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Judith Woolf's elegantly written book introduces school and university students, as well as the interested general reader, to the major novels of Henry James (1843–1916), the American writer who became a great European novelist and died a naturalised Englishman. The principal novels in which James explored his central theme, the betrayal of innocence, are discussed in a lucid way which offers fresh intrepretations and communicates to the non-specialist reader the excitement rather than the difficulty of reading James. Difficulty is nonetheless often a feature of his work, and Judith Woolf does not shun important questions. She places him in the context of the history of the English novel (Fielding, Richardson, Dickens, and George Eliot), focusing on traditions of tragic and comic vision and on the subtleties of expression and perspective enabled by the narrative form. The book includes a short account of James's life, a list of his works and their dates, and a selected guide to further criticism.
While providing a critical introduction for the student of Samuel Beckett's work and for other readers and theatre-goers who have been influenced by it, this study also presents an original perspective on one of the twentieth century's greatest writers of prose fiction and drama. Andrew Kennedy links Beckett's vision of a diminished humanity with his art of formally and verbally diminished resources, and traces the fundamental simplicity and coherence of Beckett's work beneath its complex textures. In the section on the plays, Dr Kennedy stresses the humour and tragicomic humanism alongside the theatrical effectiveness; and in a discussion of the fiction (the celebrated trilogy of novels) he relates the relentless diminution of 'story' to the diminishing selfhood of the narrator. An introduction outlines the personal, cultural and specifically literary contexts of Beckett's writing, while a concluding chapter offers up-to-date reflections on his œuvre, from the point-of-view of the themes highlighted throughout the book. This study, complete with a chronological table and a guide to further reading, will prove stimulating for both new and advanced students of Beckett.
This book is designed to provide a comprehensive and stimulating introduction to T. S. Eliot's poetry for those reading and studying it. The poems, as well as some of the poetic drama (particularly Sweeney Agonistes) and relevant sections of the prose criticism, are discussed in detail and placed in relation to the development of Eliot's œuvre, and more briefly to his life and a wider context of philosophical and religious enquiry. In sections devoted to each major poem or group of poems, Martin Scofield examines Eliot's techniques of personae or masks; his use of musical effects; the tension between fragmentation and cohesion in The Waste Land and other verse; the place in his work of symbolism and imagism, as well as less explored elements such as surrealism and comedy; the relevance to his poetry of concepts worked out in his critical writing; and the criticism of his 'poetic workshop', those essays on other poets which he saw as part of the development of his own verse. One recurring theme in the study is the poetic treatment of the relationship (often conflict) between experience in life and experience in art; another is the relation between Eliot's beliefs and his poetry, and between poetry and belief in general. Eliot in his finest poems is seen above all as a poet of what he called 'the first voice', 'oppressed by the burden which he must bring to birth'. The book concludes with a detailed and helpful study of Four Quartets: here as elsewhere Martin Scofield is concerned to look first of all at the texture of the verse and the qualities of the poetic 'surface', while clarifying obscurities and explaining allusions where appropriate. Both students and general readers will find his book informative and his commitment to the poetry infectious.
H. G. Wells wrote almost a hundred books, yet he is generally remembered for only a handful of them. He is known above all as a writer who heralded the future, yet throughout his life he clung to fixed attitudes from the Victorian past. He began his career as a draper's apprentice; by the age of forty-five he had secured an international reputation as the author of The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, Kipps and Tono Bungay; he went on to establish himself as an influential educator, polemicist and sage. In this book John Batchelor offers a readable introduction to Wells's huge and varied output as a writer and thinker. He guides the reader through the whole oeuvre, and argues persuasively that at his best Wells was a great artist: a man with a remarkable, restless imagination (not limited, as many critics have implied, merely to his early romances) and with a coherent and responsible theory of fiction.
James Joyce holds a unique position in literature. No writer has a higher reputation, none attracts more ardent devotees, and none poses so many difficulties for the first-time reader. This book is an original and well-informed survey of the whole of Joyce's work. It offers close readings of his early writings such as Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and an extended examination of his masterpiece, Ulysses, as well as a stimulating introduction to that notoriously difficult work Finnegans Wake. Dr Parrinder stresses Joyce's ambivalent relationship to the Ireland of his youth, and his ability to incorporate the most banal and profane levels of experience and language into profound celebration of the human capacity for survival and regeneration. The Joyce who emerges is a writer of innocence and gusto as well as immense artistic cunning.
This study of Thomas Hardy provides a substantial introduction to his six major novels and his poems. It deals more briefly with the minor fiction. Hardy now seems a more important novelist and poet than at any previous time. This is only partly due to his capabilities as a social historian or provincial chronicler. Far more important is his faithful exploration of the daily trials and tragedies of men and women as feeling beings. Man and woman in love, man and woman 'up against it', are the central themes of his fiction and poetry. His ability to universalise his tragic material, in which he is akin to Shakespeare, is seen as his abiding achievement. Detailed analyses are made of some crucial passages in the major novels and a serious attempt is made to counter the proposition that Hardy 'wrote badly'.
Since his death in 1930, D. H. Lawrence has become not only one of the most controversial English novelists of the twentieth century, but also one of the most widely read and quoted writers in the language. In this new study of his major fiction, Alistair Niven revalues all the novels, tracing Lawrence's development through them, both as an artist and as a thinker. At the centre of the book Dr Niven discusses The Rainbow and Women in Love as the diverse products of a single creative intention, nothing less than an exploration of where modern man is going. Lawrence's early novels, The White Peacock and The Trespasser, receive exceptionally close scrutiny. There are also full-length chapters on Lawrence's well-known fiction of sexual self-discovery, Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley's Lover. The 'travel' novels - The Lost Girl, Aaron's Rod, The Plumed Serpent and especially the Australian novel Kangaroo, which the author believes has been seriously underestimated by previous critics - are given prominence as evidence of Lawrence's restless desire to find a superior set of values to those he believed had failed in England. Dr Niven's conclusions are derived solely from his close reading of the novels themselves and, when relevant, from Lawrence's correspondence and short stories. This study, with its unusually lively and commonsense approach, confirms Lawrence as not only a great novelist, but a central figure in the development of the modern mind.
Although the importance of Conrad's work has long been recognized, Jacques Berthoud attempts a full demonstration of the clarity, consistency, and depth of thought evident in the novels written during the first decade of this century. Instead of the standard versions of Conrad - from sceptical moralizer to 'metaphysician of darkness' - he offers a tragic novelist, engaged in a sustained exploration of the contradictions inherent in man's relations with his fellows; and from the perspective thus achieved, he is able to show why Conrad occupies a leading place among the creators of modern literature. This book will be of interest to specialists in English studies because it seeks to make a substantial contribution to the critical debate on the significance of Conrad's work. It will also appeal to any reader looking for guidance through the complexities of the major novels: the central issues have been presented as simply as the originality of Conrad's art and thought permits.
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