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THE REALIST LEGACY AND THE LATE 1940s - Лекция, раздел Лингвистика, Курс лекций по предмету Романо-германская филология A S In The First Half Of The 20Th Century, Fiction In Th...
A s in the first half of the 20th century, fiction in the second half reflects the character of each decade. The late 1940s saw the aftermath of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.
World War II offered prime material: Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead, 1948) and James Jones (From Here to Eternity, 1951) were two writers who used it best. Both of them employed realism verging on grim naturalism; both took pains not to glorify combat. The same was true for Irwin Shaw's The Young Lions (1948). Herman Wouk, in The Caine Mutiny (1951), also showed that human foibles were as evident in wartime as in civilian life. Later, Joseph Heller cast World War II in satirical and absurdist terms (Catch-22, 1961), arguing that war is laced with insanity. Thomas Pynchon presented an involuted, brilliant case parodying and displacing different versions of reality (Gravity's Rainbow, 1973); and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., became one of the shining lights of the counterculture during the early 1970s following publication of Slaughterhouse-Five; or, The Children's Crusade (1969), his antiwar novel about the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied forces during World War II (which he witnessed on the ground as a prisoner of war).
The 1940s saw the flourishing of a new contingent of writers, including poet-novelist-essayist Robert Penn Warren, dramatists Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, and short story writers Katherine Anne Porter and Eudora Welty. All but Miller were from the South. All explored the fate of the individual within the family or community and focused on the balance between personal growth and responsibility to the group.
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Robert Penn Warren, one of the southern Fugitives, enjoyed a fruitful career running through most of the 20th century. He showed a lifelong concern with democratic values as they appeared within historical context. The most enduring of his novels is All the King's Men (1946), focusing on the darker implications of the American dream -- as revealed in this thinly veiled account of the career of a flamboyant and sinister southern senator, Huey Long.
Arthur Miller (1915- )
New York-born dramatist-novelist-essayist-biographer Arthur Miller reached his personal pinnacle in 1949 with Death of a Salesman, a study of man's search for merit and worth in his life and the realization that failure invariably looms. Set within the Loman family, it hinges on the uneven relationships of father and sons, husband and wife. It is a mirror of the literary attitudes of the 1940s -- with its rich combination of realism tinged with naturalism; carefully drawn, rounded characters; and insistence on the value of the individual, despite failure and error. Death of a Salesman is a moving paean to the common man -- to whom, as Willy Loman's widow eulogizes, "attention must be paid." Poignant and somber, it is also a story of dreams. As one character notes ironically, "a salesman has got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory."
Death of a Salesman, a landmark work, still is only one of a number of dramas Miller wrote over several decades, including All My Sons (1947) and The Crucible (1953). Both are political -- one contemporary, and the other set in colonial times. The first deals with a manufacturer who knowingly allows defective parts to be shipped to airplane firms during World War II, resulting in the death of his son and others. The Crucible depicts the Salem (Massachusetts) witchcraft trials of the 17th century in which Puritan settlers were wrongfully executed as supposed witches. Its message, though -- that "witch hunts" directed at innocent people are anathema in a democracy -- was relevant to the era in which the play was staged, the early 1950s, when an anti- Communist crusade led by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy and others ruined innocent people s lives.
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Tennessee Williams, a native of Mississippi, was one of the more complex individuals on the American literary scene of the mid- 20th century. His work focused on disturbed emotions and unresolved sexuality within families -- most of them southern. He was known for incantatory repetitions, a poetic southern diction, weird Gothic settings, and Freudian exploration of sexual desire. One of the first American writers to live openly as a homosexual, Williams explained that the sexuality of his tormented characters expressed their loneliness. His characters live and suffer intensely.
Williams wrote more than 20 full-length dramas, many of them autobiographical. He reached his peak relatively early in his career -- in the 1940s -- with The Glass Menagerie (1944) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1947). None of the works that followed over the next two decades and more reached the level of success and richness of those two pieces.
Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
Katherine Anne Porter's long life and career encompassed several eras. Her first success, the story "Flowering Judas" (1929), was set in Mexico during the revolution. The beautifully crafted short stories that gained her renown subtly unveil personal lives. "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," for example, conveys large emotions with precision. Often she reveals women's inner experiences and their dependence on men.
Porter's nuances owe much to the stories of the New Zealand- born story writer Katherine Mansfield. Porter's story collections include Flowering Judas (1930), Noon Wine (1937), Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), The Leaning Tower (1944), and Collected Stories (1965). In the early 1960s, she produced a long, allegorical novel with a timeless theme -- the responsibility of humans for each other. Titled Ship of Fools (1962), it was set in the late 1930s aboard a passenger liner carrying members of the German upper class and German refugees alike from the Nazi nation.
Not a prolific writer, Porter nonetheless has influenced generations of authors, among them her southern colleagues Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.
Eudora Welty (1909- )
Born in Mississippi to a well-to-do family of transplanted northerners, Eudora Welty was guided by Warren and Porter. Porter, in fact, wrote an introduction to Welty's first collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green (1941). Welty modeled her nuanced work on Porter, but the younger woman is more interested in the comic and grotesque. Like the late Flannery O'Connor, she often takes subnormal, eccentric, or exceptional characters for subjects.
Despite violence in her work, Welty's wit is essentially humane and affirmative, as, for example, in her frequently anthologized story "Why I Work at the P.O.," in which a stubborn and independent daughter moves out of her house to live in a tiny post office. Her collections of stories include The Wide Net (1943), The Golden Apples (1949), The Bride of the Innisfallen (1955), and Moon Lake (1980). Welty has also written novels such as Delta Wedding (1946), which is focused on a plantation family in modern times, and The Optimist's Daughter (1972).
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