美国文学选读 Responding to Literature
Orientation • Questions for the two different groups in the class(compare the difference in the answers) • 1. Why do you read literature? • 2.Why do we read literature? • We read it just to respond to literature and it is natural that the responses will vary. Therefore, we will have different topics for discussion, together with our literature reading .
Topics Involved • Youth • Big city complex • Crime and punishment • Love • Men and Women • Life and Death • Race, identity and Culture • War
Youth • Lead-in Two questions Before literature reading: • Do you think Youth is wasted on the young? Why? • When you come to the fork in the road when traveling the road of life, how do you know which road to take? Two Poems to facilitate our thinking
"When I was one-and-twenty..."by A. E. Housman (1859-1936) • When I was one-and-twentyI heard a wise man say,'Give crowns and pounds and guineasBut not your heart away;Give pearls away and rubiesBut keep your fancy free.'But I was one-and-twenty,No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twentyI heard him say again,'The heart out of the bosomWas never given in vain;'Tis paid with sighs a plentyAnd sold for endless rue.'And I am two-and-twenty,And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.
Questions about the poem • Why is it “One and twenty “ instead of “twenty one”? (Rhyme; emphasis on ‘one’ or ‘I was young then’) • Who are the two characters in this poems ?what is the story told about them in the poem (Imagine when the old man was One –and -twenty)?
Biography • Robert Lee Frost was born March 26, 1874 • Robert Frost died on January 29, 1963 • He was the first 20th century poetry writer • He was one of the most popular poets in his time • His first book of poems, A Boy’s Will, was published in 1913
Frost on Poetry “A poem makes you remember what you didn’t know you knew.” A poem is not didactic, but provides an immediate experience which begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” “A poem provides a momentary stay from confusion.”
The Road not Taken --by Robert Frost • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth; • Then took the other, as just as fairAnd having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that, the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,
Then took the other, as just as fairAnd having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that, the passing thereHad worn them really about the same, • And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden blackOh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.
Questions about the poem • Which season is chosen as the setting of this poem? Why? • Rhyme of this poem (iambic, loose, tetrameter, abaab) • Which word is the core of the poem? • Questions for group discussion • Do you think the poet feels regret for the choice he has already made? Why?
Big City Complex • Lead-in How do you like the city that we are living in? Listen to the song and think about the question. Are big cities heaven or hell for us human beings?
American Natrualism • Applied scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to the study of human beings. • Influenced by Darwinism (natural selection) and psychology (Freud) • Posited that men were governed by heredity（遗传） and environment. • Often depict man in conflict with nature, society, or himself. • Prominent from 1880-1920(ish) • Naturalism, together with realism, regionalism, is a truly American mode of writing.
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) • Born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1871. The ninth child of German immigrants, he experienced considerable poverty as the ninth child of German immigrants.At fifteen he was forced to leave home in search of work. • After briefly attending Indiana University for one year (1889-90), he found work as a reporter on several newspapers. Later he moved to New York where he attempted to establish himself as a novelist.
Works by Dreiser: Sister Carrie（1900）, the story of a kept woman whose behavior goes unpunished. Jennie Gerhardt（1911） His Cowperwood trilogy based on the life of the transportation magnate Charles T. Yerkes. The Financier（1912） The Titan（1914） The Stoic（posthumously 1947） The 'Genius' (1915), a sprawling semi-autobiographical chronicle of Dreiser's numerous love affairs, was censured by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Its sequel, The Bulwark, appeared posthumously in 1946. An American Tragedy（1925）
Evaluation on him: 1) Dreiser has been a controversial figure in American literary history. His works are powerful in their portrayal of the changing American life, but his style is considered crude. He showed a new way of presenting reality and inspired the writers of the 1920s with courage and insight. It is in Dreiser’s works that American naturalism is said to have come of age. 2) He embraced social Darwinism. He learned to regard man as merely an animal driven by greed and lust in a struggle for existence in which only the fittest, the most ruthless, survive. Human tragedy comes as a result of the collision between man’s biological needs and society’s ruthless manipulation. 3) It is Dreiser’s announced intention to report the coarse and the vulgar and the cruel and the terrible in life in defiance of the genteel（上流社会的） and evasive current literature with which he had absolutely no patience and sympathy.
4) Dreiser’s writings reveal a tremendous vital lust for life with a conviction that man is the end and measure of all things in a world which is devoid of purpose and standards. 5) Although Dreiser’s novels are formless at times and awkwardly written and his characterization is found deficient and his prose pedestrian and dull, yet his very energy proves to be more than a compensation. 6) He is good at employing the journalistic method of reiteration to burn a central impression into the reader’s mind. His interest in painting is reflected in his taste for word-pictures, sharp contrast, truth in color, and movement in outline.
Sister Carrie • (Chapter 1 The Magnet Attracting: A Walf Amid Forces to be read) • Questions for discussion after reading 1.How did Carrie feel when the train left her home for Chicago? How about when the train arrived at Chicago? 2. What is the big city like in the eyes of the author?
3. How does the author describe Carrrie and Drouet, especially their clothing? 4.What does Carrrie’s loneliness Dreiser describes in this chapter as well as in the whole novel, in spite of her final success ,stand for? 5. Do you still remember how you felt when left for Beijing?
Assignment: Write an essay with no less than 120 words after reading the poem below. In a Station of the Metro By Ezra Pound The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
Crime and punishment • Lead-in questions for group discussion 1. Who defines what is or is not a “crime”? Government officials? The historic customs of a culture? Religious leaders? The individual conscience? 2. Who has the right to determine punishment? A jury of one’s peers? Legislative bodies? Public opinions?
3.What is the difference between a “crime” and a “sin”? Can an act be a sin without being a crime? Can an act be a crime without being a sin? 4.How would you develop argument both for and against the following proposition: ”No matter what the reason, committing a crime can never be a wholly admirable act”?
Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849
His Family and Tragic Life • Born in Boston • The son of traveling actors • Tragic and unhappy life
Tragic and Unhappy Life • Mother died, father deserted him at the age of two • adopted by Mr. and Mrs. John Allan • constant disagreements with his step-father
. . .continued • Studied briefly at the University of Virginia • doing well in his studies, butDrinking and gambling difficulties kept him from continuing at UVA
. . .continued • Received an appointment to West Point, but provoked his own dismissal（ got himself expelled by missing classes and roll calls） • Caused a final separation between himself and step-father
. . .continued • In 1836 married his 14 year old cousin, Virginia • Last 12 years of life worked as journalist, editor, and creative writer
. . . continued • Lived in poverty stricken conditions • In 1846 wife died after a long illness
. . . continued • Died in Baltimore after having been found in a drunk stupor • Died a poor man
Poe worked in a variety of genres (1827-1849) • Criticism--he gained a national reputation as a virulently sarcastic critic, a literary hatchetman. The bulk of his writing consists of his criticism, and his most abiding ambition was to become a powerful critic. • Poetry--He was an experimental poet. • Psychological fiction--He wanted to produce the greatest possible horrific effects on the reader. • Detective Story--Poe created this form when he was 32, will all its major conventions complete.
Poe’s Work Known for: • Tales of mystery and terror stories • Introducing the modern detective story
Characteristics of Poe’s detective stories • Poe places veiled clues before the reader. • The writer/narrator strives to appear objective. • Poe would have liked to solve everything by the mind. • He was disturbed by what he could not solve by reason. • The climax of the story is the narrator’s explanation of the crime.
Short Stories The Tell-Tale Heart The Cask of Amontillado The Black Cat, The Pit and The Pendulum Poems: The Raven Annabel Lee To Helen Lenore Just a Few Titles
Addiction • Sometimes strange special effects linked to his addiction to laudanum • Laudanum, highly addictive, opium based medicine, commonly used in treatment of headaches and stomach pains in 1800’s
Literary Term: Allusion(隐喻) • Reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event • Best sources are literature, history, Greek myth, and the Bible • Serves to explain or clarify or enhance whatever subject
Literary Term: Gothic Elements • Supernatural horrors and an atmosphere of unknown terror pervades the action • High emotion, sentimentalism, but also pronounced anger, surprise, and especially terror • Use of words indicating fear, mystery, etc.: apparition, devil, ghost, haunted, terror, fright, fainting
Poe and the Gothic • Poe did not want to write gothic stories; he started his career spoofing（a satirical imitation） the Gothic. • He said that he wrote, “Tales of terror, not of Germany, but of the soul.” • He transformed tales of terror into psychological stories; he delved into the mysterious recesses of the human mind.
Elements of Gothic in Poe’s Fiction • Grim setting • Landscapes are often reflections of character’s mind. • Unusual buildings, extremes of nature, eccentric works of art. • Very few of his stories take place in America; most take place in Europe or Never-never-land.
Other elements of the Gothic • Hidden evil • Unspeakable, mysterious crimes, including incest and parricide • Obsession with Death • Ghosts, blood, body parts • Maniacal Laughter • The discovered manuscript • gives responsibility to someone else • Deformity • the groteque-people who don’t look right are capable of activity beyond the norm
An element of Poe’s style • Poe uses vocabulary to create setting, for rhetorical effect, rather than for information. • Modern horror films use music to create atmosphere; Poe used vocabulary.
The Black Cat • Questions to study: 1. Have you found any Gothic elements in this short story? 2. Why does Poe use the first person point of view? (For the convenience of psychological description, to delve into the inner workings of the dark side of the mind)
3. What caused the drastic transformation of his temperament? (Alcohol abuse; the perverse side of man’s nature; the latter evoked by his abuse of alcohol) 4. Both of the two cats miss one eye, why didn’t Poe mention if it is the same eye missing? 5. Why did he himself disclose the crime he has committed?
I THROW THE APPLEPlato( B.C.428-B.C 348/347 ) I throw the apple; if thou love me true Take it and do what willing maidens do; But if thy thoughts be other than I pray Take’t all the same and think how things decay.
SONNET 14Elizabeth B. Browning If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love’s sake only. Do not say “I love her for her smile-her look-her way Of speaking gently, for a trick of thought That falls in well with mine, and certes brought A sense of pleasant ease on such a day”- For these things in themselves, Beloved, may Be changed, or change for thee,-and love, so wrought, May be unwrought so. Neither Love me for Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheek’s dry,- A creature might forget to weep, who bore Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby! But Love me for Love’s sake, that evermore Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.
A LECTURE UPON THE SHADOWJohn Donne(1573-1631) Stand still, and I will read to thee A lecture, love, in love’s philosophy These three houres that we have spent. Walking here, two shadows went Along with us, which we our selves produced; But, now the sunne is just above our head, We doe those shadow’s tread; And to brave clearness all things are reduced. So whilst our infant love did grow Disguises did, and shadowes,flow, From us, and our cares; but now ‘tis not so That love hath not attained the high’st degree Which is diligent lest others see.
Except Our loves at this noone stay, We shall new shadowes make the other way, As the first were made to blinde Others; these which come behinde Will work upon our selves, and blind our eyes. If our loves faint,and westwardly decline; To me thou, falsly thine, And I to thee actions shall disguise. The morning shadowes weare away, But these grow longer all the day, But oh, love’s day is short, if love decay. Love is growing or full constant light; And his first minute, after noone, is night.