To The Lighthouse & WWI

To the Lighthouse is the one Virginia Woolf novel I’ve read that seems to present the war in a fairly broad and historical perspective – certainly more so than the other stuff I’ve read of hers in the past, anyway. The perspective is interesting, especially when connecting it to her stream of consciousness writing style. The first section “The Window” being set before the war, not much chaos or havoc has ensued yet but still a lot is going on (if a lot wasn’t going on, Woolf probably would not have written 100+ pages for that section). With their being a story to tell of the Ramsay family and other characters in question here, Woolf would probably need to make use of multiple perspectives. All seems peaceful, and then suddenly, Time Passes, and with the passage of time, there is presence of war. 

In the second section of the novel, “Time Passes”, the Ramsay residence has apparently been empty for a decade, but more importantly, the war still is happening France. In parantheses Woolf records the deaths of three major characters, one of which is Andrew Ramsay, whose death is recorded as: “[A Shell exploded. Twenty or thirty young men were blown up in France, among them Andrew Ramsay, whose death, mercifully, was instantaneous.]”, which presents a bit of irony – and “twenty or thirty” suggests that there was such high disregard for individuals and their names, because in death they merely become simple statistics. 

Beckett and Eliot

The way that Beckett uses a setting that is one outside of history in order to critique the history of Western Civilization itself, to me, does not seem so different from the way that Eliot uses and engages with the real history that is going on, or that has gone on in terms of Eliot’s own work, The Waste Land, although in some instances it can actually be very different. 

 Endgame is a cycle going back and forth; endless, and because of that there will never be a “finish”, despite Clov saying “It’s all finished, nearly finished” – I too thought it was interesting to look at these words and this phrase as being relevant to waiting for the end, or perhaps there is a bit of confession here in the sense of “We’re done for”, – meaning of course that they never stood a chance, or if they did, they don’t after stating those words. Eliot’s The Waste Land makes it seem like because of how things turned out thanks to the war, they should give up, so the same thing applies to both texts in that sense.

Tintern Abbey

Wordsworth’s poem is very good about incorporating all of the Romantic period Aesthetic ideas, those being the beautiful, sublime, and the picturesque — but Wordsworth especially seems to like to utilize the picturesque in his writing.  The Abbey represents a surprise found along the winding Wye River, and surprises are characteristic of the picturesque. Also, the abbey represents how time passes, and the way things are temporary is also characteristic of the picturesque. The reason that the picturesque might be more important to “Tintern Abbey” in particular, rather than either of the other two aesthetics,  is that in the first lines “five years have passed; five summers, with the length / of five long winters”, where the sense that there is a sense of something merely temporary there, as it is given the impression that the speaker returns to a place that they had been fond of at one point in time. It is again evident when Wordsworth writes, “Nor wilt thou then forget / That after many wanderings, many years / Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, / . . . were to me / More dear”, in this case he would be trying to tell his sister although he’s been gone for a long time, nature was always significant in his absence. This theme relating to Nature definitely referred to the use of the Aesthetic of the Picturesque in the text. 

The Wasteland

The Waste Land draws on a wide range of cultural references to depict a modern world that is in ruins. The world of The Waste Land is one in which sterility and waste have replaced fertility and traditional order. The structure of the poem itself mirrors the chaos of the post-war world. Eliot’s use of fragmentation in the poem demonstrates the disordered state of modern existence.
This fragmentation is achieved through a collage of literary texts juxtaposed against one another. Most lines in the poem echo an academic work or literary text, complete with footnotes written by Eliot referencing his sources. Scenes appear and dissolve abruptly, sometimes seemingly at random. Characters appear, are prominent for a moment, speak, and then vanish. For example, a character named Marie appears briefly in the beginning of the poem: “And I was frightened. He said, Marie, / Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. / In the mountains, there you feel free. / I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter”. Having been named, she disappears; the fragment ends abruptly and a new scene begins. This mix of bits and pieces of dialog, images, ideas, and languages represents the modern world, with its excess of sensory perceptions and chaotic, fractured society. Lines of the poem itself hint at its structure: “These fragments I have shored against my ruins”.
Another aspect of the fragmentation is the constant shifting of time. The past, present, and future are inextricably linked; the poem constantly shifts its perspectives, seeming to jump from the past to present and vice versa. Ancient myths, classical literary works, and landmarks in Western history are all frequently juxtaposed in the context of contemporary events, casting new light on both the past and the present. The echoes of literary works, often referenced in Eliot’s footnotes, are fragments themselves, mere pieces of full texts. These fragments emphasize recurring themes and images in literary tradition and link the contemporary state of humanity to past history.
This fragmentation also suggests the dilemma of the modern artist: how to find an adequate poetic form and expression to convey one’s inner experience. The poem suggests that the conflicted state of the world is so chaotic that traditional methods of poetry are inadequate to convey the modern experiences. The modern artist is forced to recreate old myths and draw upon past literature in order to sufficiently express one’s own meaning and experience, yet even this form of recycled poetry seems deficient; the use of literary allusion creates ambiguity in the meaning of the poem, thus poetry itself seems to fade into obscurity.
The Waste Land expresses the chaotic life of both individuals and society and reflects on the despair that seems to have overtaken the modern world. The poem uses fragmented scenes and literary allusions to lament the ruin of modern culture and seek renewal in the cultural past. The fragmentation of the poem’s form represents the disillusionment and fracturing of modern society.

Joyce’s Stories

The stories of “Eveline” and “Araby”  are different in a way, — Araby seems  to deal with some kind of an epiphany or realization; the characters lose their innocence or realize their priorities are wrong or something of that nature. But Eveline, on the other hand –

I find that in “Eveline” while she does fall into a mental breakdown, she doesn’t necessarily realize anything. I almost get the impression that the indecision and uncertainty froze her brain to the point of stillness. While she never certainly makes the decision to leave with Frank, she doesn’t make the decision to stay either. Rather, her fear holds her immobilized. That’s just one way in which these stories are different.

Second Life WWI

When we were looking over the syllabus at the start of the semester and I saw Second Life on there, I wasn’t sure what to think. Now, Like many other students, I also thought it was interesting to incorporate it into our learning experience of reading major british writers from the beginning of the 19th century to the mid-20th. After learning that it was to explore the War Poets Exhibition I was intrigued and thought it a one of a kind technique – and that it also was a good use of Second Life. I was actually discussing this blog post assignment with a good friend of mine, who is currently abroad, and she said that at her university, there were students who were using it as a base for something involving a part of their thesis project, and that another friend of hers mentioned something about them being used at libraries by librarians, also for purposes of further education. However, I did not know this before yesterday, and considering I’ve known people who have used it for other non-academic reasons, so I was a little shocked at first. But I ended up enjoying the experience. That in and of itself was surprising to me. I’ll say again: very good use of Second Life. Probably the best educational technique in this program, that is, in terms of use of multimedia.

Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

I know this isn’t exactly the assignment, but I couldn’t figure out which image I wanted to use and thus can’t focus on that aspect of it, so I thought I’d just give my own opinion/understanding and general interpretation of the text, if that’s okay as a possible alternative.

The first striking role which is cast in Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven of Hell” is the role that Blake casts of Swedenborg, which is that of an Angel who is guarding his empty linens. Since we know that Blake is disagreeing with the writings of Swedenborg, the role Swedenborg occupies is at first perplexing. Angels are supposed to be good, right, and truthful in all things, since they are the sacred messengers of god. However, we are immediately given the reason for it, because Blake introduces the notion of this role-reversal, where he is illustrating the idea that just as logic and passion both exist in the same world, so does his unique definitions of good and evil. This idea is profound—we, as humans, realize that there are opposites in the world, things that are contradictory in nature yet exist simultaneously. We, perhaps foolishly, do not often think of religion in this context. Instead, we try to categorize acceptable human behavior and beliefs, when in fact it is an affront to culture and humanity to do so. We, again as humans, inevitably fail in this separation—we have both good and evil behaviors. The idea is put forth that not only do these things, good and evil, exist together, but that it is indeed impossible to separate them. The world needs both. Human existence itself demands both. Blake’s reversal of the traditional ideas of angels and devils is astonishing and effective. The Proverbs of Hell ring true (to me at least) and remind us that it is not sinful to have passion, it is not sinful to question the teachings of authority. Religion has an ugly tendency to attempt to take our (admittedly lesser) human qualities away from us. We shouldn’t lie, have sex, question god. Blake, as the devil, is telling us that it is no sin to be human. It is a sad thing to crush these follies that make us human (by blindly subscribing to the unnecessary rules of religion), and as Blake himself says, “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained . . . . And being restrained it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.”

Introduction: Dmitry Yevtushenko

My name is Dmitry. I’m a junior majoring in English Literature, hoping to gain from the major as a whole and all the courses it has to offer, whether they are specific set requirements or ones of my own choosing, the knowledge and understanding of the transition in the writing styles from the past to present, and possibly the future. I mostly enjoy modern and post-modern literature, but I also like Victorian era writers. My favorites are the works of Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde, having read a few of their texts before. Other than that, I enjoy science fiction, especially the one text I can think of right now that serves as the earliest example, a precursor, if you will, of the genre: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Other than the examination and analysis of older styles forming into new ones through the British eras in regards to literature, I also hope to gain a sense of historical knowledge and interpretation of each individual writer read throughout the semester as well as being able to form greater aesthetic inquiry among the texts we read.

In my spare time, I’ve found myself writing plays, screenplays, novels, short stories, novellas, and furthermore. I’ve been doing this for roughly six years. Because of my obvious passion for creative writing, others have suggested to me many times to add the creative writing certificate that is offered. I am still in the process of making said decision.