Twentieth century british lit
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TWENTIETH CENTURY BRITISH LIT. Writers and Terms. From Johannesburg, South Africa Parents were immigrants from Lithuania & England Grew up in conventional society Wrote about effects of apartheid, legal until 1991

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Twentieth century british lit


Writers and Terms

Nadine gordimer 1923 1991 nobel prize winner

From Johannesburg, South Africa

Parents were immigrants from Lithuania & England

Grew up in conventional society

Wrote about effects of apartheid, legal until 1991

She understood the black man’s burden in her country; treats SA from a literary perspective

Activist for AIDS

Believed short story was literary form of our time

Very sensitive to discrimination of any kind

Nadine Gordimer 1923-1991 Nobel Prize Winner

Wwi trench poets

WWI Trench Poets

Siegfried Sassoon

Wilifred Owen

Trench poets

Trench Poets

Believed in

Became Disillusioned by

  • The glory and honor of war and serving one’s country

  • Enlisted with pride

  • Very romanticized view of war

  • Sassoon had a breakdown; almost went AWOL

  • The two met in a hospital

The carnage

The suffering

The lack of progress

The lack of support

The hopelessness

Owen was killed a few days before the war ended; died young

South african apartheid

South African Apartheid

1976 Riot in Soweto

Sharpsville Massacre

  • Police fired into backs of crowd of people who were protesting law that made all blacks carry a pass book to travel in and out of the city; employers could write negative things to prevent them from entering.

  • Laws stated black could not hold a post higher than the lowest white

  • Soweto protested policy that required classes to be taught in Afrikaans, the language spoken by white SA’s

  • More than 600 blacks were killed.

  • This spurred Gordimer’s interest in apartheid



An expresson that does not literally mean what the words say

British idiom is different from American idom

“Round the neighborhood”

“In a wax”

“Honor Bright”

Dh lawrence 1885 1930

DH Lawrence 1885-1930

  • Brilliant, imaginative, and emotional

  • Suffered from censorship and public condemnation

  • Portrays characters as victims of a restrictive society

  • Portrays nature as symbolic of what is vital in life

  • Wrote Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and Women in Love: all dealt with relationships

  • Felt the source of all knowledge in life was in man and woman

  • Felt there was a conflict between instinct, which he saw as good, and education, which he saw as bad

Twentieth century british lit

Traveled with his German wife FriedaLived in New Mexico, England, Italy, and AustraliaDied of tuberculosis Influenced by Freudian psychology

Twentieth century british lit

His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.

Lawrence is now valued by many as a visionary thinker and significant representative of modernism in English literature.

The rocking horse winner

The Rocking Horse Winner

  • Deals with conflict between instincts and education

  • Paul rides his horse to find a winner

  • Whispering increases after his mother gets money

  • Bassett is his first partner

  • He loses on his first bet

  • Wins on Malabar, his final pick

  • His mother’s heart is a little stone

  • She thinks about her son; her instincts start to kick in

  • Conflict between materialism and nature

William butler yeats reading

William Butler Yeats’ Reading


  • I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.

  • I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray, I hear it in the deep heart's core.

  • 1892



  • Set in Italy

  • Speaker goes to water trough and meets a snake

  • He becomes intrigued by it and watches it

  • The voices of his education tell him to kill it

  • His instinct tells him to admire it

  • He listens to his education and throws something at it

  • He says he has something to expiate…a pettiness.

George orwell eric blair 1903 1950 born in india from england

An English novelist and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism ,a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism.

Orwell's influence on popular and political culture endures, and several of his neologismsalong with the term Orwellian— a byword for totalitarian or manipulative social practices — have entered the vernacular

George Orwell (Eric Blair) 1903-1950 Born in India; from England

Twentieth century british lit

Orwell, the narrator writes of his experience as a police officer in Burma. He shoots an elephant, even though he knows he should not, in order to avoid being laughed at. He regrets his action.

The essay is also a condemnation of imperialism:

“When the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.“

A narrative essay: his first famous piece.

First published in the literary magazine New Writing in the autumn of 1936 and broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 12 October 1948.

William butler yeats 1865 1939

William Butler Yeats 1865-1939

Irish poet and playwright; revived Irish theatre

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

  • Represents an escape from the stress of reality. Portrays the countryside as an idyllic refuge.

  • Uses assonance and alliteration.

  • Based on his grandparents’ farm in Ireland

Katherine mansfield

Katherine Mansfield


From New Zealand

  • Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp Murry(14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923) was a prominent modernist writer of short fiction who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield left for Great Britain in 1908 where she encountered Modernist writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf with whom she became close friends. Her stories often focus on moments of disruption and frequently open rather abruptly. Among her most well-known stories are "The Garden Party,” "The Daughters of the Late Colonel," and "The Fly." During the First War Mansfield contracted extra pulmonary tuberculosis, which rendered any return or visit to New Zealand impossible and led to her death at the age of 34.

The light is central symbol

The light is central symbol


1)Class vs Humanity

2)Rich vs Poor

3) Power

“I seen [sic] the little lamp.”

Twentieth century british lit

James Joyce


Famous novelist and short story writer

Dublin, Ireland




A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Finnegan’s Wake

Known for his stream-of-consciousness style.

Considered to be one of the most influential

Writers of the twentieth century

“Araby” is a carnival or bazaar that the narrator

wants to attend in order to purchase a gift for

Mangan’s sister whom he barely knows.

He has an epiphany at the end: realizes the futility

of his mission.



Everyone needs to escape

The Quest

  • The priest: his books

  • Mangan’s sister: her religious retreats

  • His uncle: alcohol

  • The boy: his fantasies

  • Coping with the dreariness of reality is a theme.

  • The boy goes on a quest.

  • His views himself as a gallant knight on a noble quest.

  • Mangan’s sister is described with images of light and white.

Frank o connor 1903 1966

Frank O’Connor 1903-1966

Born Michael O’Donovan

Famous Short Story Writer

O’Connor knew education was way our of his

horrific family life.

His dad was an alcoholic and cruel; called him a

sissy because he liked to read.

  • Proud of being Irish

  • Member of Irish Republican Army

  • Prolific short story writer

  • Over 70 dealt with Irish family life

My oedipus complex

My Oedipus Complex

Larry: unreliable narrator

Story relies on dramatic irony

Larry wants to get rid of his dad because he competes with him for his mother’s attention

Humorous Tone

Uses British idiom: “in a wax”

In resolution Larry and his father unite against Sonny, the new baby

Dylan thomas 1914 1953

Dylan Thomas 1914-1953

From Wales but mostly lived in London.

Wrote first volume of poetry at 20.

Gave lectures and did readings in the U.S.

Died in NYC at 39 of alcoholism.

Flamboyant and popular figure.

Famous relationship with his wife Caitlin

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do Not go Gentle into That Good Night

A villanelle (a 19-line lyric poem)

Written for his father who was on his


Thomas wanted him to resist death.

Builds an argument to persuade him

Fern hill

Fern Hill

Poem uses half rhyme, internal rhyme,

and end rhyme

Lyric poem

Comments on the cruelty of time

Irony is that we are always moving

closer to death even while wonderfully


Uses puns and words in a playful manner

“Though I sang in my chains by the


Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,

Samuel beckett

  • Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett


An avant-garde playwright, novelist, poet, and director

1969 Nobel Prize

Irish but lived in Paris

Work is bleak and offers a tragi-comic outlook on human nature

Associated with black comedy or gallows humor

Waiting for godot

Waiting for Godot

  • Beckett is considered by many to be most important post-m

  • Modernist writer

  • Work is minimalist

  • Associated with Theatre of the Absurd: uses dark elements to create humor

  • Very little scenery

  • Characters wait for Godot: that long-expected something that people wait for but which never comes

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