Lecture 26

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Lecture 26 The 20 th Century (I) A General Introduction I. Teaching Aims 1. To have a general view on the background of 20 th Century 2. A general view on literary tendencies and achievements in this period II. Key ..

    Lecture 26

    th The 20 Century


     A General Introduction

I. Teaching Aims

    th1. To have a general view on the background of 20 Century

     2. A general view on literary tendencies and achievements in this periodII. Key Points:

    The general view on literary achievements in this period

    III. Difficulties:

    thNew tendencies in 20 Century literature

    IV. Teaching methods:

    1. Direct Method & Communicative Method

    V. Teaching Procedures:

    Teaching procedures :

    1. The general introduction

    Historical Background

    Edwardian and First World War

    Edwardian period (-1910) a time of prosperity and peace, a golden age of Imperialism and Empire

    New ideas at the turn of the century:

    --- irrational philosophy (Schopenhauer's "will and intuition", Nietzsche's "God is dead" and "superman", Bergson's Concept of Duration)

    --- Einstein's Uncertainty Principle, theory of relativity

    --- Freudian's Interpretation of Dreams (1900)

    --- Bertrand Russell's treatise on language and logic which challenged the relationship of language and knowledge

    WWI (1914-18) weakened the empire: the great depression of 1929

    Artistic Movements:

    --- Cubist exhibition in London in 1907

    --- Post-impressionist exhibition in London in 1910

    Post Second World War and 1950s-1970s

    WWII marked the last stage of the disintegration of the British Empire; the once sun-never-set Empire finally collapsed, Britain characterized by the phrase "musty claustrophobia" when the country wanted to settle into a comfortable peaceful and domestic life after war weariness; things were in scarce supply; education was valued as a way to better oneself and achieve the aspirations of the middle class; returned soldiers made demands.

    Education Act under RA Butler raised school leaving age to 15, 1944 National Health Service Act brought comprehensive health provision, 1946 Nationalization program of railways, coal and gas and electricity The Arts Council sponsored financial aid to arts groups, leading the spread of theatres e.g. the Royal Shakespeare Company

    Youth culture and pop music in the 60s, "swinging 60s", beatles Beginning of "end of empire" when former colonies achieved independence, such as India, 1948, African and West Indian colonies in the 50s; and new immigrants from the colonies poured in, thus beginning of the multi-racial society and culture Boom in TV transmission and ownership

    International events: Berlin Wall 1961, increase the tension between Soviet Union and west; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament 1958-61, women’s movement in America

    Intellectual ideas: Sartre with his existentialism


    The main trends are globalization and consumerism, with fast development of space exploration, internet and global economics.

    From Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990), John Major (--1997)(conservative) privatisation progragramme of many state-run industries and utilitites, promoted enterprise culture and business culture; private medical care, and private schooling; Tony Blair (Labour government) continues with privatization policy, but provides good health care, welfare and education for everyone.

    2. Literature

    thBritish literature in the 20 century can be defined as co-existence and

    co-development of realist tradition and modernistic literature ; literature became more and more complex and individualized as time went on.

    Before WWII

    2.1 Poetry

    -20s: Realism

    Thomas Hardy The Dynasts, a epic-drama about the Napoleonic War (918 poems)

    War / Soldier poets of WWI like Owen, Sassoon

    20s - 30s: Modernism

    Ezra Pound: imagism

    T.S. Eliot

    "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915)

    thThe Waste Land (1922) a landmark and a model of 20 century modernist poetry

    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

    "Sailing to Byzantium"

    "Leda and the Swan"

    2.2 Drama

    George Bernard Shaw: the best known since Shakespeare, a Fabian member


    Mrs Warren's Profession

    Man and Superman

    The Apple Cart

St. Joan


    John Galsworthy

    The Strife

    The Irish National Theatre Movement 2.3 Fiction/Novel

    John Galsworthy

    The Forsyte Saga (1922)

    H. G. Wells

    The Time Machine (1895)

    The Invisible Man (1897)

    2.4 Science Fiction

    The War of the Worlds (1898)

    The Shape of Things to Come (1933)

    Joseph Conrad

    Lord Jim (1900)

    "Heart of Darkness" (1902)

    The Secret Agent (1907): symbolism

    E. M. Forster

    A Room with a View (1908)

    A Passage to India (1924): symbolism

    D.H. Lawrence

    Sons and Lovers (1916)

    Women in Love (1921): psychology

    James Joyce

    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1915)

    Ulysses (1922): stream-of-consciousness

    Virginia Woolf: stream-of-consciousness Mrs Dalloway (1925)

    To the Lighthouse (1927)

    Orlando (1928)

    The Waves (1931)

    2.5 Postmodernism

    It began after WWII, or with Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.

    Techniques include fragmentation, irony, intrusive authorial comment, self-consciousness of the

    art, narrative disruption, plurality of point of view and voice, intertextuality, puns, playfulness, etc.


    e.g. Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (1954)

    MAGIC REALISM: realism and myth

    e.g. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's A Hundred Years’ Solitude; Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987)


    e.g. Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961); Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire (1962); William Burrough's Naked Lunch (1964);and Thomas Pynchon's The Crying Lot 49 (1966), Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)


    1.王守仁;何宁著,20世纪英国文学史,北京大学出版社;2006 2. 炜等著,20世纪英国文学史,青岛出版社;1998.12 3.张中载著,二十世纪英国文学;小说研究,河南大学出版社;2001.5

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