GRE: World Literature

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(Julia) Kristeva

Distinguished between the semiotic and the symbolic

(Julia) Kristeva

intertextuality and abjection

"Pere Goriot" (Goriot's daughters)

Anastasie and Delphine

Rastignac

The protagonist of "Pere Goriot"

Vautrin

Criminal who also goes by Trompe-la-Mort, Jacques Collin, and Abbé Herrera

"The Black Sheep" (Balzac)

It tells the story of the Bridau family (Phillipe and Joseph), trying to regain their lost inheritance after a series of unfortunate mishaps.

"Eugenie Grandet" (Balzac)

A novel about miserliness, and how it is bequeathed from the father to the daughter through her unsatisfying love attachment with her cousin.

"Eugenie Grandet" (her father and cousin/lover)

Felix and Charles

Kristeva

Wrote "Powers of Horror"

"Lost Illusions" (Balzac)

Lucien de Rubempré, Eve Chardon, David

"Lost Illusions" (Balzac)

Concerns a young poet trying to make a name for himself, who becomes trapped in the morass of society's darkest contradiction.

Dr. Rieux

The narrator of "The Plague," although he is not revealed to be so until the conclusion.

"The Plague" (Camus)

Set in Oran

"The Plague" (Camus)

Joseph Grand and Raymond Rambert

"The Plague" (Camus)

Cottard and Tarrou

Auerbach

mimesis

"The Fall" (Camus)

Set in Amsterdam, it consists of a series of second-person dramatic monologues of a penitent judge.

(Jean-Baptiste) Clamence

The narrator of Camus' "The Fall." A wealthy lawyer who often speaks of his love for high, open places.

"The Fall" (Camus)

Contains several parallels with Dante's Inferno, the last circle of Hell being a bar called "Mexico City."

"The Fall" (Camus)

"God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves...Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day."

Meursault

The protagonist of "The Stranger"

"The Stranger" (Camus)

Raymond and Marie

Camus

Wrote "The Myth of Sisyphus" and "The Rebel"

Hermione

Daughter of Menelaus and Helen

Andromache

Hector's wife

Pyrrhus

Achilles' son

"Andromaque" (Racine)

Tells the love of Orestes and Hermione, who is betrothed to Pyrrhus.

"Phedre" (Racine)

Based on Euripides' "Hippolytus"

Phaedra

The daughter of King Minos and wife of Theseus.

"Phedre" (Racine)

Tells of a mother's love for her step-son during her husband's absence. She drinks poison at the end.

(Jean) Racine

Wrote exclusively in Alexandrine. His dramaturgy is marked by his psychological insight, the prevailing passion of his characters, a strong Jansensist sense of fate, and the nakedness of both the plot and stage.

"Athalie" (Racine)

The final play of Racine, based on the Bible, like "Esther."

Josah ("Athalie")

The grandson of the king of Judah who is restored to the throne.

"Athalie" (Racine)

Joad and Abner.

"Britannicus" (Racine)

Concerns the son of the Roman emperor Claudius, whose succession to the imperial throne is usurped by Lucius, later known as Nero, and the son of Claudius' wife Agrippina the Younger.

(Hélène) Cixous

Wrote "The Laugh of the Medusa"

Alceste

The protagonist and "misanthrope" of the title. He is quick to criticize the flaws of everyone around him, including himself. He cannot help but love Célimène though he loathes her behaviour.

Celimene ("The Misanthrope")

A flirtatious, witty, young socialite who sends identical love letters to Alceste, Oronte, Acaste, and Clitandre.

Racine

His plays are generally considered untranslatable.

"The School for Wives" (Moliere)

Concerns a man who is so intimidated by femininity that he resolves to marry his young, naïve ward and proceeds to make clumsy advances to this purpose.

Arnolphe

The protagonist of "The School for Wives," also known as Monsieur de la Souche.

"The School for Wives" (Moliere)

The final act introduces a powerful irony as Oronte and Enrique arrive on the scene and announce that Horace is to marry Enrique's daughter.

"Tartuffe" (Moliere)

Orgon and Elmire

"Tartuffe" (Moliere)

Damis, Mariane, and Dorine

"Le Cid" (Corneille)

Became the subject of a heated "querelle" over the neoclassical unities.

"Le Cid" (Corneille)

The play focuses on Don Rodrigue and Chimène. Rodrigue's father, Don Diègue, is the old upstart general of medieval Spain and past his prime, whereas Chimène's father is the successful current general, Comte de Gormas. Rodrigue and Chimène love each other, but any chance of marriage is brutally disturbed when Chimène's father insults Rodrigue's father. Torn between his love for Chimène and his duty to avenge his father's honour, Rodrigue chooses the latter and faces the general in a duel in which Don Gormas is killed. Without denying her love, Chimène asks the King for Rodrigue's head.

"Nausea" (Sartre)

The Kafka-influenced novel concerns a dejected researcher who becomes convinced that inanimate objects and situations encroach on his ability to define himself, on his intellectual and spiritual freedom.

"Nausea" (Sartre)

The protagonist is Antoine Roquentin

"Nausea" (Sartre)

Anna and Oglier P., an autodidact

"No Exit" (Sartre)

Garcin, Inez, and Estelle

Sartre

Wrote "The Roads to Freedom," a WWII triology about Mathieu, a socialist teacher of philosophy and somewhat of a stand-in for the author.

"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)

A historical psychological novel in two volumes, chronicling an aesthete carpenter's son and his attempts to socially rise beyond his plebeian upbringing with a combination of talent and hard work, deception and hypocrisy — yet who ultimately allows his passions to betray him.

Julien Sorel

The protagonist of "The Red and the Black"

"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)

Contains the epitaph "The truth, the harsh truth

"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)

Mathilde de la Mole

"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)

Madame de Rênal and M. Pirard

"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)

A sociological satire of the French social order under the Bourbon Restoration

"The Charterhouse of Parma" (Stendhal)

Protagonist is Fabrice del Dongo

"The Charterhouse of Parma" (Stendhal)

Tells the story of a young Italian nobleman from birth to death, including Napoleon's invasions.

"The Charterhouse of Parma" (Stendhal)

Gina and Count Mosco

"The Charterhouse of Parma" (Stendhal)

The hero falls in love with Clélia while imprisoned in Farnese Tower.

Flaubert

Known for his combination of realism and romanticism and his dedication to finding "le mot juste" ("the right word"), which he considered has the key mean to achieve quality in literary art.

"Madame Bovary" (Flaubert)

The story focuses on a doctor's wife who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.

Emma Bovary (Roualt)

She has a highly romanticized view of the world and craves beauty, wealth, passion, and high society. It is the disparity between these romantic ideals and the realities of her country life that impels her to commit adultery and accrue an insurmountable amount of debt that eventually leads to her suicide.

Charles

The husband of Emma Bovary.

(Monsieur) Homais

He is a pompous speechmaker, endlessly rattling on about medical techniques and theories that he really knows nothing about. His presence serves, in part, to heighten our sense of Emma's frustration with her life.

Leon (Dupris)

A young law student who seems to share Emma's appreciation for the finer things in life, and who returns her admiration

Rodolphe (Boulanger)

A rich and rakish landowner who seduces Emma as one more addition to a long string of mistresses. Though occasionally charmed by Emma, he feels little true emotion towards her.

"Madame Bovary"

Set in Yonville.

Tolstoy ("What is Art?")

Among other artists, he specifically condemns Wagner and Beethoven as examples of overly cerebral artists, who lack real emotion. Furthermore, the Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven), cannot claim to be able to "infect" their audience—as it pretends—with the feeling of unity and therefore cannot be considered good art.

Pierre Bezukhov

The illegitimate son of a wealthy count, who upon receiving an unexpected inheritance is suddenly burdened with responsibility and conflict. His former carefree behavior vanishes and he enters upon a philosophical quest of how one should live a moral life in an imperfect world. He attempts to free his peasants and improve his estate, but ultimately achieves nothing. Many identify him with Tolstoy himself.

(Prince) Andrei Bolkonski ("War and Peace")

Highly intelligent, rational, and analytical, he is devoted to his country, returning to active duty even after nearly being killed at Austerlitz, and spending months helping Speranski write a new civil code for Russia. Though often detached, he is emotionally honest and willing to examine mysteries in himself. His sister is Maria.

(Countess) Natasha Rostov ("War and Peace")

Beautiful, accomplished, lively, spontaneous, and charming, she begins the novel as a willful and exuberant teenager and ends it as a happily married to Pierre. Her crush on Anatole costs her a chance with Andrew, who cannot forgive her lapse. Her brother is is Nikolai.

"War and Peace"

General Kutuzov

Platon (Karataev) ("War and Peace")

Saintly character who represents the ideal of the simple, life-affirming philosophy of the Russian peasantry

Helene (Kuragin) ("War and Peace")

Vasili's cold, imperious, and beautiful daughter, who seduces Pierre into marriage, only to take up with another man immediately. She has affairs with many men, including her brother Anatole. Though known in social circles as a witty woman, she is quite stupid and shallow.

"War and Peace" (the main battle)

Borodino

Anna Karenina

A beautiful, aristocratic married woman whose pursuit of love and emotional honesty makes her an outcast from society. Her adulterous affair catapults her into social exile, misery, and finally suicide.

Alexei (Karenin)

Anna Karenina's husband. Formal, duty-bound, and cowed by social convention, he constantly presents a flawless facade of a cultivated and capable man.

Konstantin Levin

The independent-minded and socially awkward co-protagonist of "Anna Karenina." Whereas Anna's pursuit of love ends in tragedy, his long courtship of Kitty Shcherbatskaya ultimately ends in a happy marriage.

(Alexei) Vronsky

A wealthy and dashing military officer whose love for Anna prompts her to desert her husband and son. He accidentally destroys his beautiful racehorse Frou-Frou, a symbol of Anna.

Kitty (Ekaterina) ("Anna Karenina")

A beautiful young woman who is courted by both Levin and Vronsky, and who ultimately marries Levin. Modeled on Tolstoy's real-life wife, she is sensitive and perhaps a bit overprotected, shocked by some of the crude realities of life.

"The Death of Ivan Illych" (Tolstoy)

Most of it is a thirty-year flashback.

"The Death of Ivan Illych" (Tolstoy)

Peter Ivanovich

"The Death of Ivan Illych" (Tolstoy)

Gerasim

"The Trial" (Kafka)

Begins: "Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested."

"Lord Jim" (Conrad)

The Patna and Patusan

"Lord Jim" (Conrad)

Begins: "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed."

"Lord Jim" (Conrad)

Begins: "All this happened, more or less"

"Herzog" (Bellow)

Begins: "If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me."

"Lord Jim" (Conrad)

Jewel and Gentleman Brown

"Invisible Man"

Ends: "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?"

"To the Lighthouse"

Ends: "Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision."

"Middlemarch"

Ends: "The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

"Midnight's Children" (Rushdie)

Ends: "Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation."

"Wuthering Heights"

Ends: "I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."

"The Awakening"

Ends: "There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air."

"Crime and Punishment"

Ends: "But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended."

Sonya (Marmeladov)

Raskolnikov's love who is forced to prostitute herself to support herself and the rest of her family. She is meek and easily embarrassed, but she maintains a strong religious faith.

Dunya

Raskolinikov's sister, she is decisive and brave, ending her engagement with Luzhin when he insults her family and fending off Svidrigailov with gunfire.

(Arkady) Svidrigailov

Dunya's depraved yet generous former employer who attempts to rape her.

"Crime and Punishment"

Dmitri Razumikhin and Katerina Ivanova

"The Seagull" (Chekhov)

It concerns the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: an ingenue, a fading actress, her son the symbolist playwright, and a famous middlebrow story writer.

"The Seagull" (Chekhov)

The play has a strong intertextual relationship with "Hamelet."

"The Seagull" (Chekhov) (the actress and Konstantin's mother)

Irina Arkadina

"The Seagull" (Chekhov)

Konstantin Treplev

"The Seagull" (Chekhov) (the writer and Irina's lover)

Trigorin

(Lyubov) Ranevskaya

An aristocratic woman. The protagonist of "The Cherry Orchard."

"The Cherry Orchard'" (Chekhov)

The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate being sold to the son of a former serf.

"The Cherry Orchard'" (Ranevskaya's daughters)

Peter Trofimov

"The Cherry Orchard'" (the 'eternal student')

Yermolay Lopakhin

"Three Sisters" (middle sister)

Masha

"Three Sisters" (Chekhov)

Olga and Irina

"Three Sisters" (Chekhov)

Andrei Prozorova and Natalia Ivanova

"Three Sisters" (Chekhov)

The characters identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. However as the play develops Moscow never materializes and they all see their dreams recede further and further.

"The Lady with the Dog" (Chekhov)

Dmitri Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna

Humbert Humbert

The narrator of "Lolita"

"Lolita" (her real name)

Dolores Haze

"The Darling" (Chekhov)

The protagonist, Olga, has always been in love with someone—starting with her father as a young child—and that she inspires mutual affection from most of the people she meets. She marries Kukin and, after his death, Vasily.

"The Cherry Orchard" (Lopakhin)

She brought me over to the wash-stand here in this very room, the nursery as it was. 'Don't cry, little peasant,' she said. "You'll soon be as right as rain." [Pause]. Little peasant. It's true my father was a peasant, but here am I in my white waistcoat and brown boots, barging in like a bull in a china shop. The only thing is, I am rich.

"Great Expectations" (his lawyer and best friend)

Mr. Jaggers and Herbert Pocket

"The Trial" (a lawyer and a painter)

Herr Huld and Titorelli

"Age of Iron" (Coetzee)

The novel depicts the inward journey of Mrs. Curren, an old classics professor. She lives in the Cape Town of the Apartheid era, where she is slowly dying of cancer. She has been philosophically opposed to the Apartheid regime her entire life, but has never taken an active stance against it.

"Great Expectations" (the convict and Pip's worst enemy)

Abel Magwitch and Bentley Drummel

"Disgrace" (Coetzee)

David Lurie is a professor of English at a technical university in Cape Town who seduces a student and loses everything: his reputation, his job, his peace of mind, his good looks, his dreams of artistic success, and finally even his ability to protect his own daughter.

"The Castle" (Kafka)

The narrator, K., arrives in a village governed by a mysterious bureaucracy

"The Castle" (Kafka)

Frieda and Klamm

Alyosha ("The Brothers Karamazov")

The narrator describes him as the "hero" of novel and claims that the book is his "biography." A young, handsome man of about twenty, he is remarkable for his extraordinarily mature religious faith, his selflessness, and his innate love of humankind. The youngest son.

Ivan ("The Brothers Karamazov")

A brilliant student with an incisively analytical mind, and his intelligence is directly to blame for his descent into despair. Unable to reconcile the horror of unjust human suffering—particularly the suffering of children—with the idea of a loving God, he is consumed with doubt and argues that even if God does exist, he is malicious and hostile, and loves to torture mankind.

Dmitri ("The Brothers Karamazov")

The oldest brother. Passionate and intemperate, easily swept away by emotions and enthusiasms, as he demonstrates when he loses interest in his fiancée Katerina and falls madly in love with Grushenka. Cursed with a violent temper, Dmitri is plagued with the burden of sin and struggles throughout the novel to overcome his own flawed nature and to attain spiritual redemption.

"The Brothers Karamazov" (their father and the monk)

Zosima

"Remembrance of Things Past" (Proust)

The Guermantes

Maggie Tulliver

The protagonist of "The Mill on the Floss." Her brother is Tom.

"Barn Burning" (Faulkner)

Opens opens in a country store, which is doubling as a Justice of the Peace Court. A hungry boy named Sarty Snopes craves the meat and cheese in the store.

Hans (Castorp)

The protagonist of "The Magic Mountain"

"The Magic Mountain" (Mann)

Set partially in the Berghof sanatorium.

"The Magic Mountain" (represent duty and love/temptation)

Joachim Ziemssen and Clavdia Chauchat

"The Magic Mountain" (represent humanism and radicalism)

Settembrini and Naphta

"The Magic Mountain" (represents the Dionysian principle)

Mynheer Peeperkorn

"Death in Venice" (Mann)

Concerns a writer who becomes ill and confronts the duality of life: follow the path of logic and reason (Apollo) or follow the path of passion (Dionysus). He becomes obsessed with a young boy who he believes represents the latter.

"Death in Venice" (Mann)

The protagonist is Gustav von Aschenbach

"Death in Venice" (Mann)

Tadzio

Junto

A gentleman's debating club founded by Ben Franklin.

"The Maids" (Genet)

Claire and Solange

"The Sorrows of Young Werther" (Goethe)

Epistolary novel (letters sent to Wilhelm) set in the fictional village of Wahlheim

"The Sorrows of Young Werther" (his love interest and her husband)

Lotte and Albert

"Under the Volcano" (Lowry)

A semi-autobiographical novel which tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British consul in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac on the Day of the Dead.

Joyce ("Portrait of an Artist")

Emma Clery and Belvedere

"Darkness at Noon" (Koestler)

Tells the tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik and October Revolutionary who is cast out, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the very Soviet Union he once helped to create.

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