GRE Subject Literature

Terms in this set (284)

This implied author (a widely-used term that Booth coined in this book; who he also called an author's "second self"[2]) is the one who "chooses, consciously or unconsciously, what we read; we infer him as an ideal, literary, created version of the real man; he is the sum of his own choices"[3]
Booth also spent several chapters—which include numerous references to and citations from widely recognized works of fiction—describing the various effects that implied authors achieve along the various lines of interest that he identifies, and the pitfalls they fall into, depending upon whether or not the implied author provides commentary, and upon the degree to which a story's narrator is reliable or unreliable, personal or impersonal.
Booth detailed three "Types of Literary Interest" that are "available for technical manipulation in fiction":
(1) Intellectual or cognitive: We have, or can be made to have, strong intellectual curiosity about "the facts," the true interpretation, the true reasons, the true origins, the true motives, or the truth about life itself. (2) Qualitative: We have, or can be made to have, a strong desire to see any pattern or form completed, or to experience a further development of qualities of any kind. We might call this kind "aesthetic," if to do so did not suggest that a literary form using this interest was necessarily of more artistic value than one based on other interests. (3) Practical: We have, or can be made to have, a strong desire for the success or failure of those we love or hate, admire or detest; or we can be made to hope for or fear a change in the quality of a character. We might call this kind "human," if to do so did not imply that 1 and 2 were somehow less than human.
The Odyssey (Ancient Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, Odysseia) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature. It was probably composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia.[1]
The poem mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus (or Ulysses, as he was known in Roman myths) and his long journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War.[2] In his absence, it is assumed he has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres (Greek: Μνηστῆρες) or Proci, who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage.
It continues to be read in the Homeric Greek and translated into modern languages around the world. Many scholars believe that the original poem was composed in an oral tradition by an aoidos (epic poet/singer), perhaps a rhapsode (professional performer), and was more likely intended to be heard than read.[1] The details of the ancient oral performance, and the story's conversion to a written work inspire continual debate among scholars. The Odyssey was written in a regionless poetic dialect of Greek and comprises 12,110 lines of dactylic hexameter.[3] Among the most impressive elements of the text are its non-linear plot, and the influence on events of choices made by women and serfs, besides the actions of fighting men. In the English language as well as many others, the word odyssey has come to refer to an epic voyage.
a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature,[1] it has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement".[2] "Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking."[3]
Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, 16 June 1904 (the day of Joyce's first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle).[4] The title alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyssey, and establishes a series of parallels between characters and events in Homer's poem and Joyce's novel (e.g., the correspondence of Leopold Bloom to Odysseus, Molly Bloom to Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus to Telemachus). Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate 16 June as Bloomsday.
Ulysses is approximately 265,000 words in length and uses a lexicon of 30,030 words (including proper names, plurals and various verb tenses),[5] divided into eighteen episodes. Since publication, the book attracted controversy and scrutiny, ranging from early obscenity trials to protracted textual "Joyce Wars." Ulysses' stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—full of puns, parodies, and allusions, as well as its rich characterisations and broad humour, made the book a highly regarded novel in the Modernist pantheon. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Ars Poetica is a term meaning "The Art of Poetry" or "On the Nature of Poetry". Early examples of Ars Poetica by Aristotle and Horace have survived and have since spawned many other poems that bear the same name (perhaps most recognized being Archibald MacLeish's modernist entry, ending with the well-known couplet "A poem should not mean/But be"). Three of the most notable examples, including the work by Horace, are as follows.
Horace's Ars Poetica (also known as "The Art of Poetry", Epistula Ad Pisones, or Letters to Piso), published c. 18 BC, was a treatise on poetics. It was first translated into English by Ben Jonson. Three quotations in particular are associated with the work:
"in medias res", or "into the middle of things"; this describes a popular narrative technique that appears frequently in ancient epics and remains popular to this day
"bonus dormitat Homerus" or "good Homer nods"; an indication that even the most skilled poet can make continuity errors
"ut pictura poesis", or "as is painting so is poetry", by which Horace meant that poetry (in its widest sense, "imaginative texts") merited the same careful interpretation that was, in Horace's day, reserved for painting.
The latter two phrases occur back-to-back, near the end of the treatise.
The work is also key for its discussion of the principle of decorum (using appropriate vocabulary and diction in each style of writing), and for Horace's criticisms of purple prose.
Horace also introduced the five-act play: "A play should not be shorter nor longer than five acts."[1] Under his influence Seneca the Younger wrote plays in five acts, and as a result of the Renaissance, playwrights such as William Shakespeare divided their plays into five acts.
In verse 191, Horace warns against deus ex machina, the practice of resolving a convoluted plot by fiat (e.g. by having an Olympian god appear and set things right). Horace writes "Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus": "That a god not intervene, unless a knot show up that be worthy of such an untangler."
The best known poem by Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), published in 1926, took its title and subject from Horace's work. His poem "Ars Poetica" contains the line "A poem should not mean/but be", which was a classic statement of the modernist aesthetic. The original manuscript of the poem resides in the Library of Congress.
On Liberty (1859) is a philosophical work by British philosopher John Stuart Mill. It was a radical work to the Victorian readers of the time because it supported individuals' moral and economic freedom from the state.
Perhaps the most memorable point made by Mill in this work, and his basis for liberty, is that "over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign". Mill is compelled to make this assertion in opposition to what he calls the "tyranny of the majority", wherein through control of etiquette and morality, society is an unelected power that can do horrific things. Mill's work could be considered a reaction to this social control by the majority and his advocacy of individual decision-making over the self. The famous Harm Principle, or the principle of liberty, is also articulated in this work: the state or any other social body has no right to coerce or restrict the individual unless the individual causes harm to others, crucially, the individual's own physical or moral harm is not justification for constriction of their liberty. All branches of liberalism—as well as other political ideologies—consider this to be one of their core principles. However, they often disagree on what exactly constitutes harm.
On Liberty was an enormously influential work; the ideas presented in the book have remained the basis of much liberal political thought ever since. Aside from the popularity of the ideas themselves, the book is quite short and its themes are easily accessible to a non-expert. It has remained in print continuously since its initial publication. To this day, a copy of On Liberty has been passed to the president of the British Liberals, and then Liberal Democrats, as a symbol of office and succession from the party that Mill helped found.
an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 (though written nearly ten years earlier) in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification; most of the poem was written while Milton was blind, and was transcribed for him.[1]
The poem concerns the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men"[2] and elucidate the conflict between God's eternal foresight and free will. Although the primary event in the epic is about the Fall of Man, the character Satan serves as an anti-hero and as a prominent driving force in the plot. His depiction has fascinated critics, some of which have interpreted Paradise Lost as a poem questioning the church's power (a common theme during the English Renaissance) rather than only a description of the fall of Adam and Eve.[3]
Milton incorporates Paganism, classical mythology, and Christianity into the poem. While Milton's principal goal in the work is to give a compelling Theodicy, he nevertheless deals with a range of topics, from marriage to politics (Milton was politically active during the time of the English Civil War). Many difficult theological issues are deliberately addressed, including fate, predestination, the Trinity, the introduction of sin and death into the world, as well as the nature of angels, fallen angels, Satan and the war in heaven. Milton draws on his knowledge of languages, and diverse sources — primarily Genesis, much of the New Testament, the deuterocanonical Book of Enoch, and other parts of the Old Testament. Milton's epic is often considered one of the greatest literary works in the English language, along with those of Shakespeare.
(first published in 1949) by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party.[1] Life in the Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control, accomplished with a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc), which is administrated by a privileged Inner Party élite.[2] Yet they too are subordinated to the totalitarian cult of personality of Big Brother, the deified Party leader who rules with a philosophy that decries individuality and reason as thoughtcrimes; thus the people of Oceania are subordinated to a supposed collective greater good.[3] The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record is congruent with the current party doctrine.[4] Because of the childhood trauma of the destruction of his family — the disappearances of his parents and sister — Winston Smith secretly hates the Party, and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.
As literary political fiction and as dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot, and style, because many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and memory hole, have become contemporary vernacular since its publication in 1949. Moreover, Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellian, which refers to official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past in service to a totalitarian political agenda.
The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of Christianity. Published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807, it was a bestseller in the United States, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. British audiences, however, fearing increased political radicalism as a result of the French Revolution, received it with more hostility. The Age of Reason presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights what Paine saw as corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power. Paine advocates reason in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracles and to view the Bible as an ordinary piece of literature rather than as a divinely inspired text. It promotes natural religion and argues for the existence of a creator-God.
Most of Paine's arguments had long been available to the educated elite, but by presenting them in an engaging and irreverent style, he made deism appealing and accessible to a mass audience. The book was also inexpensive, putting it within the reach of a large number of buyers. Fearing the spread of what they viewed as potentially revolutionary ideas, the British government prosecuted printers and booksellers who tried to publish and distribute it. Paine nevertheless inspired and guided many British freethinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and his influence and spirit endures in the works of contemporary writers like Christopher Hitchens.
(born Edgar Poe, January 19, 1809 - October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.[1] He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.[2]
He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; he was orphaned young when his mother died shortly after his father abandoned the family. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him. He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. After enlisting in the Army and later failing as an officer's cadet at West Point, Poe parted ways with the Allans. His publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian".
Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845 Poe published his poem, "The Raven", to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years after its publication. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.[3]
Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today.
An Essay on Criticism is one of the first major poems written by the English writer Alexander Pope (1688-1744). It is written in a type of rhyming verse called heroic couplets.
The poem first appeared in 1711, but was written in 1709. It is clear from Pope's correspondence[1] that many of the poem's ideas had existed in prose form since at least 1706. It is a verse essay written in the Horatian mode and is primarily concerned with how writers and critics behave in the new literary commerce of Pope's contemporary age. The poem covers a range of good criticism and advice. It also represents many of the chief literary ideals of Pope's age.
Pope contends in the poem's opening couplets that bad criticism does greater harm than bad writing:
'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
A Fool might once himself alone expose,
Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose. ... (1-8)
Despite the harmful effects of bad criticism, literature requires worthy criticism.
Pope delineates common faults of critics, e.g., settling for easy and cliché rhymes:
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes;
Wher'er you find "the cooling western breeze",
In the next line, it "whispers through the trees";
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep",
The reader's threatened (not in vain) with "sleep" . . . (347-353)
Throughout the poem, Pope refers to ancient writers such as Virgil, Homer, Aristotle, Horace and Longinus. This is a testament to his belief that the "Imitation of the ancients" is the ultimate standard for taste. Pope also says, "True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learned to dance" (362-363), meaning poets are made, not born.
As is usual in Pope's poems, the Essay concludes with a reference to Pope himself. Walsh, the last of the critics mentioned, was a mentor and friend of Pope who had died in 1710.
n Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1734. It is a rationalistic effort to use philosophy in order to "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l.16), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to man" (1.26). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being (ll.33-34) and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (l.292), a theme that would soon be satirized by Voltaire in Candide.[1] More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.
Pope's Essay on Man and Moral Epistles were designed to be the parts of a system of ethics which he wanted to express in poetry. Moral Epistles have been known under various other names including Ethic Epistles and Moral Essays.
On its publication, An Essay on Man met with great admiration throughout Europe. Voltaire called it "the most beautiful, the most useful, the most sublime didactic poem ever written in any language". In 1756 Rousseau wrote to Voltaire admiring the poem and saying that it "softens my ills and brings me patience". Kant was fond of the poem and would recite long passages of the poem to his students [2]. However later Voltaire renounced his admiration for Pope and Leibnitz's optimism and even wrote a novel, Candide, as a satire on Pope and Leibnitz's philosophy of ethics.
The essay, written in heroic couplets, comprises four epistles. Pope began work on it in 1729, and had finished the first three by 1731. However, they did not appear until early 1733, with the fourth epistle published the following year. The poem was originally published anonymously; Pope did not admit authorship until 1735.
a mock-heroic narrative poem written by Alexander Pope, first published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellany in May 1712 in two cantos (334 lines), but then revised, expanded and reissued under Pope's name on March 2, 1714, in a much-expanded 5-canto version (794 lines). The final form was available in 1717 with the addition of Clarissa's speech on good humour.
The poem satirizes a petty squabble by comparing it to the epic world of the gods. It was based on an incident recounted by Pope's friend, John Caryll. Arabella Fermor and her suitor, Lord Petre, were both from aristocratic recusant Catholic families at a period in England when under such laws as the Test Act, all denominations except Anglicanism suffered legal restrictions and penalties (for example Petre could not take up his place in the House of Lords as a Catholic). Petre, lusting after Arabella, had cut off a lock of her hair without permission, and the consequent argument had created a breach between the two families. Pope, also a Catholic, wrote the poem at the request of friends in an attempt to "comically merge the two." He utilized the character Belinda to represent Arabella and introduced an entire system of "sylphs," or guardian spirits of virgins, a parodized version of the gods and goddesses of conventional epic.
Pope's poem mocks the traditions of classical epics: the abduction of Helen of Troy becomes here the theft of a lock of hair; the gods become minute sylphs; the description of Achilles' shield becomes an excursus on one of Belinda's petticoats. He also uses the epic style of invocations, lamentations, exclamations and similes, and in some cases adds parody to imitation by following the framework of actual speeches in Homer's Iliad. Although the poem is humorous at times, Pope keeps a sense that beauty is fragile, and that the loss of a lock of hair touches Belinda deeply. As his introductory letter makes clear, women in that period were essentially supposed to be decorative rather than rational, and the loss of beauty was a serious matter.


"The New Star," Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for The Rape of the Lock
The humour of the poem comes from the storm in a teacup of vanity being couched within the elaborate, formal verbal structure of an epic poem.
Three of Uranus's moons are named after characters from The Rape of the Lock: Belinda, Umbriel, and Ariel, the last name also (previously) appearing in Shakespeare's The Tempest.
It is one of the most commonly cited examples of high burlesque.
a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. His most prominent work, it is popularly known for its considerable length and the notion of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the "episode of the madeleine." The novel is widely referred to in English as Remembrance of Things Past but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, has gained in usage since D. J. Enright adopted it in his 1992 revision of the earlier translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. The complete story contains nearly 1.5 million words and is one of the longest novels in world literature.
The novel as it is known today began to take shape in 1909 and work continued for the remainder of Proust's life, broken off only by his final illness and death in the autumn of 1922. The structure was established early on and the novel is complete as a work of art and a literary cosmos but Proust kept adding new material through his final years while editing one volume after another for print; the final three volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages which existed in draft at the death of the author; the publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.
The work was published in France between 1913 and 1927; Proust paid for the publication of the first volume (by the Grasset publishing house) after it had been turned down by leading editors who had been offered the manuscript in longhand. Many of its ideas, motifs and scenes appear in adumbrated form in Proust's unfinished novel, Jean Santeuil (1896-99), though the perspective and treatment there are different, and in his unfinished hybrid of philosophical essay and story, Contre Sainte-Beuve (1908-09). The novel has had great influence on twentieth-century literature, whether because writers have sought to emulate it, or attempted to parody and discredit some of its traits. Proust explores the themes of time, space and memory but the novel is above all a condensation of innumerable literary, structural, stylistic and thematic possibilities.
(c. 1554 - 29 October 1618) was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.
Raleigh was born to a Protestant family in Devon, the son of Walter Raleigh and Catherine Champernowne. Little is known for certain of his early life, though he spent some time in Ireland, in Killua Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, taking part in the suppression of rebellions and participating in the Siege of Smerwick. Later he became a landlord of properties confiscated from the Irish rebels. He rose rapidly in the favour of Queen Elizabeth I, and was knighted in 1585. He was involved in the early English colonisation of Virginia under a royal patent. In 1591 he secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, without the Queen's permission, for which he and his wife were sent to the Tower of London. After his release, they retired to his estate at Sherborne, Dorset.
In 1594 Raleigh heard of a "City of Gold" in South America and sailed to find it, publishing an exaggerated account of his experiences in a book that contributed to the legend of "El Dorado". After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower, this time for allegedly being involved in the Main Plot against King James I, who was not favourably disposed toward him. In 1616 he was released to lead a second expedition in search of El Dorado. This was unsuccessful and men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost. He returned to England and, to appease the Spanish, was arrested and executed in 1618.
an autobiographical book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In modern times, it is often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from St. Augustine of Hippo's Confessions. Covering the first fifty-three years of Rousseau's life, up to 1765, it was completed in 1769, but not published until 1782, four years after Rousseau's death - even though Rousseau did read excerpts of his manuscript publicly at various salons and other meeting places.
Confessions were two distinct works, each part consisting of six books. Books I to VI were written between 1765 and 1767, and published in 1782; books VII to XII, was written in 1769-1770, and published in 1789.[citation needed] Rousseau alludes to a planned third part, but this was never completed. Though the book is somewhat flawed as an autobiography - particularly, Rousseau's dates are frequently off, and some events are out of order - Rousseau provides an account of the experiences that shaped his influential philosophy. For instance, the parts of his own education he liked best are clearly present in his account of ideal education, Emile: Or, On Education.
Rousseau's work is notable as one of the first major autobiographies. Prior to his writing the Confessions, the two great autobiographies were Augustine's own Confessions and Saint Teresa's Life of Herself. Both of these works, however, focused on the religious experiences of their authors. The Confessions was one of the first autobiographies in which an individual wrote of his own life mainly in terms of his worldly experiences and personal feelings. Rousseau recognized the unique nature of his work; it opens with the famous words:
I have resolved on an enterprise which has no precedent, and which, once complete, will have no imitator. My purpose is to display to my kind a portrait in every way true to nature, and the man I shall portray will be myself.
Some scholars[who?] believe that his prediction was wide off the mark. Not long after publication many other writers (such as Goethe, Wordsworth and De Quincey) wrote their own similarly-styled autobiographies. However, Leo Damrosch argues that Rousseau meant that it would be impossible to imitate his book, as nobody else would be like Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The Confessions is also noted for its detailed account of Rousseau's more humiliating and shameful moments. For instance, Rousseau recounts an incident when, while a servant, he covered up his theft of a ribbon by framing a young girl - who was working in the house - for the crime. In addition, Rousseau explains the manner in which he disposes of his five illegitimate children, whom he had with his world-wide known companion, Therese Levasseur.
The Seafarer is an Old English poem recorded in the Exeter Book, one of the four surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry. It consists of 124 lines, followed by the single word "Amen". In the past it has been frequently referred to as an elegy, a poem that mourns a loss, or has the more general meaning of a simply sorrowful piece of writing. Some scholars, however, have argued that the content of the poem also places it in the category of Sapiential, or Wisdom, Literature. This kind of literature mainly consists of proverbs and maxims and is named in references to Old Testament books. The Seafarer has "significant sapiential material concerning the definition of wise men, the ages of the world, and the necessity for patience in adversity" (Hill 806).
It is told from the point of view of an old seafarer, who is reminiscing and evaluating his life as he has lived it. In lines 1-33a, the seafarer describes the desolate hardships of life on the wintry sea. He describes the anxious feelings, cold-wetness, and solitude of the sea voyage in contrast to life on land where men are surrounded by kinsmen, free from dangers, and full on food and wine. The climate on land then begins to resemble that of the wintry sea, and in lines 33b-66a, the speaker shifts his tone from the dreariness of the winter voyage and begins to describe his yearning for the sea. Time passes through the seasons from winter—"it snowed from the north" (31b)—to spring—"groves assume blossoms" (48a)—and to summer—"the cuckoo forebodes, or forewarns" (53a).
Though this poem begins as a narrative of a man's life at sea, it becomes a praise of God. At line 66b, the speaker again shifts, this time not in tone, but in subject matter. The sea is no longer mentioned; instead the speaker preaches about the path to heaven. He asserts that "earthly happiness will not endure" (line 67), that men must oppose "the devil with brave deeds" (line 76), and that earthly wealth cannot travel to the afterlife nor will it determine the wealth of the soul (lines 97-102). Next the speaker provides the reader with maxims and proverbs and then calls to men to consider where they want to spend the afterlife and "then reflect upon how we could come there" (line 118). Heaven is a goal for man to reach by living a good, honourable life. This is a reward to man for faith, as well as a reward for God who "has honoured us for all time" (124). The poem is ended with thanks to the Lord.
In view of the structure and content, as outlined above, it is helpful to think of the seafarer's narration of his experiences as an exemplum, used to make a moral point; and to persuade his hearers of the truth of his words. It has been asserted that this poem demonstrates the fundamental Anglo-Saxon belief that life is shaped by fate. Another understanding was proposed by the Cambridge Old English Reader in 2004, namely that the poem is essentially concerned to state: "Let us (good Christians, that is) remind ourselves where our true home lies and concentrate on getting there"
Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley's name appears on the second edition, published in France in 1823.
Shelley had travelled the region in which the story takes place, and the topics of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. The actual storyline was taken from a dream. Shelley was talking with three writer-colleagues,Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori, and they decided they would have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for weeks about what her possible storyline could be, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what she had made. Then Frankenstein was written.
Frankenstein is infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story, because unlike in previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character "makes a deliberate decision" and "turns to modern experiments in the laboratory" to achieve fantastic results.[1] The story is partially based on Giovanni Aldini's electrical experiments on dead and (sometimes) living animals and was also a warning against the expansion of modern humans in the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in its subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. It has had a considerable influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films.
The name "Frankenstein" - actually the novel's human protagonist - is often incorrectly used to refer to the monster itself. In the novel, the monster is identified via words such as "monster", "fiend", "wretch", "vile insect", "daemon", and "it"; The monster refers to himself speaking to Dr. Frankenstein as "the Adam of your labors", and elsewhere as someone who "would have" been "your Adam", but is instead your "fallen angel."
4 August 1792 - 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron. The novelist Mary Shelley was his second wife.
He is most famous for such classic anthology verse works as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy, which are among the most popular and critically acclaimed poems in the English language. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Queen Mab (later reworked as The Daemon of the World), Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs and the unfinished work The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. Although he has typically been figured as a "reluctant dramatist", he was passionate about the theatre, and his plays continue to be performed today. He wrote the Gothic novels Zastrozzi (1810) and St. Irvyne (1811) and the short prose works "The Assassins" (1814), "The Coliseum" (1817) and "Una Favola" (1819). In 2008, he was credited as the co-author of the novel Frankenstein (1818) in a new edition by the Bodleian Library in Oxford and Random House in the U.S. entitled The Original Frankenstein, edited by Charles E. Robinson.[3][4][5]
Shelley's unconventional life and uncompromising idealism[6][7], combined with his strong disapproving voice, made him an authoritative and much-denigrated figure during his life and afterward. Mark Twain took particular aim at Shelley in In Defense of Harriet Shelley, where he lambasted Shelley for abandoning his pregnant wife and child to run off with the 16-year-old Mary Godwin.[8] Shelley never lived to see the extent of his success and influence; although some of his works were published, they were often suppressed upon publication.
He became an idol of the next three or four generations of poets, including important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets. He was admired by Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, William Butler Yeats, Upton Sinclair and Isadora Duncan.[9] Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's passive resistance were apparently influenced and inspired by Shelley's non-violence in protest and political action, although Gandhi does not include him in his list of mentors.
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by journalist Upton Sinclair.[1] Sinclair wrote the novel with the intention of portraying the life of the immigrant in the United States, but readers were more concerned with the large portion of the book pertaining to the corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early-20th century, and the book is now often interpreted and taught as a journalist's exposure of the poor health conditions in this industry. The novel depicts in harsh tones poverty, absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness prevalent among the working class, which is contrasted with the deeply-rooted corruption on the part of those in power. Sinclair's observations of the state of turn-of-the-century labor were placed front and center for the American public to see, suggesting that something needed to be changed to get rid of American wage slavery.[2] The novel was first published in serial form in 1905 in the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason. It was based on undercover work done in 1904: Sinclair spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards at the behest of the magazine's publishers.[3] He then started looking for a publisher who would be willing to print it in book form. After five rejections by publishers who found it too shocking for publication, he funded the first printing himself.[3] A shortened version of the novel was published by Doubleday, Page & Company on February 28, 1906 and has been in print ever since.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. In the poem, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior who is completely green, from his clothes and hair to his beard and skin, save for his red eyes. The "Green Knight" offers to allow anyone to strike him with his axe if the challenger will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts, and beheads him in one blow, only to have the Green Knight stand up, pick up his head, and remind Gawain to meet him at the appointed time. In his struggles to uphold his oath, Gawain faithfully demonstrates the qualities of chivalry and loyalty until his honor is called into question by a test crafted by the lady of the castle in which much of the story takes place. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the better-known Arthurian stories, which date back to the 12th century.
The poem survives in a single manuscript, the Cotton Nero A.x., that also includes three religious pieces, Pearl, Purity, and Patience. These works are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, dubbed the "Pearl Poet" or "Gawain Poet." All four narrative poems are written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English.[1][2] The story thus emerges from the Welsh and English traditions of the dialect area, borrowing from earlier "beheading game" stories and highlighting the importance of honour and chivalry in the face of danger.
In addition to its complex plot and rich language, the poem's chief interest for literary critics is its sophisticated use of medieval symbolism. Everything from the Green Knight, to the beheading game, to the girdle given to Gawain as protection from the axe, is richly symbolic and steeped in Celtic, Germanic, and other folklore and cultural traditions. The Green Knight, for example, is interpreted by some as a representation of the Green Man of folklore and by others as an allusion to Christ.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an important poem in the romance genre, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest that tests his ability. The ambiguity of the poem's ending, however, makes it more complex than most. Christian readings of the poem argue for an apocalyptic interpretation, drawing parallels between Gawain and Lady Bertilak and the story of Adam and Eve. Feminist interpretations disagree at the most basic level, some arguing that women are in total control from beginning to end, while others argue that their control is only an illusion. Cultural critics have argued that the poem is best read as an expression of tensions between the Welsh and English present at the time in the poet's dialect region. The poem remains popular to this day, through translations from renowned authors like J. R. R. Tolkien and Simon Armitage, as well as through recent film and stage adaptations.
Kidnapped is a historical fiction adventure novel by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. Written as a "boys' novel" and first published in the magazine Young Folks from May to July 1886, the novel has attracted the praise and admiration of writers as diverse as Henry James, Jorge Luis Borges, and Seamus Heaney. A sequel, Catriona, was published in 1893.
As historical fiction, it is set around 18th-century Scottish events, notably the "Appin Murder", which occurred near Ballachulish in 1752 in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising.[1] Many of the characters, and one of the principals, Alan Breck Stewart, were real people. The political situation of the time is portrayed from different viewpoints, and the Scottish Highlanders are treated sympathetically.
Beginning with some of the earliest reviews of Kidnapped in 1886,[2] it has been thought the novel was structured after the true story of James Annesley, a presumptive heir to five aristocratic titles who was kidnapped at the age of 12 by his uncle Richard and shipped from Dublin to America in 1728.[3] He managed to escape after 13 years and return to reclaim his birthright from his uncle in one of the longest court-room dramas of its time.[3] As Annseley biographer Ekirch says, "It is inconceivable that Stevenson, a voracious reader of legal history, was unfamiliar with the saga of James Annesley, which by the time of Kidnapped's publication in 1886 had already influenced four other 19th-century novels, most famously Sir Walter Scott's Guy Mannering (1815) and Charles Reade's The Wandering Heir (1873)."
ncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman.[1]
Stowe, a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Academy and an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters—both fellow slaves and slave owners—revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings.[2][3][4]
Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century,[5] and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.[6] It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s.[7] In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States alone. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called "the most popular novel of our day."[8] One million copies of the book were sold in Great Britain.[9] The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, "So this is the little lady who started this great war."[10] The quote is apocryphal; it did not appear in print until 1896, and it has been argued that "The long-term durability of Lincoln's greeting as an anecdote in literary studies and Stowe scholarship can perhaps be explained in part by the desire among many contemporary intellectuals ... to affirm the role of literature as an agent of social change."[11]
The book, and the plays it inspired, also helped popularize a number of stereotypes about black people,[12] many of which endure to this day. These include the affectionate, dark-skinned "mammy"; the "pickaninny" stereotype of black children; and the 'Uncle Tom', or dutiful, long-suffering servant faithful to his white master or mistress. In recent years, the negative associations with Uncle Tom's Cabin have, to an extent, overshadowed the historical impact of the book as a "vital antislavery tool."
Fern Hill (1945) is a poem by Dylan Thomas, first published in the October, 1945, Horizon magazine, with its first book publication as the last poem in Deaths and Entrances. The poem starts as a straightforward evocation of his childhood visits to his Aunt Annie's farm:
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
In the middle section, the idyllic scene is expanded upon, reinforced by the lilting rhythm of the poem, the dreamlike, pastoral metaphors and allusion to scenes from the Garden of Eden. By the end, the poet's older voice has taken over, mourning his lost youth with echoes of the opening:
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.[1]
The poem uses internal half rhyme and full rhyme as well as end rhyme. Thomas was very conscious of the impact of spoken or intoned verse and explored the potentialities of sound and rhythm, in a manner reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He always denied having conscious knowledge of Welsh, but "his lines chime with internal consonantal correspondence, or cynghanedd, a prescribed feature of Welsh versification".[2]
The house Fernhill is just outside Llangain in Carmarthenshire. Thomas had extended stays here in the 1920s with his aunt Annie and her husband, Jim Jones. His holidays here have been recalled in interviews with his schoolboy friends, and both the house and the Thomas family network in the area are detailed in the same book.
The History of the Peloponnesian War is an account of the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece, fought between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Delian League (led by Athens). It was written by Thucydides, an Athenian general who served in the war. It is widely considered a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. The History was divided into eight books by editors of later antiquity.
Analyses of the History generally fall into one of two camps.[1] On the one hand are those who view the work as an objective and scientific piece of history. The judgement of J. B. Bury reflects this traditional interpretation of the work: "[The History is] severe in its detachment, written from a purely intellectual point of view, unencumbered with platitudes and moral judgements, cold and critical."[2] A more recent interpretation, associated with reader-response criticism, argues that the History is better understood as a piece of literature than an objective record of the past. This view is embodied in the words of W. R. Connor, who describes Thucydides as "an artist who responds to, selects and skillfully arranges his material, and develops its symbolic and emotional potential."[3] The former outlook views Thucydides as pathbreaking, modern, and philosophical, ahead of his time; the latter views the historian as closely connected with his historical and cultural context. Both interpretations are accepted by scholars, sometimes by the same scholar, and seem to capture the contradictory impulses and tensions within the History.
According to Tolstoy, art must create a specific emotional link between artist and audience, one that "affects" the viewer. Thus, real art requires the capacity to unite people via communication (clearness and genuineness are therefore crucial values). This aesthetic conception led Tolstoy to widen the criteria of what exactly a work of art is. He believed that the concept of art embraces any human activity in which one emitter, by means of external signs, transmits previously experienced feelings. Tolstoy offers an example of this: a boy that has experienced fear after an encounter with a wolf later relates that experience, infecting the hearers and compelling them to feel the same fear that he had experienced—that is a perfect example of a work of art. As communication, this is good art, because it is clear, it is sincere, and it is singular (focused on one emotion).
However, genuine "infection" is not the only criterion for good art. The good art vs. bad art issue unfolds into two directions. One is the conception that the stronger the infection, the better is the art. The other concerns the subject matter that accompanies this infection, which leads Tolstoy to examine whether the emotional link is a feeling that is worth creating. Good art, he claims, fosters feelings of universal brotherhood. Bad art inhibits such feelings. All good art has a Christian message, because only Christianity teaches an absolute brotherhood of all men. However, this is "Christian" only in a limited meaning of the word. Art produced by artistic elites is almost never good, because the upper class has entirely lost the true core of Christianity.
Furthermore, Tolstoy also believed that art that appeals to the upper class will feature emotions that are peculiar to the concerns of that class. Another problem with a great deal of art is that it reproduces past models, and so it is not properly rooted in a contemporary and sincere expression of the most enlightened cultural ideals of the artist's time and place. To cite one example, ancient Greek art extolled virtues of strength, masculinity, and heroism according to the values derived from its mythology. However, since Christianity does not embrace these values (and in some sense values the opposite, the meek and humble), Tolstoy believes that it is unfitting for people in his society to continue to embrace the Greek tradition of art.
Among other artists, he specifically condemns Wagner and Beethoven as examples of overly cerebral artists, who lack real emotion. Furthermore, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 cannot claim to be able to "infect" their audience, as it pretends, with the feeling of unity and therefore cannot be considered good art. Children's songs and folk tales are superior to the work of Wagner and Beethoven.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The book was originally titled A Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Some early editions are titled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.he novel explains the tale of Hank Morgan, a 19th-century resident of Hartford, Connecticut who, after a blow to the head, awakens to find himself inexplicably transported back in time to early medieval England at the time of the legendary King Arthur.
The story begins first person narrative in Warwick Castle, where a man details his recollection of a tale told to by an "interested stranger" who is personified as a knight through his simple language and familiarity with ancient armor.[2]
After a brief tale of Sir Launcelot of Camelot and his role in slaying two giants from the third-person narrative, the man named Hank Morgan enters and, after being given whiskey by the narrator, he is persuaded to reveal more of his story. Described through first-person narrative as a man familiar with the firearms and machinery trade, Hank is a man who had reached the level of superintendent due to his proficiency in firearms manufacturing, with two thousand subordinates. He describes the beginning of his tale by illustrating details of a disagreement with his subordinates, during which he sustained a head injury from a "crusher" to the head caused by a man named "Hercules" using a crowbar.[3] After passing out from the blow, Hank describes waking up underneath an oak tree in a rural area of Camelot where a knight questions him for trepassing upon his land, and after establishing rapport, leads him towards Camelot castle.[4] Upon recognizing that he has time-traveled to the sixth century, Hank realizes that he is the de facto smartest person on Earth, and with his knowledge he should soon be running things.
a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: or, Optimism (1947).[5] It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply Optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not outright rejecting optimism, advocating an enigmatic precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds".
Candide is characterised by its sarcastic tone, as well as by its erratic, fantastical and fast-moving plot. A picaresque novel with a story similar to that of a more serious bildungsroman, it parodies many adventure and romance clichés, the struggles of which are caricatured in a tone that is mordantly matter-of-fact. Still, the events discussed are often based on historical happenings, such as the Seven Years' War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.[6] As philosophers of Voltaire's day contended with the problem of evil, so too does Candide in this short novel, albeit more directly and humorously. Voltaire ridicules religion, theologians, governments, armies, philosophies, and philosophers through allegory; most conspicuously, he assaults Leibniz and his optimism
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at St. James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae in order to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play's humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde's artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde's most enduringly popular play.
The successful opening night marked the climax of Wilde's career but also heralded his downfall. The Marquess of Queensberry, father of Lord Alfred Douglas, an intimate friend of Wilde, planned to present Wilde a bouquet of rotten vegetables and disrupt the show. Wilde was tipped off and Queensberry was refused admission. Soon afterwards, however, their feud came to a climax in court, where Wilde's homosexual double life was revealed to the Victorian public and he was eventually sentenced to imprisonment. Wilde's notoriety caused the play, despite its success, to be closed after just 86 performances. After his release, he published the play from exile in Paris, but he wrote no further comic or dramatic work.
The Critic as Artist is an essay by Oscar Wilde, containing the most extensive statements of his aesthetic philosophy. A dialogue in two parts, it is by far the longest one included in his collection of essays titled Intentions published in May 1891. The Critic as Artist is a significantly revised version of articles that first appeared in the July and September issues of The Nineteenth Century, originally entitled The True Function and Value of Criticism. The essay is a conversation between its leading voice Gilbert and Ernest, who suggests ideas for Gilbert to reject.
The essay sets to collapse the distinction between fine art and criticism cherished by artists and critics such as Matthew Arnold and James Abbott McNeill Whistler - only critical faculty enables any artistic creation at all, while criticism is independent of the object it criticises and not necessarily subject to it. The essay champions contemplative life to the life of action. According to Gilbert, scientific principle of heredity shows we are never less free, never have more illusions than when we try to act with some conscious aim in mind. Critical contemplation is guided by conscious aesthetic sense as well as by the soul. The soul is wiser than we are, writes Wilde, it is the concentrated racial experience revealed by the imagination. Criticism is above reason, sincerity and fairness; it is necessarily subjective. It is increasingly more to criticism than to creation that future belongs as its subject matter and the need to impose form on chaos constantly increases. It is criticism rather than emotinal sympathies, abstract ethics or commercial advantages that would make us cosmopolitan and serve as the basis of peace.
Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792), written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should have an education. She argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society, claiming that women are essential to the nation because they educate its children and because they could be "companions" to their husbands, rather than mere wives. Instead of viewing women as ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage, Wollstonecraft maintains that they are human beings deserving of the same fundamental rights as men.
Wollstonecraft was prompted to write the Rights of Woman after reading Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's 1791 report to the French National Assembly, which stated that women should only receive a domestic education; she used her commentary on this specific event to launch a broad attack against sexual double standards and to indict men for encouraging women to indulge in excessive emotion. Wollstonecraft wrote the Rights of Woman hurriedly in order to respond directly to ongoing events; she intended to write a more thoughtful second volume but died before completing it.
While Wollstonecraft does call for equality between the sexes in particular areas of life, such as morality, she does not explicitly state that men and women are equal. Her ambiguous statements regarding the equality of the sexes have since made it difficult to classify Wollstonecraft as a modern feminist, particularly since the word and the concept were unavailable to her. Although it is commonly assumed now that the Rights of Woman was unfavourably received, this is a modern misconception based on the belief that Wollstonecraft was as reviled during her lifetime as she became after the publication of William Godwin's Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1798). The Rights of Woman was actually well-received when it was first published in 1792. One biographer has called it "perhaps the most original book of [Wollstonecraft's] century".
Native Son (1940) is a novel by American author Richard Wright. The novel tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into trouble as a youth, but upon receiving a job at the home of the Daltons, a rich, white family, he experienced a realization of his identity. He thinks he accidentally killed a white woman, runs from the police, rapes and kills his girlfriend and is then caught and tried. "I didn't want to kill," Bigger shouts. "But what I killed for, I am! It must've been pretty deep in me to make me kill."
Wright gets inside the head of "brute Negro" Bigger, revealing his feelings, thoughts and point of view as he commits crimes and is confronted with racism, violence and debasement. The novel's treatment of Bigger and his motivations conforms to the conventions of literary naturalism.
While not apologizing for Bigger's crimes, Wright is sympathetic to the systemic inevitability behind them. The novel is a powerful statement about racial inequality and social injustices so deep that it becomes nearly impossible to determine where societal expectations/conditioning end and free will begins. As Bigger's lawyer points out, there is no escape from this destiny for his client or any other black American, since they are the necessary product of the society that formed them and told them since birth who exactly they were supposed to be. "No American Negro exists," James Baldwin once wrote, "who does not have his private Bigger Thomas living in his skull." Frantz Fanon discusses this feeling in his 1952 essay L'Experience Vecue du Noir, or "The Fact of Blackness". "In the end," writes Fanon, "Bigger Thomas acts. To put an end to his tension, he acts, he responds to the world's anticipation."
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