Post-War Literature
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Literature of the 40s,50s and 60s
Angry Young Men
Theatre of the Absurd
Postmodern literature
Late 40s and early 50s (writers of the preand post-war fiction):
• George Orwell (1903-1950) (Eric Arthur
Blair)
• Born in Bengal
• Educated at Eton
• Served in Indian Imperial Police in Burma
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Burmese Days (1934)
Homage to Catalonia (1938)
Animal Farm (1945)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
• Democratic socialist, deeply disillusioned
with Communism
• Animal Farm: Discussion with equality: ”all
animals are created equal but some are
more equal than others”
• 1984 totalitarianism, Big Brother, the
Thought Police, newspeak
• Society dominated by slogans: War is
Peace, Freedom is Slavery
• Both 1984 and Animal Farm belong to
non-realistic novel
• Fantasy: post-war fantasy literature is
interested in alternative worlds, magic
• John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1873)
• Trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
• The Two Towers (1954)
• The Return of the King (1955)
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Working-class novel:
Alan Sillitoe (b. 1928)
Philosophical novel:
Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) Under the Net,
The Unicorn (a parody of the 18th century
Gothic novel), The Green Knight
• William Golding (1911-1993)
• Lord of the Flies (1954)
• Innate human aggression, evil, and
violence appear especially in extreme
situations
• Doris Lessing (b. 1919)
• Born in Persia, brought up in South
Rhodesia and in 1949 came to England
• 2007 Nobel Prize
• Anti-rascist, psychological, femnist,
experimental, sci-fi
• E.g. A Briefing for a Decsent into Hell
(1971)
• Love, Again (1996)
• The Sweetest Dream (2001)
• Laurence Durrell (1912-1990)
• Alexandria Quartet (1957-60) the same
events narrated from different points of
view (the titles of the separate parts
indicate it: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive,
Clea
• Love, sex, romance, quite scandalous
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Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Irish, self-imposed exile to France
Writing in French – discipline
Friend and secretary to Joyce
Nobel Prize 1969
• Anti-novels – the new novel – nouveau
roman
• Against traditional realism
• Subjective, authorial point of view
• Murphy
• Molloy
• Malone Dies
• Experimental novel – novel of the 60s
• Originated with Beckett
• Inspired by John Barth (an American critic
and writer)
• ”Literature of Exhaustion” 1967 – v.
important – the beginning of
postmodernism
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John Fowles (b. 1926)
The Maggot
The Collector
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969)
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Postmodern fiction
Intertextuality – Julia Kristeva
End of omniscient narrator
Play with the reader
• Theoretical study of the novel
• Victorian archetype
• Historiograpfic metafiction – Linda
Hutcheon
• Campus novel
• Malcolm Bradbury (1932-2000)
• David Lodge (b. 1935) Small World
Drama
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The Angry Young Men
English society as hypocritical
Working class and lower middle class
Domestic realism
Kitchen sink drama
• John Osborne (1929-1994)
• Look Back in Anger 1956
• Jimmy, a university graduate, sweet stall,
wife- upper class – frustration, eruption of
frustrations, psychological abuse of his
wife
• Shelagh Delaney (b. 1939) kitchen sink
realism A Taste of Honey 1958
• The Theatre of the Absurd
• Martin Esslin 1961
• Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot
Fr. 1953, Eng. 1955
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Stream of consciousness
Circular time
No God/ pessimistic vision of God
Immobility
Metaphysical despair and inertia
Lack of communication
Cogito ergo sum replaced by Dico ergo
sum
• Deterioration of civilization
• Language games
• Contemporary human being (devoid of
dreams, memory)
• Everyman
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Theater of menace /comedy of menace
Harold Pinter (1930-2008)
Nobel Prize 2005
Menace
Unknown danger
Human isolation
Terror
The Dumb Waiter (1957)
The Birthday Party (1958)
• In-Yer-Face Theatre
• Aggressive, provocative
• Sarah Kane (1971-1999) 4.48 Psychosis
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Other important contemporary writers:
Angela Carter
Julian Barnes
Graham Swift
Jeanette Winterson
Salman Rushdie
A.S. Byatt
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Post-War Literature - Serwis Informacyjny WSJO