American Literature: Lecture 8 Modernism (1914 1945) 退出 Objectives



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American Literature:

  • Lecture 8
  • Modernism
  • (1914 - 1945)
  • 退出

Objectives

  • To enable the Ss to get a general idea about American Modernism;
  • To enable the Ss to get in touch with some important modern poets such as Robert Frost and Ezra Pound;

Teaching Materials

  • Robert Lee Frost
  • “The Pasture”
  • “The Road Not Taken”
  • “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”
  • Ezra Pound
  • “In a Station of the Metro”
  • “A Pact”
  • “Salutation”
  • “The Garden”
  • Part I
  • An Introduction to American Modernism

I. Reasons for the coming of American modernism

  • Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) radically altered the nineteenth century romantic view that nature, especially human nature, was benign.
  • Herbert Spencer and the "Gospel of Wealth" or Social Darwinism: reconciled individualism with capitalism by suggesting that the interests of each citizen as well as the interests of the state are served by free economic expansion.
  • The work of Marx, and Freud, as well as other great intellectual explorers and rebels had mounted an assault against orthodox religious faith that lasted into the twentieth century.
  • World War I in particular deepened doubt and reauthorized disillusionment.
  • Another source of disillusionment was the rapid transformation of American society that accelerated with World War I.

II Major Features of Modernism

  • Modernism is a cultural movement that generally includes the progressive art and architecture, design, literature, music, dance, painting and other visual arts which emerged in the beginning of the 20th century , particularly in the years following World War I. It was a movement of artists and designers who rebelled against late 19th century academic and historicist tradition, and embraced the new economic, social and political aspects of the emerging modern world.
  • The avant-garde movements that followed-including Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism-are generally defined as Modernist.

II Major Features of Modernism

  • Modernism in literature is not easily summarized, but the key elements are experimentation, anti-realism, individualism and a stress on the cerebral rather than emotive aspects.
  • The work of Modernist writers is characterized by showing the disenchantment, dislocation, and alienation of men in the world, and by the emphasis on experimentation and formalism and objectivism which are, in most cases, a reaction to the cataclysm known as the Modern Age.
  • Among American writers, the best-known Modernists are T.S.Eliot, Ezra Pound, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and so on.

III. The Schools of American Modernism

  • Modern poetry: experiments in form (Imagism)
  • Prose Writing: modern realism (the Lost Generation)
  • Novels of Social Awareness (Sinclair Lewis and John Steinbeck)
  • The Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes)
  • The Fugitives and New Criticism
  • The 20th Century American Drama (Eugene O’Neill)
  • Part Two: Modern poetry: experiments in form (Imagism)

I. Imagism:

  • I. Imagism:
  • It is a Movement in U.S. and English poetry characterized by the use of concrete language and figures of speech, modern subject matter, metrical freedom, and avoidance of romantic or mystical themes, aiming at clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images.
  • It grew out of the Symbolist Movement in 1912 and was initially led by Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and others.
  • The Imagist manifesto came out in 1912 showed three Imagist poetic principles: direct treatment of the “thing”(no fuss, frill, or ornament), exclusion of superfluous words(precision and economy of expression), the rhythm of the musical phrase rather than the sequence of a metronome(free verse form and music).

Pound defined an image as that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time, and later he extended this definition when he stated that an image was “a vortex or cluster of fused ideas, endowed with energy.”

  • Pound defined an image as that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time, and later he extended this definition when he stated that an image was “a vortex or cluster of fused ideas, endowed with energy.”
  • There existed great influence of Chinese poetry on the Imagist movement. Imagists found value in Chinese poetry was because Chinese poetry is, by virtue of the ideographic and pictographic nature of the Chinese language, essentially imagistic poetry.

II. The Major Representatives of the Modern Poetry:

  • II. The Major Representatives of the Modern Poetry:
  • Ezra Pound (1885- 1972)
  • T.S.Eliot (1888 - 1965)
  • Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)
  • William Carlos Williams (1883 - 1963)
  • Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)
  • e.e.cummings (1894 - 1963)

I. T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

I. About the author:

  • I. About the author:
  • Thomas Stearns Eliot, American-British poet and critic, was born from a middle-class family in St. Louis in 1888.
  • During his studies at Harvard in America, the Sorbonne in Paris, and Oxford in England, Eliot mastered French, Italian, English literature, as well as Sanskrit.
  • In 1914 Eliot accepted a job in London as a bank clerk establishing his residence in London. Soon the erudite young man joined the literary circle of Pound and Yeats and started to write poetry. In 1917 his first poem was published and caused a great deal of comment on both side of the Atlantic.
  • After the bank clerk, Eliot worked as an assistant editor of the Egoist (1917–19) and edited his own quarterly, the Criterion (1922–39). With the help of Pound he published his best-known work, The Waste Land, in 1922.

His first marriage in 1915 was troubled and ended with their separation in 1933. His subsequent marriage in 1957 was far more successful.

  • His first marriage in 1915 was troubled and ended with their separation in 1933. His subsequent marriage in 1957 was far more successful.
  • In 1925 he was employed by the publishing house of Faber and Faber, eventually becoming one of its directors, a position which he held until his death. In 1927 he became a British subject remaining in England where his entire life was devoted to literature.
  • He wrote several plays, but his best work is a group of four long poems entitled Four Quartets, written between 1935 and 1941, which led to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1948 and made him one of the most distinguished literary figures of the 20th century.

II. His works:

  • II. His works:
  • Poetry
  • Eliot’s early poetical works—Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), Poems (1920), and The Waste Land (1922)—employing myths, religious symbolism, and literary allusion, signified a break with 19th-century poetic traditions, express the anguish and barrenness of modern life and the isolation of the individual, particularly as reflected in the failure of love. Their models were the metaphysical poets, Dante, and French Symbolists. Their meter ranged from the lyrical to the conversational.
  • his later poetry, notably Ash Wednesday (1930) and the Four Quartets (1935–42), Eliot turned from spiritual desolation to hope for human salvation.

Eliot was an extraordinarily influential critic, rejecting Romantic notions of unfettered originality and arguing for the impersonality of great art. His later criticism attempts to support Christian culture against what he saw as the empty and fragmented values of secularism. His outstanding critical works are contained in:

  • Eliot was an extraordinarily influential critic, rejecting Romantic notions of unfettered originality and arguing for the impersonality of great art. His later criticism attempts to support Christian culture against what he saw as the empty and fragmented values of secularism. His outstanding critical works are contained in:
  • The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933)
  • Essays Ancient and Modern (1936)
  • Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1948).
  • His plays attempt to revitalize verse drama and usually treat the same themes as in his poetry. The most important is:
  • Murder in the Cathedral (1935), dealing with the final hours of Thomas Becket.

III. His Style of Poetry:

  • III. His Style of Poetry:
  • Eliot attempted to produce “pure imagery” with no added meaning or symbolism.
  • He began adding one image to another in such a way that his attitude and mood became clear. In his best works, the image, his own philosophy and the music of words are all harmoniously blended although he mingled grand images with commonplace ones and combined trivial and tawdry images with traditional poetic subjects.
  • Eliot rarely made his meaning explicit. The internal logic of his poems is carried out by swiftly accumulating images, suggestions and echoes, depending for their interpretation upon the imagination of the reader.

II. Robert Frost

  • I. His life:
  • Robert Frost was a great poet who was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California. When Frost was two years old, his mother fled to Lawrence, Massachusetts, to get away from her husband, who was a drunkard. She stayed there until her second baby was born, Jeannie, Robert's sister. Then they went back to San Francisco on a train. A few years later, Robert's father died, so they took the body to Lawrence to be buried in the family cemetery. By the time he was 11, Robert Frost had crossed the U.S. three times.
  • After this rough beginning, Robert went on to become a great poet. He married Elinor White and had 2 kids. Robert never in truth had any jobs, except being a poet, but he published many poems in his lifetime.
  • Robert won four Pultizer awards and read The Gift Outright at the inauguration of John. F. Kennedy. He died on January 29, 1963 of a heart attack. He was 88 years old.
  • II. His works:
  • Collection of poems:
  • A Boy’s Will(1913)
  • North of Boston(1914)
  • New Hamphshire(1923)
  • Collected Poems(1930)
  • A Further Range(1936)
  • A Witness Tree(1942)
  • Poems:
  • Birches
  • After Apple-Picking
  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
  • The Road Not Taken

III. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

  • III. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
  • Whose woods these are I think I know.
  • His house is in the village though;
  • He will not see me stopping here
  • To watch his woods fill up with snow.
  • My little horse must think it queer
  • To stop without a farmhouse near
  • Between the woods and frozen lake
  • The darkest evening of the year.
  • He gives his harness bells a shake
  • To ask if there is some mistake.
  • The only other sound's the sweep
  • Of easy wind and downy flake.
  • The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
  • But I have promises to keep,
  • And miles to go before I sleep,
  • And miles to go before I sleep.

雪夜伫立林边有感   林主曾相识, 村中有其舍, 未悉我在此, 凝视林中雪。   小马颇多疑, 荒野何伫立? 林边冻湖间, 岁末黑夜里。

  • 雪夜伫立林边有感   林主曾相识, 村中有其舍, 未悉我在此, 凝视林中雪。   小马颇多疑, 荒野何伫立? 林边冻湖间, 岁末黑夜里。
  • 小马摇缰铃, 似问有否误, 唯闻飒飒声, 寒风共雪舞。   密林景色美, 信誓不可移, 安眠不可得, 尚须行数里。

It is a peaceful poem and makes man feel relaxed when we read the lines: "The only other sounds the sweep of easy wind and downy flake." Frost also uses alliteration and repetition in his poems. The rhyme scheme he uses is a-a-b-a.

  • It is a peaceful poem and makes man feel relaxed when we read the lines: "The only other sounds the sweep of easy wind and downy flake." Frost also uses alliteration and repetition in his poems. The rhyme scheme he uses is a-a-b-a.
  • It is one of the most quietly moving of Frost’s lyrics. On the surface, it seems to be simple, descriptive verses, records of close observation, graphic and homely pictures.
  • It uses the simplest terms and commonest words. But it is deeply meditative, adding far-reaching meanings to the homely music. It uses its superb craftsmanship to come to a climax of responsibility: the promises to be kept, the obligation to be fulfilled. Few poems have said so much in so little.

III. Ezra Pound (1885 - 1972)

1. His Life:

  • 1. His Life:
  • Born in Idaho in 1885 and raised in Pennsylvania, Ezra Pound spent most of his life in Europe and became one of the 20th century's most influential -- and controversial -- poets in the English language.
  • Pound was undoubtedly a genius. Before he graduated from university, he had mastered 9 languages as well as English grammar and literature. After college in Pennsylvania and a brief stint as a teacher, in 1908 Pound travelled to Venice and then to London, where he refined his aesthetic sensibilities and edited the anthology Des Imagistes (1914).
  • Pound championed the likes of T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams and James Joyce and, influenced by Chinese and Japanese poetry, advocated free meter and a more economical use of words and images in poetic expression, leading the Imagist Movement of poetry.

He moved to Paris in 1920 and got acquainted with Gertrude Stein and her circle of friends (which included Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso), then settled in Italy in 1924.

  • He moved to Paris in 1920 and got acquainted with Gertrude Stein and her circle of friends (which included Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso), then settled in Italy in 1924.
  • Enamored with Benito Mussolini, Pound made anti-American radio broadcasts during World War II. He was arrested as a traitor in 1945 and initially confined in Pisa. He was then sent to the U.S., where he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial for treason.
  • Pound was confined for 12 years in a hospital (actually prison) for the criminally insane in Washington. During this time he translated works of ancient Greek and ancient Chinese literature. While in prison, he was awarded a prestigious poetry prize in 1949 for his last Cantos.
  • In 1958 he returned to Italy, where he continued to write and make translations until he died in 1972.

2. His works:

  • 2. His works:
  • Pound wrote 70 books and over 1500 articles in his life.
  • His major work of poetry is The Cantos, a long poem which he wrote in sections between 1915 and 1945.
  • 3. His masterpiece: The Cantos
  • In this poem, he traces the rise and fall of eastern and western empires, the destruction caused by greed and materialism.
  • He deplores the corruption of America after the heroic time of Jefferson,
  • The last part, produced from his own suffering, is the most moving.

4. His poetic features:

  • 4. His poetic features:
  • Ezra Pound is often considered as the poet who is most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry. His critical theories have great influence on many important American and British poets.
  • Throughout the 1920s, he was much involved in most of the major artistic movements. He was the leader of the Imagist school in poetry. He believed that good poetry was based on images rather than ideas.
  • As an imagist himself, he advocated and followed the imagist credo, writing succinct verse of dry clarity and hard outline in which an exact visual image made a total poetic statement.
  • His technique came from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry. On one hand the stressed clarity, precision, and economy of language. On the other hand, Pound mused the traditional rhyme and meter in order to, as Pound put it, “compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of metronome”.

A Chinese imagistic poetry:

  • A Chinese imagistic poetry:
  • Autumn
  • Evening crows perch on old trees wreathed with withered vine,
  • Water of a stream flows by a family cottage near a tiny bridge.
  • A lean horse walks on an ancient road in western breeze,
  • The sun is setting in the west,
  • The heart-broken one is at the end of the Earth.
  • 《天净沙·秋思》
  • 马致远
  • 枯藤、老树、昏鸦,小桥、流水、人家,
  • 古道、西风、瘦马,夕阳西下,断肠人在天涯。

There are nine nouns or nominal phrases placed in the first three lines in isolation from each other.

  • There are nine nouns or nominal phrases placed in the first three lines in isolation from each other.
  • To appreciate the poem you should link the scenes produced through these words up in your imagination by way like montage in movie art. So, a vivid picture like a story will be displayed in your mind: In sight of the beautiful scenery with withered vine, old tree, crow returning home at dusk, small bridge, river and households, a man, accompanied by west wind and a thin horse on the ancient road, is suffering from homesickness

  • 5. In a Station of the Metro
  • The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
  • Petals on a wet, black bough.
  • 人群中幽然浮现的一张张脸庞,
  • 黝黑的湿树枝上的一片片花瓣。

About the poem:

  • About the poem:
  • The “Metro” is the underground railway of Paris.
  • The word “apparition”, with its double meaning, binds the two aspects of the observation together:
  • Apparition meaning “appearance”, in the sense of something which appears, or shows up; something which can be clearly observed.
  • Apparition meaning something which seems real but perhaps is not real; something ghostly which cannot be clearly observed.

The poem is an observation of the poet of the human faces seen in a Paris subway station. It looks to be a modern adoption of the Japanese haiku.

  • The poem is an observation of the poet of the human faces seen in a Paris subway station. It looks to be a modern adoption of the Japanese haiku.
  • He tries to render exactly his observation of human faces seen in an underground railway station. He sees the faces, turned variously toward light and darkness, like flower petals which are half absorbed by, half resisting, the wet, dark texture of a bough.
  • Repeating it, you can have a colorful picture, also you can feel the beauty of music through it’s repetition of different vowels and consonants, such as /p/ and /au/. Especially the repetition of /e/ in the second line emphasize it’s sense of music.

In this brief poem, Pound uses the fewest possible words to convey an accurate image, according to the principles of the “Imagists”. Pound wrote an account of its composition, which claims that the poem’s form was determined by the experience that inspired it, evolving organically rather than being chosen arbitrarily.

  • In this brief poem, Pound uses the fewest possible words to convey an accurate image, according to the principles of the “Imagists”. Pound wrote an account of its composition, which claims that the poem’s form was determined by the experience that inspired it, evolving organically rather than being chosen arbitrarily.
  • Whether truth or myth, the piece has become a famous document in the history of Imagism.

A Pact

  • I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman—
  • I have detested you long enough.
  • I come to you as a grown child
  • Who has had a pig-headed father;
  • I am old enough now to make friends.
  • It was you that broke the new wood,
  • Now is a time for carving.
  • We have one sap and one root—
  • Let there be commerce between us.

A Pact

  • The ambivalence of Pound’s response to his poetic forefather Walt Whitman reflects his complex sense of his American literary heritage. As he was well aware, whatever he might say in explanation of Whitman would also in some measure define himself. While Pound recognized the authentic American eloquence of Whitman’s "barbaric yawp," the self-conscious craftsman in him winced at the "exceeding great stench" of Whitman’s "crudity," "an exceedingly nauseating pill" which he parodically exemplified as "Lo! Behold, I eat watermelons."

A Pact

  • In his 1909 essay "What I Feel About Walt Whitman," his distaste for Whitman’s expansive self-singing struggles with an even more powerful conviction that Whitman "is America. . . . He does ‘chant the crucial stage’ and he is the ‘voice triumphant.’" In the end, Pound subordinates the superficial quarrel with Whitman’s poetic means to the profound bond of their common origin and message. Whitman is to America "what Dante is to Italy"; "the vital part of my message, taken from the sap and fibre of America, is the same as his"; "It is a great thing, reading a man to know, not ‘His Tricks are not as yet my Tricks, but I can easily make them mine’ but ‘His message is my message. We will see that men hear it.’"
  • from A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems. Copyright 1982, 1983

A Pact

  • Hugh Witemeyer
  • Pound’s new style in Lustra was due in part to his reconciliation with Whitman - or more accurately, to his giving freer rein to the Whitman in himself. He had recognized (and suppressed) this aspect of his poetic personality since 1909, the date of his essay on "What I Feel About Walt Whitman." There he admitted: "The vital part of my message, taken from the sap and fibre of America, is the same as his. Mentaly, I am a Walt Whitman who has learned to wear a colar and a dress shirt (although at times inimical to both)." The image was apt, for he distrusted Whitman’s nakedness and considered him something of an artistic barbarian. "Now Whitman was not an artist," he declared in another mood, "you cannot call a man an artist, until he shows himself capable of reticence and restraint. . . ." Pound’s attitude toward Whitman was highly ambivalent.

A Pact

  • The ambivalence is reflected in "A Pact," which registers Pound’s reconciliation with Whitman in 1913, but adds an important qualification: . . . the demand for greater conscious technique implied by "carving." Whitman broke the "new wood" of free verse, and Pound seeks to carve a finer product (with the chisel of absolute rhythm). Whitmanism is thus tempered with the ideal of "poetry-as-sculpture" which Pound took over from Gautier.

A Pact

  • The result of this mixed acceptance was a curious hybrid form - the Whitmanian envoi. This form combined the democratic stance of Whitman with the artistic sophistication of the Troubadours, the vagabondism of the American open road with the vagabondism of the Proven鏰l byways, Whitman’s democracy of the spirit with Daniel’s aristocracy of craftsmanship. Pound raised the medieval envoi to a satiric form by infusing it with Whitman’s scope and inclusiveness.
  • From The Poetry of Ezra Pound: Forms and Renewal, 1908-1920. Copyright 1969 by The University of California Press.

Assignment

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Long Way Out
  • The roaring twenties” “the jazz age
  • Ernest Hemmingway
  • A Farewell to Arms

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