eugene Marais in the bibliography. His other works on entomology include L'Araignée de verre (The Glass Spider, 1923) and Vie des fourmis (The Life of the Ant, 1930). In 1930 he bought a chateau in Nice, France, and named it Orlamonde, a name occurring in his work Quinze Chansons. He was made a count by Albert I, King of the Belgians in 1932. According to an article published in the New York Times in 1940, he arrived in the United States from Lisbon on the Greek Liner Nea Hellas. He had fled to Lisbon in order to escape the Nazi invasion of both Belgium and France. The Times quoted him as saying, "I knew that if I was captured by the Germans I would be shot at once, since I have always been counted as an enemy of Germany because of my play, 'Le Bourgmestre de Stillemonde,' which dealt with the conditions in Belgium during the German Occupation of 1918." As with his earlier visit to America, he still found Americans too casual, friendly and Francophilic for his taste.He returned to Nice after the war on August 10, 1947. In 1948, the French Academy awarded him the Medal for the French Language. He died in Nice on May 6, 1949 after suffering a heart attack. There was no priest at his funeral.

Maeterlinck, before 1905Maeterlinck, an avid reader of Arthur Schopenhauer, considered man powerless against the forces of fate. He believed that any actor, due to the hindrance of physical mannerisms and expressions, would inadequately portray the symbolic figures of his plays. He concluded that marionettes were an excellent alternative. Being guided by strings, which are operated by a puppeteer, marionettes are an excellent representation of fate's complete control over man. He wrote Intérieur, La Mort de Tintagiles, and Alladine and Palomides for marionette theatre.From this, he gradually developed his notion of the static drama. He felt that it was the artist's responsibility to create something that expressed nothing of human emotions but rather of the external forces that compel people. Materlinck once said: "The stage is a place where works of art are extinguished. [...] Poems die when living people get into them."He explained his ideas on the static drama in his essay "The Tragedies of Daily Life," which appeared in The Treasure of the Humble. The actors were to speak and move as if pushed and pulled by an external force, fate as puppeteer. They were not to allow the stress of their inner emotions to compel their movements. Maeterlinck would often continue to refer to his cast of characters as "marionettes."

Pelléas et Mélisande inspired four major musical compositions at the turn of the twentieth century, an opera by Claude Debussy, (L 88, Paris, 1902), incidental music to the play composed by Jean Sibelius (opus 46, 1905), an orchestral suite by Gabriel Fauré (opus 80, 1898), and a symphonic poem by Arnold Schoenberg (opus 5, 1902/03).


As J. B. Priestley remarked 'it is a waste of time trying to find an exact definition of Expressionism in drama'. In its most forceful, revolutionary phase, it belonged to the Berlin theatre of the early 1920s, more broadly to Central Europe in the first quarter of the century, and more broadly still to much non-Realist drama. The term was first used of painting in which the painter 'sought to express emotional experience rather than impressions of the physical world'. The young Expressionist playwrights had large ambitions, seeking a spiritual transformation of society, and, in terms of the drama, abandoning objectivity and attempting to capture the subjective depths of modern poetry and the greater scope of, significantly, the cinema (where Expressionism had powerful effects . Rebelling against most current values. Expressionist playwrights turned to once-taboo subjects such as sex and class. The typical Expressionist 'hero' (always male) is not involved in a plot but in some kind of inward odyssey, and the mood is often violent, always extreme. Stage designers were influenced by Expressionist art, with atmospheric lighting, fierce colours, and jagged lines. Beyond Central Europe, the Expressionist influence was not great, though an exception might be made for Eugene O'Neill.


North America in the 19th century was not short of theatrical entertainments, from vaudeville and burlesque through melodrama to serious plays, but native American drama made little impression on the world stage until the early 20th century. Its flowering then is associated largely with O'Neill and the development of an American equivalent of the European independent art theatre. O'Neill was unique, but there were other dramatists worthy of serious consideration, such as Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959), Thornton Wilder (1897-1976), remembered especially for his evocation of provincial life in Our Town (1938) and his best-selling novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), Lilian Hellman (1907-84), who caused a sensation with her first play, dealing with lesbianism, The Children's Hour (1934), and, later and greater, Tennessee Williams andArthur Miller.


Son of an actor, Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), as with so many American writers, knocked about in various colourful jobs (gold prospector, seaman, etc.) before beginning to write plays, mainly naturalistic dramas based on his maritime experience, while confined in a tuberculosis sanatorium. He became involved with the Provincetow n Players, a group of actors and writers who founded an art theatre in a converted New England fishing shack in 1915, and the company produced his early plays. With Beyond the Horizon, a full-length realistic drama, and the Expressionist The Emperor Jones (both 1920), about the rise and fall of a black adventurer, he achieved national recognition. Although O'Neill is generally known for only a handful of plays, he was at this time extremely prolific: between 1920-22 he produced nine plays. He was widely recognized as America's first great playwright, and became a major influence on later American drama.
Influenced by Ibsen, Strindberg and Greek tragedy, O'Neill was an experimental dramatist who did not find his true voice until comparatively late. The New England tragedy Desire under the Elms (1924) is naturalistic in form. Strange Interlude (1928) is an experiment in the dramatic use of the stream-of-consciousness technique, and Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) is O'Neill's rewriting of Aeschylus set in the American Cavil War. After Ah, Wilderness! (1933), uncharacteristically a nostalgic comedy, and the unsuccessful Days Without End (1934), no new play appeared for twelve years, due largely to ill health, although he did not stop writing. His final period began with The Iceman Cometh (1946), a long, naturalistic tragedy of the pipe-dreaming no-hopers in a saloon on New York's Bowery. His masterpiece, Long Day's Journey into Night (1956) was written in the early 1940s and first performed posthumously. It recounts a day in the lives of the troubled, mutually destructive Tyrone family, based on his own. A Moon for the Misbegotten (1957) concerns the self-destruction of the elder brother of the family after the mother's death.


Like O'Neill, Tennessee (Thomas Lanier) Williams (1911-83) had many one-act plays performed by obscure groups before establishing a reputation for his deeply felt, partly autobiographical drama The Glass Menagerie (1944). Williams was born in Mississippi and Southern culture and families form the major component of his plays. His sympathy for the lost, tormented individual (a description that, judging from his Memoirs, 1975, might be applied to him) was evident also in A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), set in New Orleans and concerned with the destructive - or destroyed — illusions of a faded Southern belle. None of his later plays had quite the resounding success of these two. They included; The Rose Tattoo (1950), a corned}'; the symbolic, experimental Camino Real (1953); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), a psychological family drama; Sweet Bird of Youth (1956), and The Night of the Iguana (1959)


Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe

The finest plays of Arthur Miller (born 1915) were written by the time he was 40, although his reputation has continued to climb, especial in Britain. His first Broadway play in 1944 closed within a week, but All My Sons (1947), a drama of disillusion in the tradition of Ibsen an important influence), was a big success, and his masterpiece, Death of a Salesman (1949) . an even greater one. An American classic, it concerns an ordinary, well-meaning man destroyed by the false values of society. Miller's famous essay on 'Tragedy and The Common Man' was written the same year. The Crucible (1953) is a powerful, if flawed, drama about the witch trials of 17th-century Salem, bur clearly reflected McCarthy's persecution of alleged Communists in contemporary America. A View from the Bridge (1955), set among Sicilian longshoremen (dockers) in Brooklyn, is again concerned with tragedy brought upon a simple family by contemporary values. Perfectly constructed, it features in many 'Eng. Lit.' syllabuses. After a long silence. Miller's next play was the controversial After the Fall (1964), apparently based on his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Incident at Vichy (1964) concerned the persecution of the Jews; The Price (1968), more widely admired, returned to his old theme of the destruction of family relationships; Broken Glass (1994) won the Olivier Best Play Award.


The rise of the independent 'art' theatre, the rejection of Naturalism and the resulting experimentalism in drama spawned a variety of novelties. Some caused a brief flutter and disappeared as suddenly as they arose. Others carried more intellectual weight and, although contemporaries may have seen them as passing curiosities, they proved to have unexpected staying power and influenced the later development of drama.



This term describes the work of a number of avant-garde playwrights during the middle of the 20th century, including Edward Albee (born 1928), Beckett and Pinter. The philosophical idea of the Theatre of the Absurd was the result of contemporary interest in the absurdity of the human condition deriving partly from Albert Camus, especially from his essays The Rebel and The Myth of Sisyphus, first published in English in 1953 and 1955 respectively. Its antecedents, however, were much older, going back at least to Alfred Jarry (187.3-1907), whose Ubit roi the first of several 'Ubu' plays, was produced at the anti-Naturalistic Theatre de l'Oeuvre in Paris in 1896. Jarry was an eccentric humorist, inventor of pataphysics, 'the science of imaginary solutions', but hostile to the social order, and Ubu, a caricature of the bourgeoisie, is unpleasant as well as absurd. Jarry was a major influence on the Surrealists as well as the Theatre of the Absurd.
Another influence on post-1945 drama and an early opponent of Naturalism was the Italian Luigi Pirandello (1867—1936), whose plays - Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) being probably the best known — questioned the reality of appearances and explored the breakdown of personality in a manner anticipating Beckett.


Romanian-born Eugene Ionescu (1912—94) was an admirer of Jarry and also found comedy in the absurd, notably in The Bald Prima Donna (1948), constructed largely from the banal phrases of a French phrase book. His later 'anti-plays', often featuring a bewildered author-figure, fuse humour with grim and tragic elements, even despair. In his most successful play. Rhinoceros (1959), human beings are turned into rampaging pachyderms by an increasingly totalitarian society.
The rough early life, much of it spent in prison, of the 'saintly monster" Jean Genet (1910-86) furnished material for his plays, notably The Maids (1947), The Balcony (1957) and The Blacks (1958). Illusion battles with reality, and bizarre, often violent fantasies are played out in a dream-like atmosphere that, in spite of Genet's declared amoral and hedonistic principles, approaches religious ritual. This was something like the form of drama, misleadmgly called the 'Theatre of Cruelty", advocated by the actor-director Antonin Artaud (1896-1948).


The idea that the world is absurd, mysterious beyond comprehension, naturally gives rise to pessimistic sentiments, bewilderment and a sense of purposelessness. Representing these themes in drama can have enervating effects. Plots become more illogical or non-existent, dialogue minimal and obscure. Theatregoers for whom the naturalistic drama is the norm naturally complain of these difficulties. Compensations include humour, an important element in Beckett's renowned play Waiting for Godot (1952, first performed in English in 1955), which had a massive impact on modern drama and is chiefly responsible for Beckett's reputation as the most innovative, influential writer of his time.

Samuel Beckett (1906-89) was born near Dublin, went to Paris, where he later settled permanently, and met Joyce, a lifelong friend and subject of his first book. Most of his work was written in French, sometimes translated into English by himself. His later stage plays include Endgame (1957), Krapp's Last Tape (1958) and Happy Days (1961). With Come and Go (1966), containing 121 words, and Breath (1969), lasting 30 seconds, he took minimalism as far as possible. He also wrote novels, stories and poems. Although Beckett's work is despairing, it is illuminated by black humour: some of the two tramps' exchanges in Godot amount to an intellectual comic patter, and the play overall has a strangely exhilarating effect.


According to legend, the denunciations of the poet Archilochus against his enemies were so effective that they committed suicide. By the mid-20th century, poets and their work had lost that kind of impact. Perhaps the last poet who really believed in poetry's influence on public events was Yeats, who agonized that his play Cathleen ni Houlihan was responsible for the deaths of the leaders of the Easter Rising in Dublin ('Did that play of mine send out/Certain men the English shot?'). Modern poets are more of the mind of Auden (in his elegy to Yeats): 'poetry makes nothing happen'. Opinion polls show that a large number of people have written a poem at some time, and published poets are more numerous than ever, though very few make a living from their poetry. Modern poetry since Eliot has often been too 'difficult' for the average reader. However, a handful of poets in the late 20th century have achieved a huge popular following as well as the respect of the critics.


The popular image of Robert Frost (1874— 1963) is of the poet of New England, its birch trees and farmland, the heir of Wordsworth and the Transcendentalists. His early poetry was published in old England, where he lived with his family in 1912—15 after a period of profound depression caused partly by the deaths of two children. He formed a close friendship with the English poet, Edward Thomas, killed in the First World War, who shared his love of the traditional and the colloquial. He subsequently settled on a New Hampshire farm, though neither farm nor poetry absolved him from the need to teach. By the time of Collected Poems (1930), Frost's 'woodland philosophy' — and the accessibility of his work — had made him an American icon, but there was something deeper and darker in him. This bitter, destructive element is more evident in the dramatic, blank-verse poems of the 1940s, which explore the relationship of the individual to God m the modern world.

Robert Frost

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of the rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed themes from the early 1900s rural life in New England, using the setting to examine complex social and philosophical themes. A popular and often-quoted poet, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes.
Although he is commonly associated with New England, Robert Frost was a native of California, born in San Francisco, and lived there until he was 11 years old. His mother, Isabelle Moodie Frost, was of Scottish descent; his father, William Prescott Frost, Jr., was a descendant of colonist Nicholas Frost from Tiverton, Devon, England who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634 on the Wolfrana. Frost's father was a good teacher, and later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin (which was eventually merged into the San Francisco Examiner), and an unsuccessful candidate for the city tax collector. The road not taken for young Robert might have been as a Californian editor rather than a New England poet, but William Frost Jr. died May 5, 1885, debts were settled, and the family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts where William Frost, Sr., was an overseer at a New England mill. Frost's mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult. Despite his later association with rural life, Frost lived in the city, and published his first poem in the Lawrence high school magazine. He attended Dartmouth College, long enough to be accepted into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. Frost returned home to teach and to work at various jobs including delivering newspapers and factory labor. He did not enjoy these jobs at all, feeling his true calling as a poet.
In 1894 he sold his first poem, "My Butterfly: An Elegy" (published in the November 8, 1894 edition of the New York Independent) for fifteen dollars. Proud of this accomplishment, he proposed marriage to Elinor Miriam White, but she refused, wanting to finish college (at St. Lawrence University) before they married. Frost then went on an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, and asked Elinor again upon his return. Having graduated, she agreed, and they were married in Harvard University, which he attended for two years. He did well, but left to support his growing family. Grandfather Frost purchased a farm for the young couple in Derry, New Hampshire, shortly before his death. Frost worked on the farm for nine years. He wrote early in the mornings, producing many of the poems that would later become famous. His attempts at farming were not successful, and Frost returned to education as an English teacher at Pinkerton Academy from 1906 to 1911, then at the New Hampshire Normal School (now Plymouth State University) in Plymouth, New Hampshire. In 1912, Frost sailed with his family to Great Britain, living first in Glasgow, before settling in Beaconsfield, outside London. His first book of poetry, A Boy's Will, was published the next year. In England he made some important acquaintances, including Edward Thomas (a member of the group known as the Dymock Poets), T.E. Hulme, and Ezra Pound. Pound would become the first American to write a (favorable) review of Frost's work. Surrounded by his peers, Frost wrote some of his best work while in England. As World War I began, Frost returned to America in 1915. He bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, where he launched a career of writing, teaching, and lecturing. The family homestead at Franconia, which served as his summer home until 1938, is maintained as a museum and poetry conference site. From 1916-20, 1923-24, and 1927-1938, Frost was an English professor at Amherst College, encouraging his students to account for the sounds of the human voice in their craft. Starting in 1921, and for the next 42 years (with three exceptions), Frost spent his summers and into late fall teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont. The college now owns and maintains Robert Frost's farm as a national historic site near the Bread Loaf campus. From 1921-22, Frost moved to Ann Arbor to accept a fellowship teaching at the University of Michigan.[2] In 1924, Robert Frost accepted a lifetime appointment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a Fellow in Letters where he resided until 1927.  Frost's Ann Arbor home is now at The Henry Ford. In January 1927, Frost returned to Amherst. In 1940 Frost bought a five acre property in Coconut Grove, Florida (which would later become South Miami). He called the place Pencil Pines and spent the winters there for the rest of his life. Frost was 86 when he spoke at the inauguration of President Kennedy on January 20, 1961. He died a little more than two years later, from a blood clot in the lungs. This was a chain reaction from a prostate surgery in December 1962. He died in Boston, on January 29, 1963. He was buried at the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. His epitaph reads, "I had a lover's quarrel with the world." Harvard's 1965 alumni directory indicates his having received an honorary degree there; Frost also received honorary degrees from Bates College and Oxford and Cambridge universities, and he was the first to receive two honorary degrees from Dartmouth College. During his lifetime, the Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, as well as the main library of Amherst College, were named after him. In the "Anthology of Modern American Poetry", published by Oxford University Press, Frost's poems are critiqued and it is mentioned that behind their sometimes charmingly familiar and rural façade, frequently lie pessimistic and menacing undertones which are not often analyzed or recognized.

Robert Frost's personal life was plagued with grief and loss. His father died of tuberculosis in 1885, when Frost was 11, leaving the family with just $8. Frost's mother died of cancer in 1900. In 1920, Frost had to commit his younger sister, Jeanie, to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Mental illness apparently ran in Frost's family, as both he and his mother suffered from depression, and his daughter Irma was committed to a mental hospital in 1947. Frost's wife, Elinor, also experienced bouts of depression.Elinor and Robert Frost had six children: son Elliot (1896-1904, died of cholera), daughter Lesley Frost Ballantine (1899-1983), son Carol (1902-1940, committed suicide), daughter Irma (1903-?), daughter Marjorie (1905-1934, died as a result of puerperal fever after childbirth), and daughter Elinor Bettina (died three days after birth in 1907). Only Lesley and Irma outlived their father. However, Frost had the unfortunate duty of committing Irma to a mental hospital in 1947. Frost's wife, who had heart problems throughout her life, developed breast cancer in 1937, and died of heart failure in 1938.


Robert Lowell (1917—77) also came from old New England stock, though similarities to Frost end there. The intellectual qualities, complex, multi-layered imagery, subtle irony and sophisticated technique of Lowell's poetry could hardly command such popular affection, but Lord Weary's Castle (1946), his second collection, won a Pulitzer Prize. Life Studies (1959), For the Union Dead (1964) and Near the Ocean (1967) confirmed his reputation as the greatest American poet of his time, but his public fame derived rather from his opposition to the Vietnam War and the disasters of his private life, frankly revealed in The Dolphin (1973).

Silver Age of Russian Poetry


Osip Mandelshtam - Marina Tsvetaeva - Anna Achmatova - Joseph Brodsky


Silver Age of Russian Poetry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Silver Age is a term traditionally applied by Russian philologists to the first two decades of the 20th century. It was an exceptionally creative period in the history of Russian poetry, on par with the Golden Age a century earlier. In the Western world other terms, including Fin de siècle and Belle Époque, are somewhat more popular.

Although the Silver Age may be said to have truly begun with the appearance of Alexander Blok's "Verses to the Beautiful Lady", some scholars have extended its chronological framework to include the works of the 1890s, starting with Nikolai Minsky's manifesto "With the light of conscience" (1890), Dmitri Merezhkovsky's treatise "About the reasons for the decline of contemporary Russian literature" (1893) and Valery Bryusov's almanac "Russian symbolists" (1894).

Although the Silver Age was dominated by the artistic movements of Russian Symbolism, Acmeism, and Russian Futurism, there flourished innumerable other poetic schools, such as Mystical Anarchism. There were also such poets as Ivan Bunin and Marina Tsvetayeva who refused to align themselves with any of these movements. Alexander Blok emerged as the leading poet, respected by virtually everyone. The poetic careers of Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, and Osip Mandelshtam, all of them spanning many decades, were also launched during that period.

The Silver Age ended after the Russian Civil War. Blok's death and Nikolai Gumilev's execution in 1921, as well as the appearance of the highly influential Pasternak collection, My Sister is Life (1922), marked the end of the era. The Silver Age was a golden era nostalgically looked back to by emigre poets, led by Georgy Ivanov in Paris and Vladislav Khodasevich in Berlin.

Osip Mandelstam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam (also spelled Mandelshtam) (Russian: О́сип Эми́льевич Мандельшта́м) (January 15 [O.S. January 3] 1891 – December 27, 1938) was a Russian poet and essayist, one of the foremost members of the Acmeist school of poets.

Life and work
Mandelstam was born in Warsaw to a wealthy Jewish family. His father, a tanner by trade, was able to receive a dispensation freeing the family from the pale of settlement, and soon after Osip's birth, they moved to Saint Petersburg. In 1900, Mandelstam entered the prestigious Tenishevsky school, which also counts Vladimir Nabokov and other significant figures of Russian (and Soviet) culture among its alumni. His first poems were printed in the school's almanac in 1907. In April 1908, Mandelstam decided to enter the Sorbonne to study literature and philosophy, but he left the following year to attend the University of Heidelberg. In 1911, in order to continue his education at the University of Saint Petersburg, he converted to Methodism (which he did not practice) and entered the university the same year.
Mandelstam's poetry, acutely populist in spirit after the first Russian revolution, became closely associated with symbolist imagery, and in 1911, he and several other young Russian poets formed the "Poets' Guild" (Russian: Цех Поэтов, Tsekh Poetov), under the formal leadership of Nikolai Gumilyov and Sergei Gorodetsky. The nucleus of this group would then become known as Acmeists. Mandelstam had authored the manifesto for the new movement - The Morning Of Acmeism (1913, published in 1919). 1913 also saw the publication of his first collection of poems, The Stone (Russian: Камень, Kamyen), to be reissued in 1916 in a greatly expanded format, but under the same title.

In 1922, Mandelstam arrived in Moscow with his newly-wed wife Nadezhda. At this time, his second book of poems, Tristia, was published in Berlin. For several years after that, he almost completely abandoned poetry, concentrating on essays, literary criticism, memoirs (The Din Of Time, Russian: Шум времени, Shum vremeni; Феодосия, Feodosiya - both 1925) and small-format prose (The Egyptian Stamp, Russian: Египетская марка, Yegipetskaya marka - 1928). As a day job, he translated (19 books in 6 years), then worked as a correspondent for the newspaper The Irish Times. Mandelstam's non-conformist, anti-establishment tendencies always simmered not far from the surface, and in the autumn of 1933, they broke through in form of the famous "Stalin Epigram". The poem, sharply criticizing the "Kremlin highlander", was described elsewhere as a "sixteen line death sentence," likely prompted by Mandelstam's seeing (in the summer of that year, while vacationing in Crimea) the effects of the Great Famine, a result of Stalin's collectivisation in the USSR and his drive to exterminate the "kulaks". Six months later, Mandelstam was arrested.

However, after the customary pro forma inquest, he not only was spared his life, but the sentence did not even include labor camps - a miraculous event, usually explained by historians as owing to Stalin's personal interest in his fate. Mandelstam was "only" exiled to Cherdyn in Northern Ural with his wife. After his attempt to commit suicide, the sentence was softened, and he was banished from the largest cities, but otherwise allowed to choose his new place of residence. He and his wife chose Voronezh.

NKVD photo after the first arrest

NKVD photo after the second arrest

This proved a temporary reprieve. In the coming years, Mandelstam would (as was expected of him) write several poems which seemed to glorify Stalin (including Ode To Stalin), but in 1937, at the outset of the Great Purge, the literary establishment began a systematic assault on him in print -- first locally, and soon after that from Moscow -- accusing him of harboring anti-Soviet views. Early the following year, Mandelstam and his wife received a government voucher for a vacation not far from Moscow;[citation needed] upon their arrival in May 1938, he was promptly arrested again and charged with "counter-revolutionary activities".
Four months later, Mandelstam was sentenced to hard labor. He arrived at a transit camp near Vladivostok and managed to pass a note to his wife back home with a request for warm clothes; he never received them. The official cause of his death is an unspecified illness.

Mandelstam's own prophecy was fulfilled:

"Only in Russia is poetry respected – it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?"

Varlam Shalamov's short story "Sherry Brandy" was written as a fictional description of Mandelstam's death in a Soviet Union GULAG transit camp near Vladivostok.

After the end of the Stalin era, Mandelstam was rehabilitated in 1956, when he was exonerated from the charges brought against him in 1938. On October 28, 1987, he was also exonerated from the 1934 charges and thus fully rehabilitated.

Mandelstam and Achmatova

Anna Andreevna Akhmatova

see also EXPLORATION (in Russian):

Anna Achmatova


The Teacher

In memory of Innokentiy Annensky

And he, the one whom I regard to be my teacher,
Passed like a shadow and didn’t leave a shadow,
Absorbed the poison, drank down all the stupor,
Awaited glory, and couldn’t wait for glory.
He was an omen and an augury,
He pitied everyone, breathed languor into all,
And suffocated, short of breath…

Translated by Andrey Kneller

Anna Andreevna Akhmatova

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born June 11 [June 23, New Style], 1889, Bolshoy Fontan, near Odessa, Ukraine, Russian Empire
died March 5, 1966, Domodedovo, near Moscow

pseudonym of Anna Andreyevna Gorenko Russian poet recognized at her death as the greatest woman poet in Russian literature.

Akhmatova began writing verse at the age of 11 and at 21 became a member of the Acmeist group of poets, whose leader, Nikolay Gumilyov, she married in 1910 butdivorced in 1918. The Acmeists, through their periodical Apollon (“Apollo”; 1909–17), rejected the esoteric vagueness and affectations of Symbolism and sought to replace them with “beautiful clarity,” compactness, simplicity, and perfection of form—all qualities in which Akhmatova excelled from the outset. Herfirst collections, Vecher (1912; “Evening”) and Chyotki (1914; “Rosary”), especially the latter, brought her fame. While exemplifying the best kind of personal or even confessional poetry, they achieve a universal appeal deriving from their artistic and emotional integrity. Akhmatova's principal motif is love, mainly frustrated and tragic love, expressed with an intensely feminine accent andinflection entirely her own.
Later in her life she added to her main theme some civic, patriotic, and religious motifs but without sacrifice of personal intensity or artistic conscience. Her artistry and increasing control of her medium were particularly prominent in her next collections: Belaya staya (1917; “The White Flock”), Podorozhnik (1921; “Plantain”), and Anno Domini MCMXXI (1922). This amplification of her range, however, did not prevent official Soviet critics from proclaiming her “bourgeois and aristocratic,” condemning her poetry for its narrow preoccupation with love and God, and characterizing her as half nun and half harlot. The execution in 1921 of her former husband, Gumilyov, on charges of participation in an anti-Soviet conspiracy (the Tagantsev affair) further complicated her position. In 1923 she entered a period of almost complete poetic silence and literary ostracism, and no volume of her poetry was published in the Soviet Union until 1940. In that year several of her poems were published in the literary monthly Zvezda (“The Star”), and a volume of selections from her earlier work appeared under the title Iz shesti knig (“From Six Books”). A few months later, however, it was abruptly withdrawn from sale and libraries. Nevertheless, in September 1941, following the German invasion, Akhmatova was permitted to deliver an inspiring radio address to the women of Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. Evacuated to Tashkent soon thereafter, she read her poems to hospitalized soldiers and published a number of war-inspired lyrics; a small volume of selected lyrics appeared in Tashkent in 1943. At the end of the war she returned to Leningrad, where her poems began to appear in local magazines and newspapers. She gave poetic readings, and plans were made for publication of a large edition of her works.

In August 1946, however, she was harshly denounced by the Central Committee of the Communist Party for her “eroticism, mysticism, and political indifference.” Her poetrywas castigated as “alien to the Soviet people,” and she was again described as a “harlot-nun,” this time by none other than Andrey Zhdanov, Politburo member and the director of Stalin's program of cultural restriction. She was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers; an unreleased book of her poems, already in print, was destroyed; and none of her workappeared in print for three years.
Then, in 1950, a number of her poems eulogizing Stalin and Soviet communism were printed in several issues of the illustrated weekly magazine Ogonyok (“The Little Light”) under the title Iz tsikla “Slava miru” (“From the Cycle ‘Glory to Peace' ”). This uncharacteristic capitulation to the Soviet dictator—in one of the poems Akhmatova declares: “WhereStalin is, there is Freedom, Peace, and the grandeur of the earth”—was motivated by Akhmatova's desire to propitiateStalin and win the freedom of her son, Lev Gumilyov, who had been arrested in 1949 and exiled to Siberia. The tone of these poems (those glorifying Stalin were omitted from Soviet editions of Akhmatova's works published after his death) is far different from the moving and universalized lyrical cycle, Rekviem (“Requiem”), composed between 1935 and 1940 and occasioned by Akhmatova's grief over an earlier arrest and imprisonment of her son in 1937. This masterpiece—a poetic monument to the sufferings of the Soviet peoples during Stalin's terror—was published in Moscow in 1989.

In the cultural “thaw” following Stalin's death, Akhmatova was slowly and ambivalently rehabilitated, and a slim volume of her lyrics, including some of her translations, was published in 1958. After 1958 a number of editions of her works, including some of her brilliant essays on Pushkin, were published in the Soviet Union (1961, 1965, two in 1976, 1977); none of these, however, contains the complete corpus of her literary productivity. Akhmatova's longest work, Poema bez geroya (“Poem Without a Hero”), on which she worked from 1940 to 1962, was not published in the Soviet Union until 1976. This difficult and complex work is a powerful lyric summation of Akhmatova's philosophy and her own definitive statement on the meaning of her life and poetic achievement.
Akhmatova executed a number of superb translations of the works of other poets, including Victor Hugo, Rabindranath Tagore, Giacomo Leopardi, and various Armenian and Korean poets. She also wrote sensitive personal memoirs on Symbolist writer Aleksandr Blok, the artist Amedeo Modigliani, and fellow Acmeist Osip Mandelshtam.
In 1964 she was awarded the Etna-Taormina prize, an international poetry prize awarded in Italy, and in 1965 she received an honorary doctoral degree from Oxford University. Her journeys to Sicily and England to receive these honours were her first travel outside her homeland since 1912. Akhmatova's works were widely translated, andher international stature continued to grow after her death. Atwo-volume edition of Akhmatova's collected works was published in Moscow in 1986, and The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, also in two volumes, appeared in 1990.

Hands pressed together under the veil…
“What is it that makes you so pale and faint?”
I’m afraid I intoxicated him with the ale
Of bitter anguish and torturous pain.

Could I forget it? He stumbled out, wavering,
His tormented mouth was twisted and grim....
I ran down the stairs, not touching the railing,
At the end of the walkway, I caught up to him.

I yelled after him: “I was kidding and only.
If you leave me today, you’ll be doing me in.”
He turned back and smiled, so intolerably calmly
And told me: “Don’t stand in the wind.”



The Muse

When, at night, I’m waiting her arrival,
Life it seems, is hanging by a thread.
Glory, youth and freedom cannot rival
The joy she brings me, with a flute in hand.

She enters, and before I can discern her,
She stares at me with an attentive eye.
“Were you,” I ask, “the cause of the Inferno
For Dante?” – And she answers: “I!”


Translated by Andrey Kneller

Amedeo Modigliani
Sketch of Anna Akhmatova
, 1911



Amedeo Modigliani
Sketches of Anna Akhmatova
, 1911

Paris is in dark mist
And probably again Modigliani
Imperceptibly follows me.
He has a sad virtue
To bring disorder even to my dreams
And be the reason of my many misfortunes.

                                     Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova  and Boris Pasternak

Boris Pasternak


Boris Pasternak

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (Russian: Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к) (February 10 [O.S. January 29] 1890 — May 30, 1960) was a Nobel Prize-winning Russian poet and writer, in the West best known for his epic novel Doctor Zhivago. The novel is a tragedy, whose events span through the last period of Tsarist Russia and early days of Soviet Union, and was first translated and published in Italy in 1957. In Russia, however, Boris Pasternak is most celebrated as a poet. My Sister Life, written in 1917, is arguably the most influential collection of poetry published in Russian language in the 20th century.
Pasternak was born in Moscow on February 10, (Gregorian), 1890 (Julian January 29) into a Jewish family. His father was a prominent painter, Leonid Pasternak, professor at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and his mother was Rosa (Raitza) Kaufman, a concert pianist. Pasternak was brought up in a highly cosmopolitan atmosphere, and visitors to his home included pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and writer Leo Tolstoy. Inspired by his neighbour Alexander Scriabin, Pasternak resolved to become a composer and entered the Moscow Conservatory. In 1910 he abruptly left the conservatory for the University of Marburg, where he studied under Neo-Kantian philosophers Hermann Cohen and Nicolai Hartmann. Although invited to become a scholar, he decided against making philosophy a profession and returned to Moscow in 1914. His first poetry collection, influenced by Alexander Blok and the Russian Futurists, was published later the same year. Pasternak's early verse cleverly dissimulates his preoccupation with Kant's ideas. Its fabric includes striking alliterations, wild rhythmic combinations, day-to-day vocabulary, and hidden allusions to his favourite poets like Rilke, Lermontov and German Romantic poets. During the First World War , he taught and worked at a chemical factory in Vsevolodovo-Vilve (Perm gubernia, near Perm), which undoubtedly provided him with material for Dr. Zhivago many years later. Unlike many of his relatives and friends, Pasternak did not leave Russia after the revolution. Instead, he was fascinated with the new ideas and possibilities that revolution brought to life.
Pasternak spent the summer of 1917 living in the steppe country near Saratov, where he fell in love. This passion resulted in the collection My Sister Life, which he wrote over a period of three months, but was too embarrassed to publish for four years because of its novel style. When it finally was published in 1921, the book revolutionised Russian poetry. It made Pasternak the model for younger poets, and decisively changed the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam, Marina Tsvetayeva and others. Following My Sister Life, Pasternak produced some hermetic pieces of uneven quality, including his masterpiece - the lyric cycle entitled Rupture (1921). Authors such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Andrey Bely, and Vladimir Nabokov applauded Pasternak's poems as works of pure, unbridled inspiration. In the late 1920s, he also participated in the much celebrated tripartite correspondence with Rilke and Tsvetayeva.
By the end of the 1920s, Pasternak increasingly felt that his colourful modernist style was at odds with the doctrine of Socialist Realism approved by the Communist party. He attempted to make his poetry more comprehensible to the masses by reworking his earlier pieces and starting two lengthy poems on the Russian Revolution. He also turned to prose and wrote several autobiographical stories, notably The Childhood of Lovers and Safe Conduct.
By 1932, Pasternak had strikingly reshaped his style to make it acceptable to the Soviet public and printed the new collection of poems aptly entitled The Second Birth. Although its Caucasian pieces were as brilliant as the earlier efforts, the book alienated the core of Pasternak's refined audience abroad. He simplified his style even further for his next collection of patriotic verse, Early Trains (1943), which prompted Nabokov to describe Pasternak as a "weeping Bolshevik" and "Emily Dickinson in trousers." During the great purges of the later 1930s, Pasternak became progressively disillusioned with Communist ideals. Reluctant to publish his own poetry, he turned to translating Shakespeare (Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear), Goethe (Faust), Rilke (Requiem für eine Freundin), Paul Verlaine, and Georgian poets. Pasternak's translations of Shakespeare have proved popular with the Russian public because of their colloquial, modernised dialogues, but critics accused him of "pasternakizing" the English playwright. Although he was widely panned for excessive subjectivism, Stalin is said to have crossed Pasternak's name off an arrest list during the purges, saying "Don't touch this cloud dweller."[citation needed]Another version of Stalin's remark, possibly on a separate occasion, is "Leave that Holy Fool alone!" His cousin, Polish poet Leon Pasternak was not so lucky. As a result of his political activities in Poland — writing satirical verses for socialist revolutionary periodicals - he was imprisoned in 1934 in the Bereza Kartuska detention camp.

Several years before the start of the Second World War, Pasternak and his wife settled in Peredelkino, a village for writers several miles from Moscow. He was filled with a love of life that gave his poetry a hopeful tone. This is reflected in the name of his autobiographical hero Zhivago, derived from the Russian word for live. Another famous character, Lara, is said to have been modeled on his mistress, Olga Ivinskaya.As the book was frowned upon by the Soviet authorities, Doctor Zhivago was smuggled abroad by his friend Isaiah Berlin and published in an Italian translation by the Italian publishing house Feltrinelli in 1957. The novel became an instant sensation, and was subsequently translated and published in many non-Soviet bloc countries. In 1958 and 1959, the American edition spent 26 weeks at the top of The New York Times' bestseller list. Although none of his Soviet critics had the chance to read the proscribed novel, some of them publicly demanded, "kick the pig out of our kitchen-garden," i.e., expel Pasternak from the USSR. This led to a jocular Russian saying used to poke fun at illiterate criticism, "I did not read Pasternak, but I condemn him". Doctor Zhivago was eventually published in the USSR in 1988.The screen adaptation, directed by David Lean, was of epic proportions, being toured in the roadshow tradition, and starred Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. Concentrating on the romantic aspects of the tale, it quickly became a worldwide blockbuster, but wasn't released in Russia until near the time of the fall of the Soviet Union.

Pasternak was named the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. On October 25, two days after hearing that he had won, Pasternak sent the following telegram to the Swedish Academy:

Immensely thankful, touched, proud, astonished, abashed.
However, four days later came another telegram: Considering the meaning this award has been given in the society to which I belong, I must refuse it. Please do not take offense at my voluntary rejection.

The Swedish Academy announced:

This refusal, of course, in no way alters the validity of the award. There remains only for the Academy, however, to announce with regret that the presentation of the Prize cannot take place.

Reading between the lines of Pasternak's second telegram, it is clear he declined the award out of fear that he would be stripped of his citizenship were he to travel to Stockholm to accept it. After struggling a lifetime to avoid leaving Russia, this was not a prospect he welcomed. Despite turning down the Nobel Prize, Soviet officials soured on Pasternak, and he was threatened at the very least with expulsion. However, it appears that the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, may also have spoken with Khrushchev about this, and Pasternak was not exiled or imprisoned. Despite this, a famous Bill Mauldin cartoon at the time showed Pasternak and another prisoner in Siberia, splitting trees in the snow. In the caption, Pasternak says, "I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?" The cartoon won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1959.The Nobel medal was finally presented to Pasternak's son, Yevgeny, at a ceremony in Stockholm during the Nobel week of December 1989. At the ceremony, the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich played a Bach serenade to honor his deceased countryman.

Pasternak's post-Zhivago poetry probes the universal questions of love, immortality, and reconciliation with God.

Pasternak died of lung cancer on May 30, 1960. Despite only a small notice appearing in the Literary Gazette, thousands of people traveled from Moscow to his funeral in Peredelkino. "Volunteers carried his open coffin to his burial place and those who were present (including the poet Andrey Voznesensky) recited from memory the banned poem 'Hamlet'." The poet and bard Alexander Galich wrote a politically charged song dedicated to his memory.


The noise subsides. I walk onto the stage.
I listen closely to the echo of the hum
And, leaning on the doorway, try to gauge
Just what will happen in the age to come.

The twilight of the night has gathered
A thousand opera-glasses pointing at me.
If only you are willing, Abba Father,
I pray to you, please take this cup from me.

I love your plan, so fixed and stubborn
And I agree to play this role.
But, as of now, there is a different drama,
This time, dismiss me, I implore.

The plot is predetermined to proceed,
The outcome of my destiny is sealed.
There's Pharisees, hypocricy and greed.
And life is not a walk across a field.

Translated by Andrey Kneller

Joseph Brodsky


Joseph Brodsky


Joseph Brodsky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joseph Brodsky (May 24, 1940—January 28, 1996), born Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky (Russian: Ио́сиф Алекса́ндрович Бро́дский) was a Russian poet and essayist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1987) and was chosen Poet Laureate of the United States (1991-1992). He had an honorary degree from Yale and University of Silesia and was an honorary member of the International Academy of Science.

In the Soviet Union
Brodsky was born into a Jewish family in Leningrad, the son of a professional photographer in the Soviet Navy. In early childhood he survived the Siege of Leningrad. When he was fifteen, Brodsky left school and tried to enter the School of Submariners (школа подводников) without success. He went on to work as a milling machine operator (фрезеровщик) at a plant. Later, having decided to become a physician, he worked at a morgue at the Kresty prison. He subsequently held a variety of jobs at a hospital, in a ship's boiler room, and on geological expeditions. At the same time, Brodsky engaged in a program of self-education. He learned English and Polish (mainly to translate poems by Czesław Miłosz, who was Brodsky's favourite poet and a friend), and acquired a deep interest in classical philosophy, religion, mythology, and English and American poetry. Later in life, he admitted that he picked up books from anywhere he could find them, including even garbage dumps. Brodsky began writing his own poetry and producing literary translations around 1957. His writings were apolitical. The young Brodsky was encouraged and influenced by the poet Anna Akhmatova who called some of his verses "enchanting." He had no degree in the liberal arts.

In 1963, he was arrested and in 1964 charged with parasitism ("тунеядство") by the Soviet authorities. A famous excerpt from the transcript of his trial made by journalist Frida Vigdorova was smuggled to the West:

Judge: And what is your profession, in general?
Brodsky: I am a poet and a literary translator.
Judge: Who recognizes you as a poet? Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?
Brodsky: No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of humankind?
Judge: Did you study this?
Brodsky: This?
Judge: How to become a poet. You did not even try to finish high school where they prepare, where they teach?
Brodsky: I didn’t think you could get this from school.
Judge: How then?
Brodsky: I think that it ... comes from God.

For his "parasitism" Brodsky was sentenced to five years of internal exile with obligatory engagement in physical work and served 18 months in Archangelsk region. The sentence was commuted in 1965 after prominent Soviet and foreign literary figures, such as Evgeny Evtushenko[citation needed], Dmitri Shostakovich and Jean Paul Sartre, protested.

In 1964, Leonid Brezhnev came to power. As the Khrushchev Thaw period ended, only four of Brodsky's poems were published in the Soviet Union. He refused to publish his writings censored and most of his work has appeared only in the West or in samizdat.

In the United States
On June 4, 1972, Brodsky was expelled from the USSR. He became a U.S. citizen in 1977. His first teaching position in the United States was at the University of Michigan (U-M). He was Poet-in-Residence and Visiting Professor at Queens College, Smith College, Columbia University, and the Cambridge University in England. He was a Five-College Professor of Literature at Mount Holyoke College. He achieved major successes in his career as an English language poet and essayist. In 1978, Brodsky was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at Yale University, and on May 23, 1979, he was inducted as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1981, Brodsky received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "genius" award. He is also a recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence. In 1986, his collection of essays Less Than One won the National Book Critic's Award for Criticism. In 1987, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, being the fifth Russian-born writer to do so. At an interview in Stockholm airport, to a question: "You are an American citizen who is receiving the Prize for Russian-language poetry. Who are you, an American or a Russian?", he responded: "I am Jewish - a Russian poet and an English essayist".

In 1991, Brodsky became Poet Laureate of the United States. His inauguration address was printed in Poetry Review. He married Maria Sozzani in 1990. They had one daughter.

Grave of Brodsky in San Michele. Brodsky died of a heart attack in his New York City apartment on January 28, 1996, and was buried in the Episcopalian section at Isola di San Michele cemetery in Venice, Italy. Venice is the setting for his book Watermark.

Poets who influenced Brodsky included Osip Mandelstam, W. H. Auden and Robert Frost.

A close friend to the Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Brodsky has been remembered and memorialised in the latest collection of poetry entitled The Prodigal.


About a year has passed. I've returned to the place of the battle,
to its birds that have learned their unfolding of wings
from a subtle
lift of a surprised eyebrow, or perhaps from a razor blade
- wings, now the shade of early twilight, now of state
bad blood.

Now the place is abuzz with trading
in your ankles's remanants, bronzes
of sunburnt breastplates, dying laughter, bruises,
rumors of fresh reserves, memories of high treason,
laundered banners with imprints of the many
who since have risen.

All's overgrown with people. A ruin's a rather stubborn
architectural style. And the hearts's distinction
from a pitch-black cavern
isn't that great; not great enough to fear
that we may collide again like blind eggs somewhere.

At sunrise, when nobody stares at one's face, I often,
set out on foot to a monument cast in molten
lengthy bad dreams. And it says on the plinth "commander
in chief." But it reads "in grief," or "in brief,"
or "in going under."

(1985, translated by the author)



Some engagement with political concerns marks most novelists, at least indirectly. The more direct engagement with current events of recent times is basically political, and in some countries, such as Russia under Stalinism, virtually all serious literature is political; there is no escaping it, even in a book of nursery rhymes. The Hungarian-born Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon (1940) is a classic anti-Stalinist novel. But there is really no identifiable category of 'the Political Novel', and whatever links Kafka, Orwell and Solzhenitsyn, it is not similarity of form or style.


The novels of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) are 'political' largely in retrospect. The real subject of his unsettling tales is the alienation of the individual in a hostile, uncomprehending, inexplicable world. A German-speaking Jew from Prague, tubercular and mentally troubled, he was hardly known in his lifetime, his three novels and most of his short stones being published posthumously through his friend and executor, Max Brod, who disregarded Kafka's suggestion that they should be burned. Kafka's novels. The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927), are fragmentary, and the last is unfinished. I he first sentence of the I mil suggests the flavour: 'Someone must have slandered Joseph K. because, one morning, without his having done anything wrong, he was arrested." The central character, whose surname is never elucidated, is persecuted and eventually executed by various incomprehensible agencies working on behalf of a mysterious judicial body. In The Castle, the central character strives heroically and fruitlessly to secure recognition of his existence from the authorities m the castle. I liese novels predated the Stalinist terror and came to acquire greater resonance as a result of it. But the labyrithine complexities, the sinister absurdities, the oppressive atmosphere of intense anxiety that characterize Kafka's decidedly unsettling world are described, astonishingly, in pearl-like language, lucid and concise.
Few novelists have inspired more interpreters, but no interpreter satisfactorily explains Kafka's vision.


Old Etonian and veteran of the Burma Police, George Orwell (1903-50) acknowledged that he was not a true novelist. A gifted journalist and essayist, he was inspired by hatred of political injustice, and the novel sometimes proved the most suitable means to express it. Among his best books are his factual account of unemployment in the north of England, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and his account of his experiences as a Republican volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia (1938), but he is chiefly remembered for two works of fiction.
A socialist but a democrat, Orwell's target in both Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) is Soviet totalitarianism. Animal Farm belongs to that select group of parables that can be read as a children's story. The farm animals rebel against the exploitative farmer and set up a republic in which 'All animals are equal'. The popular revolution is taken over by the pigs, led by Napoleon, the other animals are subjected to still worse suppression, and to their democratic slogan is added '. . . but some animals are more equal than others'. Nineteen Fighty-Four is a dystopia of a futuristic totalitarian state. owing something to Koestler, in which the Party rewrites history and the dictionary in its efforts to control the very thoughts of the people, who are watched over by the ubiquitous image of Big Brother. The Cold War made it seen: all the more topical, but Orwell's tour de force also signifies his loss of faith in human nature.


The relationship between the writer and the state is the - hidden - subject of Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece The Master and Margarita, written in the 1930s, published in 1966. Stalin and his colleagues drew no distinction between literature and propaganda. The sign of literary worth was expulsion from, not admission to, the Writers' Union. After Stalin's death, the Party's attitude see-sawed. Boris Pasternak thought he could get away with Doctor Zhivago (published abroad in 1957, written earlier). It earned him a Nobel Prize, but the outraged authorities refused to allow him out of the country to receive it.
Under Khrushchev, it was possible to publish One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovieh (1962), which exposed the horror of the Stalinist prison camps. The author was the then-unknown Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (born 1918), who became a thorn in the side of the more repressive Brezhnev regime. In 1965 the writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuh Daniel were sentenced to hard labour for publishing abroad, but the days of the terror were over: people were less easily intimidated, protests grew, and a stream of writers moved to the West, including, much against his will, the heroically Russian Solzhenitsyn in 1974. Some sort of a literary nadir was reached with the award of the top literary prize to Brezhnev himself, for his memoirs. The long-overdue collapse of the system in the late 1980s, in Russia and in the other countries that had languished under the Stalinist yoke since the 1940s, brought artistic freedom, but also the problem, similar to that faced by armies after the end of a war, of motivation. Returning to his beloved homeland from alien exile, rumbling now against Western materialism, Solzhenitsyn seemed a figure from a completely different age.

Mikhail Bulgakov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov (Russian: Михаил Афанасьевич Булгаков, May 15 [O.S. May 3] 1891, Kiev – March 10, 1940, Moscow) was a Russian novelist and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for the novel The Master and Margarita, which the New York Times Book Review has called one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.
Mikhail Bulgakov was born to Russian parents on May 15, 1891 in Kiev, Ukraine (which at the time was part of the Russian Empire). He was the oldest son of Afanasiy Bulgakov, an assistant professor at the Kiev Theological Academy. He was the grandson of priests on both sides of the family. From 1901 to 1904, Mikhail attended the First Kiev Gymnasium, where he developed an interest in Russian and European literature. In 1913 Bulgakov married Tatiana Lappa. At the outbreak of the First World War he volunteered with the Red Cross. In 1916, he graduated from the Medical School of Kiev University and then served in the White Army. He briefly served in the Ukrainian People's Army. His brothers also served in the White Army. After the Civil War and rise of the Soviets, they emigrated to exile in Paris. Mikhail, who had enlisted in the White Army as a field doctor, ended up in the Caucasus. There he began to work as a journalist. In 1919 he decided to leave medicine to pursue his love of literature. In 1921, he moved with Tatiana to Moscow where he began his career as a writer. Three years later, divorced from his first wife, he married Lyubov' Belozerskaya. He published a number of works through the early and mid 1920s, but by 1927 his career began to suffer from criticism that he was too anti-Soviet. By 1929 his career was ruined, and government censorship prevented publication of any of his work. In 1931, Bulgakov married for the third time, to Yelena Shilovskaya, who would prove to be inspiration for the character Margarita in his most famous novel. They settled at Patriarch's Ponds. During the last decade of his life, Bulgakov continued to work on The Master and Margarita, wrote plays, critical works, stories, and made several translations and dramatisations of novels, but none were published. Bulgakov never supported the Soviet regime, and mocked it in many of his works. Therefore, most of his work stayed in his desk drawer for several decades. In 1930 he wrote a letter to the Soviet government, requesting permission to emigrate if the Soviet Union could not find use for him as a satirist. He received a personal phone call from Stalin himself, who asked Bulgakov if he truly desired to leave the country. Bulgakov replied that a Russian writer could not live outside of his homeland. Stalin had enjoyed Bulgakov's work, The Days of the Turbins and found work for him at a small Moscow theatre, and then the Moscow Art Theatre. In Bulgakov's autobiography, he claimed that he wrote to Stalin out of desperation and mental anguish, never intending to post the letter. Bulgakov wrote letters to Stalin during the 1930s again requesting to emigrate, to which Stalin did not reply. The refusal of the authorities to let him work in the theatre and his desire to see his family living abroad, whom he had not seen for many years, led him to seek drastic measures. Despite his new work, the projects he worked on at the theatre were unsuccessful and he was stressed and unhappy. He also worked briefly at the Bolshoi Theatre as a librettist but left when his works were not produced.

Bulgakov died from nephrosclerosis (an inherited kidney disorder) on March 10, 1940. He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. His father had died of the same disease.

During his life, Bulgakov was best known for the plays he contributed to Konstantin Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theatre. Stalin was known to be fond of the play Days of the Turbins (Дни Турбиных) (1926), which was based on Bulgakov's novel The White Guard. His dramatization of Molière's life in The Cabal of Hypocrites (Кабала святош) is still performed by the Moscow Art Theatre. Even after his plays were banned from the theatres, Bulgakov wrote a black comedy about Ivan the Terrible's visit into 1930s Moscow and a play about the early years of Stalin (1939), which was prohibited by Stalin himself. Bulgakov began writing prose with The White Guard (Белая гвардия) (1924, published in 1966) - a novel about a life of a White Army officer's family in Civil war Kiev, and a short story collection entitled Notes of a Young Doctor (Записки юного врача), based on Bulgakov's work as a country doctor in 1916–1919. In the mid-1920s, he came to admire the works of H. G. Wells and wrote several stories with elements of science fiction, notably The Fatal Eggs (Роковые яйца) (1924) and the Heart of a Dog (Собачье сердце) (1925). The Fatal Eggs tells of the events of a Professor Persikov, who in experimentation with eggs, discovers a red ray that accelerates growth in living organisms. At the time, an illness passes through the chickens of Moscow, killing most of them and, to remedy the situation, the Soviet government puts the ray into use at a farm. Unfortunately there is a mix up in egg shipments and the Professor ends up with chicken eggs, while the government-run farm receives the shipment of ostrich, snake and crocodile eggs that were meant to go to the Professor. The mistake is not discovered until the eggs produce giant monstrosities that wreak havoc in the suburbs of Moscow and kill most of the workers on the farm. The propaganda machine then turns on Persikov, distorting his nature in the same way his "innocent" tampering created the monsters. This tale of a bungling government earned Bulgakov his label of a counter-revolutionary. Heart of a Dog features a professor who implants human testicles and pituitary gland into a dog named Sharik (means "Little Balloon" or "Little Ball" - popular Russian nickname for a male dog). The dog then proceeds to become more and more human as time passes, resulting in all manner of chaos. The tale can be read as a critical satire of the Soviet Union; it contains few bold hints to communist leadership (e.g. the name of donor drunkard of human implants is Chugunkin ("chugun" is a cast iron) which can be seen as parody on the name of Stalin ("stal'" is steel). It was turned into a comic opera called The Murder of Comrade Sharik by William Bergsma in 1973. In 1988 an award-winning movie version Sobachye Serdtse was produced by Lenfilm, starring Yevgeniy Yevstigneyev, Roman Kartsev and Vladimir Tolokonnikov.

The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita (Мастер и Маргарита), which Bulgakov began writing in 1928, is a fantasy satirical novel published twenty-six years after his death in 1966 by his wife, that has led to an international appreciation of his work. The book was available underground as samizdat for many years in the Soviet Union, before the serialization of a censored version in the journal Moskva. It contributed a number of sayings to the Russian language, for example, "Manuscripts don't burn" and "second-grade fresh". A destroyed manuscript of the Master is an important element of the plot, and in fact Bulgakov had to rewrite the novel from memory after he burned the draft manuscript of this novel. The novel is a multilayered critique of the Soviet society in general and its literary establishment. It is a frame narrative involving two characteristically related time periods and/or plot lines; the retelling of the gospels, and describing contemporary Moscow. The novel begins with Satan's visiting Moscow in the 1920s or 30s, joining a conversation of a critic and a poet, busily debating the existence of Jesus Christ and the Devil. It then evolves into an all-embracing indictment of the corruption, greed, narrow-mindedness, and widespread paranoia of Soviet Russia. Banned but widely read, the novel firmly secured Bulgakov's place among the pantheon of great Russian writers.


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn (born December 11, 1918) is a Russian novelist, dramatist and historian. Through his writings, he made the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet labour camp system, and, for these efforts, Solzhenitsyn was both awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 and exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974. He returned to Russia in 1994. That year, he was elected as a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Department of Language and Literature. He is the father of Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a well-known conductor and pianist.

 While in the Soviet Union
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk, Russia, the son of a young widowed mother, Taisia Solzhenitsyna (née Scherbak), whose father had risen, it seems, from humble beginnings, much of a self-made man, and acquired a large estate in the Kuban region by the northern foothills of the Caucasus. During World War I, Taisia went to Moscow to study. While there she met Isaaky Solzhenitsyn, a young army officer, also from the Caucasus region (the family background of his parents is vividly brought alive in the opening chapters of August 1914, and later on in the Red Wheel novel cycle). In 1918, Taisia became pregnant with Aleksandr. Soon after this was confirmed, Isaaky was killed in a hunting accident. Aleksandr, who had three brothers and a sister, was raised by his mother and aunt in lowly circumstances; his earliest years coincided with the Russian Civil War and by 1930 the family property had been turned into a kolkhoz. Solzhenitsyn has stated his mother was fighting for survival and they had to keep his father's background in the old Imperial Army a secret. His educated mother (who never remarried) encouraged his literary and scientific leanings, also raising him in the Russian Orthodox faith; she died shortly before 1940. On 7 April 1940, he married chemistry student Natalya Alekseevna Reshetovskaya, whom he divorced in 1952 (a year before his release from the Gulag), remarried in 1957 and divorced again in 1972, the following year marrying Natalya Dmitrievna Svetlova, a mathematician who had a son from a brief prior marriage. He and Svetlova (b. 1939) had three sons: Yermolai (1970), Ignat (1972) and Stepan (1973).
Solzhenitsyn studied mathematics at Rostov State University, while at the same time taking correspondence courses from the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature, and History (at this time heavily ideological in scope; as he himself makes clear, he did not question the state ideology or the superiority of the Soviet Union before he had spent some time in the camps). During World War II, he served as the commander of an artillery position finding company in the Red Army, was involved in major action at the front, and was twice decorated. In February 1945, while serving in East Prussia, he was arrested for writing a derogatory comment in a letter to a friend, N. D. Utkevich, about the conduct of the war by Joseph Stalin, whom he called "the whiskered one", "Khozyain" (The Master) and "Balabos", (Odessa Yiddish for "boss"). He was accused of anti-Soviet propaganda under Article 58 of the Soviet criminal code, paragraph 10, and of "founding a hostile organisation" under paragraph 11. Solzhenitsyn was taken to the Lubyanka prison in Moscow, where he was beaten and interrogated. On 7 July 1945, he was sentenced in his absence by a three-man tribunal of the Soviet security police (NKGB) to an eight-year term in a labour camp, to be followed by permanent internal exile. This was the normal sentence for most crimes under Article 58 at the time.The first part of Solzhenitsyn's sentence was served in several different work camps; the "middle phase," as he later referred to it, was spent in a sharashka, special scientific research facilities run by Ministry of State Security: these formed the experiences distilled in The First Circle, published in the West in 1968. In 1950, he was sent to a "Special Camp" for political prisoners. During his imprisonment at the camp in the town of Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan, he worked as a miner, bricklayer, and foundryman. His experiences at Ekibastuz formed the basis for the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. While there he had a tumor removed, although his cancer was not then diagnosed. From March 1953, Solzhenitsyn began a sentence of internal exile for life at Kok-Terek in southern Kazakhstan. His undiagnosed cancer spread, until, by the end of the year, he was close to death. However, in 1954, he was permitted to be treated in a hospital in Tashkent, where he was cured. These experiences became the basis of his novel Cancer Ward and also found an echo in the short story "The right hand". It was during this decade of imprisonment and exile that Solzhenitsyn abandoned Marxism and developed the philosophical and religious positions of his later life; this turn has some interesting parallel streaks to Dostoevsky's time in Siberia and his quest for faith a hundred years earlier. Solzhenitsyn gradually turned into a philosophically-minded man in prison. He repented for what he did as a Red Army captain and in prison compared himself with the perpetrators of the Gulag ("I remember myself in my captain's shoulders boards and the forward march of my battery through East Prussia, enshrouded in fire, and I say: 'So were we any better?'") His transformation is described at some length in the fourth part of The Gulag Archipelago ("The Soul and Barbed Wire"). During his years of exile, and following his reprieve and return to European Russia, Solzhenitsyn was, while teaching at a secondary school during the day, spending his nights secretly engaged in writing. He later wrote, in the short autobiography composed at the time of his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, that "during all the years until 1961, not only was I convinced I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared this would become known." Finally, when he was 42 years old, he approached Alexander Tvardovsky, a poet and the chief editor of the Noviy Mir magazine, with the manuscript of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It was published in edited form in 1962, with the explicit approval of Nikita Khrushchev. This would be Solzhenitsyn's only book-length work to be published in the Soviet Union until 1990. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich brought the Soviet system of prison labor to the attention of the West. It caused as much a sensation in the Soviet Union as it did the West—not only by its striking realism and candour, but also because it was the first major piece of Soviet literature since the twenties on a politically charged theme, written by a non-party member, even by a man who had been to Siberia for "libelous speech" about the leaders, and still it had not been censored. In this sense, the publication of Solzhenitsyn's story was an almost unheard-of instance of free, unrestrained discussion of politics through literature. Most Soviet readers realized this, but after Khrushchev had been ousted from power in 1964, the time for such raw exposing works came quietly, but perceptibly, to a close. Solzhenitsyn did not give in but tried, with the help of Tvardovsky, to get his novel, The Cancer Ward, legally published in the Soviet Union. This had to get the approval of the Union of writers, and though some there appreciated it, the work ultimately was denied publication if it were not revised and cleaned of suspect statements and anti-soviet insinuations (these turnings are recounted and documented in The Oak and the Calf). The printing of his work quickly stopped; as a writer, he became a non-person, and, by 1965, the KGB had seized some of his papers, including the manuscript of The First Circle. Meanwhile Solzhenitsyn continued to secretly and feverishly work upon the most subversive of all his writings, the monumental Gulag Archipelago. The seizing of his novel manuscript first made him desperate and frightened, but gradually he realized it had set him free from the pretences and trappings of being an "officially acclaimed" writer, something which had come close to second-nature, but which was getting increasingly irrelevant (the circumstances of how he actually survived in this period, without any income from his books, are obscure; he had quit his teaching post when he broke through as a writer). In 1970, Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He could not receive the prize personally in Stockholm at that time, since he was afraid he would not be let back into the Soviet Union to his family once he had left it. Instead, it was suggested he should receive the prize in a special ceremony at the Swedish embassy in Moscow. The Swedish government refused to accept this solution, since such a ceremony and the ensuing media coverage might upset the Soviet Union and damage Sweden's relations to the superpower. Instead, Solzhenitsyn received his prize at the 1974 ceremony after he had been deported from the Soviet Union. The Gulag Archipelago was a three volume work on the Soviet prison camp system. It was based upon Solzhenitsyn's own experience as well as the testimony of 227 former prisoners and Solzhenitsyn's own research into the history of the penal system. It discussed the system's origins from Lenin and the very founding of the Communist regime, detailing everything from interrogation procedures and prisoner transports, to camp culture, prisoner uprisings and revolts, and the practice of internal exile. The appearance of the book in the West put the word gulag into the Western political vocabulary and guaranteed swift retribution from the Soviet authorities.


In the West
Solzhenitsyn became a cause célèbre in the West, earning him the enmity of the Soviet regime. He could have emigrated at any time,[citation needed] but always expressed the desire to stay in his motherland and work for change from within. During this period, he was sheltered by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who suffered considerably for his support of Solzhenitsyn and was eventually forced into exile himself. However, on February 13, 1974, Solzhenitsyn was deported from the Soviet Union to West Germany and stripped of his Soviet citizenship. The KGB had found the manuscript for the first part of The Gulag Archipelago. Less than a week later, the Soviets carried out reprisals against Yevgeny Yevtushenko for his support of Solzhenitsyn. After a time in Switzerland, Solzhenitsyn was invited to Stanford University in the United States to "facilitate your work, and to accommodate you and your family." He stayed on the 11th floor of the Hoover Tower, part of the Hoover Institution. Solzhenitsyn moved to Cavendish, Vermont in 1976. He was given an honorary Literary Degree from Harvard University in 1978 and on Thursday, June 8, 1978 he gave his Commencement Address condemning modern western culture. Over the next 17 years, Solzhenitsyn worked hard on his historical cycle of the Russian Revolution of 1917 The Red Wheel, four "knots" (parts of the whole) of which had been completed by 1992, and outside of this, several shorter works. Despite an enthusiastic welcome on his first arrival in America, followed by respect for his privacy, he had never been comfortable outside his homeland. He did not become fluent in spoken English despite spending two decades in the United States; he has read works in English since his teens however, something his mother encouraged him to do. More important, he resented the idea of becoming a media star and of tempering his ideas or ways of talking to fit television. Solzhenitsyn's warnings about the dangers of Communist aggression and the weakening of the moral fiber of the West were generally well received in conservative circles in the West, and fit very well with the toughening-up of foreign policy under U.S. President Ronald Reagan. But liberals and secularists were increasingly critical of what they perceived as his reactionary preference for Russian patriotism and the Russian Orthodox religion. He also harshly criticised what he saw as the ugliness and spiritual vapidity of the dominant pop culture of the modern West, including television and rock music: "…the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits … by TV stupor and by intolerable music."


Return to Russia
Solzhenitsyn boards a train in Vladivostok after returning to Russia from exile. Photo by Mikhail EvstafievIn 1990, his Soviet citizenship was restored, and, in 1994, he returned to Russia with his wife, Natalia, who had become a United States citizen. Their sons stayed behind in the United States (later, his oldest son Ermolay returned to Russia, to work for the Moscow office of a leading management consultancy firm). Since then, he has lived with his wife in a dacha in Troitse-Lykovo (Троице-Лыково) in west Moscow between the dachas once occupied by Mikhail Suslov and Konstantin Chernenko. Since returning to Russia in 1994, Solzhenitsyn has published eight two-part short stories, a series of contemplative "miniatures" or prose poems, a literary memoir on his years in the West (The Grain Between the Millstones) and a two-volume work on the history of Russian-Jewish relations (Two Hundred Years Together 2001, 2002). In it, Solzhenitsyn emphatically repudiates the idea the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were the work of a "Jewish conspiracy" . At the same time, he calls on both Russians and Jews to come to terms with the members of their peoples who acted in complicity with the Communist regime. The reception of this work confirms Solzhenitsyn remains a polarizing figure both at home and abroad. According to his critics, the book confirmed Solzhenitsyn's anti-Semitic views as well as his ideas of Russian supremacy to other nations. Professor Robert Service of Oxford University has defended Solzhenitsyn as being "absolutely right", noting Trotsky himself claimed Jews were disproportionately represented in the early Soviet bureaucracy.Another famous Russian dissident writer, Vladimir Voinovich, wrote a polemical study "A Portrait Against the Background of a Myth" ("Портрет на фоне мифа", 2002.), in which he had tried to prove Solzhenitsyn's egoism, antisemitism, and lack of writing skills. Voinovich had already mocked Solzhenitsyn in his novel Moscow 2042, portraying him by the self-centered egomaniac Sim Simich Karnavalov, an extreme and brutal dictatorial writer who tries to destroy the Soviet Union and, eventually, to become the king of Russia. Using a more circuitous line of argument, Joseph Brodsky, in his essay Catastrophes in the Air (in Less than One), argued Solzhenitsyn, while a hero in showing up the brutalities of Soviet Communism, failed to discern the historical crimes he unearthed might be the outcome of authoritarian traits who were really part of the heritage of Old Russia and of "the severe spirit of Orthodoxy" (venerated by Solzhenitsyn) and much less due to more recent (Marxist) political ideology. In his recent political writings, such as Rebuilding Russia (1990) and Russia in Collapse (1998), Solzhenitsyn has criticized the oligarchic excesses of the new Russian 'democracy,' while opposing any nostalgia for Soviet communism. He has defended moderate and self-critical patriotism (as opposed to extreme nationalism), argued for the indispensability of local self-government to a free Russia, and expressed concerns for the fate of the 25 million ethnic Russians in the "near abroad" of the former Soviet Union. He has also sought to "protect" the national character of the Russian Orthodox church and fought against the admission of Catholic priests and Protestant pastors to Russia from other countries. For a brief period, he had his own TV show, where he freely expressed his views. The show was cancelled because of low ratings, but Solzhenitsyn continued to maintain a relatively high profile in the media.
All of Solzhenitsyn's sons became U.S. citizens. One, Ignat, has achieved acclaim as a pianist and conductor in the United States.
Since the death of Naguib Mahfouz in 2006, Solzhenitsyn is the oldest living Nobel laureate in literature.

The most complete 30-volume edition of Solzhenitsyn’s selected works is soon to be published in Russia. The presentation of its first three published volumes has recently taken place in Moscow. On June 5, 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree conferring the State Prize of the Russian Federation for the humanitarian work of Solzhenitsyn. President Putin personally visited the writer at his home on June 12, 2007, to give him the award.


In the 1930s U.S. writers shared the concerns of Europeans: perhaps the best novel spawned by the Spanish Civil War, was Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Others chronicled American society, among them Steinbeck; Sinclair Lewis, most notably in Main Street (1920) and Babbitt (1922); John Dos Passos in his trilogy U.S.A. (1930-36), and James T. Farrell in his Studs Lonigan trilogy (1932-35). F. Scott Fitgerald too, though moving in different social circles, was essentially a chronicler of 20s high life. The acerbic critic H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), savaged European cultural predominance and upheld the colloquial American language, while condemning 'literary standards derived from the Ladies' Home Journal'.


In more recent times, North American literature has been divided among special-interest social groups (blacks, women, homosexuals, etc.) and with often contradictory theories. Older traditions still survive, especially the identification of the writer with the cause of reform.


Two features of recent fiction writing m the U.S.A. frequently remarked on are the tendency for novelists to write one very good book whose quality is never repeated, and a fondness, especially among 'regional' writers, for the short story. The former has sometimes been ascribed to a surfeit of early critical praise, or material profit, taking the edge off a writer's 'hunger'; the latter partly to the influence of The New Yorker magazine. Among the many outstanding practitioners of the short story are the Polish-born Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904—91), who wrote originally in Yiddish; the once very popular John O'Hara (1905-70); Flannery O'Connor (1925-64) and Carson Meddlers (1917-67), exponents of what is called 'Southern Gothic'; Mississippi-born Euclora Welty (born 1909); and the highly esteeemed Raymond Carver (1938-88). John Updike (born 1932), best known for his 'Rabbit' novels, is another exponent.


Expectations of a literary revival after the Second World War comparable with that of the First, were largely disappointed. Big changes in outlook and interesting developments in many spheres were occurring, but by and large, the writers who held centre stage were those of the previous generation, such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and on a lesser plane, James Gould Cozzens. However, James Jones (From Here to Eternity, 1951) and Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead, 1948), made their names as war novelists. Jones, arguably, never quite repeated his early success, but Mailer became increasingly famous, through his not-so-private life as well as his varied and uneven writings. The most successful war novel, eight years in the writing and a bestseller of huge dimensions, was Joseph Heller's surreal black comedy, Catch-22 (1961). The title is now a familiar term for an absurd and insoluble dilemma.

The novel of the 1950s most widely admired by younger readers was J. D. Salinger's Catcher in The Rye (1951), with its 16-year-old narrator, Holden Caulfield, seeming in retrospect a herald of 1960s youth culture. Salinger's later works were less impressive and Robert Penn Warren, a respected poet and critic, is also remembered primarily for a single novel on similar lines, All the King's Men (1946), about a corrupt, power-hungry Southern politician. Ralph Ellison's memorable, Kafkaesque story of a Southern black in New York, Invisible Man (1952) will similarly ensure his niche in literary history.


The group of laid-back, anti-intellectual, faintly subversive American writers of the 1950s—1960s who were influenced by Zen Buddhism and native American cults, was so named by Jack Kerouac (1922-69). His novel On the Road (1957) is one of the group's most notable productions. Other 'Beat writers' include the anarchic, experimental William Burroughs, best known for The Naked Lunch (1959), and the poets Allen Ginsburg, whose bardic rage against American materialism was best expressed in Howl (1956), Gregory Gorso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder in 1953 of the Gity Lights bookstore, San Francisco, a centre for the Beats. Haughty critics have remarked that the Beats created more headlines than literature.


Although a doubtful category, the fact is that many of the most distinguished modern American novelists are Jewish and write — though not exclusively — about American-Jewish experience. Among the most admired are: Bernard Alalamud (1914-86), famous especially for The Fixer (1967), set in Tsarist Russia; Nobel prizewinner Saul Bellow (born 1915), whose Herzog (1964) describes the inner torments of a Jewish intellectual ('The soul requires intensity' - Bellow's watchword); and Philip Roth (born 1933), best known for the controversial Portnoy's Complaint (1969) and his sequence featuring Nathan Zuckerman, a Jewish novelist.
Not all first or second-generation immigrants, of course, were Jewish. One of the finest masters of style was the wonderfully imaginative, bilingual, Russian-born Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), who achieved fame with Lolita (1955) but wrote many perhaps better books.

Vladimir Nabokov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (Russian: Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков) (April 22 [O.S. April 10] 1899, Saint Petersburg – July 2, 1977, Montreux) was a multilingual Russian-American novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to entomology and had an interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is his most widely known, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.

The eldest son of Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov and his wife, née Elena Ivanovna Rukavishnikova, he was born to a rich and prominent Orthodox family of the untitled nobility of Saint Petersburg. He spent his childhood and youth there and at the country estate Vyra near Siverskaya. Nabokov's childhood, which he called "perfect," was remarkable in several ways. The family spoke Russian, English and French in their household, and Nabokov was trilingual from an early age. In fact, much to his father's patriotic chagrin, Nabokov could read and write English before he could Russian. In Speak, Memory Nabokov recalls numerous details of his privileged childhood, and his ability to recall in vivid detail memories of his past was a boon to him during his permanent exile, as well as providing a theme which echoes from his first book, Mary, all the way to later works such as Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. In 1916 Nabokov inherited the estate Rozhestveno, next to Vyra, from his uncle Vasiliy Ivanovich Rukavishnikov ("Uncle Ruka" in Speak, Memory), but lost it in the revolution one year later; this was the only house he would ever own.

The Nabokov family left Saint Petersburg in the wake of the 1917 Revolution for a friend's estate in the Crimea, where they remained for 18 months. The family did not expect to be out of Saint Petersburg for very long, but in fact they would never return. In September of 1918, they moved to Livadia. After the withdrawal of the German Army (November 1918) and following the defeat of the White Army in early 1919, the Nabokovs left for exile in western Europe. On April 2, 1919, the family left Sevastopol. They settled briefly in England, where Vladimir enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge and studied Slavic and Romance languages. His Cambridge experiences would later help him in the writing of the novel Glory. In 1920, his family moved to Berlin where his father set up the émigré newspaper Rul'. VN would follow to Berlin after his studies at Cambridge two years later. In 1922, Nabokov's father was assassinated in Berlin by Russian monarchists as he tried to shelter their real target, Pavel Milyukov, a leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party-in-exile. This episode of mistaken, violent death would echo again and again in the author's fiction, where characters would meet their deaths under mistaken terms. In Pale Fire, for example, the poet Shade is murdered accidentally (allegedly) when an assassin fires his weapon at an (alleged) former king. Shortly after his father's death, his mother and sister moved to Prague. VN, however, stayed in Berlin where he became a recognized poet and writer within the émigré community and published under his pen name V. Sirin - it may signify an owl or a mythological bird - , a pseudonym he used for his Russian writings for about four decades. In Berlin, he also tutored and gave tennis lessons. In 1922 Nabokov became engaged to Svetlana Siewert; the engagement was broken off in early 1923 as he had no steady job. In May 1923, he met Véra Evseyevna Slonim and married her in 1925. Their only child, Dmitri, was born in 1934. In 1936, when Vera lost her job due to the antisemitic environment, and the assassin of his father was appointed second-in-command of the Russian émigré group, Nabokov started to look for jobs in the English-speaking world. He left Germany with his family in 1937. He and his family moved to Paris, but also stayed during this journey at times at Prague, Cannes, Menton, Cap d'Antibes, and Frejus. In May 1940 the Nabokov family fled from the advancing German troops to the United States on board the Champlain.

The Nabokovs settled down in Manhattan and VN started a job at the American Museum of Natural History. In October he met Edmund Wilson, who introduced Nabokov's work to American editors, leading eventually to his recognition. Nabokov came to Wellesley College in 1941 as resident lecturer in comparative literature. The position, created specifically for him, provided an income and free time to write creatively and pursue his lepidoptery. Nabokov is remembered as the founder of Wellesley's Russian Department. His lecture series on major nineteenth-century Russian writers was hailed as "funny," "learned," and "brilliantly satirical." The Nabokovs resided in Wellesley, Massachusetts during the 1941-42 academic year; they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in September 1942 and lived there until June 1948. Following a lecture tour through the United States, Nabokov returned to Wellesley for the 1944–45 academic year as a lecturer in Russian. He served through the 1947-48 term as Wellesley's one-man Russian Department, offering courses in Russian language and literature. His classes were popular, due as much to his unique teaching style as to the wartime interest in all things Russian. At the same time he was curator of lepidoptery at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Biology. After being encouraged by Morris Bishop, Nabokov left Wellesley in 1948 to teach Russian and European literature at Cornell University. In 1945, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Nabokov wrote his novel Lolita while traveling on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States. (Nabokov never learned to drive, Vera acted as chauffeur; when VN attempted to burn unfinished drafts of Lolita, it was Vera who stopped him. He called her the best-humored woman he had ever known. Despite this, biographers - in particular, Stacy Shiff - have made it clear that he regularly strayed in his marriage.) In June 1953 he and his family came to Ashland, Oregon, renting a house on Meade Street from Professor Taylor, head of the Southern Oregon College Department of Social Science. There he finished Lolita and began writing the novel Pnin. He roamed the nearby mountains looking for butterflies, and wrote a poem Lines Written in Oregon. On October 1, 1953, he and his family left for Ithaca, New York.

After the great financial success of Lolita, Nabokov was able to return to Europe and devote himself exclusively to writing. Also his son had gotten a position as an operatic bass at Reggio Emilia. On October 1, 1961, he and Véra moved to the Montreux Palace Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland; he stayed there until the end of his life. From his sixth-floor quarters he conducted his business and took tours to the Alps, Corsica, and Sicily to hunt butterflies. In 1976 he was hospitalized with an undiagnosed fever; rehospitalized in Lausanne in 1977, he suffered from severe bronchial congestion, and died on July 2. His remains were cremated and are buried at the Clarens cemetery in Montreux.At the time of his death, he was working on a novel titled The Original of Laura. His wife Vera and son Dmitri were entrusted with Nabokov's literary executorship, and though he asked them to burn the manuscript, they were unable to destroy his final work. The incomplete manuscript, which is said to consist of around 125 handwritten index cards, has remained in a Swiss bank vault ever since. Only two people, Dmitri Nabokov and an unknown person, have access to the vault. Portions of the manuscript have been shown to Nabokov scholars. In April, 2008, Dmitri announced that he would publish the novel.

Birth date
Nabokov was born on April 10, 1899 according to the Julian calendar in use in Russia at that time. The Gregorian equivalent is April 22, which is achieved by adding 12 days to the Julian date. Some sources have incorrectly calculated a date of April 23, by inappropriately using the 13-day difference in the calendars that applied only after February 28, 1900. In Speak, Memory Nabokov explains the cause of the error and confirms the correct date of April 22. But he himself celebrated his birthday on April 23, and stated in an interview with The New York Times, "That is also Shakespeare’s and Shirley Temple’s, so I have nothing to lose by saying I was born on the 23rd."


Nabokov's first writings were in Russian, but he came to his greatest distinction in the English language. For this achievement, he has been compared with Joseph Conrad; yet some view this as a dubious comparison, as Conrad composed only in English, never in his native Polish. (Nabokov himself disdained the comparison for aesthetic reasons, lamenting to the critic Edmund Wilson, "I am too old to change Conradically" — which John Updike later called, "itself a jest of genius." Nabokov, in the very early fifties, offered the critic Edmund Wilson a pocket appraisal: "Conrad knew how to handle readymade English better than I; but I know better the other kind. He never sinks to the depths of my solecisms, but neither does he scale my verbal peaks.")  Nabokov translated many of his own early works into English, sometimes in cooperation with his son Dmitri. His trilingual upbringing had a profound influence on his artistry. He has metaphorically described the transition from one language to another as the slow journey at night from one village to the next with only a candle for illumination. Nabokov himself translated two books he wrote in English into Russian, Conclusive Evidence, and Lolita. The first "translation" was made because of Nabokov's feeling of imperfection in the English version. Writing the book, he noted that he needed to translate his own memories into English, and to spend a lot of time explaining things which are well-known in Russia; then he decided to re-write the book once again, in his first native language, and after that he made the final version, Speak, Memory (Nabokov first wanted to name it "Speak, Mnemosyne"). Nabokov was a proponent of individualism, and rejected concepts and ideologies that curtailed individual freedom and expression, such as totalitarianism in its various forms as well as Freud's psychoanalysis. Poshlost, or as he transcribed it, poshlust, is disdained and frequently mocked in his works.

Nabokov is noted for his complex plots, clever word play, and use of alliteration. He gained both fame and notoriety with his novel Lolita (1955), which tells of a grown man's devouring passion for a twelve-year-old girl. This and his other novels, particularly Pale Fire (1962), won him a place among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. His longest novel, which met with a mixed response, is Ada (1969). He devoted more time to the composition of this novel than any of his others. Nabokov's fiction is characterized by its linguistic playfulness. For example, his short story "The Vane Sisters" is famous in part for its acrostic final paragraph, in which the first letters of each word spell out a message from beyond the grave. Nabokov's stature as a literary critic is founded largely on his four-volume translation of and commentary on Aleksandr Pushkin's epic of the Russian soul, Eugene Onegin, published in 1964. That commentary ended with an appendix titled Notes on Prosody which has developed a reputation of its own. It stemmed from his observation that while Pushkin's iambic tetrameters had been a part of Russian literature for a fairly short two centuries, they were clearly understood by the Russian prosodists. On the other hand, he viewed the much older English iambic tetrameters as muddled and poorly documented. In his own words:

I have been forced to invent a simple little terminology of my own, explain its application to English verse forms, and indulge in certain rather copious details of classification before even tackling the limited object of these notes to my translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, an object that boils down to very little—in comparison to the forced preliminaries — namely, to a few things that the non-Russian student of Russian literature must know in regard to Russian prosody in general and to Eugene Onegin in particular.

Nabokov's translation was the focus of a bitter polemic with Edmund Wilson and others; he had rendered the very precisely metered and rhyming novel in verse to (by his own admission) stumbling, non-rhymed prose. He argued that all verse translations of Onegin fatally betrayed the author's use of language; critics replied that failure to make the translation as beautifully styled as the original was a much greater betrayal. Nabokov's Lectures on Literature at Cornell University where he was appointed an instructor in 1948, reveals his controversial ideas concerning art. He firmly believed that novels should not aim to teach and that readers should not merely empathise with characters but that a 'higher' aesthetic enjoyment should be attained, partly by paying great attention to details of style and structure. He detested what he saw as 'general ideas' in novels, and so when teaching Ulysses, for example, he would insist students keep an eye on where the characters were in Dublin (with the aid of a map) rather than teaching the complex Irish history that many critics see as being essential to an understanding of the novel. During his ten years at Cornell, Nabokov introduced undergraduates to the delights of great fiction, including the Bleak House of Charles Dickens in fifty-minute classroom lectures. Nabokov's detractors fault him for being an aesthete and for his over-attention to language and detail rather than character development. In his essay "Nabokov, or Nostalgia," Danilo Kiš wrote that Nabokov's is "a magnificent, complex, and sterile art." Russian poet Yvgeny Yevtushenko said in a Playboy interview that he could hear the clatter of surgical tools in VN's prose. Not until glasnost did Nabokov's work become officially available in his native country. Gorbachev authorized a five-volume edition of his writing in 1988.


There was little black American fiction (meaning not only by blacks but about blacks) before the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Richard Wright is best known for Native Son (1940), a bitter attack on race prejudice. The leading figure in the next generation was James Baldwin, whose non-fiction The Fire Next Time (1963) was a powerful blow in the movement for civil rights. More recently, outstanding black women writers making artistic use of autobiographical experience have emerged.


The term literature originally meant all written language. In the case of fiction, however, an obvious distinction has arisen between what is, broadly, seen as art and what is seen as pure entertainment. The distinction is, superficially, obvious enough, and a glance around the airport bookstall is instructive in this respect. Nevertheless, the grey area is extensive. Clearly, all literature is in some way entertaining, and it could be argued that what is by general consent classed as 'literature' is on the whole more entertaining than the vast production of pulp fiction tailored to a target readership and aiming merely to entertain or secure large sales.



The idea of genre in literature describes works in categories distinguished by certain conventions, which are followed by the author and expected by the reader or audience. If you go to see a Greek tragedy, even if you don't know the play, you know it will have the certain characteristics that place it in the genre of the Classical tragedy. The term genre fiction is now often applied to the many and varieties of the popular novel, such as 'sex and shopping', 'romances', 'bodice-rippers', 'westerns', and many others, all visible on that airport bookstall. They do not generally aspire to the title of literature although some - a few - novels that fall within these genres are not only far from aesthetically worthless, they occupy the same aesthetic plane as the most high-flown works of postmodernism. Some serious novelists have found in these genres a rewarding (in more ways than one. perhaps) 'alternative mode' of writing. Many learned scholars have, for example, written lightweight detective fiction.


The spy novel has roots in the adventure stories of John Buchan (1875-1940), and Erskine Childers's The Riddle of the Sands (1903) is an early classic. Its golden age coincided with the Cold War, and its most adept practitioners were often former officers in intelligence services, such as Graham Greene (1904—91). Greene was one of the most distinguished British novelists of the century who, incidentally, divided his fiction into novels and 'entertainments', his spy stories (e.g. The Confidential Agent, The Human Factor) falling into the latter category. The most popular spy stories of the period were those of Ian Fleming's (1908—64) hero James Bond, the inspiration for a seemingly endless series of  blockbusting films. The supreme exponent of the Cold War spy novel, however, is John Le Carre, whose The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963) was described by Greene as "the best spy story I have ever read'. Le Carre's thorough research, subtle plots and vivid characterization were displayed in a series of gripping, often bleak novels.


Like its ancestor, the 19th-century 'Gothic' novel, the horror novel exploits human fear of the unknown, and has been praised for offering 'insights we might prefer not to admit we have'. Modern horror fiction more often specializes in violent sensationalism offering no discernible insights beyond the most obvious. The most successful modern exponent has been Stephen King, whose first novel, Carrie (1974), built on the extraordinary popularity of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist (1971). A perhaps more thoughtful writer in this genre, and a fine stylist, is another American, Peter Straub (born 1943).


American writers were also prominent in the 'golden age' of science fiction, after the Second World War. Science fiction, variously defined, describes stories set in an imaginary, usually future world where more or less feasible scientific advances have created a different society. Although much earlier prototypes could be cited, modern science fiction is generally held to have begun with Jules Verne (1928-1905), author of numerous 'scientific' adventures (e.g. Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Eeagnes Under the Sea), H. G. Wells (1866-1946), whose SF novels (The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, etc.) represented but one of the interests of an extraordinary polymath and social reformer, and Karel Capek (1890-1938), who coined the term 'robot'.

Aldous Huxley's dystopia, Brave New World (1932) helped to make SF more respectable, but in the postwar era it varied greatly in literary quality, much of it not aspiring to a level above pulp fiction. The legendary editor of Astounding Science Fiction, John W. Campbell, was a powerful influence in extending the genre and raising standards. Among the most popular American SF writers in that era were Isaac Asimov, Frederick Pohl, C. W. Kornbluth, Walter M. Miller, Philip K. Dick and Ursula Le Guin (women SF writers were comparatively rare), and among the British, (Sir) Arthur C. Clarke (who forecast communications satellites), John Wyndham, Brian Aldiss and Michael Moorcock. The latter's novels straddled the nebulous boundary between SF and 'Fantasy' fiction, another modern variant of the Gothic.

With the nuclear age, SF entered the literary mainstream. The British novelist and poet Kingsley Amis was the first to write a serious study of SF (New Maps of Hell, 1961), and writers such as J. G. Ballard (born 1930) and the inimitable Kurt Vonnegut (born 1922) could not be placed in what was traditionally regarded as an inferior category; in fact, much of their work was not strictly science fiction.


Some critics have seen a decline in the British novel since the poweful impulse of modernism was absorbed - a post-imperial, insular tendency to match the national decline - and it has been compared unfavourably with the vigour of the American novel. The truth may have more to do with its very disparate character, its sheer variety, and the corresponding absence of some great central theme relevant to the times. British writers have not universally abandoned experiment (nor political commitment for that matter), but on the whole they have been less affected by modern literary theories inspired, largely, by
French thinkers.



Novelists of the 1930s continued to dominate the immediate post-war period. Greene was perhaps the most notable, his best novels, such as The Power and the Glory (1940) and The Heart of the Matter (1948), dominated by his powerful sense of evil and moral decay. He was a Catholic, and although there was no such thing as a 'Catholic school' in British fiction, a striking number of good novelists were Catholics. Of at least equal distinction was Evelyn Waugh (1903—66), best known now for his satirical comedies of the 1920s and 1930s and the nostalgic Bridehsead Revisited (1945), though his best work was his war trilogy Sword of Honour (1952—61). Malcolm Lowry (1909-57), not a Catholic, is known chiefly for a single, highly regarded novel, Under the Volcano (1947), which belongs essentially to modernism in the tradition of Joyce.

THE 1950S

There was a new spirit abroad in the 1950s, the era of the Angry Young Men (a meaningless nickname) typified by Osborne's Jimmy Porter. William Colding, a future Nobel prizewinner, began his literary career at 43 with the arresting Lord of the Flies (1954), a parable about a school choir marooned on a tropical island. Another memorable anti-Utopian novel was Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange (1962). Notable first novels of 1954, besides Golding's, were Under the Net, an existential comedy by the Oxford philosopher Iris Murdoch, and Lucky Jim, an uproarious, rebellious comedy set in a provincial, 'red-brick' university, by Kingsley Amis. It was the first British 'campus novel', a comedic genre richly exploited later by Malcolm Bradbury (born 1932) and David Lodge (born 1935). Lodge was another Catholic, and so, by conversion, was Muriel Spark, the first of whose wry comedies, The Comforters, was published in 1957. Doris Lessing arrived from Rhodesia to begin the first of her ambitious novel sequences with The Grass is Singing (1950).

The first of Anthony Powell's twelve-volume sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, a Proustian pageant of English life in literary and upper-class society, was published in 1951. It would head many lists of the best English fiction of the century, but risks being underrated because so much of it is extremely funny Among a later generation of novelists, many of them, like V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Timothy Mo and Hanif Kureishi, from different cultural backgrounds, the most eminent included Margaret Drabble and her sister A. S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Fay Weldon and John Fowles. The writer who most successfully combined commercial success and critical approval was Martin Amis, son of Kingsley, and similarly eclectic, though best known for blackish satire.


Although it sometimes seemed so, British literary life was not confined to London. William Cooper's affectionate comedy Scenes from Provincial Life (1950) is set in Leicester, though his characters, civil servants, gravitated to Whitehall later, where they might have met the characters of C. P. Snow, another Leicester-bred civil servant, though his best-known novel is set in a Cambridge college (The Masters, 1951). Alan Sillitoe represented Nottingham, David Lodge declined to leave Birmingham, and several good quality novelists, including John Braine and David Storey, not to mention the older J. B. Priestley, came from Yorkshire.

Ireland, as ever, swelled with literary talent - and literary rows. The troubles in the North, as troubles often do, motivated many fine writers. In the Republic, Flann O'Brien (1911-66) mocked rural nostalgia; John McGahern's second novel, The Dark (1965), lost him his teaching post; and short-story writer Frank O'Connor (1903—66) feelingly advised Irish writers to cultivate the hide of a rhinoceros and to live near the sea. The Irish government encouraged writers with tax concessions, but some, like Joyce, preferred to move out, including the Belfast-born Brian Moore (born 1921). Seamus Dcane's huge Anthology of Irish Writing (1991) indicated the vast range of Irish talent, north and south.
It is common to speak of a Scottish literary renaissance in the late 20th century. It was centred largely on Glasgow and its populist tradition, and is exemplifed in Alasdair Gray, whose prodigious Lanark (1981) was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. On a smaller scale, the sometimes painful work of James Kellman, notably How Late It Was, How Late (1994), may prove equally influential.


There is no doubt that it is easier for writers to gain fame and popularity if their native language is English. In any other language, even French, it is more difficult, and in, for example, Armenian, it is exceedingly difficult. Style is another consideration. The writer from any culture who is best known internationally may or may not be the best writer. Much depends on ease of translation. Some books are almost impossible to translate (though it's amazing what can be done, even with Finnegan's Wake). It is sometimes suggested that the immense popularity of certain writers, for example the Italian Italo Svevo, author of The Confessions of Zeno (1923), is partly due to his translatability.



Literarry Paris after the war was dominated by the circle of the Existentialists who revolved around Camus. Although it never quite regained the spirit of the 1930s, Paris became again a preeminent centre for ideas and an attraction to immigre writers, notably black Americans such as James Baldwin and Richard Wright. And the bars still hummed with literary feuds. Another American, Peter Matthiessen, founded the Paris Review, a literary magazine that became an institution. The Olympia Press of Maurice Girodias, notable mainly for pornography, published William Burroughs's The Naked Lunch (1959), as well as Nabokov's Lolita and the first novel of the American, later Irish-based, J. P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man (1955), books that more orthodox publishers shied away from. Another publisher, Les Editions de Minuit, patronized the experimental group of exponents of the nouveau roman ('new novel'), a term applied to a variety of writers who found the traditional form of the novel inadequate, broadly for the reasons outlined by Alain Robbe-Grillet (born 1922): that the presence of an omniscient narrator imposes order and significance on life where, in fact, they do not exist. Other proponents of the noiweau roman included Nathalie Sarrault (born 1902), who bombarded her readers with tropisms, i.e. the vague sensations and indefinable influences that are responsible for a person's actual words and actions, and Marguerite Duras (born 1914), author of the screenplay Hiroshima Моn Amour ( 1959) and of an autobiographical work which she claimed to have no memory of writing. Eventually, theorists such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Dernda and Michel Foucault became more famous than any mere practitioner of fiction. Their theories, which belong to the academy and mean little to the ordinary reader, served to keep France m her traditional place as leader of the avant-garde.

Neo-realism, so powerful a force in Italian post-war cinema, also affected literature, the most notable exponent being Alberto Moravia (1907—90), a fierce critic of the moral apathy of bourgeois society, which he regarded as responsible for Fascism. Perhaps his best novel. Two Women (1956), is set in Italy at the time of the Allied occupation towards the end of the Second World War. His exploration of sex and psychology in human affairs was partly and incidentally responsible for the great popularity of his novels and short stories.

Umberto Eco (born 1932), a professor of semiotics and more of a cultural hero than a novelist, posed sophisticated intellectual puzzles in books such as The Name of the Rose (1981), a historical thriller and international bestseller that operates on many levels, and the equally complex Foucault's Pendulum (1988). The inspirational Primo Levi (1919—87), a chemical engineer and (like Moravia) a Jew, survived Auschwitz (because his ability as a chemist made him useful) and made something extraordinary from the experience in his three-volume autobiography (1946-75). Other works interestingly mix autobiography, history and science, ltalo Calvino (1923-85:, though he began as, more or less, a neo-realist (e.g. The Path of the Nest of Spiders, 1947, an outstanding novel of the Italian Resistance), developed into a great exponent of myth, fable and fantasy, especially in his trilogy Our Ancestors (1952—62), and is often compared with Jorge Luis Borges. Calvino is said to have selected his titles with an eye to their effect in translation, though his reputation as perhaps the most influential of all late 20th-century Italian writers rests on more solid foundations. Sicily's problems inspired Leonardo Sciascia (1921-89) and produced one of the great novels of the age in The Leopard (1958) by Giuseppe Iomasi di Lampedusa.

The Nazis virtually killed off all forms of German literature: writers who survived were exiles. Some later returned, a few, like Anna Seghers and Arnold Zweig to the communist Fast. The leading literary movement in the West was Croup 47, founded and miraculously sustained by Hans Werner Richter, and attracting both German and Austrian writers. Leading German novelists who gained international reputations - Heinrich Boll ( 1907-85) . Gunther Grass (born 1927) and Uwe Johnson (1954-84) - received early encouragement from the Group. Boll explored the moral and social problems of Germany' in the post-Nazi era in a series of novels, besides dealing sensitively with contemporary issues. Grass, a more humorous, and more determinedly experimental novelist, won immediate international acclaim for The Tin Drum (1959). Johnson also made his name with his first novel,. Speculations about Jacob (1959), moving from Last Germany to the West in order to get it published. Arno Schmidt (died 1979). though his later work is dense and obscure and thus little known abroad, was especially influential in Germany.


Common characteristics of the regions summarized here are a strong sense of place and a heritage influenced by Europe. The exciting recent developments represent the achievement of independence and equality; the influence now travels in both directions. Another result is the questioning of the whole Western literary hierarchy, in which Afro-American authors, among others, have also played an important part.


Until the upsurge of literary talent in the 1960s, Canadian writing was largely under British or U.S. influence. Robertson Davies (1913-95), whose best work was produced comparatively late, concentrated, often satirically, on Canadian themes in his three trilogies. Among others who have achieved international fame are Margaret Atwood (born 1939), whose primary concerns are feminism and Canadian nationalism, though her themes range widely, and Michael Ondaatje (born 1943 in Sri Lanka), best known for The English Patient (1992).
Australian writers have often tended to move to Europe. Notable early Australian writers included Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence, 1870-1946) but the first of world stature was Patrick White (1912-90), best known for Australian epics such as Voss (1957). He was followed by Thomas Keneally (born 1935), a highly eclectic writer probably best known for Schindler's Ark (1982), though many of his novels deal with Australian themes, and Peter Carey (born 1943), influenced by magic realism and firmly rooted in Australia, who commands a unique mixture of the comic and the sinister.


English literature has flourished remarkably in India since independence. As elsewhere, the best-known writers are native English-speakers. The most famous is undoubtedly Salman Rushdie (born 1947), resident in Britain. His magic-realist Midnight's Children provided an exuberant portrait of Bombay, India's main literary fulcrum. Among other outstanding novelists, the best-known m the West include Anita Desai (born 1937), Rohinton Mistry (born 1952), chronicler of the Parsees, and Vikram Seth (born 1952), whose enormous, cheerful A Suitable Roy was a runaway bestseller in 1993.


Latin America encompasses many different cultures, making all generalizations dubious. The continent has, however, had great influence on world literature in modern times, largely through the genre known as 'magic realism', implying a realistic story invaded by elements of fantasy and the supernatural. It can be traced to the great Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), one of the greatest -and strangest - short-story writers of the century. Other early exponents were the Cuban Alejo Carpentier (1904-79), notably in The  Kingdom of This World (1949), the Brazilian Jorge Armado (born 1912) and the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez (born 1928), especially in One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), a classic of the genre. Carlos Fuentes (born 1928), intensely influenced by the Mexican Revolution, combined myth and history m novels such as The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962). The novels of Mario Vargas Lhosa (born 1936) painted a merciless picture of Peruvian society.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez (born March 6, 1927) is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. García Márquez, familiarly known as "Gabo" in his native country, is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism. From early on, he showed no inhibitions in his criticism of Colombian and foreign politics. In 1958, he married Mercedes Barcha and they have two sons. He started as a journalist, and has written many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is best-known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magical realism, which uses magical elements and events in order to explain real experiences. Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo, and most of them express the theme of solitude.
Gabriel García Márquez was born on March 6, 1927 in the town of Aracataca, Colombia, to Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez. Soon after García Márquez was born, his father became a pharmacist. In January 1929, his parents moved to Baranquilla while García Marquez stayed in Aracataca. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán and Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía. When he was eight, his grandfather died, and he moved to his parents' home in Barranquilla where his father owned a pharmacy.When his parents fell in love their relationship met with resistance from Luisa Santiaga Marquez's father, the Colonel. Gabriel Eligio García was not the man the Colonel had envisioned winning the heart of his daughter: he was a Conservative, and had the reputation of being a womanizer. Gabriel Eligio wooed Luisa with violin serenades, love poems, countless letters, and even telegraph messages after her father sent her away with the intention of separating the young couple. Her parents tried everything to get rid of the man, but he kept coming back, and it was obvious their daughter was committed to him. Her family finally capitulated and gave her permission to marry him. (The tragicomic story of their courtship would later be adapted and recast as Love in the Time of Cholera.

Since García Márquez's parents were more or less strangers to him for the first few years of his life, his grandparents influenced his early development very strongly. His grandfather, who he called "Papalelo", was a Liberal veteran of the Thousand Days War. The Colonel was considered a hero by Colombian Liberals and was highly respected. He was well-known for his refusal to remain silent about the banana massacres that took place the year García Márquez was born. The Colonel, whom García Márquez has described as his "umbilical cord with history and reality", was also an excellent storyteller. He taught García Márquez lessons from the dictionary, took him to the circus each year, and was the first to introduce his grandson to ice—a "miracle" found at the United Fruit Company store. He would also occasionally tell his young grandson "You can't imagine how much a dead man weighs", reminding him that there was no greater burden than to have killed a man, a lesson that García Márquez would later integrate into his novels. García Márquez's political and ideological views were shaped by his grandfather's stories. In an interview, García Márquez told his friend Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, "my grandfather the Colonel was a Liberal. My political ideas probably came from him to begin with because, instead of telling me fairy tales when I was young, he would regale me with horrifying accounts of the last civil war that free-thinkers and anti-clerics waged against the Conservative government." This influenced his political views and his literary technique so that "in the same way that his writing career initially took shape in conscious opposition to the Colombian literary status quo, García Márquez's socialist and anti-imperialist views are in principled opposition to the global status quo dominated by the United States".García Márquez's grandmother, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán Cotes, played an equally influential role in his upbringing. He was inspired by the way she "treated the extraordinary as something perfectly natural." The house was filled with stories of ghosts and premonitions, omens and portents, all of which were studiously ignored by her husband. According to García Márquez she was "the source of the magical, superstitious and supernatural view of reality". He enjoyed his grandmother's unique way of telling stories. No matter how fantastic or improbable her statements, she always delivered them as if they were the irrefutable truth. It was a deadpan style that, some thirty years later, heavily influenced her grandson's most popular novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
In 1940, García Márquez left his family who had moved a year earlier to Sucre in order to begin his secondary school education at the Jesuit boarding school of San José in Barranquilla. At San José, he first published his words in the school magazine Juventud. On a visit to his parents in Sucre, he met Mercedes Barcha at a student dance, and knew right away that he intended to marry her when they were finished with their studies.In 1943, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Liceo Nacional de Varones in Zipaquirá, a city thirty miles north of Bogotá. In an interview, García Márquez noted,"My literary background was basically in poetry, but bad poetry ... I started out with the poetry that appeared in grammar books. I realized that what I most liked was poetry and what I most hated was Spanish class, grammar." During this period García Márquez also read a wide variety of European classics in addition to Spanish and Colombian literature.

If I had nothing to do and to avoid getting bored I'd hole up at the school library, where they had the Aldeana collection. I read the whole thing! ... From volume one to the last! I read El carnero, memoirs, reminiscences ... I read it all! Of course, when I reached my last year in secondary school, I knew more than the teacher did.

After graduation in 1947, he started law school at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. While in Bogotá, García Márquez took up a program of self-directed reading. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka was one work which particularly inspired him. He was excited by the idea that one could write acceptable literature in an untraditional style that was so similar to his grandmother's stories which "inserted bizarre events into an ordinary setting and related those anomalies as if they were just another aspect of everyday life". He was now more eager to be a writer than before. Soon after, his first published story La tercera resignación appeared in the September 13, 1947 edition of the newspaper El Espectador.Although his passion was now writing, he continued in the law school in 1948 to please his father. During the Bogotá riots on April 9, 1948, the university closed indefinitely and his boarding house was burnt down  and thus García Márquez transferred to the University of Cartagena. By 1950, he gave up on the idea of becoming a lawyer to focus on journalism. He moved back to Barranquilla to write for the newspaper, El Heraldo. In his autobiography, he says: "I had left the university a year before with the rash hope that I could earn a living in journalism and literature without any need to learn them, inspired by a sentence I believe I had read in George Bernard Shaw, 'From a very early age I've had to interrupt my education to go to school.'" Although García Márquez never finished university, Columbia University in New York awarded him an honorary doctorate of letters in 1971.
García Márquez began his career as a journalist while studying law in university. In 1948 and 1949 he wrote for El Universal in Cartagena. Later, from 1950 until 1952, he wrote a "whimsical" column under the name of "Septimus" for the local paper El Heraldo in Barranquilla. García Márquez noted of his time at El Heraldo, "I'd write a piece and they'd pay me three pesos for it, and maybe an editorial for another three." During this time he became an active member of the informal group of writers and journalists known as the Barranquilla Group, an association that provided great motivation and inspiration for his literary career. He worked with inspirational figures such as Ramon Vinyes, who García Márquez depicted as an Old Catalan who owns a bookstore in One Hundred Years of Solitude.[45] At this time, García Márquez was also introduced to the works of writers such as Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. Faulkner's narrative techniques, historical themes and use of provincial locations influenced Latin American authors. The environment of Barranquilla gave García Márquez a world-class literary education and provided him with a unique perspective on Caribbean culture. From 1954 to 1955, García Márquez spent time in Bogotá and regularly wrote for Bogotá's El Espectador. He was a regular film critic which drove his interest in film.
After writing One Hundred Years of Solitude García Márquez returned to Europe, this time bringing along his family, to live in Barcelona, Spain for seven years. The international recognition García Márquez earned with the publication of the novel led to his ability to act as a facilitator in several negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrillas, including the former 19th of April Movement and the current FARC and ELN organizations. The popularity of his writing also led to friendships with powerful leaders, including one with former Cuban president Fidel Castro, which has been analyzed in Gabo and Fidel: Portrait of a Friendship. In an interview with Claudia Dreifus in 1982 García Márquez notes his relationship with Castro is mostly based on literature: “Ours is an intellectual friendship. It may not be widely known that Fidel is a very cultured man. When we’re together, we talk a great deal about literature.”Also due to his newfound fame and his outspoken views on U.S. imperialism he was labeled as a subversive and for many years was denied visas by U.S. immigration authorities. However, after Bill Clinton was elected U.S. president, he finally lifted the travel ban and claimed that García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude was his favorite novel.


Literature of the past is constantly revalued in each new generation. New ideas invite reassessment of past authors and movements. Intellectual fashions change, and present changes throw new light on past events. The popularity of authors rises or falls according to their relevance to contemporary beliefs and prejudices. Victorian authors could scarcely discuss sex except in highly indirect ways; the lively contem- porary field of 'gay literature' would have been unthinkable. Censorship, official or indirect, plays an important part in the process. Even in the most liberal society, there are some things that cannot be published without jeopardy.

So-called special-interest groups have in recent times led to serious questioning of the established literary tradition. Undeniably, Western literary traditions are founded predominantly on the work of, as denigrators put it, dead white males. If you belong to a non-Western culture, if you are neither dead, white nor male, it is not surprising that you should question the values of the traditional literary hierarchy.
A major influence in the last generation or so has been the rise of modern feminism. The idea of a distinction between 'masculine' and 'feminine' writing may be questionable (and even, from a feminist point of view, counterproductive), but there are certainly qualities of style and thinking that are commonly so described. Feminist criticism, however, has had two main effects. The first is in reassessing earlier literature, often in opposition to the prevailing culture of its time. This has led to interesting new views of, in particular, 19th-century novels. The second is in rediscovering or reassessing neglected female writers of earlier times. In this endeavour feminist publishers, such as Virago in Britain, have played a major role.

English, and to a lesser extent French and other European literature, has long been a worldwide phenomenon, but until recently it was largely confined to the British and their cultural descendants in North America and the old dominions. No longer. In recent years nominees, sometimes winners, of the chief annual British literary award, the Booker Prize, have included many Asian and African authors. However, the biggest impact has been made by Afro-American writers, who have blossomed since the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. Several of the best of them happen to be women and belong, more or less closely, to the feminist movement also. The outstanding figure is probably the novelist Toni Morrison (born 1931), who won the Nobel Prize in 1993. Alice Walker's (born 1944) The Color Purple was a huge international bestseller. A poem by Maya Angelou (born 1928) was read at President Clinton's inauguration. Another healthy sign is a growing tendency for black writers to extend their interests beyond the Afro-American experience.

Censorship of publications has existed in all societies and no doubt always will exist, though developments in information technology appear to be making the laws difficult to enforce. Historically, the invention of printing seemed to present similar threats. During the English Reformation, Henry VIII established a licensing system that, in principle, controlled all printed matter: 'popish' propaganda was then the chief concern. It was this opprobrious system that led to one of the earliest defences of the freedom of the press. Milton's Areopatigica (1644, published without licence) and the subsequent abolition of the system. (Nevertheless, all plays for public performance in Britain had to be approved by an official called the Lord Chamberlain until 1968.) In the 18th century the political press, with its often scurrilous attacks on public officials, was dealt with under laws against 'seditious libel'. In the 19th century obscenity, or just plain sex, became the main worry. Early ages being less pernickety, this raised a multitude of problems (as libertarians often pointed out, the Bible contains plenty of sex and violence). Dr Bowdler formed a Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1802 and himself produced a 'bowdlerized' edition of Shakespeare, removing all 'indecencies'. Parliament passed an Obscene Publications Act in 185"7, contributing to the thriving business of underground pornography. Famous victims of the act and its successor of 1959 included Joyce's Ulysses, the entire first edition of which was confiscated in 1923, and Lawrence's Lady Chatterleys Lover, subject of a famous case in 1960, when Penguin Books, win. had risked publishing the first unexpurgated edition in Britain, won acquittal.
The terms of all such legislation are necessarily vague and open to inerpretation. Writing, deemed blasphemous (in Britain, to Christians only) or seditious is also liable to prosecution. The modern equivalent of Dr Bowdler is 'political correctness', an insidious, informal kind of censorship which, if often understandable or even desirable, can lead to absurdities, such as the banning from public libraries books which contain words now seen as racial epithets.
An recent example of censorship was provoked by Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses (1988), which many Muslims regarded as blasphemous. The extremist leader of Iran published a fatwa or religious decree demanding the author's death, and as a result Rushdie was forced to live in hiding under police protection.

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