Лекция: REALISM OF THE BEGINNING OF THE 20m CENTURY
While modernists introduced an entirely new mode of writing caused by a new conception of Man as a human being, the traditional realistic school continued the forms and matter of the Victorian predecessors.
The realist writers of the early 20th century (those who started their literary work in the first years of the new century) were:
1) John Galsworthy (Джон Голсуорси) (1867- 1933);
2) Bernard Shaw (Бернард Шоу) (1856- 1950);
3) George Herbert Wells (Джордж Герберт Уэллс) (1866 — 1946);
4) William Somerset Maugham(yp^bHMСомерсет Mo э м) (1874 — 1965).
John Galsworthy came from the upper middle class and it was this class (rich bourgeoisie) and their life that constituted the theme of all his novels. His major works are the three trilogies:
1) «The Forsyte Saga» («Сага о Форсайтах „) -
“The Man of Property» («Собственник») (1906),
«In Chancery» («Под тяжестью ярма/В тисках») (1920),
«То Let» («Сдаётся в наём») (1921) with two interludes -
«Indian Summer of a Forsyte» («Последнее лето
«Awakening» («Пробуждение») (1920);
2) «A Modern Comedy» («Современная комедия»)-
«The White Monkey» («Белая обезьяна») (1924), «The Silver Spoon» («Серебряная ложка») (1926), «Swan Song» («Лебединая песнь») (1928) with two interludes -
«A Silent Wooing» («Идиллия») (1925),
«PassersBy» («Встречи») (1927);
3) «End of the Chapter» («Последняя глава „)-
“Maid In Waiting» («Девушка ждёт») (1931), «Flowering Wilderness» («Пустыня в цвету») (1932), «Over the River» («Через реку») (1933).
The trilogies are often autobiographical. Yet his attitude to the class he depicted is contradictory: on the one hand he showed all its vices (overwhelming desire of having property, passion for money), on the other hand he was sure that it was the upper middle class that was the backbone of English society. Galsworthy was sorry when it degradated and disappeared.
Bernard Shaw made e revolution in English theatre, dramaturgy, because he came out against shallow and entertaining «weell — made» («хорошо сделанных») plays and proclaimed that dramaturgy should deal with serious social and moral issues. Thus he can be opposed to Wilde's principles. Shaw regarded Henrik Ibsen's work the way the new drama should go. Ibsen (Ибсен) (1828 — 1906) was from Norway. But his work made a tremendous impact on the English theatre. Ibsen deled deep into the social and domestic problems. The works appeared to be a sensation and were translated into English for production in London. Shaw defended Ibsen against the critics' attacks and said that the new drama should not be afraid to shock, it should concentrate on ideas, it should rely on its own inner life rather than on external «accidents» like spectacle (зрелищность) and comic turns. But in comparison with Ibsen's inclinations to the tragic aspect in his plays, Shaw was more prone to satire in his works.
Shaw called his first plays «Plays Unpleasant» («Неприятные пьесы»):
«The Philanderer» («Сердцеед») (1893);
«Mrs. Warren's Profession» («Профессия миссис Уоррен»)
In these plays he exposed the dirty, indecent sources of the rich income, wealth, showing at the same time that not individuals but society at large was to blame for letting such people be prosperous.
Then followed «Plays Pleasant» («Приятные пьесы») in which he showed the previous ideals of society which were old and not true to life, showed the tough reality without its romantic shade:
«Arms and the Man» («Оружие и человек») (1894); «Candida» («Кандида») (1895);
«The Man of Destiny» («Избранник судьбы») (1895); «You Never Can Tell» («Поживём — увидим») (1896). Then followed the «Three Plays for Puritans» («Три пьесы для пуритан»):
«Devil's Disciple» («Ученик дьявола») (1897); «Caesar and Cleopatra» («Цезарь и Клеопатра») (1898); «Captain Brassbound's Conversion» («Сила женщины»)
Gradually Shaw's satire was getting sharper and sharper. His plays «Heartbreak House» («Дом, где разбиваются сердца») (1917), «The Apple Cart» («Тележка с яблоками») (1929), «Too True to Be Good» («Горько, но правда») (1931), etc are allegorical, sometimes grotesque pictures of English society and relationships within it.
Critics say that Shaw's best play is «Saint Joan» («Святая Иоанна») (1923), dedicated to the famous Joan d ' Arc. The tragic and the comic, philosophical, moral, historical issues are combined in this play.
George Herbert Wells was a novelist, a playwright, historian, publicist. He is considered to be the inventor of the genre of social fantasies. His novels are science fiction (научная фантастика), but they are connected with social prospects of human civilization rather than technological inventions (hence the genre of social fantasies). His realism is pierced with fantasy and satire. So Wells wrote social fantasies, and although they look much like science fiction writing, they nevertheless deal with very urgent social and political issues.
Wells was born in a poor family and in his youth he had to work hard. He got an education and worked as an assistant to a well known English scientist, Charles Darwin's follower. Since 1893 Wells had to work in bed because of his tuberculosis.
Wells called himself a socialist, but he was really a peculiar one. He even joined the Fabian club, but later on he abandoned it because of the members' radicalism.
At an early age he came to the Utopian conclusion that scientists and technicians could solve the existing contradictions. So he always spoke for evolution, not revolution. He thought that through some reforms it could possible to change the world for the better. The Russian Revolution of 1917 he called a «social experiment» (he touches upon this issue in his works «Kremlin's Dreamer — Lenin» and «Russia in the Shadows» («Россия во мгле») (1920)).
Wells pined great hopes on technological progress. Yet he realized the great danger that a scientific discovery, technological innovation and invention can bring to humanity, if they are in the hands of immoral and reckless people, either scholars, or scientists or politicians. He gives such a picture in his novel «The Invisible Man» («Человек — невидимка») (1897). World War I was a real shock to him. Science and technology are the background against which Wells develops the plot in
his works. But there is also a strong social aspect in them Wells followed Swift's tradition to base his plot on fantasies as a basis for social criticism.
In his early cycle of science fiction (1895 — 1901) Wells touches upon the problems and the fate of human civilization — this is the main theme in such his works as
«The Time Machine» («Машина времени») (1895) — this is a sort of d i s t о p i a — the picture of the future society which is far from ideal and perfect He tried to foresee the consequences of the class division existing in his present day society;
«The Invisible Man» («Человек — невидимка») (1897) in this book the writer touches upon the problem of morality, ethics and science, what the specific discoveries can lead to if the inventor has no morality,
>' T h e Warof the Worlds" («Война миро в » ) (1898),
«The First Men on the Moon» («Первыелюди на Луне»)
Since 1901 (up to World War I) the writer thinks of the fate of mankind:
«The War in the Air» («Война в воздухе») (1908);
«The World Set Free» («Освобождённый мир») (1914), etc.
In his books the protagonists are usually scientists, scholars, etc.