Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(17) Modernism and its Manifestations in the Works of J. Joyce and V. Woolf.

T h e  T w e n t i e t h  C e n t u r y

[see "Background for Topics 12-27..."]

J a m e s  J o y c e  ( 1 8 8 2 – 1 9 4 1 )

L i f e :

- b. in Dublin

- received a Cath. education at Jesuit institutions, then studied modern languages

- created some stir with his outspoken articles during his studies:

(a) one on the Norwegian playwright H. Ibsen publ.

(b) another called “The Day of Rabblement” refused and publ. privately

- rebelled against Dublin’s Philistinism and against Cath.

- chose the career of an exile and writer: J.: the latter implies the former, the lit. mission involves rebellion and exile

- aided by wealthy patrons to enhance his meagre income

- aided by his brother Stanislas = his ‘brother’s keeper’ to control his heavy drinking

W o r k :

- moved / wrote btw Paris, Trieste, and Zurich x but: able to re-create the Dublin life with total understanding and total objectivity

- expressed and complexly explored the loyalty to his native city in each of his prose works

- Dublin = a microcosm / a small-scale model of all human life and experience, of all history, and of all geography

- a humanely comic vision of all life

- publication troubles:

(a) Dubliners: the publication held up for 9 y., finally publ. with the addition of 3 further stories

(b) Ulysses: charged for obscenity and banned in both GB and US for 11 y.

(c) Finnegans Wake: publ. immediately by ‘Faber and Faber’, the firm controlled by T. S. Eliot


= short prose sketches from his notebooks

- each shaped around a moment of revelation = epiphany = ‘a sudden spiritual manifestation’

- the title : from theological terminology

=> the 1st major E writer since the Reformation (except for the converts J. H. Newman and G. M. Hopkins) ‘supersaturated’ in specifically Rom. Cath. teaching

D u b l i n e r s  ( 1 9 1 4 ) :

= a series of orig. 12 short stories: 3 deal with childhood, 3 with adolescence, 3 with mature life, and 3 with public life

(a) = sharp realistic sketches of D.

(b) = a book about human fate

(c) => ‘a chapter of the moral history’ of Ir.

- Dublin = ‘the centre of paralysis’, its citizens = bound up in private conc. and incapable to judge properly their experience

- the detached narrator shapes the narratives x but: does not offer his judgement

- chooses and organises the detail to produce symbolic meanings, new meanings arise from the relation of the stories presented in a particular order

“The Sisters”

= the 1st story

- opening: stresses the cultural ‘paralysis’:

(a) the 1st line refers to the priest’s fatal stroke

(b) the 1st paragraph repeats the word as the narrator gazes up nightly at a window in the priest’s house

“The Clay”:

= the haunting 10th story

- the ageing Maria loses a slice of plum cake on a tram: gives the seemingly inconsequential loss a contextual perspective

- concl.: M. sings a song superstitiously held to foretell mortality => her vulnerability

“The Dead”:

= the long last story, added later

- conc.: the nature of artistic objectivity

- the protagonist = the literate and articulate Gabriel Conroy: shifts the general conc. away from the uneducated and the narrow-minded

- the setting = a family party: its quality establ. by snatches of conversation, exchanged politenesses, familiar memories, pop. quotations and songs = these fragments re-echo themes from earlier stories

(a) a sharp exchange btw G. and the insular Miss Ivors conc. the nationalist tensions of the contemp. Ir.: G. accused of being a ‘West Briton’ (= an Ir. content not to undo the Union with GB)

(b) G. temporarily alienated from his wife by her recall of a dead suitor from the Celtic West of Ir.

- concl.: G. muses in his hotel room as snow falls in the city to unite it to the whole white island stretching westwards beyond it

=> a momentary vision of a release from time and from purely temporal preocc.: G. freed from his egotism to attain supreme neutrality = the beginning of artistic awareness

> further develops this view of art by Stephen Dedalus in his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A  P o r t r a i t  o f  t h e  A r t i s t  a s  a  Y o u n g  M a n  ( 1 9 1 6 ) :

= his autobiog. woven into a novel

- conc.: the parallel movement twd art and twd exile

- art moves:

(a) from the simplest lyrical form = the personal expression of emotion

(b) to the narrative form = no longer purely personal

(c) to the highest dramatic form = impersonal

- this view of art involves the objectivity, even the exile, and the rejection of the ordinary world of middle-class values => the bohemian artist

= representatively true not only of J. x but: of the relation btw the artist and society in the early 20th c.

- the protagonist = Stephen Dedalus (the name: from Daedalus = the builder of Cretan mazes and the ingenious feathered escaper from islands):

(a) admires the prose style of J. H. Newman

(b) shapes his complex aesthetics accord. to the theology of Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 74, an It. Cath. philos. and scholastic theologian)

Stephen Hero (1944, posthum.):

- a part of the orig. draft

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

- a reworked version

- in contrast more carefully organised and stripped of everything superfluous

Part 1:

- conc.: the growth of an artist’s mind

- plays with the fairy-tale phraseology, nursery-rhyme rhythms, and baby talk = suggests an infant’s experience as shaped by sensual stimuli

Part 2:

- conc.: the assuming of a new priesthood = that of the artist

- moves forward from being the passive feeler to being the doer

- concl.: breaks into a series of diary entries of the potential artist preparing himself for flight

U l y s s e s  ( 1 9 2 2 ) :

- took him 7 y. to write

= an account of 1 day in the lives of citizens of Dublin: involves a limited number of events, a limited number of people, and a limited environment

x but: aspires to create a microcosm: uses devices to render the events symbolic of the activity of ‘the Individual in the World’

- the most obvious device = the parallel with Homer’s Odyssey:

(a) each of the 18 extended Ulysses episodes corresponds in some way to an Odyssey episode: Bloom attends the funeral = Homer descents to Hades, etc.

(b) each of the Ulysses characters corresponds to an Odyssey character: Bloom = Odysseus, Stephen = his lost son Telemachus, Molly = his Penelope, etc.

- Ulysses = the most ‘complete’ man because shown in all his aspects: coward x hero, weak x strong, etc.

=> makes Bloom a modern Ulysses = makes him Everyman = makes Dublin the World


- opening: 8 A.M., June 16, 1904

(a) Stephen Dedalus = the one of the Portrait, 2 y. later:

- called back to his native Dublin by his mother’s fatal illness

- his early morning activities and the main currents of his mind: preocc. with guilt over his failure to pray at his mother’s death-bed and with intellectual speculation

- S.: an aloof artist = the incomplete man x the complete man Bloom

(b) Leopold Bloom = an Ir. Jew:

- his activities: attends a funeral, transacts his business, shops, cooks, eats his lunch, walks through the Dublin streets, and worries about his wife’s infidelity

- the contents of his mind incl. retrospect and anticipation to reveal all his past history = far less organised: returns to the snippets of half-understood Hebrew and E words, the smell of soap, his dead son, an advertisement, etc.

- S. drinks with some medical student and gets drunk

- B. discovers a paternal feeling twd him = S. symbolically takes the place of B.’s dead son

- climax: S. and B. succumb to a series of hallucinations, present their subconscious and unconscious in a dramatic form, and reveal their personalities with a completeness and frankness unique in lit.

- B. takes S. home and gives him a meal

- S. departs and B. retires to bed

(c) Molly Bloom:

- seemingly marginalised in her bed: sleeps, entertains a lover

- holds the final long and extraordinarily unpunctuated monologue presenting her experiences as woman

- concl.: 2 A.M., June 17, 1904; with M.’s confident ‘Yes’

=> symbolically presents the paradoxes of human loneliness and sociability (B. both Jew and Dubliner, exile and citizen) and the problems of the relations btw parent and child, btw the generations, and btw the sexes


< themes from Homer, Dante, and W. Shakespeare, from lit., philos., and history

- the subtle pattern of allusion and suggestion illuminates many aspects of human experience

- linguistic virtuosity: the stream of consciousness method = presents the consciousness of the characters directly without any explanatory comment

- mingles past and present in the texture of the prose because they mingle in the texture of consciousness: indicated by puns, sudden breaks into a new kind of style or subject matter

= the kaleidoscopic nature of human awareness

F i n n e g a n s  W a k e  ( 1 9 3 9 ) :

- took him 14 y. to write

- the title = from an Ir.-Am. ballad: Tom Finnegan, a hod carrier, falls off a ladder when drunk, and apparently kills himself x but: revives during the wake [= the watch by the dead body] when sb spills whiskey on him

- conc.: aspires to embrace all of human history

< the cyclical theory of the phases of history by Giambattista Vico (1668 – 1744, an It. philos.):

(a) divine, theocratic: people governed by their awe of the supernatural

(b) aristocratic: the ‘heroic age’ described in Homer and Beowulf (ca 700 – 1000 AD, an OE heroic epic poem)

(c) democratic, individualistic

(d) chaos: a fall into confusion, people startled back into supernatural reverence of (a)

- J.: his own generation in the final stage of (d)

- the novel divided into 4 books accord. to G. Vico’s pattern


= a symbolic Irishman’s cosmic dream

- gives up realism altogether, changes characters into oth. or into inanimate objects, etc.

- opens with Finnegan’s fall, introd. his successor Earwicker: his dream constitutes the novel

(a) Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker = HCE:

- his initials symbolise his universality = Everyman (‘Here Comes Everybody’)

- his guilty feelings about an indecency he committed symbolise Adam’s Original Sin

(b) Anna Livia Plurabelle = ALP: his wife and also Eve, Ir., etc.

(c) their 2 sons, the very opposite of each oth.: symbolise the basic dichotomy in human nature (introvert x extrovert, etc.)


- threatens to become a self-referential series of echoes, puns, acrostics, and dense lit. and historical allusions

- invents his own dream language: uses words with several different meanings at once, draws them from several different languages at once, and fuses them in all sorts of ways to achieve whole clusters of meanings simultaneously

- derives the pun elements from every conceivable source in history, lit., mythology, and his personal experience

=> produces a texture of multiple significance: not the plot x but: the punning language bears the main load of meaning

D r a m a :

Exiles (1918):

= a somewhat mechanical Ibsenesque play

- conc.: the conflicting emotions of the Dublin protagonist about his homeland and his question whether or not to remain loyal to Ir.

- J.: the Eur. exile = the only solution


V i r g i n i a  W o o l f  ( 1 8 8 2 – 1 9 4 1 )

L i f e :

- b. in a respectable, educated, and cultured London family

- got acquainted with many eminent Victorians in her childhood

- married Leonard Woolf (1880 – 1969, a journalist and essayist), together founded the Hogarth Press (1917 – 46), publ:

(a) T. S. Eliot’s Poems (1919) and his Homage to John Dryden (1924)

(b) S. Freud’s work

(c) her own work, & oth.

- lived in an extraordinarily happy marriage x but: fell passionately in love with ‘Vita’ = Victoria Sackville-West (1892 – 1962, a lesbian poet married to a bisexual man)

- her marriage withstood this and oth. strains

- suffered periods of nervous depression, dreaded WW II, feared she would lose her mind and become a burden on her husband => committed suicide

W o r k :

- conc.: the problems of personal identity and personal relationships, the significance of time, change, and memory for human personality

- preocc. with time: her narratives punctuated by clock-readings and clock-soundings, measurement of tides, ageing and dying, etc.

= related to her interest in a dissipation of distinctions within a pattern of change and decay in nature as well as in human psyche

- preocc. with women characters, esp. women artists: tends to introd. characters standing for herself

- handles the stream of consciousness so that she brings into prose fiction sth of the rhythms and imagery of lyric poetry

E s s a y s :

Modern Fiction (1919):

= an essay rejecting the ‘materialism’ of Arnold Bennett (1867 – 1931), H. G. Wells, and J. Galsworthy in favour of a more delicate rendering of those aspects of consciousness telling about the real truth of human experience

- a lit. work should be based upon the novelist’s feelings x not upon convention, and incl. no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe ‘in the accepted style’

- the task of the future novelist: to convey an impression of life

- the new aesthetic of realism: not necessarily new subjects x but: new forms

=> a new fictional form out of a repres. of the ‘myriad impressions’ daily imposing themselves on the human consciousness

A Room of One’s Own (1929):

= a study on the necessity of a private space and private income for the development of a woman writer’s creativity

- a tribute to the E novelists who have establ. the tradition of women’s writing: G. Eliot, & oth.

Three Guineas (1938):

= a coll. of essays on the position of women, esp. professional women

The Common Reader (1925) and The Second Common Reader (1932):

- coll. of reviews and critical essays

- informal and personal in tone

F i c t i o n :

The Voyage Out (1915):

= a relatively conventional early novel

Monday or Tuesday (1921):

= a coll. of sketches of technical experiments

- moves btw action and contemplation, btw external events in time and delicate tracings of the internal flow of consciousness, btw retrospect and anticipation, etc.

=> fully develops her characteristic method in her novels

Jacob’s Room (1922)

Mrs Dalloway (1925):

= her 1st completely successful novel in the ‘new’ style

- her most complete repres. of the life of a woman character’s mind and her most thorough experiment with the technique of interior monologue

- conc.: the problem of identity

- contrasts the mutual dependence and opposition of:

(a) the perceptions of Clarissa Dalloway, the party giver

(b) the shell-shocked ramblings of Septimus Warren Smith, the victim of the war

To the Lighthouse (1927):

- conc.: the contemp. discontinuities, fragmentations, and disintegrations in both the external / the spiritual world

- the idea of characters ‘dissipated into shreds’:

(a) aims both to ‘dissipate’ character x to reintegrate human experience within an aesthetic form

(b) both to repres. the nature of conscious and unconscious mental activity x to relate it to a more universal awareness of pattern

=> the protagonist (Mrs Ramsay) identifies this pattern in her visionary moment of peace as ‘a stability’, sth ‘immune from change’

Orlando (1928):

= her most light-hearted novel

- on her relationship with Vita S.-W.

- an extraordinary tribute to the E aristocracy = a sentimental tribute to the aristocratic V.

=> an exploration of a ‘masculine’ freedom traditionally denied to women

The Waves (1931):

- complements her insights into the identities of characters by a temporary larger symbol of moving water

<=> the permanent larger symbol of a flickering lighthouse in her To the Lighthouse

The Years (1937):

= her longest novel

- on the consequences and processes of waiting, learning, and ageing

Between the Acts (1941):

= her most stylised novel

- the protagonist: an amateur woman writer

- women’s sensibility (and sensitivity) x the factual ‘materialism’ of a world dominated by men

<=> the amateur woman painter in her To the Lighthouse

=> the women’s ‘epiphanies’ x the men left content with a limited grasp, and presumed control, of the physical world


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Other Sources

Práger, Libor. Semináře: Britská literatura 2. ZS 2004/05.


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