Modern Novel 1890-1930 - lecture handout

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The Modern Novel 1890-1930
Modern English Literature 1890-1960s
Autumn 2013, Eglantina Remport
Literary market in the UK :
high rates of literacy (approx. 80% of population)
large market for literary products
newspaper culture: many writers worked as journalists
Literary market in the USA :
Copyright Act of 1909 (USA) and Copyright Act of 1911 (UK)
- secured the rights and revenues of authors
and controlled the market and distribution
- D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf heavily depended on the revenue from
the American sales of their work
Large literary market  great thematic variation:
horror / Gothic fiction (James)
travel writing (Conrad)
realist fiction
(Galsworthy)
social chronicles
(Forster)
psychological novels
(Lawrence, Woolf)
E. M. Forster (1879-1970),
Howards End (1910)
Henry James (1843-1916), The Ambassadors (1903)
social chronicle cum travel writing
protagonists: Mrs Newsome, Chad Newsome, Lambert Strether and Waymarsh
one of the main themes: the tension between American values and European
values
industrialism and capitalism vs. intellectualism and the art world
values of the New World
vs. values of the Old World
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941),
Mrs Dalloway (1925)
a blend of a social chronicle and a psychological novel
protagonists: Clarissa and Richard Dalloway, Rezia and Septimus Warren Smith,
Peter Walsh and Sally Seton
there is a myriad of smaller characters whom the protagonists meet during the day
of Clarissa’s party
Woolf poses the following question:
Is it possible to reconcile the past (old life) with the present (new life)?
(think of the lives of Clarissa, Septimus, Peter and Sally)
social chronicle
protagonists: Schlegels -half-German, intellectual, feminine, devoted to the arts
Wilcoxes - English, empire-builders, masculine, unsentimental
Mrs Dalloway’s Salon (like Howards End)
becomes a fixity in a world which was in a constant state of flux
Forster poses the following questions:
Style:
Is it possible to reconcile the contrasting values of the families?
intellectual / art loving
vs.
the world in a constant state of flux
  
aptly expressed by the use of the stream-of-consciousness technique
industrialist / capitalist
 Is it possible to reconcile the contrasting values emerging in England at the time?
Forster considers the fixity of the Wilcoxes’ old house, Howards End, in relation
to the ‘filthy modern tide’ (the quotation is Yeats’s phrase on modernity)
Conclusion:
In the analysed works characters are trying to cope with / fight against the
‘filthy modern tide.’
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