уторак, 16. март 2010.

Doris Lessing

British novelist and short-story writer Doris Lessing (1919- ) became known as a perceptive seeker of the self and of feminine identity. Her novel The Golden Notebook (1962) is often considered a classic of feminist literature.

Lessing was born Doris May Tayler in Persia - now Iran, raised in Southern Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe) and finally she moved to England in 1949. Her main works consist of Children of Violence (1952-1969), an autobiographical account of the main character called Martha Quest; and her most famous novel The Golden Notebook (1962).

The Golden Notebook became a classic of feminist literature due to its experimental style and creativity, self discovery, and feminine identity. Her first novel, The Grass Is Singing (1950) was set in Africa. She also wrote a group of short stories called African Stories (1951).

Lessing is a prolific writer, and has written many novels such as Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971), The Summer Before the Dark (1973), The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980), The Sirian Experiments (1981), The Fifth Child (1988), Love, Again (1996), and Mara and Dann: An Adventure (1999). She wrote many volumes of short stories such as This Was the Old Chief's Country (1952), The Habit of Loving (1957), African Stories (1964), The Story of a Non-Marrying Man (1972), and The Sun Between Their Feet(1973).

In Pursuit of the English (1960) is a volume of her recollections. She has also written two volumes of autobiography, Under My Skin: My Autobiography to 1949 (1994) and Walking in the Shade: My Autobiography, 1949-1962 (1997).

TS Eliot's "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock"

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is one of those poems that can seem horribly sad one day, and incredibly absurd the next. Written by T. S. Eliot and published in 1915, it addresses the themes of isolation, industrialized cities, and great unease with the world. You might have encountered this in a unit on poetry, and like many students, you might not have been impressed by its long-windedness. For all its over-the-top wallowing around, though, there is a lot in the poem that speaks to anxieties we have today.

The speaker, Prufrock (whoever he might be) spends a lot of time worrying about growing old. He will "have a bald spot in the middle of [his] hair," and then, behind his back, "They will say: 'How his hair is growing thin!'" Poor Prufrock - he's got a bit of a self-esteem issue, and seems to feel like he'll be losing something of himself when he loses his hair, not because of how it will make him feel, but because of how other people will see him. Have you ever heard of botox? It's a different solution to the same problem.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" also expresses anxiety about what really matters in the world. One of the poem's most famous lines is, "In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo." Something about the women's back and forth movement suggests that they're just kind of milling around, and aren't doing anything particularly important. What about Michelangelo, then? Is he important? This stanza, repeated several times throughout the poem, seems to be also asking whether art matters, if it's just reviewed and talked about in a shallow way. We don't think Eliot's trying to hate on art - after all, he's all about filling his work up with illusions to other works (see "The Waste Land"), and it seems unlikely that he'd attempt this poem if it was all meaningless. However, it's kind of sad to think of Michelangelo as just a buzzword, being passed around by some random women with nothing better to do.

Prufrock is also worried about something we hear about all too often these days: pollution. That yellow fog, catlike and almost fluffy, probably wouldn't be as cuddly as it might seem. Fog itself is nothing special, but yellow is a strange color for it to be. If you're not sold on the idea that the fog has been turned yellow from pollution (maybe it's just yellow from streetlights?), at least take a close look at the "soot that falls from chimneys." There's something falling from the sky that's not rain, which seems ominous, not to mention bad for your asthma. You try going to sleep at night feeling like a big cloud of pollution has just curled up softly around your house.

This is characteristically modernist poetry, and worth a second look if it left a bad taste in your mouth in school. It's easy to dismiss Prufrock as a pathetic guy who doesn't have the guts to deal with his own life, but the poem gets easier to understand if you recognize that some of the things he worries about, you worry about, too.

"The Duchess and the Jeweler" by Virginia Woolf

The Duchess and the Jeweler is the story of the world's greatest jeweler who had promised his mother to become the richest jeweler in the world in his childhood but now that his dream has materialized he does not feel satisfied. So trying to achieve satisfaction, knowingly he buys fake pearls from a Duchess in exchange for passing a whole weekend with her daughter whom he is in love with. The purpose of this essay is to show how Virginia Woolf has successfully presented the inner mind of the characters, their struggle and their communication through the least amount of verbal communication among them.

The silent communication created by Woolf's "The Duchess and the Jeweler" is firstly the communication between the reader and the story and secondly the communication between the characters in the text themselves. In better words this story firstly reveals the mind of the characters to the reader through the least amount of explicit expression of their states and secondly presents the interaction among the characters of the story through the fewest possible dialogues among them.

The first stance in the unvoiced communication between the reader and the story is the revelation of the childhood memories of Oliver Bacon that takes place without the author's giving voice to them. The very first acquaintance of the reader with Oliver's childhood takes place when he addresses himself: "you who began life in the filthy little alley" and then falls in to his childhood memories. This very short statement of Oliver to himself is very expressive of his childhood and also of his attitude towards this period of his life. Through the author's prior descriptions of the living place of Oliver, his servant and his habits it is revealed that Oliver Bacon is a very affluent man now while this short self-address reveals his childhood poverty. Also it is through his retrospections that the readers get aware that he has started with selling stolen dogs, continued with selling watches in a little counter, and finally has promoted to his present profession as a jeweler. So it is mostly through Oliver's silent remembrances that the reader gets familiar with his early days. Also this little talk of Oliver to himself shows the reader that he has a pre-occupation with his childhood and all the efforts he has gone through in order to save all his money. Though he never mentions this, his constant retrospections show the importance that his childhood has for him. As an example when Oliver is in his room just before the entrance of the Duchess, he starts thinking of his boyhood passed in misery and hard times. This shows how Virginia Woolf cunningly, without explicit mentioning of Oliver's pre-occupation with his childhood, interacts with the reader through the character's retrospections and gives the reader the chance to get involved with the text. Therefore the mind of Oliver and also his general history is disclosed to the reader through the least number of spoken words of the character.

Defoe: Robinson Crusoe

Have you read Robinson Crusoe? Then you must have felt the pain and misery of a man forsaken on a lonely island. And the odds he faced against the onslaught of the inclement nature and how he won in the end must have stirred your heart.

But however fascinating Robinson Crusoe might sound, he was but a fictional character. In fact there really was a man who endured and suffered probably more than the fictional character he inspired.

That man was Alexander Selkirk.

The son of a Scotsman tanner, Alexander Selkirk is said to have been an unruly youth. His indecent behavior in the local church earned him displeasure of the village elders. He escaped their wrath by running away to sea

The Lonely Ordeal

As a seaman Selkirk had joined the buccaneer expeditions to the South Seas And in 1703 he was on the galley Cinque Ports as a sailing master serving under Thomas Stradling. His voyage was a part of the expedition of famed privateer and explorer William Dampier who commanded St. George.

Selkirk was of rebellious nature which did not go well with Capt Thomas Stradling. A disagreement between the two so enraged Stradling that he left Alexander Selkirk on an island of the uninhabited archipelago Juan Fernandez in 1704.

Incredible Struggle For Survival

Stranded on the unfriendly island, Selkirk faced a bleak future. He had no food and his meager belongings included only a musket, gunpowder, carpenter's tools, a knife, a Bible and some clothing. A less intrepid man may have perished in such circumstances, but Selkirk proved highly resourceful in the face of the most arduous situation he faced.

With his musket he hunted wild animals. He used the carpentry tools to build a hut and fashioned clothing from the hides of the animals he had killed. Selkirk's only hope of escape from this dreary island was that sooner or later some ship should pass nearby. So he kept a sharp lookout. But the two ships that did come to the island for fresh water belonged to Spain, then an enemy of England. So Selkirk hid himself from them, fearing that if found by the Spaniards, he would face a fate more terrible than his exile.

Rescue and Fame

Four years and four months passed before Selkirk's hope was realized at last on 2 February 1709. Selkirk was rescued by the ship Duke captained by none other than William Dampier with whose ship Selkirk had started the fateful voyage.

When Selkirk at last reached England he became instantly famous.

Daniel Defoe fashioned his famous Robinson Crusoe on Selkirk's adventures.

William Cowper immortalized him by his poem The Solitude Of Alexander Selkirk, which gave rise to the common phrase, "monarch of all I survey".

Famous journalists interviewed Selkirk and wrote about him in popular newspapers.

The Final Voyage

After his return Selkirk is said to have married a widowed innkeeper but he was not content to live a homely life for long. In March 1717 he again went off to sea. He was serving as a lieutenant on board the Royal ship Weymouth when he died at sea on December 13, 1721. He was buried at sea off the west coast of Africa.

But the saga of Selkirk hasn't ended.

On the New Year's day of 1966 the island where Selkirk had lived was named Robinson Crusoe Island while the westernmost island of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago was named Alejandro Selkirk Island. A statue of Selkirk donated by a descendant of the Selkirk family was unveiled outside his original house on 11 December 1885.

The memory of Alexander Selkirk is never to fade. It is a reminder of how a man with an indomitable spirit can face the most daunting challenges and still come out a winner.

Gold in the works of Shakespeare

One of the most beautiful precious metals in world is gold. Gold has long been a symbol of wealth, strength, power, and desire. Gold through different mediums have been shown to have the role of utmost evil, and a great sanctity at the same time. Gold is the only metal known to be a representation of purity, finesse, and value. In many myths, it is used to destroy any kind of magic, and bring power. The use of gold in medals, and wards also makes its use as a symbol of excellence, and achievement.

Gold becomes a desire for every human who knows its value. With the discovery of gold, there were several myths, and facts associated with it. After the gold rush in Californian, many artist, poets, and writers found new avenues to write. Gold acquired a unique status in arts, and literature, and it represented a materialistic approach.

One of the greatest writers, poet, and actor, Shakespeare also knew the charm, and power of gold. He is known as one of the greatest dramatists of all times, and conveyed different messages through his work.
Many of his plays and stories reflect the human nature.

Shakespeare also has used gold in symbolism, and Imagination. Through his work, he has explained the uniqueness, and significance of gold.

Shakespeare has also considered the issue of physical appearance, and the varied reality of objects. He has also used gold in several of his works to explain the difference of appearances and its varied reality. A famous quote of Shakespeare is that 'all that glisters is not gold'. The phrase has been used in his play (Merchant of Venice) and means that what appears good on the outside, it is not necessarily good from the inside as well.

Shakespeare in his work has used gold as a symbol. Through its use, Shakespeare has conveyed that greedy people, who are fooled by appearance, choose gold. Gold attracts the materialistic people who sell out for wealth, and luxury. The other verse" Gilded tombs do worms enfold" also conveys the same message. Gilded tombs mean that tombs covered with gold, which do not have any kind of treasure, but only worms. It is not wise to choose something because of its golden appearance.

Use of Gold as a symbol is found in some other sonnets, and verses of Shakespeare. For example in his sonnet "Not marble nor the gilded monuments" Shakespeare has conveyed that wealth does no equal the emotions for a loved one. The term "gilded monuments" means monuments made or covered with gold. Gold has been used by Shakespeare as something of value to the materialistic people only and not something important for the wise ones.

Gothic Novel

Gothic Novel is a type of romantic fiction. It was predominant in English literature around the late 18th century to the first two decades of the 19th century. The setting for the fiction was usually a ruined Gothic castle. The typical story of such romantic fiction revolved around the suffering of an innocent woman inflected by a cruel villain. The writers used ghosts and other supernatural occurrences. The main intend of such novels was to evoke chilling terror by skillfully using mystery and horror.

The Term Gothic Applied for:

1. The Gothic novel was also considered as Gothic romance.

2. The term Gothic is also employed to designate narrative poetry or prose of which the major elements are horror, violence, and the supernatural.

3. The selection of the locale was usually a haunted castle with dungeons, underground passages, ghost-haunted rooms, and secret stairways that produced great amount of awe, wonder and fear.

The genre was nothing but a phase of the literary movement of romanticism in English literature. It was also the precursor of the modern mystery novel.

The Major writers of the Gothic Romance:

It was Horace Walpole who inaugurated the Gothic romance. He wrote The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (1764). Other major writers were Clara Reeve, who wrote The Champion of Virtue (1777); Ann Radcliffe, who wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794); Charles Robert Maturin, who wrote The Fatal Revenge (1807); and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley who wrote Frankenstein (1818).

The American professional novelist Charles Brockden Brown is known for his Gothic romances. Other American writers such as Henry James, William Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor used Gothic elements in their fiction. The late 20th century American novelists Stephen King and Anne Rice in their works show the sustained influence and popularity of this Gothic form.