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Se muestran los artículos pertenecientes a Enero de 2013.

Watching the River Flow

viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2012

Watching the River Flow

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Martes, 01 de Enero de 2013 14:14. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Narrative Perspective and Psychological Realism: On Henry James's Theory of the Novel

viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2012

Narrative Perspective and Psychological Realism: On Henry James's theory of the novel

Only in the second half of the 19th century do we find a purposive aesthetic theory of the novel. Flaubert, Maupassant, Henry James and Zola put forward the view that the novel is a serious form of art, emphasizing formal construction rather than simple imitation of reality. Henry James has been called "the best reader of Henry James." A great deal of his best criticism is found in the prefaces to his novels, in which he comments on the works and the technique of the novel.

James' main statement on this subject is his essay "The Art of Fiction" (1884).  He knows that he opens a new era in the English novel: the novel in the earlier 19th century, he says, was "unselfconscious," "pre-theoretical," "naïve." Accordingly, its claims were modest, and it did not set itself any purposive ideals. It was assumed to be a "make-believe," a fiction unable to represent the complexity of life. But this must not be so.

The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life. (662).

In order to do this, the novel must above all change its tone. The recognition of fictionality, the intrusiveness of 19th century authors must disappear. There the Victorian novelists gave themselves away:

Certain accomplished novelists have a habit of giving themselves away which must often bring tears to the eyes of people who take their fiction seriously. I was lately struck, in reading over many pages of Antony Trollope, with his want of discretion in this particular. In a digression, a parenthesis or an aside he concedes to the reader that he and his trusting friend are only "making believe". He admits that the events he narrates have not really happened, and that he can give his narrative any turn the reader may like best. Such a betrayal of a sacred office seems to me, I confess, a terrible crime. ("The Art of Fiction," in Critical Theory since Plato, ed. Hazard Adams, 662)

James does not want to give himself away. The novelist must speak with the assurance of a historian. To do otherwise is a "betrayal of a sacred office"—a religious metaphor which is often used by the aestheticist propounders of art for art's sake.

As a critic, James discusses above all this sacred office, the activity of the novelist, but incidentally he develops a formalist theory of the novel seen as a completed aesthetic object (as the aim of the novelist). The artist is a central presence in all of James' criticism, sharply contrasting with his assertion that this presence must not be felt.

James opposes abstract theoretical analysis of the elements in the novel. He sees the novel as an organic whole: for him there is no sense in dividing action from character, or description from dialogue, etc.: they are all fused as the flesh and the blood in a living being; they melt into each other:

A novel is a living thing, all one and continuous, like any other organism, and in proportion as it lives will it be found, that in each of the parts there is something of each of the other parts. The critic who over the closed texture of a finished work shall pretend to trace a geography of items will mark some frontiers as artificial, I fear, as any that have been known to history. . . . (666)

You cannot divide, as other critics were doing, a novel of characters from a novel of incidents. In all good novels, character and incident define one another. As James says in one of the famous prefaces he wrote for a later edition of his works,

I might envy, though I couldn't emulate, the imaginative writer so constituted as to see his fable first and to make out its agents afterwards: I could think so little of any fable that didn't need its agents positively to launch it; I could think so little of any situation that didn't depend for its interest on the nature of the persons situated, and thereby on their way of taking it.

And in "The Art of Fiction":

There are bad novels and good novels, as there are bad pictures and good pictures, but that is the only distinction in which I see any meanin, and I can as little imagine speaking of a novel of character as I can imagine speaking of a picture of character. When one says picture one says of character, when one says novel one says of incident, and the terms may be transposed at will. What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character? What is either a picture or a novel that is not of character? (665)

James opposes Walter Besant's reductive definition of the novel as something ultimately concerned with telling a good story full of action, as well as Trollope's idea that character is all in the novel, that the plot is something unimportant, and something which is not necessarily linked with character. The psychological analysis of the character and the formal structure of the novel coincide in James: his novels are at the same time psychological studies and formal experiments, and the revelation of the character's self is dealt with through an original formal organization, a careful distribution of the perception of the action and judgment about the action. The relationship between action and character is defined as an organic one, but perhaps it could best be defined as a relation of organic subordination of action to character. Here James is arguing not only for an adequate description of the unity of a novel, but also for the novel of character and psychology against a narrow notion of the novel of action (vs. Besant's concern with plot):

There are few things more exciting to me, in short, than a psychological reason, and yet, I protest, the novel seems to me the most magnificent form of art . . . . The other arts, in comparison, appear confined and hampered; the various conditions under which they are exercised are so rigid and definite. (668)

The novel (unlike drama) can reveal to us the inner life of characters, and this is the essence of the genre, which otherwise must follow, in James' opinion, a dramatic ideal of concentration (cf. Aristotle on tragedy). But the novel is a free form, he says. It has no grammar which can be defined, no rules that can be taught.

A novel is in its broadest definition a personal, a direct impression of life. ("Art" 664).

The intensity of the impression and the execution are the grounds of its value, and they cannot be defined. They stem directly from the personal way each novelist sees life. This in some contrast with all we have said of his criticism of the Victorian novels. His own novels are thoughtful, concentrated, calculated works of art, while Victorian novels are "loose, baggy monsters" without technique or design. James thinks there are no rules, but he also thinks his own way is superior, his own technique more refined, his own vision more adequate. Still, we have here a profession of tolerance and catholicity.

It is an irony of fate that the theory of the novel should have profited so much from James' own analyses of his novels, given the little faith he has in theoretical definitions and analysis. In his prefaces, we find some of the most clear and influential statements of the nineteenth century on point of view and narrative voice, as well as on action and character.

James makes a distinction between voice and point of view in his novelistic practice as well as in his theoretical statements. This distinction comes from his concern with the ability of the novel to depict experience and psychological life. First-person novel will not do for this, because James is not looking for a conscious revelation of the person, or for a kind of novel based on recollection of past experience, which is what 1st person narrative implies. His novels are usually written in the 3rd person, which is less "intrusive," more "dramatic." Where James does otherwise, he makes sure that the result will be equally dramatic—for instance, using an unreliable narrator in the main narrative of The Turn of the Screw. The action should in any case unfold in a transparent way, without the writer stepping in to make his own comments. We are shown its development through significant scenes, we are not simply told. Percy Lubbock will develop in his book The Craft of Fiction (1922) some of James' insights in this particular.

And there is an ideal way of "showing" in third person narration which is at once dramatic and psychologically immediate. This is what James usually calls narration through "centers of consciousness" (preface to The Portrait of a Lady ), "vessels of sensibility" or "reflectors" (preface to The Wings of the Dove), and which we now usually call focalizer characters. The scenes usually act on a perceiving character, an reflector or focalizer, whose psychological reaction, the development of his understanding of the action, helps give the plot an organic unity. This is the role of Strether in The Ambassadors, of Maisie in What Maisie Knew. James does not require, as some of his followers, that there be no changes of perspective during the narrative; but he does seek to cut the story into perspectival blocks that are internally coherent. For instance, in The Wings of the Dove, the story of Milly Theale is seen mainly through the eyes of two characters, Merton Densher and Kate Croy, as well as her own. Every change or apparent incoherence of point of view, James says, has its aesthetic justification, its dramatic coherence:

    There was the "fun", to begin with, of establishing one's succesive centres- of fixing them so exactly that the portions of the subject commanded by them as from happy points of view, and accordingly treated from them, would constitute, so to speak, sufficiently solid blocks of wrought material, squared to the sharp edge, as to have weight and mass and carrying power; to make for construction, that is, to conduce to effect and to provide for beauty....
    Do I sometimes in fact forfeit the advantage of that distinctness? Do I ever abandon one center for another after the former has been postulated? From the moment we proceed by "centres"—and I have never, I confess, embraced the logic of any superior process—they must be, each as a basis, selected and fixed; after which it is that, in the high interest of economy of treatment, they determine and rule. There is no economy of treatment without an adopted, a related point of view, and though I understand, under certain degrees of pressure, a represented community of vision between several parties to the action when it makes for concentration, I understand no breaking-up of the register, no sacrifice of the recording consistency, that doesn't scatter and weaken.

Just as in Aristotle we found that an action or praxis had to be treated artistically before it became the plot or mythos, we find in James a distinction between the "subject" and the "wrought material" or novel, and in the Formalists we shall find a related opposition between fabula and siuzhet. A series of rules on the use of point of view define what is the relationship between the material and the finished novel. Form and psychology converge: the dramatic form gives us a new insight into the characters' perception and interiority. We see that James conceives of these "rules" he formulates on the use of point of view as organic, internal rules, which spring from the very nature of the psychological material of the novel. They will be transformed by many critics in the 20th century into external, a priori rules to decide on the quality of any novel, irrespective of its internal economy.

 The influence of James's ideas is readily apparent in most important twentieth-century writers on fictional technique and point of view : Percy Lubbock (The Craft of Fiction, 1921), Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren (Understanding Fiction, 1943), Jean Pouillon (Temps et roman, 1947), F. K. Stanzel (Typische Erzählsituationen, 1954), Norman Friedman ("Point of View in Fiction," 1955); W. C. Booth (The Rhetoric of Fiction, 1961), Gérard Genette ("Discours du récit", 1972), Mieke Bal (Narratologie, 1977).

 James also opposes external rules as to which is to be the aim of literature:

"The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting" ("Art" 663)

His ideas about the relationship between the work and the world are of little consequence, contrasting with the heavily moral interest of the novels themselves. In his theory he does not seem to go beyond a vague belief in realism and morality. A novel is an impression of life, and the quality and vividness of this impression is more valuable than the moral purpose of the novel. James seems to have seen the moral element in the novels as something which is fused in the total whole, an artistic ingredient. That is why we may dare to include him among the believers of Art for Art's sake. The novel is a self-enclosed whole, isolated from the world of continuous relations; a perfectly finished object, an autonomous world.

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Abascal: Donde España se ha retirado, la libertad ha desaparecido



Contra la cesión a los secesionistas: España pertenece a todos los españoles—y no debe tolerarse la apropiación fraccionaria de cada región por los nacionalistas y separatistas. Discurso de Santi Abascal—el discurso patriótico que NO hace Mariajo Rajoy, ni ningún líder del PP ni del PSOE—el día de la Constitución.

Una vez más, repito mi cantinela. No hay que votar al PSOE, ni al PP, ni por supuesto a ningún nacionalista ni a quien les apoye o pacte con ellos.

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Martes, 01 de Enero de 2013 14:19. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Política

Capturing the Real Thing

viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2012

Capturing the Real Thing

A chapter on American realism and Henry James, from A History of American Literature, by Richard Gray: 

Howells never gravitated from realism to naturalism, with its emphasis on the determining influence of heredity and environment and its harrowing depiction of landscapes, social and natural, that are at best indifferent and at worst hostile to humankind. There is a fundamental benevolence, a belief in human worth and social betterment, that is caught in one of his most famous remarks in Criticism and Fiction: "our novelists concern themselves with the more smiling aspects of life, which are the more American." That remark would have elicited sardonic laughter from Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?), who was known as "bitter Bierce" and "the wickedest man in San Francisco" among his contemporaries, and seemed to revel in both titles. Born in Ohio, Bierce participated in the Civil War. The war disgusted him, prompting him to see soldiers as little more than paid assassins and, when it ended, he moved to California, where he established a reputation as a brilliant and caustic journalism. Living in England for four years from 1872, he returned to California. He then published Tales of Soldiers and Civilians in 1891, retitled In the Midst of Life in England and in the 1898 American edition. Another collection of stories, Can Such Things Be?, followed in 1893. More than half the stories in the first collection, and many in the second, deal with the Civil War; they reflect their author's feelings of revulsion for military life, and his bleak, bitterly comic view of existence in general. Some of these stories capture the vicious confusion of battle, just as, say Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty (1867) by John William De Forest (1826-1906) does. In "A Horseman in the Sky," a young Union soldier is forced by circumstances to kill a Confederate officer who happens to be his father. Others use stream-of-consciousness and suspense endings to explore the subjectivity of time. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," for example, presents the fantasy experienced by a man who is being hanged, in the final seconds of his life. And still others deploy a fluid, almost surrealistic prose style and black humor to dramatize physical and emotional violence. So, in "Chickamanga," we see a battleground strewn with corpses through the eyes of a child. The child sees but does not understand—althoguh, thanks to an ironic narrator, the reader does—until the end, when he comes across the ruin of his home and the dead body of his mother, "the greater part of the forehead ... torn away." A deaf mute, he then utters "a series of inarticulate and indescribable cries—something between the chattering of an ape and the gobbling of a turkey—a starting, soulless, unholy sound." It is the wreckage of a language, used in rsponse to the "wreck" he sees around him; he has awoken, hopelessly and helplessly, to the horror of life. The same dark light that simultaneously illuminates and shadows these stories also informs Bierce's poems, and the ironic series of definitions—such as the definition of realism quoted earlier—collected in The Devil's Dictionary. [Realism was described by Ambrose Bierce as "The art of depicting nature as it is seen by toads" and having "the charm suffusing a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring worm"]. In 1913 Bierce traveled into war-tron Mexico to escape American civilization and to seek, he said, "the good, kind darkness." He must have found it, for he disappeared. To this day, it is not know hen, how, or exactly where he died.

At first sight, there are few connections between William Dean Howells and Henry James (1843-1916). Both saw writing as a serious vocation, and the writing of fiction as a form of artistic endeavor equal to any other. Both were influential, Howells exerting a powerful influence on his contemporaries and James mostly on his successors. Both addressed their work to what they saw as "the real thing," to use James's phrase: to the strenuous realities of material, mental, and moral existence. But the differnces between them are clear. Howells, in his very emphasis on the "commonplace," tended to concentrate on human likeness, typicality, and give priority, if not a monopoly, to the social context. James, on the other hand, was intensely interested in what he called "the special case"; that is, he chose to focus on how common moral conflicts and shared social concerns were realized in the complexities of individual experience and encountered by the individual consciousness. Howells used a variety of fictional techniques, but all of them were characterized by the directness of the journalist or historian. James, on the contrary, was what Joseph Conrad famously called him, "the historian of fine consciences." And to write this history, thoroughly and accurately, he devoted a lifetime to finding and developing the right fictional tools. "There is, I think, no more nutritive or suggestive truth," James wrote in his preface to The Portrait of a Lady (1881), "... than that of the perfect dependence of the 'moral' sense of a work of art on the amount of felt life concerned in producing it." To create that "felt life," an imaginative experience for the reader, James expermineted with narrative structure and texture, developing patterns of character or imagery and moments of epiphany—and, above all, with point of view. "The house of fiction," James insisted, "has ... not one window, but a million—a number of possible windows ... every one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable ... by the need of the individual vision and by the pressure of the individual will." It mattered hugely, James knew, which window or windows the novelist chose to tell his tale because, in a variation of the theory of relativity or the indeterminacy or uncertainty principle of Werner Heisenberg (both of which were becoming current at the time James was still writing), what you saw depended on where you stood. James was not a moral relativist, by any means, but he became increasingly a psychological one. His constant experiments with narraive viewpoint, which were perhaps to be his major contribution to the developing aesthetics of the novel, sprang ultimately from the sense he shared with many of his contemporaries in science as well as art that our knowledge of reality is contingent on perspective.

Howells might have been more interested in social justice and the simplicities of realism than James; James might have been more concerned with a kind of secular mysticism of consciousness and the indeterminate, contingent character of the real. But it is to Howells's credit that, as critic and editor, he was among the first to recognize James's talent. "You showed me the way and opened me the door," James wrote to Howells in gratitude in 1912; "you wrote to me, and confessed yourself struck with me—I have never forgotten the beautiful thrill of that." Credit is due to Howells all the more, perhaps, because as they knew, the two men came from very different backgrounds. James was born in New York City to a wealthy, patrician family, the grandson of an Irish immigrant who had amassed a large fortune. His father, Henry James, Sr. (1811-1882), acquired a reputation as a moral and social philosopher, developing his own form of liberal Christianity and ideas for social reform in books like Christianity the Logic of Creation (1857) and Substance and Shadow; or Morality and Religion in Their Relation to Life (1863). Henry James, Sr. encouraged intellectual experiment in his sons and gave them the freedom to develop their own systems of morality adn discipline. The results were positive. While Henry was to grow up and into a dedication to literature, the eldest son William James (1842-1910) was to become the foremost American philosopher of his day, developing his ideas about psychology and religion and his view that an idea has meaning only in relation to its consequences in feeling and in action in, respectively, The Principles of Psychology (1890), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and Pragmatism (1907). These enlightened principles did not extend to women, however. On the contrary, Henry James, Sr. argued taht "Woman" was not truly a person but "a form of personal affection," whose mission it was to redeem man from his natural egotism and brutality. Such views, not untypical for the time, meant that Alice James (1848-1892), the youngest child and only daughter, was denied the formal education given to her brothers. Her family, while respecting her abilities—she was, among other things, an astute critic of both her famous brothers—coddled and, arguably, stifled her. She had several breakdowns during her relatively short life; and her daily journal, which she seems to have intended for publication, only appeared in 1964 as The Diary of Alice James.

After being educated by private tutors until the age of 12, Henry James went to schools in Europe and the United States. Entering Harvard Law School in 1862, he withdrew after a year. Then, with the encouragement of Howells and Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), a Harvard professor and translator of Dante, he began to concentrate on writing. Reviews and essays appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and the North American Review. In 1869 he returned to Europe, his first visit as an adult, first to England and then to Italy, which made a deep impression on him. It was while he was in Europe that his beloved cousin mary Temple died. How exactly this affected his later fiction is open to debate, although the situation of an attractive, lively but doomed or even fatally sick young girl certainly recurs in such novels as The Portrait of a Lady and The Wings of the Dove (1902) and in the novella Daisy Miller (1878). In any event, james's first novel, Watch and Ward, apperared serially in the Atlantic Monthly in 1871 (and in volume form in 1878). This was followed by his first collection,
A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales (1875) and Transatlantic Sketches (1875), and his first novels of real consequence, Roderick Hudson (1876), The American (1877), and The Europeans (1878). The story "A Passionate Pilgrim" deals with the reactions of an eater American "pilgrim" when confronted with the fascinations of the complex European world of art and affairs. And James himself during this period was something of a pilgrim in Europe, which he cvame to regard as his spiritual fatherland, moving there permanently in 1875. During a year in Paris, he associated with such masters of the art of fiction as Flaubert and Turgenev, who encouraged his interest in what Flaubert called "le mot juste": the right word, the careful planning of the language and structure of the novel so as to make it an accurate register of reality. After 1876, however, he made his home mainly in London, although he maintained an American home in Massachusetts and, much later, moved to the small town of Rye in Sussex.

James was developing his ideas about his craft, and expressing them in, for instance, his well-known essay on "The Art of Fiction" (1884). He was also exploring what were to be the dominant themes of this the first stage of his career as a novelist, which lasted from roughly 1870 until 1890. There is James's interest in the mired complexities of fate and freedom, the possibly determining influences of environment and the possible power, the capacities of the human will: "don't talk about the will being 'destined'," declares a character in Roderick Hudson as a contribution to the debate, "The will is destiny itself. That's the way to look at it." There is his concern for the individual consciousness and the terms it must negotiate with society, how it maneuvers its way through moral and mental complexities. Above all, there is "the international theme," the series of contrasts James draws between Europe and America. In his book on Nathaniel Hawthorne (1879) James urged that "the good American" of his own time would be a more complicated, "more critical person" than the one of the time of his subject. He was thinking, among other things, of his own difference from the author of The Scarlet Letter, which was due, he thought, not only to the eruptions of civil conflict but to his exemplary encounter with European culture. There is a residue of "American" romanticism, as James would see it, in these novels of the first period: stories of young American pilgrims, dark family secrets, oppressive villains. But this is overlaid by habits of realism, empirical rigor, and attention to mannerly detail that James, at least, felt he owed to his European masters: to Flaubert or Turgenev, say, rather than to Hawthorne. More seriously and centrally, James was of the passionate belief that, as he puts it in his account of Hawthorne, "it takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature"—and that, despite the Civil War, history "had left in the United States but so thin and impalpable a deposit that we very soon touch the hard substratum of nature." What America lacked was what, precisely, Europe had: "an accumulation of history and custom," "a complexity of manners and types," all that could form a fund of suggestion for a novelist." James even went so far as to enumerate "the absent things in American life," the "items of high civilisation" which, he felt, were nowhere to be found in his place of birth. He was less specific about what was present, apart form insisting that "a good deal remains." What was clear, however, and could be succintly stated is that he felt compelled, as a novelist, to live in Europe and, as an American novelist, to dwell on this contrast. As a result, he offered a series of increasingly sophisticated fictional negotiations between European culture and American nature, European society and the American individual, European experience and American innocence. To an extent, he was transplanting a contrast embedded in American thought, and especially that of the nineteenth century, to the international arena: a contrast articulated in the fundamental divisions of the clearing and the wilderness. But what distinguished this fiction was not merely the transplantation of content but also the transformation of form. "A novel is a living thing," James insisted in "The Art of Fiction", "all one and continuous, like any other organism and in proportion as it lives will it be found ... that in each of its parts there is something of each of the other parts." That belief vividly informed his own practice as a novelist. It stimulatied fictions in which, at best, the medium is the message, the "moral of the narrative springs from a "doing" that is subtly intricate and mutually restrained, balanced and brilliantly nuanced.

In The American, James explores the contrast between Europe and America through the story of a protagonist whose name betrays his origins and missions. Christopher Newman is an American cho reverses the voyage of his namesake Christopher Columbus and travels from his own, New World to the Old World of France during the Bourbon period. There, he finds his love fro a Frenchwoman of the nobility frustrated by her family. Jemes draws a series of sly contrasts between Newman's innocence, candor, and ignorance (especially about matters of art and social convention) and the sophistication and cunning of his European hosts. The Europeans reverses this voyage, in turn, by bringing Europeans to New England. The transatlantic contrasts multiply and are more complex here, but the fundamental distinctions remain the same. In response to the news, for instance, that one of the European visitors is "the wife of a Prince," an older American character simply responds, "We are all princes here." Daisy Miller focuses the international contrast via the story of a charming but ingenous American girl who is destroyed, first socially and then literally, by her lack of understanding of her new European surroundings. Part of the exemplary subtlety of the story comes from a symbolic pattern it shares with The American and The Europeans: contrasting American "brightness," starkness, and simplicity with European shadows, secrets, and complexities. Part of it comes from the adept use of a narrator, an obsrver whose developing interest in Daisy, mingled sympathy and criticism, affection and astonishment, and developing feelings and opinions enable the narrative to maintain a delicate balance. Typically, the story offers not so much a judgment of Daisy and all she comes to represent, as a series of essays toward a critical understanding of both, a knowledge felt along the pulses. It nicely illustrates the remark of T. S. Eliot, meant as a compliment although it hardly sounds like it, that James had a mind so fine no idea could penetrate it.

That is even more finaly illustrated by the major work of the first period, and arguably James's greatest novel, The Portrait of a Lady. It is, as James put it, the sstory of "a certain young woman affronting her destiny." Isabel Archer, a penniless orphan living in Albany, New York, is taken up by her Aunt, Lydia Touchett. She goes to England to stay with her aunt and uncle and their tubercular son, Ralph. There, she declines the proposals of both Caspar Goodwood, a rich American, and Lord Warborton, an English aristocrat. Wealthy now, thanks to an inheritance from mr. Touchett arranged for her by Ralph, she then accepts the proposal of an American expatriate, a widower and dilettante living in Florence, Gilbert Osmond. She is introduced to Osmond by another expatriate, Madame Merle, and is impressed by his taste and refinement. Soon after the marriage, however, she discovers him to be selfish, sterile and oppressive. She also finds that Osmond's young daughter, Pansy, is actually the daughter of Madame Merle and that this was the reason for the woman's introducing her to Osmond and promoting the marriage. Despite Osmond forbidding her, Isabel leaves for England when she hears Ralph is dying, and is at his side when he dies. Despite a last attempt from Caspar Goodwood to persuade Isabel to go away with him, though, Isabel determines to return to Osmond. And the novel closes with her accepting her destiny, or perhaps more accurately the consequences of her choices, and preparing to go back to a home that is more like a prison. Stated baldly, the story has strong elements of romance of fairytale, just like The Scarlet Letter: the awakening of a sleeping beauty, the three suitors, a villain whose "egotism lay hidden like a serpent in a bank of flowers," a heroine held captive in  "the house of darkness, the house of dumbness, the house of suffocation." the sick young cousin who observes and admires her from afar before dying, the voyage of an American Adam—or, rather, Eve—and their exile from Paradise. But what distinghishes it, in the reading, is its adherence to the substantial realities of the social life and the subtle realities of the life of the consciousness. Isabel Archer is as much like the heroines of, say, Middlemarch or Daniel Deronda by George Eliot as she is like Hester Prynne: the imaginative maneuvers of the book represent as much an encounter between the American and the European as its story does. It is both of and about a collision of cultures.

One reason for the subtle but substantial reality of Isabel herself is that James focuses on her. "Place the center of the subject in the young woman's own consciousness," James tells us, in the preface, he told himself when he was writing the book. "Stick to that—for the center." As for the other characters, he explains, his aim was to "press least hard" on "the consciousness" of his "heroine's satellites, especially the male," so as to "make it an interest contributive only to the greater one. James wanted to reveal the ful implications of the developing consciousness of his protagonist. So the reader experiences a lot through her, and shares the lively animations of her mind on the move but, in addition, sees her from the outside, through the comments and often critical commentary of the narrator—and through the observations of characters like Ralph Touchett. We understand her sense of herself, her moods and changes, but we also take the measure of "the whole envelope of circumstances" in which she is implicated. Characteristically of James, the strategy is part of the debate. That phrase "the whole envelope of circumstances" is used by Madame Merle, who has adapted to a European vision sufficiently to believe that self and circumstance, the human being and his shell, are indivisible. "One's self—for other people—is one's expression of one's self," she insists. Isabel disagrees. Subscribing to the American romance of the self, she believes in freedom as an absolute and the individual as somehow separable from conditions and circumstances. "Nothing that belongs to me is any measure of me," she insists; "everything's on the contrary a limit, a barrier, and a perfectly arbitrary one." James wryly complicates this debate by intimating that his heroine's profound belief in herself, her "fixed determination to regard the world as a place of brightness, of free expansion," may itself spring from circumstance. She has grown up in a world, the new world of America, where there have been few forms of authorities, no rigorous or rigidly enforced social practices, to challenge that belief. But that complication is further complicated by the clear admiration that Isabel's "flame-like spirit" inspires in the narrator, observers such as Ralph Touchett, and the reader. There is candor and honesty here, a fundamental integrity and capacity for wonder as well as innocence, an openness that leaves her vulnerable—and, by some measures ast least, humanly incomplete.

With the characters surrounding Isabel, some are quietly developed, the reader comes to know them gradually—sometimes for good, as with Ralph Touchett, and sometimes as with Osmond and Madame Merle, for ill. Others, like Lydia Touchett, are flatter and deftly summarized when they are introduced. All, however, contribute to our understanding of the heroine and the representative character of her transatlantic encounter. A minor character such as Henrietta Stackpole, for instance, another young American woman abroad, helps the character place Isabel further; so do the sisters of Lord Warburton, "the Misses Molyneaux." Henrietta is self-confidence and independence to the point of bluster: "Henrietta ... does smell of the future," Ralph observes, "—it almost knocks one down!" The Misses Molyneaux are compliant and decorous to the point of vanishing into their surroundings. The character of Isabel is mapped out using such minor characters as coordinates, in a manner James had learned from another novelist he admired, Jane Austen. And it is mapped out, too, in Isabel's perilous voyage between the possibilities represented by her first two suitors and the alternatives they vigorously embody: America, with its devotion to individual initiative, enterprise, and possibility, and Europe, with its adherence to mannerliness, custom, and tradition, the rich fabric woven out of the past. Isabel's voyage is a literal one, to begin with, when she leaves New York for England: landscapes that here, as throughout James's fiction, have a symbolic as well as a literal application, with the starkness and simplicity of the one contrasting with the opulence and grandeur of the other. But it becomes an intensely symbolic one when Ralph Touchett tries, as he puts it, to put some "wind in her sails" by arranging for her to receive a bequest from his father.

Isabel, too, tires to put wind in the sails of someone else. She is drawn to Gilbert Osmond precisely because she believes she can help him fulfill the requirements of his imagination. With Goodword or Warurton, she would, in a sense, be embarking on a ship that has already set sail; comitting her destiny to one that had achieved full definition beforeshe appeared; she would, perhaps, be resigning herself to the authority or at least ambience of another. But with Osmond, she believes, it would be she herself who would enable the voyage, create the destiny. "He was like a skeptical voyager strolling on the beach while he waited for the tide, looking seaward yet not putting to sea," Isabel observes of the man she eventually marries. "She would launch his boat for him; she would be his providence; it would be a good thing to love him." In fact, it is not "a good thing" at all. Osmond, as it turns out, had just as firm a notion that he would be her providence, when he married Isabel. "Her mind was to be his," Isabel bitterly reflects after she has come to know her husband. "—attached to his own like a small garden-plot to a deer park." What all this adumbrates is a theme interwoven with the contrast between Europe and America, and dear to the heart of Hawthorne as much as James: the human use of human beings. The complex interplay of character focused in the figures of voyaing reminds us that to declare oneself may be to deny another.To enable is also to authorize, to will the fate of someone else; the re is only a thin membrane separating freedom from power and power from what hawthorne called the unpardonable sin.

James's response to the problem he opens up, as he examines his characters' attempts to negotiate their freedom, is a dual one, and is typical in thesense that it involves what happens in The Portrait of a Lady and how it is written .What happens is that Isabel decides to go back to Gilbert Osmond. To run away with Goodwood would suggest that Madame Merle had been right after all, and admission from Isabel that the "envelope" of her unfortunate circumstances was influential enought to make her evade the consequences of her own actions with a man she never loved. To return involves an acceptance of those consequences, and a fulfillment of a promise made earlier to Pansy, Osmond's daughter, that she would come back. It maks her victory over circumstance and over the naive ideal of freedom she had brought with her from America. That ideal had identified freedom with limitless power, the boundless pursuit of her own needs. Pursuing it, she married a man who has sought to extinguish her. Abandonind, or rather refining, it, she now sets freedom as conditional on knowledge: being clearsighted enough to choose the right course with reference to all responsibilities and probable consequences. In choosing to go back, Isabel transcends her circumstances by accepting them, keeps her word and keeps faith with herself—acceptingher responsibility for her past and future. The choice on which the novel ends depends on a subtle balance between self and circumstance, in that it involves the recognition that expression of the one properly depends on awarness of the other: that freedom is a matter of responsible, realistic self-determination. And that same balance is at work with its narrative texture. James, as he maeant to, does not yield to the determining nature of circumstance here, although he admits its irreducible reality. Nor, while emphasizing the power of consciousness, does he present that power as separate and inviolable, somehow superior to the circumstance it encounters. What he does, in his fictional practice, is what he preached in his criticism. He enters into a complex series of negotiations betwen the "moral" and the "felt life," the meaningful structures organizing experience and the contingencies, the fluid processes in which tose structures are embedded. He assets the authority of authorship, the strength of his own individual will as writer, but he also accepts tha authority, the reality of the "living thing," the imaginative experience that constitutes the story. Not only that, he shows that assertion of the one depends precisely on acceptance of the other: that, like any other living organism, the meaning of the novel is its being.

James returned to America in 1882, shortly before the death of his mother. His father died in the same year, and then in 1883 his younger brother, Wilky. his sense of attachment to his place of birth was drastically reduced by these deaths. And the second period of his writing career, broadly from the middle of the 1880s to 1900, was marked by an attachment to English settings in much of his fiction. The Princess Cassamassima (1886), for instance, is set in London and deals with all social classes, exploring the tension between private sensibility and political belief. Other works of the period include The Bostonians (1886), a satirical study of the movement for female emancipation in New England ("the situation of women," James explained, "the decline of the sentiment of sex, and the agitation on their behalf" was the most striking aspect of American life of the time); The Aspern Papers (1888), a collection of stories, and The Spoils of Poynton (1897). James made a venture into writing plays at this time, which proved disastrous. It came to a humiliating end when his play Guy Domville was given a riotous reception on its first night in 1895. The venture did, however, encourage him to develop dramatic techniques for his fiction. If the first period of James's career could be described in terms of moral realism, and the third in terms of psychological realism—although these are, necessarily, labels that do less than full justice to the sophistication of his art—then the second could be called a period of dramatic realism. James used careful manipulation of point of view, elaborate patterning of contrasting episodes and characters, and a focus on dialogue and dramatic scene to achieve here what he always sought: "the maximum of intensity," to use his own words, "with the minimum of strain." The results are powerfully evident in a novel like What Maisie Knew (1897) that explores adultery, infidelity, and betrayal. The entire story, although written in the third person, is told from the point of view of the perceptive but naive young girl Maisie, who is just 6 years old when her parents are divorced. The strategy enables James to achieve economy, intensity, and irony as he combines and implicitly compares what Maisie sees with what the narrative voice intimates.

Toward the end of his second period, James confirmed his reputation as a writer of short stories with tales many of which were about writers and writing. Like "The Lesson fo the Master" (1888), "The Middle Years" (1893), and "The Figure in the Carpet" (1896). Again, many of these tales are fitted into life by James's ingenious, inspired use of narrative viewpoint. In "The Turn of the Screw" (1898), for example, the entire narrative depends for its intensity of terror on the fact that everything occurs in the mind of a governess, who desperately needs corroboration that she is not mad in attributing supernatural experiences to her young charges and seeing dead people. The reader is left in doubt, thanks to the possible unreliability of the narrator, as to whether or not she sees ghosts or hallucinations—and as to whether this is a Gothic story of evil or a psychological tale about repression and projection. In tis own modest fashion, "The Turn of the Screw" prepares the way for the emotional and pychological subtleties, the sense the reader has of wandering through the labyrinth of the human mind, that characterize the three major novels of the third and final period of James's career: The Ambassadors, written in 1901 and published in 1903, The Wings of the Dove (1902) and The Golden Bowl (1904). In all three, James returns to the international theme. In The Ambassadors, for instance, Lambert Strether is sent by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Newsome, to persuade her son Chad to return to Massachusetts. Gradually, however, he grows less enthusiastic about his mission, as he becomes more and more receptive to the charms of England and France. Abandoning his aims, and with them the prospect of an advantageous marriage to Mrs. Newsome—which is his promised reward, if he fulfills them—he even encourages the liaison between Chad and a charming Frenchwoman, Madame de Vionnet. It would be "the last infamy," he tells Chad, if he forsook her. "Live all you can," Strether declares to another character, when he is provoked by a sense of his own tentative life, "it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had?" Nevertheles, Strether remains detached, conent to observe rather than participate, eventually returning to his inconsequential life as a widower in Massachusetts. As he searches fro the reality of Chad's motives, and the truth of hiw own relationship to life, living, and the conflicting cultures of America and England, there is speculation, mediatation, but fundamental irresolution. Europe has its own secrecies—the liaison of Chad and Madame de Vionnet, he eventually discovers, has been an intimate one—just as America has its absuridites. Life is for living, it may be, but not for him. This story of transatlantic encounters acquires some clarity by an elaborate balancing of scene and character: there are four major scenes set in a plainly allegorical garden, for instance, in which knowledge is slowly acquired and, in the course of the action, Chad and Strether change moral places. But it also acquires a certain mystery, even opacity from James's determination to follow the smallest refinement of emotional detail, the slightest nuance of social gesture—and from a style that, in the service of this pursuit, often becomes formidably, impenetrably intricate.

In the last few decades of his life, James devoted much of his time to preparing the New York edition of his novels. He made revisions that often reflectd his later dedication to a more allusive style. A reference, in the original version of The Portrait of a Lady, to the fact that Ralph Touchett had "simply accepted the situation" of invalid was altered, for instance, to this: "His serenity was but the array of wild flowers niched in his ruin." He also wrote eighteen new prefaces for his novels. He traveled widely, and wrote about his travels in The American Scene (1907) and Italian Hours (1909). He published two volumes of autobiography, A Small Boy and Others (1913) and Notes of a Son and Brother (1914); and a third volume, The Middle Years appeared posthumously in 19197. Angered by American reluctance to become involved in World War I, he became a British citizen in 1913. But, in a sense, as T. S. Eliot was later to put it, it was not the condition of being English to which he—or, at least, part of him—aspired bu the condition of being European, "something which no born European, no person of any European nationality, can become." James anticipated the direction in which many American writers were to move in the twentieth century: in his concern with the complex fate of being an American in an international culture, his concern with the possibly limited terms of American culture and the fragments that could perhaps be rescued from the ruins of European tradition, in his growing concern with the romance and mystery of the consciousness. He assimilated the romantic tendencies that were part of the pressure of the age into which he was born, the moral rigor that was a continuing characteristic of his part of the nation; he also moved, especially in his later work, toward the modernist conviction that the truth of art and the truth of life are one and the same. A summative and seminal writer, James stands at the juncture between two centuries, and different moments in Americal writing. He was also, complexly, his own man. There is no more satisfactory way of summing up that complexity than the one James himself was probably alluding to when he called his last fragment of autobiography "The Middle Years." The title is alsothat of an earlier story, published in 1895, in which a dying writer makes a statement of faith that his creator might well have made for himself. "We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have," the writer declares. "Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."

A photo on Flickr

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Miércoles, 02 de Enero de 2013 18:57. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

In Search of Shakespeare

Una extraordinaria serie documental de la BBC sobre la vida de Shakespeare, presentada por Michael Wood. Aquí empieza el capítulo 1, "A Time of Revolution."

Part 2: The Lost Years

Part 3: The Duty of Poets

Part 4: For All Time

Part 5: Special feature - Extra footage

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Miércoles, 02 de Enero de 2013 23:45. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Otra más del Pilar y la Seo


Otra más del Pilar y la Seo

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Miércoles, 02 de Enero de 2013 23:49. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Stephen Crane


Stephen Crane

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From The Oxford Companion to American Literature, by Hart and Leininger:

Stephen Crane (1871-1900), born in New Jersey, spent most of his youth in upstate New York; he attended Lafayette College and Syracuse University, each for a year, before moving to New York City to become a struggling author and do intermittent reporting for the Herald and Tribune. His first book, Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (1893), was too grim to find a regular publisher, and remained unsold even when Crane borrowed from his brother to issue it privately. Early in 1893, with no personal experience of war, deriving his knowledge primarily from reading Tolstoy and Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, he wrote The Red Badge of Courage (1895), his great realist study of the mind of an inexperienced soldier trapped in the fury and turmoil of battle.

The success of this book led to the reissue of Maggie, and Crane's reputation was established. In quick succession appeared his book of free verse, influenced by Emily Dickinson, The Black Riders (1895); The Little Regiment (1896), naturalistic Civil War stories, issued in England as Pictures of WarGeorge's Mother (1896), the story of the dull lives of a young workingman and his mother in New York; and The Third Violet (1897), a conventional novelette about the romance of a young artist.

Because of his successful treatment of war in his masterpiece, Crane was thrust for most of his remaining life into the field of war reporting. After a period as a correspondent in the South-West and in Mexico, he was sent with a filibustering expedition to Cuba at the end of 1896. The sinking of the ship and his subsequent 50-hour struggle with the waves furnished the theme of his best-known short story, "The Open Boat." Inexperience and illness made his trip to Greece, to report the Turkish war, almost futile. Folowing a short residence in England, he went to Cuba to report the Spanish-American War, and his journalistic sketches and stories of this period are collected in Wounds in the Rain (1900). his observation of the Greco-Turkish War resulted in Active Service(1899), a satirical novel about a war correspondent. 

Upon his return to New York, Crane's health was already broken by the hardships he had endured, and possibly owing to his early treatment of squalor in Maggie and rumors about the immorality of his common-law wife,  myth now arose to the effect that he was a drunk, a drug addict, and generally depraved. Disgusted by unpleasant notoriety, he returned to England, having meanwhile published two collections of short stories, The Open Boat(1898) and The Monster (1899), and a second volume of free verse, War is Kind (1899). Whilomville Stories(1900) is a collection of tales concerned with typical childhoood incidents in a small New York town. Crane's last work shows a decrease in power, for he was broken in health and soon died of tuberculosis in Germany, where he had gone to seek a cure. Posthumously published volumes include Great Battles of the World (1901), an uninspired historical study; Last Words (1902), a collection of his early tales and sketches; The O'Ruddy (1903), an unfinished romance, completed by Robert Barr; and Men, Women, and Boats (1921), a selection, including several stories never before published. His Letters were collected in 1960, and the University of Virginia issued a scholarly edition of his works (10 vols., 1969-75).


Maggie: A Girl of the Streets,
 novel by Stephen Crane, privately issued (1893) under the pseudonym Johnson Smith, but not regularly published until 1896. 

In a slum district of New York City called Rum Alley, Maggie Johnson and her brother Jimmie are maltreated and neglected children of a brutal workingman and his dipsomaniac wife. Maggie, attractive though ignorant and ill cared for, somehow preserves an inner core of innocence in her miserable, filthy environment. She finds work as a collar worker in a sweatshop, while Jimmie becomes a truck driver, typically hard-boiled and fight-loving. Their mother, now widowed, is constantly drunk and has acquired a lengthy police record. Maggie falls in love with Jimmie's tough friend Pete, a bartender, who easily seduces her. For a brief time she lives with Pete, having been melodramatically disowned by her mother. Jimmie offers only the questionalble assistance of administering a beating to his former friend. Pete abandons Maggie, who becomes a prostitute for a few months. Then, heartbroken and unable to succeed in this uneasy, exacting occupation, she commits suicide. Her mother makes a great display of grief, send Jimmie to fetch home the body, and allows herself to be persuaded by her drinking companions to "forgive" her "bad, bad child."

guerraThe Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War,novel by Stephen Crane, published in 1895. The original manuscript, containing an added 5000 words (about 10% of the entirety) deleted by the original publisher, was printed for the first time in 1982. This psychological study of a soldier's reactions to warfare was written before Crane had ever seen a battle. His knowledge was at least partly derived from a popular anthology,Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. The unnamed battle of the novel has been identifies as that of Chancellorsville. 

Henry Fleming, generally called simply "The youth" or "he," is an ordinary, inexperienced soldier, "an unknown quantity," torn between a "little panic-fear" and "visions of broken-bladed glory" as he faces his first battle. He begins with the state of mind of the raw recruit who is anxious to get into battle so that he may show his patriotism and prove himself a hero. He swaggers to keep up his spirits during the delay that precedes his suddenly being thrust into the slaughter. Then he is overcome by unthinking fear and runs from the field. He is ashamed when he joins the wounded, for he has not earned their "red badge of courage," and then he becomes enraged when he witnesses the horrid dance of death of his terribly maimed friend, Jim Conklin. Later, by chance, he gets a minor head wound in a confused struggle with one of the retreating infantry-men of his own army. The next day, when his pretense is accepted that the wound is the result of enemy gunfire, he suddenly begins to fight frantically, and then automatically seizes the regiment's colors in the charge that reestablishes its reputation. He moves through this sultry nightmare with unconscious heroism, and emerges steady, quiet, and truly courageous.

The Black Riders and Other Lines, volume of free verse by Stephen Crane, published in 1895. Influenced by reading Emily Dickinson, Crane in these concise, intense unrhymed poems foreshadows the work of the Imagists. Elliptical renderings of his naturalistic philosophy, they show his bewildered bitterness of youth buffeted by the great impersonal forces of the world.

The Monster, and Other Stories, seven tales by Stephen Crane, published in 1899.

"The Monster," a novelette set in Whilomville, N.Y., is a bitterly ironic comentary on the cruelty and lack of sympathy of ordinary people for an act of humanity they do not understand. Henry Johnson, a black servant in the home of Dr. Trescott, rescuest the physician's young son from a fire. He is terribly disfigured and loses his sanity, so that no home can be found for him in the town. Horrified by the "monster," the townspeople ostracize the doctor and his family because they harbor the man. It finally appears that Trescott has sacrificed his entire happiness for an ethical principle he formerly considered unquestionable. "The Blue Hotel" describes the events that lead to quarrels and a murder at a bar in a small Nebraska town. The victim, a stupid, paranoid Swede, who dies with his eyes fixed on the ironic and symbolic text on a cash register, "This registers the amount of your purchase," is partly responsible for his own death, and his murderer is hardly more responsible than others involved in a sequence of events, although he is sentenced to the penitentiary, because "every sin is the result of a collaboration," and the one who gets the punishment is the one who hapens to be at "the apex of a human movement." "His New Mittens" is concerned with the inner reactions of a small boy who runs away from home, and the remaining stories are studies of men in sensational situations or moments of intense excitement.

The Little Regiment, and Other Episodes of the American Civil War, six short stories by Stephen Crane, published in 1896 and issued in England as Pictures of War (1916).

The title story tells of two brothers in the Union army, whose seeming antagonism conceals a deep affection. During a battle, one of them is believed killed, and the other shows signs of bitter grief. When hi brother suddenly reappears, they greet each other with a curt "hello" and resume their pose of hostility. "Three Miraculous Soldiers" shows the reactions of an ignorant Southern girl, who is terrified when a Union detachment camps on her mother's farm. She helps three Confederate prisoners to escape, but breaks into hysterical tears over a sentry they have wounded. "A Mystery of Heroism" is concerned with the reckless feat of a private who crosses a field during a violent battle to fetch a pail of drinking water. Whan he returns, apparently by miracle, the water is accidentally spilled because any of it can be used. "The Veteran" tells of the heroism of an aged ex-coldier who sacrifices his life to save the animals in a burning barn.

The Open Boat, and Other Tales of Adventure, eight short stories by Stephen Crane, published in 1898, mainly "after the Fact" of his own experiences as a reporter and war correspondent.

"The Open Boat" is a realistic account of the thoughts and emotions of four men who escape in a small dinghy from the wrecked steamer Commodore off the Florida coast. The captain, the cook, an oiler, and a newspaper correspondent, unable to land because of the dangerous surf, see the beach tantalizingly near, but are forced to spend the night on the sea. Next morning they employ their last strength to swim ashore, and all but the oiler survive. "Death and the Child," reminiscent of The Red Badge of Courage, has for its scene a battle of the Greco-Turkish War and is concerned with the psychological reactions of a Greek newspapersman in his first experience of warfare. At first he desires to fight with his countrymen, but as he views the battle more intimately he is overcome by fear and panic, and flees to a nearby mountain, where his self-centered emotion is contrasted with the indifference of an abandoned peasant child. "Flanagan, and His Short Filibustering Adventure" narrates a melodramatic incident of arms smuggling in Cuba before the Spanish-American War. The remaining stories are sardonically realistic adventure tales in Mexico and the Far West. One is "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," about a newly married couple, the marshal of Yellow Sky, Tex., and his bride from San Antonio, who arrive on the train in his town at the moment that the local bad man goes on a drunken shooting spree. After a tense moment, the marshal is spared, not because the bad man was a "student of chivalry; it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains." 

Whilomville Stories, 13 tales by Stephen Crane, published in 1900. Except for "The Knife," concerned with the humorous tribulations of two black men in the town of Whilomville, when both try to steal the same watermelon, the stories deal with typical childhood incidents among boys and girls of this small New York town.

"The Angel Child" tells of an ingenious birthday entertainment invented by little Cora Trescott, who treats her friends to haircuts at the shop of an unperceptive barber, to the alarm and sorrow of their parents. "Lynx-hunting" details the adventures of three small boys with a rifle who seek a lynx, aim at a chipmuk, and hit a farmer's cow. "The Lover and the Telltale" is concerned with the tragedy of Jimmie Trescott, who attacks his school-fellows because they have derided him for writing a love letter to his cousin Cora, and it is kept after school by his teacher. "The Trial, Execution, and Burial of Homer Phelps" tells of the imaginative play of a group of boys, and the misfortunes of their unwilling victim. "A Little Pilgrimage" deals with the disastrous error of Jimmie Trescott, who leaves his Sunday school because it has been announced there will be no Christmas tree this year, only to join another that follows the same policy. "'Showin' Off'" is a humorous account of the rivalry between two youngsters for the favors of a vain little girl in a red hood.

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  
My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  
He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.


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Robert Frost

From the Oxford Companion to American Literature, by Hart and Leininger:

Robert [Lee] Frost (1874-1963), member of a New England family, was born in San Francisco and taken at the age of ten to the New England farm country with which his poetry is identified. After a brief attendance at Dartmouth, where he disliked the academic attitude, he became a bobbin boy in a Massachusetts mill, and a short period at Harvard was followed by further work, making shoes, editing a country newspaper, teaching school, and finally farming. This background of craftsmanship and husbandry had its effect upon his poetry in more than the choice of subjects, for he demanded that his verse be as simple and honest as an axe or hoe. After a long period of farming, he moved to England (1912-15) where he published his first book of poems, A Boy's Will (1913), whose lyrics, including "Into My Own," "Revelation," "Mowing," and "Reluctance," are marked by an intense but restrained emotion and the characteristic flavor of New England life. He returned to the U.S. to settle on a New Hampshire farm, having achieved a reputation as an important American poet through the publication of North of Boston (1914), described by the author as "a book of people." and showing brilliant insight into New England character and the background that formed it. Among the poems in this volume are "Mending Wall," "The Death of the Hired Man," "The Code," "The Wood-Pile," "Home Burial," and "A Servant to Servants."

—"Mending Wall," blank-verse poem by Robert Frost, published in North of Boston (1914). Describing the time he and a neighboring farmer spent the day in replacing fallen stones on the wall which divides their land, the poet declares, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." and expresses his philosophy of tolerance, generosity, and brotherhood in the contrast between his neighbor's dogmatic "Good fences make good neighbours" and his own more considered

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out

—"The Death of the Hired Man," blank-verse dramatic narrative by Robert Frost, published in North of Boston (1914).
Warren and Mary, a farmer and his wife, discuss the return of Silas, an aged farmhand who has worked for them often in the past, always wandering off when other employment offered itself, and coming "home" at tims of difficulty. Warren wants to dismiss him, but Mary describes the poignant contrast between his former proud competence and his present broken helath, loneliness, and pitiful eagerness to serve. She tells of his infirm mind, which she thinks a sign of approaching death, and her husband is moved to reconsider. Whan he enters the house to talk with Silas, he discovers the old man dead.

—"The Code," blank-verse dramatic narrative by Robert Frost, published in North of Boston (1914).
An experienced farmhand tells a "town-bred farmer" of the pride his fellows take in their competence, and the resulting code:

The hand that knows his business won't be told
To do work better or faster—those two things.

For illustration he describes an incident that took place when he worked for a certain Sanders, of Salem, a prodigious worker himself. They were engaged in unloading a wagon of hay, and Sanders, made the mistake, while standing below to pile th load, of saying to the hand on the wagon, "Let her come!" Offended at this breach of the code, the hand dumped the entire load down on the helpless farmer, regardless of the danger of suffocating him. Sanders extricated himself, and showed that he recognized the justice of his employee's act:

"Discharge me? No! He knew I did just right."

—"The Wood-Pile." blank-verse poem by Robert Frost, published in North of Boston (1914).
The poet suggests a cosmic symbol in his discovery of a weathered, long-abandoned cord of maple, "cut and split and piled," held from being scattered by a growing tree on one side and on the other "a stake and prop, these latter about to fall." This wasted labor can be the work on ly of "someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks," and could leave his creation "To warm the frozen swamp as best it could With the slow smokeless burning of decay."

—"Home Burial," dramatic narrative in blank verse by Robert Frost, published in North of Boston (1914).
The incompatibility of a New England farm couple is revealed in the tragic conflict between them following the death of their only child. The husband has buried the child in the nearby family plot, and the wife becomes obsessed by his seemingly unfeeling attitude. Oppressed by loneliness, she comes to hate him and now feels that the transitoriness of his grief is a further proof the "the world's evil." She is determined tha she "must go—somewhere out of this house," but her husband declares obstinately, "I'll follow and bring you back by force. I will!—"

—"A Servant to Servants," blank-verse dramatic monologue by Robert Frost, published in North of Boston (1914).
A lonely, overworked New England farm wife talks with a visiting naturalist, and through her eager conversation reveals the tragic story of her life. Reared in a loveless family, in which her mother's life had been embittered by the necessity of caring for an obscenely mad brother-in-law, she herself had been influenced for a time by the inherited strain of insanity, and welcomed the opportunity to marry Len, the unfeeling husband who neglects her for his many business enterprises. Though she craves personal freedom, love, and the touch of beauty, she is burdened by innumerable menial tasks, including the feeding of the brutal farmhands, whose "servant" she has become.

The same expressive idiom and brilliant observation appear in Mountain Interval (1916), containing such characteristic poems as "The Road Not Taken," "Birches," "Bond and Free," "A Time to Talk,"
"Snow," "Putting in the Seed," and "An Old Man's Winter Night."

—"The Road Not Taken," poem in iambic tetrameter by Rober Frost, published in Mountain Interval (1916).
The poet tells how the course of his life was determined when he came upon two roads that diverged in a wood. Forced to choose, he "took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

—"Birches," blank-verse lyric by Robert Frost, published in Mountain Interval (1916). The poet describes his boyhood pleasure in climbing birch trees, swinging from the tops until the supple trunks bent in a curve to the ground. He dreams of being again "a swinger of birches," and finds in this occupation a symbol for his desired surcease from "considerations," in which he might

   go by climbing a birch tree . . .
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again,
That would be good both going and coming back.

The shrewd humor and Yankee understatement that distinguish such poems as "The Cow in Apple Time," "A Hundred Collars," and "Brown's Descent" are exhibited also in Frost's witty self-critical remarks, such as "I might be called a Synecdochist; for I prefer the synecdoche in poetry—that figure of speech in which we use a part for the whole." In both emotion and language he was restrained, and conveyed his messages by implication. Although his blank verse is colloquial, it is never loose, for it possesses the pithy, surcharged economy indigenous to the New Englander. His genre pieces, in the form of dramatic idylls or monologues, capture the vernacular of his neighbors north of Boston. Frost explained his realism saying, "There are two types of realist—the one who offers a good deal of dirt with his potato to show that it is a real one; and the one who is satisfied with the potato brushed clean. . . . To me, the thing that art does for life is to clean it, to strip it to form." His next book, New Hampshire (1923, Pulitzer Prize), shows his ability to deal with genial, informal subjects, as in "The Star-Splitter," "Maple," "The Axe Helve," "New Hampshire," and "Paul's Wife," and to concentrate emotional impact into a few clean-stripped lines, as in "To Earthward," "Two Look at Two," "Stopping by Woods on as Snowy Evening," "Gathering Leaves," "Fire and Ice," and "Fragmentary Blue."

—"The Star-Splitter," blank-verse narrative by Robert Frost, published in New Hampshire (1923).
Brad McLaughlin's "life-long curiosity About our place among the infinities" culminates in his burning his house down for the insurance, to buy a telescope. He earns a living as a railroad ticket agent and uses his leisure "for star-gazing" through his glass, "the Star-splitter." Brad and his friend, the poet, often spend their nights in his activity, but though it provides material for "some of the best things we ever said," they remain in ignorance of the real nature of the universe: "We've looked and looked, but after all where are we?"
—"Maple," narrative poem in blank verse by Robert Frost, published in New Hampshire (1923).
Although others commonly misunderstand it as "Mabel," Maple, the name of a New England girl, given her at birth by her dying mother, guides her life and endows her with a mysterious poetic quality. Her father is unable or unwilling to make clear the intended meaning, and Maple is able to find only partial clues, but the man she marries discerns her kinship with the spirit of the trees, and they share this secret as a motive of their love.
—"The Axe Helve," blank-verse dramatic narrative by Robert Frost, published in New Hampshire (1923).
The poet, chopping wood, is interrupted by a neighboring farmer, the Frenchman Baptiste, who objects to his using an inferior machine-made axe-helve. He promises him a good hickory helve of his own cutting, and that evening the poet visits Baptiste's home, meeting his sociable wife, who speaks no English. He talks with the earnest workman, who proves to be a conscientiouss laborer who knows "how to make a short job long for love of it," and insists that his children shall not attend school, asserting the superiority of his own proud independence and appreciation of such essential things as the materials of a properly durable axe-helve.

—"New Hampshire," blank-verse poem by Robert Frost, published in 1923 as the title piece of a volume which won a Pulitzer prize.
In this familiar monologue, the poet presents a witty defense of his manner of life and philosophic attitude. He describes New Hampshire as "one of the two best states in the Union. Vermont's the other," and as a compact community ahving "one each of everything as in a show-case." Answering the "glorious bards of Massachusetts" who "taunt the lofty land with little men," he names friends among the New Hampshire people he admires and would not change. "I choose to be a plain New Hampshire farmer," he says, in condemning extremists who demand that he take a radical attitude.
—"Two Look at Two," blank-verse poem by Robert Frost, published in New Hampshire (1923).
A pair of lovers climb a wooded mountain, and at the approach of night prepare to turn back but are halted on seeing a doe staring at them across a fence. The spell broken when she calmly walks off, they are about to go on again, but are stopped a second time by the appearance in the same place of "an antlered buck of lusty nostril" who "viewed them quizzically with jerks of head." After a moment he too disappears, but the lovers stand spellbound,

As if the earth in one unlooked-for favor
Had made them certain earth returned their love.

In 1928 he issued a fifth new volume, West-Running Brook, with the same warm lyric quality that had characterized his first book. His Collected Poems (1930, Pulitzer Prize) assembled in one volume the work that has a lifelong continuity in its rhythms, its clear focusing on the individual, and its observation of the native New England background.

After collecting his poems, although he held positions as an affiliated teacher at Amherst, Harvard, and Michigan, he continued his literary career and in 1936 published
A Further Range (Pulitzer Prize), whose lyrics, though more playful in blending fact and fantasy, have beneath their frivolity a deep seriousness. A new edition of Collected Poems (1939) was followed by A Witness Tree (1942, Pulitzer Prize); two blank-verse plays, A Masque of Reason (1946), about Job, and A Masque of Mercy (1947), in which Biblical characters in modern setting discuss ethics and man's relation to God; and Steeple Bush (1947) and In the Clearing (1962), later lyrics. The standard collected edition is The Poetry of Robert Frost (1969), edited by Edward C. Lathem. His correspondence appears in Letters to Louis Untermeyer (1963) and Selected Letters (1964), edited by Lawrance Thompson. Thompson published a controversial full biography—as official biographer—Robert Frost (3 vols., 1966-77), giving a harsh view of the poet. A less tendentious treatment is by William H. Pritchard, Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered (1984).


Robert Frost  at Poetry Foundation.


Kevin Murphy. "Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'." Video lecture. YouTube (Ithaca College) 29 Feb. 2008.*  

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Viernes, 04 de Enero de 2013 13:03. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

William Butler Yeats


William Butler Yeats


From the Norton Anthology of English Literature (7th ed.): 

William Butler Yeats was born in Sandymount, Dublin. His father's family, of English stock, had been in Ireland for at least two hundred years: his mother's, the Pollexfens, hailing originally from Devon, had been for some generations in Sligo, in the west of Ireland. J. B. Yeats, his father, had abandoned law to take up painting, at which he made a somewhat precarious living. The Yeatses were in London from 1874 until 1883, when they returned to Ireland—to Howth, a few miles from Dublin. On leaving high school in Dublin in 1883 Yeats decided to be an artist, with poetry as his avocation, and attended art school.; but he soon left, to concentrate on poetry. His frist published poems appeared in the Dublin University Review in 1885.

Yeats's father was a religious skeptic, but he believed in the "religion of art." Yeats himself, religious by temperament but unable to believe in Christian orthodoxy, sought all his life for traditions of esoteric thought that would compensate for a lost religion. This search led him to various kinds of mysticism, to folklore, theosophy, spiritualism, and neoplatonism—not in any strict chronological order, for he kept returning to and reworking earlier aspects of his thought. In middle life he elaborated a symbolic system of his own, based on a variety of sources, that enabled him to strengthen the pattern and coherence of his poetic imagery. The student of Yeats is constantly coming up against this willful and sometimes baffling esotericism that he cultivated sometimes playfully nad sometimes as though it were a convenient language of symbols. Modern scholarship has traced most of Yeats's mystical and quasi-mystical ideas to sources that were common to William Blake and Percy Shelley and that sometimes go far back into pre-Platonic beliefs and traditions. But his greatness as a poet lies in his ability to communicate the power and significance of his symbols, by the way he expresses and organizes them, even to readers who know nothing of his system.

Yeats's childhood and early manhood were spent between Dublin, London, and Sligo; and each of these places contributed something to his poetic development. in London in the 1890s he met the important poets of the day; and in 1891 was one of the founders of the Rhymers' Club, whose members included Lionel Johnson, Ernest Dowson, and many other characteristic figures of the 1890s. Here he acquired ideas of poetry that were vaguely pre-Raphaelite: he believed, in this early stage of his career, that a poet's language should be dreamy, evocative, and ethereal. From the countryside around Sligo he got something much more vigorous and earthy—a knowledge of the life of the peasantry and of their folklore. In Dublin he was influenced by the currents of Irish nationalism and, although often in disagreement with those who wished to use literature for crude political ends, he nevertheless learned to see his poetry as a contribution to a rejuvenated Irish culture. The three influences of Dublin, London, and Sligo did not develop in chronological order—he was going to and fro among these places throughout his early life—and we sometimes find a poem based on Sligo folklore in the midst of a group of dreamy poems written dunder the influence of the Rhymers' Club or an echo of Irish nationalist feeling in a lyric otherwise wholly pre-Raphaelite in tone.

We can distinguish quite clearly, however, the main periods into which Yeats's poetic career falls. He began in the tradition of self-conscious Romanticism , which he learned from the London poets of the 1890s. Edmund Spenser and Shelely, and a little later Blake, were important influences. One of his early verse plays ends with a song:

The woods of Arcady are dead
And over is their antique joy;
Of old the world on dreaming fed;
Grey Truth is now her painted toy.

About the same time he was writing poems (e.g. The Stolen Child) deriving from his Sligo experience, with a quiet precision of natural imagery, country place names, and themes from folklore. A little later—i.e., in the latter part of his first period—Dublin literary circles sent him to Standish O'Grady's History of Ireland: Heroic Period, where he found the great stories of the heroic age of Irish history, and to George Sigerson's and Douglas Hyde's translations of Gaelic poetry into "that dialect which gets from Gaelic its syntax and keeps its still partly Tudor vocabulary." Even when he plays with Neoplatonic ideas, as in The Rose of the World (also the product of the latter part of his early period), he can link them with Irish heroic themes and so give a dignity and a style to his imagery not normally associated with this sort of poetic dreaminess. Thus the heroic legends of old Ireland and the folk traditions of the modern Irish countryside provided Yeats with a stiffening for his early dreamlike imagery, which is why even his first, "nineties" phase is productive of interesting poems. The Lake Isle of Innisfree, spoiled for some by overanthologizing, is nevertheless a fine poem of its kind: it is the clarity and control shown in the handling of the imagery that keeps all romantic fuzziness out of it and gives it its haunting quality. In The Man who Dreamed of Faeryland he makes something peculiarly effective out of the contrast between human activities and the strangeness of nature. In The Madness of King Goll the disturbing sense of the otherness of the natural world drives the king mad. (Such contrasts are common in the early Yeats; in his later poetry he tries to resolver what he calls these "antinomies" in inclusive symbols; e.g., Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop.)

It is important to realize that Yeats had a habit of revising his earlier poems in later printings, tightening up the language and gettin rid of the more self-indulgent romantic imagery. The rivesed versions are found in hisCollected Poems, which, therefore, present a somewhat muted picture of his poetic development. For the complete picture one should consult The Variorum Edition edited by Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach (1957).

It was Irish nationalism that first sent Yeats in search of a consistently simpler and more popular style. He tells in one of his autobiotraphical essays how he sought for a style in which to express the elemental facts about Irish life and aspirations. This led him to the concrete image as did Hyde's translations from Gaelic folk songs, in which "nothing was abstract, nothing worn-out." But other forces were also working on him. In 1902 a friend gave him the works of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, to which he responded with great excitement, and it would seem that, in persuading Yeats, the passive love-poet, to get off his knees, Nietzsche's books prompted his search for a more active stance, a more masculine style. Looking back in 1906, he found that he had mistaken the poetic ideal. "Without knowing it, I had come to care for nothing but impersonal beauty . . . We should ascend out of common interests, the thoughts of the newspapers, of the market place, but only so fast as we can carry the normal, passionate, reasoning self, the personality as a whole." The result of the abandonment of "impersonal beauty," and of the desire to "carry the normal, passionate, reasoning self" into his poetry, is seen in the volumes of collected poems, In the Seven Woods (1903) and The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910).The Folly of Being Comforted and Adam's Curse are from the former of them, and one can see immediately how Yeats here combines the colloquial with the formal. This is characteristic of his "second period." yeats

By this time Yeats had met the beautiful actress and violent Irish nationalist Maud Gonne, with whom he was desperately in love for many years, but who persistently refused to marry him. The affair is reflected in many of the poems of his second period, notably No Second Troy, published in The Green Helmet. He had also met Lady Gregory, Irish writer and promoter of Irish literature, in 1896, and she invited him to spend the following summer at her country house, Coole Park, in Galway. Yeats spent many holidays with Lady Gregory and discovered the attractiveness of the "country house ideal," seeing in an aristocratic life of elegance and leisure in a great house a method of imposing order on chaos and a symbol of the Neoplatonic dance of life. He expresses this view many times in his poetry—e.g., at the end of A Prayer for My Daughter—and it became an important part of his complex of attitudes. The middle classes, with their Philistine money grubbing, he detested, and for his ideal characters he looked either below them, to peasants and beggars, or above them, to the aristocracy, for each of these had their own traditions and lived according to them. 

It was under Lady Gregory's influence that Yeats became involved in the founding of the Irish National Theatre in 1899. This led to his active participation in problems of play production, which included political problems of censorship, economic problems of paying carpenters and actors, and other aspects of "theater business, management of men." All this had an effect on his style. The reactions of Dublin audiences did not encourage Yeats's trust in popular judgment, and his bitterness with the "Paudeens," middle-class shopkeepers—who seemed to him to be without any dignity, or understanding or nobility of spirit—produced some of the most effective poems of his third or middle period. He was now becoming more and more of a national figure. Three public controversies had moved him to anger and poetry; the first over the hounding of Parnell (To a Shade), the second over Synge's play The Playboy of the Western World in 1907, and the third over the Lane pictures (September 1913). In each, the cause for which he fought was defeated by the representatives of the Roman Catholic middle class, and at last, bitterly turning his back on Ireland, Yats moved to England. Then came the Easter Rising (Easter 1916), mounted by members of the class and religion that had so long opposed him. Persuaded by Gonne (whose estranged husband was one of the executed leaders of the rising) that "tragic dignity had returned to Ireland," Yeats himself returned. To mark his new commitment, he refurbished, occupied, and renamed "Thoor Bayllylee" the Norman tower on Lady Gregory's land that was to become one of the central symbols of his later poetry. In 1922 he was appointed a senator of the recently established Irish Free State and served until 1928, playing an active part not only in promoting the arts but also in general political affairs, in which he supported the views of the Protestant landed class.

Meanwhile Yeats was responding in his own way to the change in poetic taste represented in the poetry and criticism of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot immediately before World War I. A gift for epigram had already begun to emerge in his poetry; in the volume titled The Wild Swans at Coole (1919) he has a poem citing Walter Savage Landor (the nineteenth-century poet who wrote some fine lapidary verse) and John Donne as masters. To the precision, and the combination of colloquial and formal, that he had achieved early in the century, he now added a metaphysical as well as an epigrammatic element, and this is seen in th later poems of his third period. He also continued his experiments with different kinds of rhythm. At the same time he was continuing his search for a language of symbols and pursuing and pursuing his esoteric studies. Yeats married in 1917, and his wife proved wo sympathetic to his imaginative needs that the automatic writing which for several years she produced (believed by Yeats to have been dictated by spirits) gave him the elements of a symbolic system that he later worked out in his book A Vision (1925, 1937) and that he used in all sorts of ways in much of his later poetry. The system was both a theory of the movements of history and a theory of the different types of personality, each movement and type being related in various complicated ways to a different phase of the moon. Some of Yeats's poetry is unintelligible without a knowledge of A Vision, but the better poems, such as the two on Byzantium, can be appreciated without such knowledge by the experienced reader who responds sensitively to the patterning of the imagery reinforced by the incantatory effect of the rhythms. Some criticism decries attempts by those who are not experts in the background of Yeats's esoteric thought to discuss his poetry and insists that only a detailed knowledge of Yeats's sources can yield his poetic meaning: but while it's true thatsome particular images do not yeiald all their significance to those who are ignorant of the background, it is also true that too literal a paraphrase of the symbolism in the light of the sources robs the poems of their power by reducing them to mere exercises in the use of a code.

The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair (1933), from which the poems from Sailing to Byzantium through After Long Silence have been here selected, represent the mature Yeats at his very best—a realist-symbolist-Metaphysical poet with an uncanny power over words. These volumes represent his fourth and greatest period. Here, in his poems of the 1920s and 1930s, winding stairs, spinning tops, "gyres," spirals of all kinds, are important symbols; not only are they connected with Yeats's philosophy of history and of personality, but they also serve as a means of resolving some of those contrariesthat had arrested him from the beginning. Life is a journey up a spiral staircase; as we grow older we cover the ground we have covered before, only higher up; as we look down the winding stair below us we measure our progress by the number of places where we were but no longer are. The journey is both repetitious and progressive; we go both round and upward. Though symbolic images of this kind Yeats explores the paradoxes of time and change, of growth and identity, of love and age, of life and art, of madness and wisdom.

The Byzantium poems show him trying to escape from the turbulence of life to the calm eternity of art. But in his fifth and final period he returned to the turbulence after (if only partly as a result of ) undergoing the Steinach operation to increase his sexual potency in 1934, and his last poems have a controlled yet startling wildness. Yeats's return to life, to "the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart," is one of the most impressive final phases of any poet's career. "I shall be a sinful man to the end, and think upon my deathbed of all the nights I wasted in my youth," he wrote in old age to a correspondent, and in one of his last letters he wrote: "When I try to put all into a phrase I say, 'Man can embody truth but he cannot know it' . . . The abstract is not life and everywhere draws out its contradictions. You can refute Hegel but not the Saint or the Son of Sixpence." When he died in January 1939, he left a body of verse that, in variety and power, makes him beyond question the greatest twentieth-century poet of the English language.

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Modernist poetry and criticism: T. S. Eliot


Modernist Poetry and Criticism: T. S. Eliot

Notes on Eliot's criticism based on René Wellek's A History of Modern Criticism and other sources:

1.  Introduction
2.  Classicism and Tradition
3.  Impersonality
4.  Autonomy of the Poem
5.  The Dissociation of Sensibility
6.  Language and Technique
7.  The Function of Criticism
7.  Literature, Morality, Religion

1.  Introduction

T. S. Eliot 
(1888-1965) has been called "by far the most important critic of the twentieth century in the English-speaking world."   He is above all a critic of poetry and drama; he is not much interested in the novel.  Eliot does not write any systematic treatise explaining his theory of poetry; it is expounded in a number of books and essays written through many years, interspersed with practical criticism or other speculations on culture.  Moreover, Eliot denies having an aesthetic theory, he claims to suspect thinking abstractly about poetics.  He seems to have a genuine conviction that ultimate questions are beyond the reach of the intellect, and that any attempt to define poetry is bound to failure.  Eliot distrusts any criticism that aspires to a scientific knowledge of its subject:
The true critic is a scrupulous avoider of formulae: he refrains from statements which pretend to be literally true.  He finds fact nowhere and approximations always.  His truths are the truths of experience rather than of calculation. 

Criticism, it seems, does not fully escape the condition of literature.  Eliot should be read therefore with this assumptions: that he aims at most at an approximation to his subject, the writer or the poetic experience.  Being a poet, Eliot claims that in his case theory is only "a by-product of my private poetic workshop",   that his theorizing is arbitrary, "epiphenomenal to [his] taste."   According to Wellek, this is not true: in fact, "Eliot's taste is often in little relation to his theory" (History  5:178).  Eliot's theory is modelled on what he thinks he should like, not on what he likes; in this sense it fulfils its own requirements.  
    Eliot's implied theory itself is coherent enough, although "some internal contradictions persist" (Wellek, History 5:176). It develops many of the critical concepts that will become current among critics during the greater part of the century: poetry must be impersonal.   Poetic creation requires aunified sensibility  which permits to find an objective correlative.   But there is a historical dissociation of sensibility  which increases the difficulty of creation for modern poets.  The concepts of tradition   and the status of belief  in poetry are also central in Eliot's criticism.  "All these are crucial critical matters for which Eliot found formulas, if not always convincing solutions" (Wellek, History  5: 176).  

2.  Classicism and Tradition

In his essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (1919), T. S. Eliot opposes the critical views then current in England.  Apart from their disorganization, he complains that there is no place left for tradition in them; only originality and difference are recognized as a source of value.  Therefore, the poets are considered in isolation from one another, they are misleadingly presented as rootless individuals.  
Whereas if we approach a poet without this prejudice we shall often find that not only the best, but the most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously.  ("Tradition" 14).  

Belonging to a poetic tradition should not be confused with repetition, with servile imitation of the works of the past.  What Eliot mistrusts is the show of personality, novelty and originality.  For Eliot, to be "original" is easy, and "the poem which is absolutely original is absolutely bad."   What is difficult is to belong to the great poetic tradition.  Eliot reverses the usual romantic view of tradition as a dead weight which must be shaken off by the poet in search of his voice.  Tradition is not a given, but an end:  "It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour" ("Tradition 14).  In Eliot we find, therefore, an anti-Romantic doctrine of artistic creativity, a classicist conception of poetics.  In order to produce great art, the poet must rely not on his subjectivity and the peculiarities of his personality, but on a poetic tradition, on maturity and the discipline of the spirit.  "True originality is merely a development." 
    A poet needs a historical sense, a sense of the pastness and also of the presentness of the past, of its present-day relevance.  The poet must be introduced to the dead poets' society.  He must become aware 
that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order.  The historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.  And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his own contemporaneity.  No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.  His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relations to the dead poets and artists . . . .   [W]hat happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.  The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them.  ("Tradition" 14-15)

The whole of European literature is therefore an organic whole, a structural system which is changing constantly.  But at the same time it is always complete; there cannot be any missing parts before they are created.  The usual assumption that the past is unchangeable is done away with: the past is constantly being reworked by the preset.  Eliot would presumably agree with Borges's dictum that a a work creates its own predecessors, that a work orders a series of disparate and previously unrelated works into a teleological series that points to the newly created work.  Tradition, therefore, must not be conceived as a one-way street.  It consists in an interplay of present and past; the past guides the present and the present alters the past, giving it a new significance.    
    "And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities" ("Tradition" 15).  A writer must acquire a knowledge of the past.  For some this will mean erudition, for others it will be a matter of natural acquisition. In any case, it is necessary.  It is naive to dismiss the writers of the past and try to cut ourselves away from tradition.  But do we not know more than the writers of the past? "Precisely", Eliot answers, "And they are that which we know" ("Tradition" 16).  It is the knowledge of the past which allows us to be moderns.  
    Eliot's influence in defining this tradition is also great: he helps to effect a shift of taste away from romantic poetry, and revaluates the metaphysical poets, Dryden, Jacobean and Caroline drama.  Dante is the greatest poet of history, "the most European, the least provincial."   Eliot was not particularly interested in what are usually called "the classics", the writers of Antiquity or those of the Neoclassical age.  "In spite of this ideological superstructure of classicism, Eliot's taste belongs to a line which could be called medieval-baroque-symbolist"  (Wellek, History  5:206).

    It is easy to imagine the upheaval that this imaginative and evaluative historical perspective would cause in the positivistic philology of the early twentieth century, when scholars were busy with factual data instead of their interpretation, and assumed quite naturally that the past comes before the present and quietly stays there.  However, Eliot is interested in this notion of the dead poets' society "as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical criticism"  ("Tradition" 15).  That is, he intends to use it to explore the nature of poetry, of poetic creation, to apply it as a guiding principle to the writing of new poetry.  

    This conception of tradition is suggestive and has been widely influential.  However, it favours a view of poetry being written in a void, or more precisely, only with respect to previous poetry.  Eliot considers literature as being ultimately beyond time.  The theory is only superficially historic; it reduces literary history to literary tradition.

3.  Impersonality

The poet, then, must renounce the shortcut to originality and surrender his individuality to tradition, to something more valuable than himself. Poetry is divorced form his personality: "The progress of the artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality" ("Tradition" 17).  Only in this way can he find his real self.  Like Hulme and Pound, Eliot conceives of poetic creation as a process of depersonalization.  Far from being a confession, an exhibition of the artist's intimacy, art enables the artist to escape from the obsession of his emotions and from his personality.   This is the opposite of the expressive, subjectivist theory of poetry which we found in many Romantics.  

    The poet must limit himself to be a catalyst of emotions and feelings that are played through him, while he himself remains impassible, without being consumed in the reaction.  He must be attentive to the quality of the poetic process, and not to his own emotions, because "the poet has, not a 'personality' to express, but a particular medium . . . in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways" ("Tradition" 20).  What is crucial is the nature of this combination, of the chemical reaction of poetry: the final compound, and not the bare elements.  It is the structure that counts, and not the origin or nature of the materials.  The emotions of the poet as such are uninteresting and irrelevant; they will count only insomuch as they become poetry.  The poetic emotions are not the psychological emotions experienced by the author before, during or after the process of composition.  They are the emotions inherent in the poem itself.  The two need not coincide.  The emotions which play on the individuality of the poet may be alien to his poetry, and vice versa.  Eliot plays down the quality of the emotion experienced by the poet.  It may be crude, simple or flat; the poet may still be an excellent poet provided that the poem itself is not crude, simple, or flat.  Eliot draws here a difference between the emotions of the poet and those in the poem:  
The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all.  And emotions which he has never experienced will serve his turn as well as those familiar to him.  
("Tradition" 21)

Poetical feelings are complex and general, concrete an precise; psychological feelings are irrational, vague and indistinct.  Of course, a poem deals with human situations, emotions, attitudes.  And inevitably a personality emerges behind the poem.  But these emotions, this personality, need not be those of the author.  Since poetry is an escape from personality, the best poems tell us nothing about their author.  At times he speaks as if the personality of the poet did not intervene in the composition of the poem.  The poetic experience is described as a chemical reaction in which the poet is only a "catalyst": he favours the reaction of the poetic elements but is not emotionally involved, he remains apart from the poem.  But in his practical criticism Eliot has to recognize that authors are not that impersonal.  Other critics will speak in this respect of the "implied author" or the "lyrical subject."  Eliot does not use the terms himself, but he shares the views: "Eliot's criticism uses often a standard of personality which is not, of course, the anecdotal, empirical personality but the personality pattern emerging from the work itself" (Wellek, History  5:183).  He even uses this personality which unifies the different works of the same author as a criterion of value.  He accepts that the emotions used in poetry may be the emotions actually experienced by the author, as long as they have been transformed: "out of intense personal experience," the poet "is able to express a general truth; retaining all the particularity of the experience, to make of it a general symbol." 

    Eliot recognizes that the right poetic concentration is not achieved by simple deliberation and is not completely conscious.  But he is more interested in rejecting the Romantic account of the process of composition, Wordsworth's "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings."  Eliot stresses instead the conscious aspect of writing, the importance of consciousness, of awareness, which is at the same time a flight from subjectivism: 
In fact the bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious and conscious where he ought to be unconscious.  Both errors tend to make him "personal."  Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of a personality, but an escape from personality.  But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.  ("Tradition"  21).  

The emotion of art is therefore impersonal: it is a matter of the poem, not of the writer's life.  It is not an outpouring, but a construction, an achievement.  And poetic tradition offers the poet a guidance in this escape from personality.  The poet "is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what is not merely the present, but the present moment [= importance] of the past, unless he is conscious not of what is dead but of what is already living"  ("Tradition" 22).  

    Writing is a compromise between the personal, creative and chaotic side of the writer on the one hand and his critical instinct, his awareness of tradition on the other.  "Probably, indeed, the larger part of the labour of an author in composing his work is critical labour."   The Romantics ignore this aspect of the process of composition; they do not want to accept the need of a regulative principle inside the human spirit.  They rely on the individual instead of tradition.  But for Eliot the individual as such has no principles—a belief that underpins his ethics as well as his poetics.   

4.  Autonomy of the Poem
4.1.  The Meaning of a Poem
4.2.  Organic Structure
4.3.  The Objective Correlative

4.1.  The Meaning of a Poem

The rejection of the authorial meaning is part and parcel of Eliot's theory of impersonality.  If the poet has retreated himself from the poem once it is finished, the poem becomes an independent object, autonomous and public, available to judgement.  The literary work of art lies then "somewhere between the writer and the reader; it has a reality which is not simply the reality the writer is trying to 'express', or of his experience of writing it, or of the experience of the reader or the writer as reader."  It is easy to see that unless some limits are set or assumed, there is no difference between this theory and complete freedom of interpretation.  Eliot, however, does not seem to worry about this problem.  He assumes that the objectivity of the poem is evidence enough of its core of meaning.  The poem "in some sense, has its own life . . . the feeling or emotion or vision resulting from the poem is something different from the feeling or emotion or vision in the mind of the poet."   That is, the poet is one thing and the intention, the idea of the author is another thing.  They must not be confused.  Only the first is relevant for the reader and the critic; the poem must not be interpreted or evaluated in relation to the writer's subjective experience.  The origin of the poem "has no relation to the poem and throws no light upon it."   Biographical criticism is therefore irrelevant: no amount of data about the author will explain the existence of the poem.  As we shall see later, the critical consequence of this view of the poem as an autonomous whole is that criticism must concentrate on the work itself, not on its causes or effects. 
    This separation of the poet and the poem has further anti-Romantic consequences.  The issue of the sincerity of the emotion becomes irrelevant.  If the emotion represented in the poem need not be the poet's own, the question of sincerity does not arise.  In fact, it does not arise for the reader if he faces the poem itself, without any prior knowledge of the author.  Eliot recognizes at first that our knowledge of the poet's insincerity of feeling affects our enjoyment of the poem.  But he soon becomes more concerned with what he calls "genuineness": he separates the sincerity of the man from that of the poet, the sincerity which is built into the poem and is the only relevant one.  The subjective, psychological belief of the author is finally irrelevant.  "Strength of belief has no relation to successful art" (Wellek, History  5:192).

4.2.  Organic structure

According to T. S. Eliot, a poem is an autonomous verbal structure, a dynamic organism with a life of its own.  It is a describable object, a symbolic world which is amenable to analysis and judgment.  The relevant objects of study are its meaning, the organization of the materials which constitute it, the relations between each of the parts and the other parts, as well as the relations with the overall structure of the work.  The object of study is the work itself, its immanent values, not the poet or the process of composition.  No amount of external criticism, of biography, of history, source studies, influences, psychological or sociological studies will be sufficient for the critic.  His proper job is to study the work itself.  Of course, the relevant emotions, the meaning of the work is a part of the work: Eliot is no formalist in this sense.  But "once we have dissociated the speaker of the lyric from the personality of the poet, even the tiniest lyric reveals itself as drama" (Wimsatt and Brooks 675).  Lyric poetry, the subjective genre, is objectivised by Eliot's ideal of impersonality; all art aspires to the classical ideal of the objective drama.  The feelings in lyric are not the feelings of the poet: in poetry there is simply the expression of an emotion through an object, not the expression of the author. 

    An instance of organicism is Eliot's discussion of the role of verse.  Eliot is vague when speaking of metrics, but nevertheless he insists that its relation to meaning is organic.  The beauty of verse is not the beauty of pure sound: sound and metre become one with the meaning of the words they organize. Eliot sees the poem as a "musical pattern of sounds and a musical pattern of secondary meanings of the words which compose it, and these two patterns are indissoluble and one."   The music of the word "is at a point of intersection: it arises from its relation first to the words immediately preceding and following it, and indefinitely to the rest of the context; and from another relation, that of the immediate meaning to that context to all the other meanings which it has in other contexts, to its greater or less wealth of associations."   Poetry aspires to the condition of music (here Eliot agrees with the Romantics) but it is a music of meaning, not of sound.  Actually, what Eliot is referring to is not music but the peculiar semantics of the poem, in which the value of the words is fully present and is moreover contextually overdetermined.      
    A work may fail to achieve an organic structure, a unified meaning of its own.  According to Eliot, Hamlet  is an artistic failure because Shakespeare has not succeeded in integrating all the materials of his sources and his own vision in a successful way.   The work shows that it is a product of various hands instead of being guided by one unifying principle.  It drags along a number of superfluous scenes and irrelevant motifs.  According to Eliot, Hamlet's melancholy is left unexplained; there is not sufficient motivation for it in the play, given Gertrude's insignificance.  Emotion is not adequately conveyed, it is in excess of the facts, it is not embodied in the play, but remains outside.  Most people would not agree with Eliot,  but here we are interested mainly in the critical principles he applies.  The relation between character and plot in drama should also be organic: "in great drama character is always felt to be—not more important than plot—but somehow integral with plot." 

4.3.  The Objective Correlative    

The theory of the objective correlative is inspired in the doctrines of evocation put forward by the French symbolists, as well as in Colerige and in Johnson's description of the Metaphysical conceit.  A passage in Santayana has been pointed at as the immediate predecessor: "The glorious emotions with which [the poet] bubbles up must, however, at all hazards find or feign their correlative objects."   Actually, the term "objective correlative" itself is unimportant.  Eliot seems to have used it literally only in the essay on Hamlet,  which provides also the clearest definition of the concept.  
The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an "objective correlative"; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.  ("Hamlet" 145)

An "objective correlative" is then a kind of metaphor for an emotion, a metaphor where the tenor is an emotion (or rather, a "feeling") and the vehicle is any literary device: a metaphor proper, a motif, a plot structure, a character. . .   For Wimsatt and Brooks it is "the verbal equivalent for states of mind and feeling" (668).  For Wellek, the objective correlative is the poem considered as "a symbolic world which [Eliot] thought of as continuous with the feelings of the poet, objectifying and patterning them" ; it is 
the right kind of devices, situations, plots, and objects which motivate the emotion of a character in a play or a novel, or even, as Eliot used it more broadly, simply as the "equivalent" of the author's emotion, the successful objectivation of emotion in art.  (History  5:192). 

The notion of the objective correlative is the logical result of the conception of the literary work as an autonomous structure and of the impersonality of poetic feeling.   The work provides the formula for a feeling particular to itself.    
    Eliot's own formulation is couched in terms which are surprisingly psychological and not so distant from the empiricist doctrines of the association of ideas.  Eliseo Vivas has criticised Eliot's conception of the objective correlative as not being sufficiently objective: Eliot assumes that the poet is in possession of an emotion that he tries to express, or that he intends an effect which is fully formed before he composes the work.  For Vivas, "the poet only discovers his emotion through trying to formulate it in words."   The poet and the reader need not feel alike; poetry is not to be conceived as the transaction of an emotion from the writer to the reader.  In general, however, Eliot is not guilty of conceiving poetry as a communication of emotions.  The doctrine of the objective correlative is concerned with an emotion which is objective, that is, contained in the work: the emphasis is put on the structure of the poem, and not in the emotion of the poet.  The emphasis is on an emotion which is not spontaneous, but mathematically calculated: we may usefully remember here the mathematical analogy in Poe's "Philosophy of Composition."  The stress on craftmanship is anti-Romantic.  Eliot favours bold images with the power to amalgamate disparate experiences (witness the opening of his "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock").  He sees imagination where Colerige saw only fancy: "in the verses of Marvell . . . there is the making of the familiar strange, and the strange familiar, which Coleridge attributed to good poetry." 

5.  The Dissociation of Sensibility

Eliot's version of organicism is part and parcel of a whole theory of history.  The idea of a dissociation of sensibility has a venerable Romantic ancestry: witness for instance Schiller's opposition between the material drive and the formal drive, and their unification in the play-drive.  It seems to derive more directly from Rémy de Gourmont's analysis of Laforgue's mind in Promenades littéraires.  Eliot transforms this individual description into a universal narrative.  Originally, the sensibility of the human being was unified: his emotions, his ideas, his sensations, were all channelled in the same direction, instead of running against each other.  Then, at a given moment in history, there occurred a dissociation of this unified sensibility.  Eliot usually locates the change in England and in the seventeenth century.   The metaphysical poets were able to think and feel in an orderly way: in them, there is an identity of thought and sensation.  In them Eliot finds "a direct apprehension of thought, or a recreation of thought into feeling."  "A thought for Donne was an experience: it modified his sensibility."   Eliot praises what he calls Cowley's "wit", a near-equivalent to the New Critical "irony."  "Wit" means range and comprehensiveness, a refusal to be one-sided, a suggestion of multiple perspectives on experience.  Wit is a "constant inspection and criticism of experience.  It involves, probably, a recognition implicit in the expression of every experience, of other kinds of experience which are possible.   But after the metaphysicals the dissociation of sensibility occurs.  The eighteenth century consecrates itself to abstract thought, and becomes unable to feel.  This leads to the opposite reaction in the nineteenth century, which is submerged by a wave of disorderly feelings.  In the poets of the Victorian and the Georgian age, we find a confusion  of thought and feeling, instead of a harmonic fusion.  Eliot's ideal is the restoration of this unified sensibility by means of poetry.  The artist "should have the unified sensibility which reaches from the most elementary response to the highest intellectual abstraction" (Wellek, History  5:198).   The poet of unified sensibility should be aware not only of truth and beauty, but also of good and evil.  Dissociation involves forgetting the problem of good and evil in poetry.  Some of the French Symbolists (Baudelaire, Laforgue) attempted the reconstitution of a unified sensibility, and they did that partly by reintroducing the problem of good and evil in poetry; only by dealing with moral problems and establishing a moral order is it possible to reunite the whole of man's personality.

    Eliot presumably aspires to write a poetry of unified sensibility, which in his case means also religious poetry.  However, "In the defense against Paul Elmer More's accusation that there is a cleavage between Eliot's correctly classical criticism and his perverse modernist poetry, Eliot endorses the strange view that in a chaotic age poetry must be chaotic."   His poetry would therefore be flawed as the whole age is flawed.  Indeed, Eliot seems to believe that the poet cannot help expressing in some way the time he lives in.  There is an uneasy relationship between this awareness and the timeless version of literature that he puts forward in "Tradition and the Individual Talent." 
    The idea of the objective correlative is also related to the theory of the unified sensibility.  "The poet becomes the man who returns to this original immediate experience, to a unified sensibility by objectifying his feeling" (Wellek, History  5:186).  Ideas must become feeling⎯even sensory experience: 
actually Eliot . . . exploits the ambiguity of the term 'sensibility' and conceives this fusion of thought and feeling as equivalent to a fusion of thought and sensation.  The metaphysical poets represent this fusion to perfection . . . .  The poet must both feel and sense his thought. (Wellek, History  5:187).  

The poetry of unified sensibility satisfies Eliot's and man's yearning for wholeness and integrity.  

    At times Eliot gives different accounts of the dissociation of sensibility.  He often seems to see the dissociation as a gradual process, or to locate it at other points in history.  It has, too, practical consequences for the historian of literature, such as the fragmentation of literary genres.  In order to read the novels of Wilkie Collins we must be able to reunite the elemnents that have become dissociated in the modern novel.  The Victorian novel reunited the thriller, the sentimental novel, the philosophical novel.  Now these elements have split into as many genres.  The subgenre of the "thriller" did not exist in the Victorian age because the best novels were thrilling.  

6.  The Language and Technique of Poetry

6.1.  Diction
6.2.  Myth and Symbol
6.3.  The use of convention.

6.1.  Diction

"Eliot in approaching a work of poetry thinks of it, first of all, as language" (Wellek, History   5:193).  An important mission of the poet is to restore and to develop language.  In order to do this, the poetry must stand in some relation with common language.  The language of poetry must not "stray too far from the ordinary everyday language which we use and hear."   Eliot favours "some standard of poetic diction, neither identical with, nor too remote from current speech."   The language of Dryden or that of Dante are examples of this balanced poetic diction.  Milton, on the other hand, is the example of the way the poet should not use language, tearing it apart from the common language.  "Milton", Eliot holds, "writes English like a dead language."   Eliot liked Joyce'sUlysses,  but not the baroque Finnegans Wake.  He rejects those styles in which language itself becomes the center of attention, instead of pointing towards its object; he warns against "language dissociated from things, assuming an independent existence." 

    The difference between prose and poetry bothers Eliot.  He wants to write prosaic poetry, which nevertheless is the contrary of Pater's poetic prose: a poetry which exploits the resources of colloquial language without ceasing to be poetry.  He does not identify poetry and verse; for him poetry is an honorific term.  He complains somewhere that we lack the the word to qualify good prose as "poetry" qualifies good verse.   However, Eliot justifies the use of verse, even in drama: "if we want to get at the permanent and universal we tend to express ourselves in verse."  

    Eliot defends two very different kinds of poetry.  The first is the poetry of images, the kind of poetry written by St. John Perse: "The work of poetry is performed by the use of images: by a cumulative succession of images each fusing with the next; and by a rapid and unexpected combination of images apparently unrelated."   The other is the poetry of statement, the poetry which preserves the coherence of a prose argument, with few images and a solid logical construction⎯the kind of poetry that Dryden writes.  And when speaking of long poems or of drama, he holds that there must be a difference in degrees of poetic intensity between the parts.  The less "intense" fulfil the role of prose inside the poem.  

    In any case, whether we write a poetry of images or a poetry of ideas, Eliot demands that poetry in our present-day civilization 
must be difficult.  The poet must become more comprehensive, more allusive, more indirect, in order to force, to dislocate if necessary, language into his meaning.  It is not sufficient to 'look into our hearts and write'.  One must look into the cerebral cortex, the nervous system, and the digestive tracts.  (Selected Essays  275-76)

As an example of this comprehensive and difficult poetry, he puts forward the model of the metaphysical poets; but in order to understand his meaning we must think of his own poetry instead.

    The reference to allusion is important .  Eliot became known in the early 1920s because his poetry was "so full of quotations."  Eliot uses fragments of older poetry, lines or passages from Spenser, Shakespeare, Dante, as an ironic device, in order to emphasize the difference between the ideal world of the past and the decayed world of the present.  His poetry, therefore, invokes a large number of world-views and implied contexts which are brought to bear on the poem.  Eliot's disgust with contemporary reality may be "a traditional literary device" (Sampson 853) but his technique to convey this disgust is new enough: it is only possible because Eliot exploits his position at the end of a poetic tradition.

6.2.  Myth and Symbol

Eliot sees the connection between poetry, myth, and ritual, but he does not favour the primitivistic interpretations of Jung or Herbert Read, or the latter's notion of "unconscious symbols."  Consciousness and unconsciousness are not the parameters in which symbolism functions: "If we are unconscious that a symbol is a symbol, then is it a symbol at all? And the moment we become conscious that it is a symbol, is it any longer a symbol?"   Eliot provides an unmystical description of the use of symbolism a a deliberate device to control the meaning of words.  Symbolism is for Eliot one of the main resources of the poet.  The poet turns the word into a symbol; that is, he makes it work as much as possible, uniting the disparate in the concrete, meaning more than it would in other kind of writing.  In Eliot, "Symbol is simply the rightly charged word and not a pointing to the supernatural" (Wellek, History  5:198).  
    Likewise, Eliot recommends myth as a method, a technique.  The role of myth in his poetry can be compared to that of literary allusion.  A myth can provide the framework of a contemporary work.  In this respect, Eliot praises the use Joyce makes of the Odyssey  as a reference basis for Ulysses: myth can be "a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving shape and significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history."   The artist is a user of myths, but he is not a mythmaker.  "The artist is more primitive, as well as more civilized than his contemporaries."   The artist is not bound to the remnants of the past: he encompasses the whole of history.  

6.3.  The Use of Convention

There are other conventions, apart from myth, available to the poet.  "Rhetoric", used by the critics of the Romantic tradition as a term of abuse, is revaluated by Eliot.   The conscious artificiality of a genre, its "rhetoric", is not a shortcoming, but a precondition for a required effect.  Eliot reacts against the naturalistic tradition in drama, and wants to recover the right for a character to speak in monologue or being aware of his own dramatic role, the kind of play inside the play that we often find in Shakespeare.  The rhetoric of the Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatic speeches is the result of a conscious delight in speech.  This is pernicious if it is done for its own sake, "if it is not done for a particular effect but for a general impressiveness" ("Rhetoric" 42).  Generic conventions must be used as elements of poetic construction.  They must become a channel through which to articulate the emotion in drama. Inarticulate emotion is, as always, Eliot's bête noire.   

    Eliot reacts against the dramatic tradition of Shaw or Ibsen, and calls for a more concentrated, more stylized, more intense drama, closer to the religious ritual which was at the origin of drama.  To the naturalistic drama of the late nineteenth century Eliot opposes the poetic drama he was to exemplify himself in Murder in the Cathedral   and The Cocktail Party.  Poetic drama he defines as "a design of human action and of words, such as to present at once the two aspects of dramatic and musical order."   An extreme example of the use of conventions with a view to reaching a particular effect can be seen in melodrama.  Melodrama does not arise naturally, in the way drama does: "we are asked to accept an improbability, simply for the sake of seeing the thrilling situation which arises in consequence" (Eliot, "Wilkie Collins" 467).  Eliot speaks of exploring the devices of melodrama, presumably to turn them to worthier uses.  

7.  The Function of Criticism

Just like literature, the body of criticism forms an organic whole, a society of dead critics.  There is an unconscious community between critics as there is one between artists.  But criticism is not autotelic, like art.  Its end is "the elucidation of the works of art and the correction of taste" ("Function").  
    Eliot insists on the need to adopt critical standards, to choose the principles of criticism.  He draws here a significant analogy between criticism, literature, religion and politics.  The English tendency is to Protestantism, to Romanticism, to individualistic, liberal Whiggery and to critical anarchy.  The French tendency is to classicism and Catholicism, to the establishment of a central authority and the regulation of taste: the Frenchman seeks external standards in the tradition, and does not rely on his inner voice alone ("Function").  All of Eliot's thought is pervaded by this classicist ideal: that we should refer our subjective principles to general laws, to avoid impressionism and vague moralism in criticism.  Eliot seems to have derived much inspiration for this from the French critic Remy de Gourmont.  

    In "Tradition and the Individual Talent", T. S. Eliot has sown the seeds of both his poetics and his critical theory.  Criticism must concentrate itself on properly literary matters, not extraliterary considerations.  Eliot calls critics such as the "New Humanists" Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More "imperfect critics" because their concern is primarily moral, not artistic.  He also reacts against impressionistic criticics, who are unable to establish critical principles, to formulate the general laws underlying their impressions, in a word, to objectify what is subjective.   Eliot's poetics based on tradition and impersonality has a direct bearing on his critical ideas.  It is the poem and not the poet who will become the center of critical attention.  Biographical criticism, or any kind of data concerning the circumstances of the work instead of the work itself are useless as an explication of the work.  The only relevant tools of the critic are comparison and analysis.  

    We have already seen that every poet has a critic inside him which is his connection with tradition and guides him during the composition of his work.  "The critical activity finds its highest, its true fulfilment in a kind of union with creation in the labour of the artist" ("Function" 31).  This is Eliot's backhanded way of showing criticism out of the literary scene.  If every poet has a critic inside himself, there is no need for other critics to show him his job. 

    There are more kinds of criticism apart from the one built-in in the poet.  Most of them are not legitimate.  The first is creative criticism,  the impressionistic criticism of Sympson or Pater⎯which is not criticism, in fact: "It does not count" for Eliot; these critics are actually frustrated, "incomplete artists."   Criticism must be subordinated to creation: autotelic, creative criticism is not to be accepted.  The second kind is historical criticsm,  scholarship, which again is not criticism proper; it is a legitimate activity in its own right, but should not be confused with criticism.  Eliot is fond of drawing a distinction between scholarship and practical criticism.  Scholarship is ideally concerned with facts; its aim is to interpret the meaning of the work in its original historical context.  Criticism is concerned with value judgments: its aim is to determine the meaning of the work for us, now; the use we can make of it; its significance to the modern poet.  This confrontation will be replayed again and again during the following decades.   According to Wellek, "making criticism serve only temporary ends while scholarship serves the permanent seems a specious conclusion based on a false dichotomy.  It pervades Eliot's criticism" (History  5: 178).  At one time Eliot claims that "the only genuine criticism is that of the poet-critic who is criticizing poetry in order to create poetry." "The important critic is the person who is absorbed in the present problem of art, and who wishes to bring the forces of the past to bear on these problems."   There is only one exception for Eliot: Aristotle, who seems to have been good at everything.  Predictably, Eliot was strongly criticized for these views.  They are unduly restrictive, both of the authors and the scope of criticism.  "Later he merely asked the critic to have some experience in composing poetry"  (Wellek, History  5:179).  But still Eliot rejects interpretation and judicial criticism.

    A further imperfect kind of criticism is interpretation.  When applied to criticism, Eliot's theory of impersonality makes him warn us against the dangers of critical interpretation: 
   it is fairly certain that "interpretation" . . . is only legitimate when it is not interpretation at all, but merely putting the reader in possession of facts which he would otherwise have missed. ("Function" 32).  

    Qua work of art, the work of art cannot be interpreted; there is nothing to interpret, we can only criticize it according to standards, in comparison to other works of art; and for "interpretation" the chief task is the presentation of relevant historical facts which the reader is not assumed to know.  ("Hamlet" 142)

Even irrelevant historical facts are to be preferred to allegorizing the work.  Even the critics who investigate Shakespeare's laundry bills are better than those who try to "interpret" the work and succeed only in interpreting themselves.  Eliot has a respect for factual scholarship that he does not manifest when facing journalistic criticism.  Facts cannot corrupt taste, but random opinons and fanciful interpretations can.  Just as the critic has no business giving advice to the poet on how to write, he has no business giving advice to the reader on how to read.  The critic, like the author, must be impersonal; his role is to attract the attention of the reader to the work, not to himself.  Criticism which draws attention to himself is vicious, and must be avoided.   Interpretation is not true criticism because it falsifies the work.  You lose contact with the work itself, and "instead of insight, you get a fiction."  Interpretation is deceiving because it limits the meaning of the work even as it claims to explain it.  Eliot does not believe in the possibility of a single or permanent interpretation: "every interpretation, along perhaps with some utterly contradictory interpretation, has to be taken up and reinterpreted by any thinking mind and by every civilization."   He looks on interpretation as "a necessary evil, a makeshift, a compensation for our imperfections" (Wellek, History  5:180).  We have already mentioned Eliot's conception of the autonomy of the poem, his rejection of the continued authorial control on the finished work.  The meaning of the poem is left for the reader to decide; it does not seem to be completely fixed in Eliot's conception.  "A poem may appear to mean different things to different readers, and all of these meanings may be different from what the author thought he meant."  "The reader's interpretation may differ from the author's and be equally valid⎯it may even be better."   According to Wellek, "Eliot is right in not wanting to lose this accrual of meaning", but this does not solve the problem of correctness, which was not really faced by Eliot (History  5:181).  

    Judgments of value are also forbidden in criticism.  "The critic must not  coerce, and he must not make judgments of worse and better."  He "must simply elucidate; the reader will form the correct judgment for himself."   These are, presumably, among the statements that we are not supposed to take literally.  Eliot "seems rather to protest against subjective and arbitrary interpretation and against the dogmatic ranking of authors."  Moreover, "the interdiction of judgment and ranking is completely belied by Eliot's practice.  Ranking, judging, was the secret of his success and appeal as a critic" (Wellek, History  5:180).  Actually, his idea of the poetic tradition, of the "absolute poetic hierarchy" that we must assume  presupposes the activities of judgement and ranking.  

    It is to be noted that in rejecting interpretation and judgment as tasks proper to the critic, Eliot is not dismissing them completely: instead, he is displacing them into the area of the reader.  What Eliot does is to suppress the mediation of the critic in areas where his judgment or his interpretation will be in conflict with those of the reader, who in any case would have to  judge and interpret again the critic's interpretation.      

    What is left, then, for the critic to do?  The aim of criticism is "the return to the work of art with improved perception and intensified, because more conscious, enjoyment."   This enjoyment comes from an awareness of how poetry achieves its effect.  The critic can explain the technique of the poet, the way he says things, instead of the things he says.  But Eliot's own criticism oversteps the limits he sets here⎯as all criticism should.

8.  Literature, Morality, Religion    

The early Eliot defended the autonomy of art.  The later Eliot subordinated it to religion.  Poetry is not actual religion nor an adequate substitute (Eliot always defended this) but in the later years it is seen as a preparation for religion.  The need of critical regulation we have been commenting on exceeds the purely literary judgment. Literary criticism must be supplemented by moral and religious criticism.    Because of this Eliot has been accused of upholding a double standard of value. 
Literary criticism should be completed by criticism from a definite ethical and theological standpoint . . . .  The 'greatness' of literature cannot be determined solely by literary standards; though we must remember that whether it is literature or not can be determined only by literary standards. 

 The New Critics will reproach Eliot that he has accepted the division in the first place and will keep trying to fit together the fragments of the work.  According to Wellek, Eliot speaks here "as if morality and theology were ingredients merely added to minimal aesthetic value . . . .  To accept Eliot's dichotomy of 'greatness' and 'artness' means giving up an organic point of view, establishing a new divorce of form and content" (History  5:190).  But Eliot refuses to subordinate the religious standard to a wholesale moral aesthetics, and insists on opposing two regulative principles.  He gave a name to this regulative principle when he declared himself to be a classicist in literature, a royalist in politics and an Anglo-Catholic in religion.   

    Morality is a constituent part of literature, and good literature must be moral.  We separate irrationally (and incompletely) our literary from our religious judgments.  Aesthetic and moral pleasure must not be divorced: a purely "aesthetic" judgment is an aberration.  Reading literature, Eliot argues, affects not only our taste but the whole of our being.  Therefore, Eliot reacts against purely aesthetic approaches to literature, and differentiates taste and morality: "For literary judgement we need to be acutely aware of two things at once: of 'what we like', and of 'what we ought to like'.  Few people are honest enough to know either."   We must learn to know what we feel and to understand our shortcomings, in taste as in everything else.    

    It is here that we meet the problem of belief.  The early Eliot had defended that belief in the ideas used by the poet is irrelevant to the enjoyment of poetry: "You are not called to believe in Dante's philosophical and theological views"; he draws "a difference between philosophical belief  and poetic assent" .   Later he will hold, perhaps more sensibly, that this complete separation is not possible: "One probably has more pleasure in the poetry when one shares the beliefs of the poet."   According to Wellek, "we are not always able to reach the state of disinterested contemplation that poetry demands" (History   5:190).  The truest philosophy becomes then the best poetic material.  The problem is that Eliot uses the Catholic dogma as the rule to measure the degree of truth or falsensess of ideas or philosophical systems.  Still, his theory allows a measure of distance in belief which is still acceptable and does not preclude the enjoyment of poetry: 
When the doctrine, theory, belief, or 'view of life' presented in the poem is one which the reader can accept as coherent, mature, and founded on the facts of experience, it interposes no obstacle to the reader's enjoyment, whether it be one that he can accept or deny approve or deprecate.   

Eliot separates here logical criteria from aesthetic ones, and once more he will meet the rebuke of Wellek, who thinks that 
coherence is an aesthetic as well as a logical criterion. . . The maturity of a work of art is its inclusiveness, its awareness of complexity, and . . . the correspondence to reality is registered in the work itself.  An incoherent, immature, 'unreal' poem is a bad poem aesthetically.  (History   5:191).  

    Eliot warns against the effects of bad art.  Literature affects our personality; it contributes to shape it when we are young.  The literature read for amusement may have the greatest influence, since it is read without effort and uncritically.  To read critically is to realize that literature is not a presentation, but an interpretation of life: another's  interpretation of life.  Literature only becomes knowledge when we consider it as another person's perspective on reality.  Unless we realize this we are in danger of letting our personality be invaded by the personality of the writer.  For instance, when the author in a novel condones the behaviour of some characters and condemns others, our judgment of those characters is affected by that alien viewpoint.  And the novel has become gradually secularized, alien to a religious view of life.  Indeed, contemporary literature as a whole tends to be degrading, since it has forgotten the supernatural side of man and concentrates on the inferior natural life.    Eliot complains that our age is the most parochial of ages: we read only contemporary authors, and forget the classics.  Today it is more difficult than ever to become an individual, since most people are simply caught in the main drift of modern culture which leads them to worldly values.  The Christian reader must be aware that most authors today are unbelievers.  Still more: they are unbelievers who do not realize that there are still believers near them.  The Christian reader may enjoy modern literature and profit from it, but he must know the place of others and his own.  
    Eliot deplores Arnold's conception of the end of religion and his attempts to substitute "culture" or literature for religion.  "The effect of Arnold's religious campaign is to divorce Religion from thought."   In this, Arnold was after all a Puritan.  He surrenders to a blind moral feeling and sees in Christianism only a source of emotions which do not need any belief to uphold them.  Eliot will likewise reject Arnold's double offspring, I. A. Richards conception of poetry as psychological balance, and the "new humanism" of Irving Babbitt.  Humanism is an offshoot of religion, it is dependent on Christianity, its values need the values of religion to uphold them.  Without its religious basis, humanism will lose its sense of direction: "You cannot make humanism itself into a religion" ("Babbitt" 475); "the humanist makes use, in his separation of the 'human' from the 'natural', of that 'supernatural' which he denies."  If the supernatural is denied, the opposition betwen man and nature collapses.  The logical outcome is Pater's doctrine of "art for art's sake" which actually means "feeling for feeling's sake", and can only lead to an irresponsible hedonism.  These attempts to turn literature or art into a kind of substitute for religion are the symptoms of the dissolution of thought which is in progress in the 19th century: "the isolation of art, philosophy, religion, ethics and literature, is interrupted by various chimerical attempts to effect imperfect syntheses" ("Arnold").  Arnold's religion of poetry is therefore a consequence of the dissociation of sensibility, a further symptom of decay.  Literature is not a source of ethical principles.  The humanist solution is a historical accident, which may serve for certain individuals, but which cannot provide the basis for society at large.  The life of a culture must stand on a basis which is firm and true, not derivative or nostalgic.
    There is no getting round the real issues.  We must face the problem of religion, of the meaning of existence, because all our actions depend on the answer we give to that question.  "There are two and only two finally tenable hypotheses about life: the Catholic and the materialist."   This is Eliot's diagnosis of contemporary society: it is confused, lost; it lacks orientation.  It is unable to educate young people.  Education must be related to the social system.  Our education deteriorates because our society is unsettled, and we have no clear notion of what we want.  The problem of education turns out to be a religious problem.  Education is dominated by the idea of getting on in the world, no longer by the wish to acquire wisdom.  Only technical efficiency and social promotion count.  Modern education focusses on scientific knowledge of the world and of man⎯which does not mean understanding of life or self-knowledge.  Eliot opposes the idea of "education for a society of leisure" and of raising up the school age as a remedy against unemployment.  He is also against the notion that everyone should reach higher education, that the university should be expanded to the whole of the population. These notions merely show that modern education has no clear aim: it neglects the questions of who  should be educated, and why.   The modern tendency, according to Eliot, is to let students develop their own interests, instead of being guided.  Studying things for which we have no taste or aptitude, he argues, is essential: in this way we learn to take an interest in them.  This is one of his arguments to defend the continued study of the classics at university.   Ultimately, Eliot argues, education must rest upon a religious conception.  "As only the Catholic and the Communist know, all  education must be ultimately religious education" ("Modern Education" 515).   Eliot concludes his critique of modern society with an appeal to the revival of the monastic ideal of the Middle Ages.  

    Eliot "looked complacently upon those who refuse to choose between Rome and Canterbury on the one hand and Moscow on the other (Communism is for him a religion) and who refuse to appplaud his glorification of an earlier state of British culture" (Wellek, History   5:220).  He did not decline as a critic after his conversion, but he did not solve the problematic relationship between his theory, his practical criticism, and his own poetry.  Instead, he refused to concentrate on literature and embraced extrinsic standards of criticism:
his interests shifted away from literary criticism and thus he was apt to use literature as documents for his Jeremiads on the modern world.  He embraced a double standard which dissolved the unity of the work of art as well as the sensibility that goes into its making and the critical act itself.  he thus weakened (on behalf of what he felt to be higher interests) the impact of his achievement as a literary critic.  Taken in its early purity his literary criticism seems to be very great indeed" (Wellek, History  5:220).

Works cited

Eliot, T. S. Selected Essays. 1932. 3rd ed. London: Faber and Faber, 1951.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. 3rd. ed. Rev. by R. C. Churchill. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1970. 1979.
Wellek, René. "T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)." In Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism: 1750-1950. Vol. 5: English Criticism, 1900-1950. London: Jonathan Cape, 1986. 176-220.*
Wimsatt, W. K. and Cleanth Brooks. Literary Criticism: A Short History. New York: Knopf; London: Routledge, 1957.

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Boater, and heron



Boater, and Heron

Boater, and Heron

Boater, and Heron, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Domingo, 06 de Enero de 2013 23:10. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

T. S. Eliot

From the Norton Anthology of English Literature (7th ed.):


Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, of New England stock. He entered Harvard in 1906 and was influenced there by the anti-Romanticism of Irving Babbitt and the philosophical and critical interests of George Santayana, as well as by the enthusiasm that prevailed in certain Harvard circles for Elizabethan and Jacobean literature, the Italian Renaissance, and Indian mystical philosophy. His philosophical studies included intensive work on the English idealist philosopher F. H. Bradley, on whom he eventually wrote his Harvard dissertation. (Bradley's emphasis on the private nature of individual experience, "a circle enclosed on the outside," had considerable influence on the private imagery of Eliot's poetry and on the view of the relation between the individual and other individuals reflected in much of his poetry). Later, Eliot studied literature and philosophy in France and Germany, before going to England shortly after the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He studied Greek philosophy at Oxford, taught school in London, and then obtained a position with Lloyd's Bank. In 1915 he married an English writer, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, but the marriage was not a success. She was highly neurotic and in increasing bad health. The strain told on Eliot, too. By November 1921 distress and worry had brought him to the verge of a nervous breakdown, and on medical advice, he went to recuperate in a Swiss sanatorium. Two months later he returned, pausing in Paris long enough to give Ezra Pound the manuscript of The Waste Land. Eliot left his wife in 1933; and she was eventually committed to a mental home, where she died in 1947. Ten years later he married again and, for the eight years that remained to him, at last knew happiness.


Eliot started writing literary and philosophical reviews soon after settling in London. He wrote for the Atheaneum and the Times Literary Supplement, among other periodicals, and was assistant editor of the Egoist from 1917 to 1919. In 1922 he founded the influential quarterly Criterion, which he edited until it cesased publication in 1939. His poetry first appeared in 1915, when The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was printed in Poetry magazine (Chicago) and a few other short poems were published in the short-lived periodical Blast. His first published collection of poems was Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917; two other small collections followed in 1919 and 1920; in 1922 The Waste Land appeared, first in the Criterion in October, then in the Dial (in America) in November, and finally in book form. Poems 1909-25 (1925) collected these earlier poems. Meanwhile he was also publishing collections of his critical essays, notably The Sacred Wood in 1920 and Homage to John Dryden in 1924. For Lancelot Andrewes followed in 1928 and in 1932 lie included most of these earlier essays with some new ones in Selected Essays. In 1925 he joined the London publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer, becoming a director when the firm became Faber and Faber. He became a British subject and joined the Church of England in 1927.




"Our civilization comprehends great variety and complexity, and this variety and complexity, playing upon a refined sensibility, mut produce various and complex results. The poet must become more and more comprehensive, more allusive, more indirect, in order to force, to dislocate if necessary, language into his meaning." This remark, from Eliot's essay The Metaphysical Poets (1921), gives one clue to his poetic method from Prufrock through The Waste Land. In the tradition of the of the Georgian poets who were active when he settled in London, he saw an exhausted poetic mode being employed, with no verbal excitement or original craftsmanship. He sought to make poetry more subtle, more suggestive, and at the same time more precise. He had learned from the imagists the necessity of clear and precise images, and he learned, too, from the philosopher-poet T. E. Hulme and from his early supporter and adviser Ezra Pound to fear romantic softness and to regard the poetic medium rather than the poet's personality as the important factor. At the same time, the "hard, dry" images advocated by Hulme were not enough for him; he wanted wit, allusiveness, irony. He saw in the Metaphysical poets how wit and passion could be combined, and he saw in the French symbolists how an image could be both absolutely precise in what it referred to physically and at the same time endlessly suggestive in the meanings it set up because of its relationship to other images. The combination of precision, symbolic suggestion, and ironic mockery in the poetry of the late-nineteenth-century poet Jules Laforgue attracted and influenced him, and he was influenced too by other nineetenth-century French poets: by Théophile Gautier's artful carving of impersonal shapes of meaning, by Charles Baudelaire's strangely evocative explorations of the symbolic suggestions of objects and images; by the symbolist poets Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. He also found in the Jacobean dramatists a flexible blank verse with overtones of colloquial movement: Middleton, Tourneur, Webster, and others, taught him as much—in the way of verse movement, imagery, the counterpointing of the accent of conversation and the note of terror—as either the Metaphysicals or the French symbolists.


Hulme's protests against the Romantic concept of poetry fitted in well enough with what Eliot had learned from Irving Babbitt at Harvard, yet for all his severity with such poets as Shelley, for all his conscious cultivation of a classical viewpoint and his insistence on order and discipline rather than on mere self-expression in art, one side of Eliot's poetic genius is, in one sense of the word, Romantic. The symbolist influence on his imagery, his interest in the evocative and the suggestive, such lines as "And fiddled whisper music on those strings / And bats with baby faces in the violet light / Whistled, and beat their wings," and such recurring images as the hyacinth girl and the rose garden, all show what could be called a Romantic element in his poetry. But it is combined with a dry ironic allusivness, a play of wit, and a colloquial element, which are not normally found in poets of the Romantic tradition.


Eliot's real novelty—and the cause of such bewilderment when his poems first appeared—was his deliberate elimination of all merely connective and transitional passages, his building up of the total pattern of meaning through the immediate juxtaposition of images without overt explanation of what they are doing, together with his use of oblique references to other works of literature (some of them quite obscure to most readers of his time). Prufrock presents a symbolic landscape where the meaning emerges from the mutual interaction of the images, and that meaning is enlarged by echoes, often ironic, of Hesiod and Dante and Shakespeare. The Waste Land is a series of scenes and images with no author's voice intervening to tell us where we are, but with the implications developed through multiple contrasts and through analogies with older literary works often referred to in a distorted quotation or a half-concealed allusion. Furthermore, the works referred to are not necessarily works that are central in the Western literary tradition: besides Dante and Shakespeare there are pre-Socratic philosophers, minor (as well as major) seventeenth-century poets and dramatists; works of anthropology, history, and philosophy; and other echoes of the poet's private reading. In a culture where there is no longer any assurance on the part of the poet that his or her public has a common cultural heritage, a common knowledge of works of the past, Eliot felt it necessary to build up his own body of references. It is this that marks the difference between Eliot's use of earlier literature and , say, Milton's. Both poets are difficult to the modern reader, who needs editorial assistance in recognizing and understanding many of the allusions—but Milton was drawing on a body of knowledge common to educated people in his day. Nevertheless, this aspect of Eliot can be exaggerated: the fact remains that the nature of his imagery together with the movement of his verse generally succeed in setting the tone he requires, in establishing the area of meaning to be developed, so that even a reader ignorant of most of the literary allusions can often get the feel of the poem and achieve some understanding of what it says.


Eliot's early poetry, until at least the middle 1920s, is mostly concerned in one way or another with the Waste Land, with aspects of the decay of culture in the modern Western world. After his formal acceptance of Anglican Christianity we find a penitential note in much of his verse, a note of quiet searching for spiritual peace, with considerable allusion to biblical, liturgical, and mystical religious literature and to Dante. Ash Wednesday (1930), a poem in six parts, much less fiercely concentrated in style than the earlier poetry, explores with gentle insistence a mood both penitential and questioning. The so-called Ariel poems (the title has nothing to do with their form or content) present or explore aspects of religious doubt or discovery or revelation, sometimes, as in Marina, using a purely secular imagery and sometimes, as in Journey of the Magi, drawing on biblical incident. In Four Quartets (of which the first, Burnt Norton, appeared in the Collected Poems of 1935, though all four were not completed until 1943, when they were published together) Eliot further explored essentially religious moods, dealing with the relation between time and eternity and the cultivation of that selfless passivithy that can yield the moment of timeless revelation in the midst of time. The mocking irony, the savage humor, the deliberately startling juxtapostion of the sordid and the romantic give way in these later poems to a quieter poetifc idiom, often still completely allusive but never deliberately shocking.


Eliot's criticism was the criticism of a practicing poet who worked out in relation to his reading of older literature what he needed to hold and to admire. He lent the growing weight of his authority to that shift in literary taste that replaced Milton by Donne as the great seventeenth-century English poet and replaced tennyson in the nineteenthy century by Hopkins. His often-quoted description of the late seventeenth-century "dissociation of sensibility"—keeping with and passion in separate compartments—which he saw as determining the course of English poetry throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is both a contribution to the rewriting of English literary history and an explanation of what he was aiming at in his own poetry: the reestablishment of that unified sensibility he found in Donne and other early seventeenth-century poets and dramatists. His view of tradition, his dislike of the poetic exploitation of the author's own personality, his advocacy of what he called "orthodoxy," made him suspicious of what he considered eccentric geniuses such as Blake and D. H. Lawrence. On the other side, his dislike of the grandiloquent and his insistence on complexity and on the mingling of the formal with the conversational made him distrustful of the influence of Milton on English poets. He considered himself "classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and Anglo-Catholic in religion" (For Lancelot Andrewes, 1928), in favor of order against chaos, tradition against eccentricity, authority against rampant individualism; yet his own poetry is in many respects untraditional and certainly highly individual in tone. His conservative and even authoritarian habit of mind alienated some who admire—and some whose own poetry has been much influenced by—his poetry.


Eliot's plays have all been, directly or indirectly, on religious themes. Murder in the Cathedral (1935) deals with the murder of Archbishop Thomas à Becket in an appropriately ritual manner, with much use of a chorus and wit hthe central speech in the form of a sermon by the archbishop in his cathedral shortly before his murder. The Family Reunion (1939) deals with the problem of guilt and redemption in a modern upper-class English family; it makes a deliberate attempt to combine choric devices from Greek tragedy with a poetic idiom subdued to the accents of drawing-room conversation. In his three later plays, all written in the 1950s,. The Cocktail Party, The Confidential Clerk, and The Elder Statesman, he achieved popular success by casting a serious religious theme in the form of a sophisticated modern social comedy, using a verse that is so conversational in movement that when spoken in the theater it does not sound like verse at all.


Critics differ on the degree to which Eliot succeeded in his last plays in combining box-office success with dramatic effectiveness. But there is no disagreement on his importance as one of the great renovators of the English poetic dialect, whose influence on a whole generation of poets, critics, and intellectuals generally was enormous. His range as a poet is limited, and his interest in the great middle ground of human experience (as distinct from the extremes of saint and sinner) deficient, but when in 1948 he was awarded the rare honor of the Order of Merit by King George VI and also gained the Nobel Prize for Literature, his positive qualities weere widely and fully recognized—his poetic cunning, his fine craftasmanship, his original accent, his historical and representative importance, as the  poet of the modern symbolist-Metaphysical tradition.



The Waste Land


This is a poem about spiritual dryness, about the kind of existence in which no regenerating belief gives significance and value to people's daily activities, sex brings no fruitfulness, and death heralds no resurrection. Eliot himself gives one of the main clues to the theme and structure of the poem in a general note, in which he stated that "not only the title, but the plan and a good deal of the symbolism of the poem were suggested by Miss Jessie L. Weston's book on the Grail Legend: From Ritual to Romance" (1920). He further acknowledged a general indebtedness to Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough (13 volumes, 1890-1915), "especially the . . . volumes Adonis, Attis, Osiris," in which Frazer deals with ancient vegetation myths and fertility ceremonies. Weston's study, drawing on material from Frazer and other anthropologists, traced the relationship of these myths and rituals to Christianity and most especially to the legend of the Holy Grail. She found an archetypal fertility myth in the story of the Fisher King whose death, infirmity, or impotence (there are many forms of the myth) brought drought and desolation to the land and failure of the power to reproduce themselves among both humans and beasts. This symbolic Waste Land can be revived only if a "questing knight" goes to the Chapel Perilous, situated in the heart of it, and there asks certain ritual questions about the Grail (or Cup) and the Lance—originally fertility symbols, female and male, respectively. The proper asking of these questions revives the king and restores fertility to the land. The relation of this original Grail myth to fertility cults and rituals found in many different civilizations, and represented by stories of a dying god who is later resurrected (e.g., Tammuz, Adonis, Attis) shows their common origin in a response to the cyclical movement of the seasons, with vegetation dying in winter to be resurrected again in the spring. Christianity, according to Weston, gave its own spiritual meaning to the myth; it "did not hesitate to utilize the already existing medium of instruction, but boldly identified the Deity of Vegetation, regarded as Life Principle, with the God of the Christian Faith." The Fisher King is related to the use of the fish symbol in early Christianity. Weston states "with certainty that the Fish is a Life symbol of immemorial antiquity, and that the title of Fisher has, from the earliest ages, been associated with the Deities whio were held to be specially connected with the origin and preservation of Life." Eliot, follwing Weston, thus uses a great variety of mythological and religious material, both Occidental and Oriental, to paint a symbolic picture of the modern Waste Land and the need for regeneration. The terror of that life—its loneliness, emptiness, and irrational apprehensions—as well as its misuses of sexuality are vividly presented, but paradoxically, the poem ends with a benediction. Another significant general source for the poem is the composer Richard Wagner, some of whose operas (Götterdämmerung ["Twilight of the Gods"], Parsifal, Rheingold, and Tristand and Isolde) are drawn on. 


The poem as published owed a great deal to the severe pruning of Ezra Pound; the original manuscript, with Pound's excisions and comments, provides fascinating information about the genesis and development of the poem. It was reproduced in facsimile in 1971, edited by Eliot's widow, Valerie Eliot, who also supplied notes supplementing those that Eliot himself added when the poem was first published in book form in 1922 and that are included with the present editors' footnotes to the poem.




Pre-Postmodernism in "The Waste Land"

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Foto de una foto de Wilfrid Branwell


Foto de una foto de Wilfrid Branwell

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Domingo, 06 de Enero de 2013 23:20. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Literatura en Internet en Internet


Literatura en Internet en Internet

Mi capítulo "Literature in Internet", del libro The Texture of Internet, aparece aquí en el Writing Technologies eJournal.

—Y también en el Information Systems: Behavioral & Social Methods eJournal


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The Deposition Scene


The Deposition Scene

From William Shakespeare's Richard II (IV.1)

(King Richard is being deposed by the rebel Henry Bolinbroke, thereafter Henry IV)

  BOLINGBROKE. Fetch hither Richard, that in common view
    He may surrender; so we shall proceed
    Without suspicion.

  YORK. I will be his conduct. Exit

  BOLINGBROKE. Lords, you that here are under our arrest,
    Procure your sureties for your days of answer.
    Little are we beholding to your love,
    And little look'd for at your helping hands.

      Re-enter YORK, with KING RICHARD, and OFFICERS  bearing the regalia

  KING RICHARD. Alack, why am I sent for to a king,
    Before I have shook off the regal thoughts
    Wherewith I reign'd? I hardly yet have learn'd
    To insinuate, flatter, bow, and bend my knee.
    Give sorrow leave awhile to tutor me
    To this submission. Yet I well remember
    The favours of these men. Were they not mine?
    Did they not sometime cry 'All hail!' to me?
    So Judas did to Christ; but he, in twelve,
    Found truth in all but one; I, in twelve thousand, none.
    God save the King! Will no man say amen?
    Am I both priest and clerk? Well then, amen.
    God save the King! although I be not he;
    And yet, amen, if heaven do think him me.
    To do what service am I sent for hither?

  YORK. To do that office of thine own good will
    Which tired majesty did make thee offer-
    The resignation of thy state and crown
    To Henry Bolingbroke.

  KING RICHARD. Give me the crown. Here, cousin, seize the crown.
    Here, cousin,
    On this side my hand, and on that side thine.
    Now is this golden crown like a deep well
    That owes two buckets, filling one another;
    The emptier ever dancing in the air,
    The other down, unseen, and full of water.
    That bucket down and full of tears am I,
    Drinking my griefs, whilst you mount up on high.

  BOLINGBROKE. I thought you had been willing to resign.

  KING RICHARD. My crown I am; but still my griefs are mine.
    You may my glories and my state depose,
    But not my griefs; still am I king of those.

  BOLINGBROKE. Part of your cares you give me with your crown.

 KING RICHARD. Your cares set up do not pluck my cares down.
    My care is loss of care, by old care done;
    Your care is gain of care, by new care won.
    The cares I give I have, though given away;
    They tend the crown, yet still with me they stay.

  BOLINGBROKE. Are you contented to resign the crown?

  KING RICHARD. Ay, no; no, ay; for I must nothing be;
    Therefore no no, for I resign to thee.
    Now mark me how I will undo myself:
    I give this heavy weight from off my head,
    And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand,
    The pride of kingly sway from out my heart;
    With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
    With mine own hands I give away my crown,
    With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
    With mine own breath release all duteous oaths;
    All pomp and majesty I do forswear;
    My manors, rents, revenues, I forgo;
    My acts, decrees, and statutes, I deny.
    God pardon all oaths that are broke to me!
    God keep all vows unbroke are made to thee!
    Make me, that nothing have, with nothing griev'd,
    And thou with all pleas'd, that hast an achiev'd.
    Long mayst thou live in Richard's seat to sit,
    And soon lie Richard in an earthly pit.
    God save King Henry, unking'd Richard says,
    And send him many years of sunshine days!
    What more remains?

  NORTHUMBERLAND. No more; but that you read
    These accusations, and these grievous crimes
    Committed by your person and your followers
    Against the state and profit of this land;
    That, by confessing them, the souls of men
    May deem that you are worthily depos'd.

  KING RICHARD. Must I do so? And must I ravel out
    My weav'd-up follies? Gentle Northumberland,
    If thy offences were upon record,
    Would it not shame thee in so fair a troop
    To read a lecture of them? If thou wouldst,
    There shouldst thou find one heinous article,
    Containing the deposing of a king
    And cracking the strong warrant of an oath,
    Mark'd with a blot, damn'd in the book of heaven.
    Nay, all of you that stand and look upon me
    Whilst that my wretchedness doth bait myself,
    Though some of you, with Pilate, wash your hands,
    Showing an outward pity-yet you Pilates
    Have here deliver'd me to my sour cross,
    And water cannot wash away your sin.

NORTHUMBERLAND. My lord, dispatch; read o'er these

  KING RICHARD. Mine eyes are full of tears; I cannot see.
    And yet salt water blinds them not so much
    But they can see a sort of traitors here.
    Nay, if I turn mine eyes upon myself,
    I find myself a traitor with the rest;
    For I have given here my soul's consent
    T'undeck the pompous body of a king;
    Made glory base, and sovereignty a slave,
    Proud majesty a subject, state a peasant.


  KING RICHARD. No lord of thine, thou haught insulting man,
    Nor no man's lord; I have no name, no tide-
    No, not that name was given me at the font-
    But 'tis usurp'd. Alack the heavy day,
    That I have worn so many winters out,
    And know not now what name to call myself!
    O that I were a mockery king of snow,
    Standing before the sun of Bolingbroke
    To melt myself away in water drops!
    Good king, great king, and yet not greatly good,
    An if my word be sterling yet in England,
    Let it command a mirror hither straight,
    That it may show me what a face I have
    Since it is bankrupt of his majesty.

  BOLINGBROKE. Go some of you and fetch a looking-glass.

 Exit an attendant

  NORTHUMBERLAND. Read o'er this paper while the glass doth come.

  KING RICHARD. Fiend, thou torments me ere I come to hell.

  BOLINGBROKE. Urge it no more, my Lord Northumberland.

  NORTHUMBERLAND. The Commons will not, then, be satisfied.

  KING RICHARD. They shall be satisfied. I'll read enough,
    When I do see the very book indeed
    Where all my sins are writ, and that's myself.

Re-enter attendant with glass

    Give me that glass, and therein will I read.
    No deeper wrinkles yet? Hath sorrow struck
    So many blows upon this face of mine
    And made no deeper wounds? O flatt'ring glass,
    Like to my followers in prosperity,
    Thou dost beguile me! Was this face the face
    That every day under his household roof
    Did keep ten thousand men? Was this the face
    That like the sun did make beholders wink?
    Is this the face which fac'd so many follies
    That was at last out-fac'd by Bolingbroke?
    A brittle glory shineth in this face;
    As brittle as the glory is the face;

  [Dashes the glass against the ground]

    For there it is, crack'd in a hundred shivers.
    Mark, silent king, the moral of this sport-
    How soon my sorrow hath destroy'd my face.

BOLINGBROKE. The shadow of your sorrow hath destroy'd
    The shadow of your face.

  KING RICHARD. Say that again.
    The shadow of my sorrow? Ha! let's see.
    'Tis very true: my grief lies all within;
    And these external manner of laments
    Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
    That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul.
    There lies the substance; and I thank thee, king,
    For thy great bounty, that not only giv'st
    Me cause to wail, but teachest me the way
    How to lament the cause. I'll beg one boon,
    And then be gone and trouble you no more.
    Shall I obtain it?

  BOLINGBROKE. Name it, fair cousin.

  KING RICHARD. Fair cousin! I am greater than a king;
    For when I was a king, my flatterers
    Were then but subjects; being now a subject,
    I have a king here to my flatterer.
    Being so great, I have no need to beg.


  KING RICHARD. And shall I have?

  BOLINGBROKE. You shall.

  KING RICHARD. Then give me leave to go.


  KING RICHARD. Whither you will, so I were from your sights.

  BOLINGBROKE. Go, some of you convey him to the Tower.

  KING RICHARD. O, good! Convey! Conveyers are you all,
    That rise thus nimbly by a true king's fall.

        Exeunt KING RICHARD, some Lords and a Guard

  BOLINGBROKE. On Wednesday next we solemnly set down
    Our coronation. Lords, prepare yourselves.

       Exeunt all but the ABBOT OF WESTMINSTER, the

  ABBOT. A woeful pageant have we here beheld.

  CARLISLE. The woe's to come; the children yet unborn
    Shall feel this day as sharp to them as thorn.


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El rotulador veloz

El valor de una idea depende (al menos en buena medida) de su difusión. Un vídeo de Abaco Digital, de autopromoción para la difusión de ideas, que habla por sí mismo:


Lo he visto en el YouTube de Ernesto Casasín.

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Lunes, 07 de Enero de 2013 19:20. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Une aigrette (impressioniste)



Une aigrette (Impressioniste)

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Lunes, 07 de Enero de 2013 19:22. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Buenas prácticas y buenas teorías


Buenas prácticas y buenas teorías

Nos pasa el director del Departamento un mensaje sobre "buenas prácticas departamentales" recordándonos a los profesores algunas cosas que en más de un caso tenemos olvidadas o descuidadas. Tanto que alguna ni la conocía yo: por ejemplo, que las vacaciones de los funcionarios son de veintidós días laborables al año—no veintitrés ni treinta. Claro que con los fines de semana de enmedio, los periodos no lectivos y el mes de agosto que según reconoce el director es "inhábil a la mayoría de los efectos" se nos quedan algo más generosas las vacaciones. También nos dice que debemos avisar en caso de enfermedad o inasistencia a clase por motivos urgentes, etc. etc.— guardar las horas de tutorías y ponerlas en horario conveniente a los estudiantes.... 

Hace poco tuve un caso curioso, de dos días que falté a clase por una cojera súbita que me dio. Dí aviso al momento, claro, pero no cogí la baja, que la tradición quiere que se coja (por cojera u otras razones) al tercer día. Pues le faltó tiempo al catedrático coordinador del grado para, sin ponerse en contacto conmigo para nada, escribirle al Vicerrector para denunciarme por no ir a clase y pedirle que me exigiese en qué días iba a recuperar las clases. Como digo, sin hablar conmigo para nada antes, que allí se ven las maneras y las intenciones. Sobre esto también debería haber buenas prácticas.

Otra cosa que dice el director en su mensaje de buenas prácticas es como sigue:

Como funcionarios públicos y trabajadores de la administración del Estado, nuestra jornada laboral es de treinta y siete horas y media semanales de trabajo efectivo de promedio en cómputo anual (B.O..E. 14 julio 2012) y como profesores del Departamento disponemos de un puesto de trabajo, más o menos adecuado, en el que desarrollar nuestra labor. Las peculiaridades de la labor del profesor universitario han de ser tenidas en cuenta a la hora de valorar su cumplimiento,

(—pongamos, por ejemplo, los cientos, los miles, de horas anuales que dedico a trabajar en casa, con material y electricidad que pago yo, pecata minuta, díganle a un fontanero que lo haga, o a una secretaria)

pero no deben ser utilizadas como excusa para cometer excesos. Las treinta y siete horas y media (o siete horas y media diarias de lunes a viernes) deben estar dedicadas a la labor docente, investigadora y administrativa. Ocasionalmente estas tareas se podrán realizar fuera de nuestro puesto de trabajo, pero éste sigue siendo el lugar principal para su realización. No se trata, pues de estar en nuestro despacho cuando tengamos horas de tutorías sino de estar en nuestro puesto de trabajo siempre que el resto de nuestras tareas no nos lo impida. En general, la ausencia de un profesor de su lugar de trabajo suele aumentar la carga de trabajo de los que sí están en él. La mayoría de nosotros tenemos circunstancias personales que pueden hacer difícil el cumplimiento de nuestros horarios, pero en eso no nos diferenciamos de los demás profesores ni de los demás funcionarios. 

Quién no podría estar de acuerdo, claro, con una cosa tan razonable. Aunque un ejemplo se me ocurre, si bien no diré nombres por quitar hierro. En veinticinco años que llevo rondando por este departamento, no diré que no he visto nunca un catedrático en horario de tarde, porque al Dr. Vázquez sí lo he visto varias veces, incluso numerosas, en la Facultad por la tarde. Pero los demás catedráticos, coordinadores y demás— en veinticinco años, ni un solo día los he visto aparecer por su puesto de trabajo por la tarde. Y esas son las prácticas que dan ejemplo de cómo se lleva una carrera universitaria con éxito. Porque ¿quién no querría ser catedrático? Que levante la mano. ¿Y hay que venir por la tarde para llegar a catedrático? Parece que no.

Como para ir danto lecciones y, es más, elevando quejas. Tampoco digo que venga yo mismo todas las tardes al trabajo cuando no tengo ni clases ni tutorías, por cierto. Para nada. Que antes venía más, pero las buenas prácticas no animan a ello. Sólo las teorías de las prácticas. Y tampoco visto lo visto voy a llegar a catedrático antes por venir mucho por el trabajo—ateniéndonos a la práctica de la práctica, el trabajo ese hay que hacerlo en otros sitios, y por la Facultad venir lo justo.


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Lunes, 07 de Enero de 2013 19:25. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Departamento

Two Poems of Darkness


Two Poems of Darkness





A Nocturnal upon Saint Lucy's Day, 

Being the Shortest Day

John Donne


'Tis the year's midnight and it is the day's,

Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;

    The sun is spent, and now his flasks

    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays.

        The world's whole sap is sunk;

The general balm th'hydroptic earth hath drunk,

Whither, as to the bed's feet, life is shrunk,

Dead and interred; yet all these seem to laugh,

Compared with me, who am their epitaph.


Study me, then, you who shall lovers be

At the next world, that is, at the next spring;

    For I am every dead thing

    In whom love wrought new alchemy.

         For his art did express

A quintessence even from nothingness,

From dull privations and lean emptiness.

He ruined me, and I am re-begot

Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.


All others from all things draw all that's good,

Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;

    I, by love's limbeck, am the grave

    Of all that's nothing. Oft a flood

        Have we two wept, and so

Drowned the whole world, us two; oft did we grow

To be two chaoses when we did show

Care to aught else; and often absences

Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.


But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)

Of the first nothing the elixir grown;

    Were I a man, that I were one

    I needs must know; I should prefer,

        If I were any beast,

Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest 

And love. All, all some properties invest.

If I an ordinary nothing were, 

As shadow, a light and body must be here.


But I am none; nor will my sun renew.

You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun

    At this time to the Goat is run

    To fetch new lust and give it you

        Enjoy your summer all.

Since she enjoys her long night's festival,

Let me prepare towards her, and let me call

This hour her vigil and her eve, since this

Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.












Lord Byron


I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars

Did wander darkling in the eternal space,

Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;

Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,

And men forgot their passions in the dread

Of this their desolation; and all hearts

Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:

And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,

The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,

The habitations of all things which dwell,

Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,

And men were gather'd round their blazing homes

To look once more into each other's face;

Happy were those who dwelt within the eye

Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:

A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;

Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour

They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks

Extinguish'd with a crash—and all was black.

The brows of men by the despairing light

Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits

The flashes fell upon them; some lay down

And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest

Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;

And others hurried to and fro, and fed

Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up

With mad disquietude on the dull sky,

The pall of a past world; and then again

With curses cast them down upon the dust,

And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd

And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,

And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes

Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd

And twin'd themselves among the multitude,

Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food.

And War, which for a moment was no more,

Did glut himself again: a meal was bought

With blood, and each sate sullenly apart

Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;

All earth was but one thought—and that was death

Immediate and inglorious; and the pang

Of famine fed upon all entrails—men

Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;

The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,

Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,

And he was faithful to a corse, and kept

The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,

Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead

Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,

But with a piteous and perpetual moan,

And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand

Which answer'd not with a caress—he died.

The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two

Of an enormous city did survive,

And they were enemies: they met beside

The dying embers of an altar-place

Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things

For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,

And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands

The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath

Blew for a little life, and made a flame

Which was a mockery; then they lifted up

Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld

Each other's aspects—saw, and shriek'd, and died—

Even of their mutual hideousness they died,

Unknowing who he was upon whose brow

Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,

The populous and the powerful was a lump,

Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—

A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.

The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,

And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;

Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,

And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd

They slept on the abyss without a surge—

The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,

The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;

The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,

And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need

Of aid from them—She was the Universe.







The Road, and Company

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Couples near the river

jueves, 13 de diciembre de 2012

Couples near the river

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Miércoles, 09 de Enero de 2013 08:53. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Estreno Dropbox



A ver si en efecto está disponible en Internet esto que acabo de echar a mi carpeta de Dropbox. Es myself cantando una de Dylan,

...—está, está. Una maravilla, Dropbox.

Otra. Home of the Blues: https://www.dropbox.com/s/934ijtguh4nmlp0/homeoftheblues.mov

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Miércoles, 09 de Enero de 2013 08:57. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

James Joyce

From the Norton Anthology of English Literature 

James Joyce was born in Dublin, son of a talented but feckless father who is accurately described by Stephen
joyceDedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man as a man who had in his time been "a medical student, an oarsman, a tenor, an amateur actor, a shouting politician, a small landlord, a small investor, a drinker, a good fellow, a storyteller, somebody’s secretary, something in a distillery, a tax-gatherer, a bankrupt, and at present a praiser of his own past." The elder Joyce drifted steadily down the financial and social scale, his family moving from house to house, each one less genteel and more shabby than the previous. James Joyce’s whole education was Catholic, from the age of six to the age of nine at Clongowes Wood College and from eleven to sixteen at Belvedere College, Dublin. Both were Jesuit institutions and were norJoymal roads to the priesthood. He then studied modern languages at University College, Dublin.

From a comparatively early age Joyce regarded himself as a rebel against the shabbiness and Philistinism of Dublin. In his early youth he was very religious, but in his last year at Belvedere he began to reject his Catholic faith in favor of a literary mission that he saw as involving rebellion and exile. He refused to play any part in the nationalist or other popular activities of his fellow students, and he created some stir by his outspoken articles, one of which, on the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, appeared in the Fortnightly Review for April 1900. He taught himself Norwegian to be able to read Ibsen and to write to him. When an article by Joyce, significantlytitled The Day of the Rabblement, was refused, on instructions of the faculty adviser, by the student magazine that had commissioned it, he had it printed privately. By 1902, when he received his A.B. degree, he was already committed to a career as an exile and writer. For Joyce, as for his character Stephen Dedalus, the latter implied the former. To preserve his integrity, to avoid involvement in popular sentimentalities and dishonesties, and above all to be able to re-create with both total understanding and total objectivity the Dublin life he knew so well, he felt that he had to go abroad.

Joyce was sent to Paris after graduation, was recalled to Dublin by his mother’s fatal illness, had a short spell there as a schoolteacher, then returned to the Continent in 1904 to teach English at Trieste and then at Zurich. He took with him Nora Barnacle, an uneducated Galway girl with no interest in literature; her native vivacity and peasant wit charmed Joyce, and the two lived in devoted companionship until Joyce’s death, although they were not married until 1931. In 1920 Joyce settled in Paris, where he lived until December 1940, when the war forced him to take refuge in Switzerland; he died in Zurich a few weeks later.

Proud, obstinate, absolutely convinced of his genius, given to fits of sudden gaiety and of sudden silence, Joyce was not always an easy person to get along with, yet he never lacked friends, and throughout his thirty-six years on the Continent he was always the center of a literary circle. Life was hard at first. At Trieste he had very little money, and he did not improve matters by drinking heavily, a habit checked somewhat by his brother Stanislaus, who came out from Dublin to act (as Stanislaus put it much later) as his "brother’s keeper." His finantial position was much improved by the patronage of Mrs. Harold McCormick (Edith Rockefeller), who provided him with a monthly stipend from March 1917 until September 1919, when they quarreled, apparently because Joyce refused to submit to psychoanalysis by Carl Jung, who had been heavily endowed by her. The New York lawyer and art patron John Quinn, steered in Joyce’s direction by Ezra Pound, also helped Joyce financially in 1917. A more permanent benefactor was the English feminist and editor Harriet Shaw Weaver, who not only subsidized Joyce generously from 1917 to the end of his life but occupied herself indefatigably with arrangements for publishing his work.

Joyce’s almost lifelong exile from his native Ireland had something paradoxical about it. No writer has ever been more soaked in Dublin, its atmosphere, its history, its topography; in spite of doing most of his writing from Trieste, Zurich, and Paris, he wrote only and always about Dublin. He devised ways of expanding his accounts of Dublin, however, so that they became microcosmos, small-scale models, of all human life, of all history, and of all geography. Indeed that was his life’s work: to write about Dublin in such a way that he was writing about all of human experience.

Joyce began his career by writing a series of stories etching with extraordinary clarity aspects of Dublin life. But these stories—published as Dubliners in 1914—are more than sharp realistic sketches. In each, the detail is so chosen and organized that carefully interacting symbolic meanings are set up, and as a result, Dubliners is a book about human fate as well as a series of sketches of Dublin. Furthermore, the stories are presented in a particular order so that new meanings arise from the relation between them.

Tha last story in Dubliners, The Dead, was not part of the original draft of the book but was added later, at a time when Joyce was preoccupied with the nature of artistic objectivity.  A series of jolting events frees the protagonist, Gabriel, from his possessiveness and egotism; the view he attains at the end is the mood of supreme neutrality that Joyce saw as the beginning of artistic awareness. It is the view of art developed by Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Dubliners represents Joyce’s first phase: he had come directly to terms with the meaning of his own developement as a man dedicated to writing. He did this by weaving his autobiography into a novel so finely chiseled and carefully organized, so stripped of everything superfluous, that each word contributes to the presentation of the theme: the parallel movement toward art and toward exile. A part of Joyce’s first draft has been posthumously published under the original title of Stephen Hero (1944); a comparison between it and the final version that Joyce gave to the world, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), will show how carefully Joyce reworked and compressed his material for maximum effect. The Portrait is not literally true as autobiography, although it has many autobiographical elements, but it is representatively true not only of Joyce but of the relation between the artist and society in the early twentieth century.

In the Portrait Stephen worked out a theory of art that considers that art moves from the lyrical form—which is the simplest, the personal expression of an instant of emotion—through the narrative form—no longer purely personal—to the dramatic—the highest and most nearly perfect form, where "the artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." This view of art, which invokes the objectivity, even the exile, of the artist (even though the artist uses only the materials provided for him or her by his or her own life), is related to that held by the poets of the 1890s. More widely, it is related to the rejection by the artist of the ordinary world of middle-class values and activities that we see equally, tough in different ways, in Matthew Arnold’s war against the Philistines and in the concept (very un-Arnoldian) of the artist as bohemian. Joyce’s career belongs to that long chapter in the history of the arts in Western civilization that begins with the artist’s declaring independence and ends with his or her feeling inevitable alienation. But if Joyce was alienated, as in certain ways he clearly was, he made his alienation serve his art: the kinds of writing represented by Ulysses and Finnegans Wake represent the most consummate craftsmanship put at the service of a humanely comic vision of all life. Some of Joyce’s innovations in organization and style have been imitated by other writers, but these books are, and will probably remain, unique in our literature.

From the beginning, Joyce had trouble with the Philistines. Publication of Dubliners was held up for many years while he fougth with both English and Irish publishers about certain words and phrases that they wished to eliminate. (It was one of the former who finally published the book). His masterpiece Ulysses was banned in both Britain and America on its first appearance in 1922; its earlier serialization in an American magazine, The Little Review (March 1918-December 1920) had had to stop abruptly when the U.S. Post Office brought a charge of obscenity against it. Fortunately, Judge Woolsey’s history-making decision in favour of Ulysses in a U.S. district court on December 6, 1933, resulted in the lifting of the ban and the free circulation of the work first in America and soon afterward in Britain.


Ulysses is an account of one day in the lives of citizens of Dublin in the year 1904; it is thus the description of a limited number of events involving a limited number of people in a limited environment. Yet Joyce’s ambition—which took him seven years to realize—is to make his action into a microcosm of all human experience. The events are not, therefore, told on a single level; the story is presented in such a manner that depth and implication are given to them and they become symbolic of the activity of the individual in the World. The most obvious of the devices that Joyce employs to make clear the microcosmic aspect of his story is the parallel with Homer’s Odyssey: every episode in Ulysses corresponds in some way to an episode in the Odyssey. Joyce regarded Homer’s Ulysses as the most "complete" man in literature, a man who is shown in all his aspects—both coward and hero, cautious and reckless, weak and strong, husband and philanderer, father and son, dignified and ridiculous; so he makes his hero, Leopold Bloom, an Irish Jew, into a modern Ulysses and by so doing helps make him Everyman and make Dublin the world.

The book opens at eight o’clock on the morning of June 16, 1904. Stephen Dedalus (the same character we saw in the Portrait, but this is two years after our last glimpse of him there) had been summoned back to Dublin by his mother’s fatal illness and now lives in an old military tower on the shore with Buck Mulligan, a rollicking medical student, and and Englishman called Haines. In the first three episodes of Ulysses, which concentrate on Stephen, he is built up as an aloof, uncompromising artist, rejecting all advances by representatives of the normal world, the incomplete man, to be contrasted later with the complete Leopold Bloom, who is much more "normal" and conciliatory. After tracing Stephen through his early-morning activitites and learning the main currents of his mind, we go, in the fourth episode, to the home of Bloom. We follow closely his every activity: attending a funeral, transacting his business, eating his lunch, walking thorugh the Dublin streets, worrying about his wife’s infidelity with Blazes Boylan—and at each point the contents of his mind, including retrospect and anticipation, are presented to the reader, until all his past history is revealed. Finally, Bloom and Stephen, who have been just missing each other all day, get together. By this time it is late, and Stephen, who has been drinking with some medical students, is the worse for liquor. Bloom, moved by a paternal feeling toward Stephen (his own son had died in infancy and in a symbolic way Stephen takes his place), follows him during subsequent adventures in the role of protector. The climax of the book comes when Stephen, far gone in drink, and Bloom, worn out with fatigue, succumb to a series of hallucinations where their subconscious and unconscious come to the surface in dramatic form and their whole personalities are revealed with a completeness and a frankness unique in literature. Then Bloom takes the unresponsive Stephen home and gives him a meal. After Stephen’s departure Bloom retires to bed—it is now two in the morning on June 17—while his wife, Molly, representing the principles of sex and reproduction on which all human life is based, closes the book with a long monologue in which her experiences as woman are remembered.

On the level of realistic description, Ulysses pulses with life and can be enjoyed for its evocation of early twentieth-century Dublin. On the level of psychological exploration, it gives a profound and moving presentation of the personality and consciousness of Leopold Bloom and (to a lessere extent) Stephen Dedalus. On the level of style, it exhibits the most fascinating linguistic virtuosity. On a deeper symbolic level, the novel explores the paradoxes of human loneliness and sociability (for Bloom is both Jew and Dubliner, both exile and citizen, just as all of us are in a sense bothe exiles and citizens), and it explores the problems posed by the relations between parent and child, between the generations, and between the sexes. At the same time, through its use of themes from Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare and from literature, philosophy, and history, the book weaves a subtle pattern of allusion and suggestion that illuminates many aspects of human experience. The more one reads Ulysses, the more one finds in it, but at the same tiem one does not need to probe into the symbolic meaning to relish both its literary artistry and its human feeling. At the forefront stands Leopold Bloom, from one point of view, a frustrated and confused outsider in the society in which he moves, from another, a champion of kindness and justice whose humane curiosity about his fellows redeems him from mere vulgarity and gives the book its positive human foundation.

Readers who come to Ulysses with expectations about the way the story is to be presented derived from their reading of Victorian novels or even of such twentieth-century novelists as Conrad and Lawrence will find much that is at first puzzling. Joyce presents the consciousness of his characters directly, without any explanatory comment that tells the reader whose consciousness is being rendered (this is the stream of consciousness method). He may move, in the same paragraph and without any sign that he is making such a transition, from a description of a character’s action—e.g. Stephen walking along the shore or Bloom entering a restaurant—to an evocation of the character’s mental response to that action. That response is always multiple: it derives partly from the character’s immediate situation and partly fro the whole complex of attitudes that his past history has created in him. To suggest this multiplicity, Joyce may vary his style, from the flippant to the serious or from a realistic description to a suggestive set of images that indicate what might be called the general tone of the character’s consciousness. Past and present mingle in the texture of the prose because they mingle in the texture of consciousness, and this mingling can be indicated by puns, by sudden breaks into a new kind of style or a new kind of subject matter, or by some other device for keeping the reader constantly in sight of the shifting, kaleidoscopic nature of human awareness. With a little experience, the reader learns to follow the implications of Joyce’s shifts in manner and content—even to follow that at first sight bewildering passage in the "Proteus" episode in which Stephen does not go to visit his uncle and aunt but, passing the road that leads to their house, imagines the kind of conversation that would take place in his home if he had gone to visit his uncle and had then returned home and reported that he had done so. Ulysses must not be approached as though it were a novel written in a traditional manner; all preconceptions must be set aside and we must follow wherever the author leads us and let the language tell us what it has to say without our troubling whether language is being used "properly" or not.

Finnegans Wake

Joyce’s last work, Finnegans Wake, was published in 1939; it took more than fourteen years to write, and Joyce considered it his masterpiece. In Ulysses he had made the symbolic aspect of the novel at least as important as the realistic aspect, but in Finnegas Wake he gave up realism altogether. This vast story of a symbolic Irishman’s cosmic dream develops by enormous reverberating puns a continuous expansion of meaning, the elements in the puns deriving from every conceivable source in history, literature, mythology, and Joyce’s personal experience. The whole book being (on one level at least) a dream, Joyce invents his own dream language in which words are combined, distorted, created by fitting together bits of other words, used with several different meanings at once, often drawn from several different languages at once, and fused in all sorts of ways to achieve whole clusters of meaning simultaneously. In fact, so many echoing suggestions can be found in every word or phrase that a full annotation of even a few pages would require a large book. It has taken the cooperative work of a number of devoted readers to make clear the complex interactions of the multiple puns and pun clusters, through which the ideas are projected, and every rereading reveals new meanings. It is true that many readers find the efforts of explication demanded by Finnegans Wake too arduous; some, indeed, feel that the law of diminishing returns has now begun to operate, and that the effort of both author and reader is disproportionate. Nevertheless, the book has great beauty and fascination even for the casual reader. Students are advised to read aloud—or to listen to the record of Joyce reading aloud—the extract printed here to appreciate the degree to which the rhythms of the prose assist in conveying the meaning.

To an even greater extent than Ulysses, Finnegans Wake aims at embracing all of human history. The title is from an Irish-American ballad about Tom Finnegan,  a hod carrier who falls off a ladder when drunk and is apparently killed, but who revives when during the wake (the watch by the dead body) someone spills whiskey on him. The theme of death and resurrection, of cycles of change coming round in the course of history, is central to Finnegans Wake, which derives one of its main principles of organization from the cyclical theory of history put forward in 1725 by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico. Vico held that history passes through four phases: the divine or theocratic, when people are governed by their awe of the supernatural; the aristocratic (the "heroic age" reflected in Homer and in Beowulf); the democratic and individualistic; and the final stage of chaos, a fall in into confusion startles humanity back into supernatural reverence and starts the process once again. Joyce, like Yeats, saw his own generation as the final stage awaiting the shock that will bring humans back to the first.

A mere account of the narrative line of Finnegans Wake cannot, of course, give any idea of the content of the work. If one explains that it opens with Finnegan’s fall, then introduces his successor Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, who is Everyman, and whose dream constitutes the neovel, that he is presented as having guilt feelings about an indecency he committed (or may have committed) at Phoenix Park, Dublin; that his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle or ALP (who is also Eve, Iseult, Ireland, the river Liffey), changes her role just as he does; that he has two sons, Shem and Shaun (or Jerry and Kevin), who represent introvert and extrovert, artist and practical man, creator and popularizer, and symbolize this basic dichotomy in human nature by all kinds of metarmorphoses; and if one adds that, in the four books into which Finnegans Wake is divided (after Vico’s pattern), actions comic or grotesque or sad or tender or desperate or passionate or terribly ordinary (and very often several of these things at the same time) take place with all the shifting meanings of a dream, so that characters change into others or into inanimate objects and the setting keeps shifting—if we explain all this, we still have said very little about what makes Finnegans Wake what it is. The dreamer, whose initials HCE indicate his universality ("Here Comes Everybody"), is at the same time a particular person, who keeps a pub at Chapelizod, a Dublin suburb on the river Liffey near Phoenix Park. His mysterious misdemeanor in Phoenix Park is in a sense Original Sin: Earwicker is Adam as well as a primeval giant, the Hill of Howth, the Great Parent ("Haveth Childers Everywhere" is another expansion of HCE), and Man in History. Other characters who flit and change through the book, such as the Twelve Customers (who are also twelve jurymen and public opinion) and the Four Old Men (who are also judges, the authors of the four Gospels, and the four elements), help weave the texture of multiple significance so characteristic of the work. But always it is the punning language, extending significance downward—rather than the plot, developing it lengthwise—that bears the main load of meaning.


James Joyce: The Trials of ULYSSES:


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Miércoles, 09 de Enero de 2013 12:20. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Tienda de Disney

viernes, 14 de diciembre de 2012

Tienda de Disney

Tienda de Disney by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Tienda de Disney, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Miércoles, 09 de Enero de 2013 13:10. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

The Hemingway Adventure



(Part of) a BBC documentary:

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Miércoles, 09 de Enero de 2013 13:12. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Microblog de diciembre 2012


Microblog de diciembre 2012

31 dic 12, 20:18
JoseAngel: Martes y dos mil trece, eso está pasando.
31 dic 12, 18:49
JoseAngel: Santa endorsing guns: http://www.robswebstek.com/2012/12/santa-endorsing-arms-automobiles.html
31 dic 12, 18:09
JoseAngel: El independentismo, un crimen aplaudido: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fawzg-12B22w0iGEBHxdnUy1zQN2d1WDXUTHr5vtjtk/edit
31 dic 12, 12:50
JoseAngel: Más sobre Nietzsche y el eterno retorno: http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/36488-the-flame-of-eternity-an-interpretation-of-nietzsche-s-thought/
31 dic 12, 00:34
JoseAngel: VPike: http://www.vpike.com?e=42.33043,-8.776878:23.07:Avda.%20Mar%EDn%2C%2062%2C%20Bueu
30 dic 12, 15:31
JoseAngel: Retrospection: http://www.scoop.it/t/retrospection/p/3906002367/nostalgia-por-el-futuro-vanity-fea
29 dic 12, 22:17
JoseAngel: Your Paintings: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/
29 dic 12, 18:29
JoseAngel: Sarah Brightman live in Vienna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQp-YjiE3zc
28 dic 12, 21:50
JoseAngel: NNTaleb on chance, serendipity and attention: http://edge.org/conversation/understanding-is-a-poor-substitute-for-convexity-antifragility
28 dic 12, 18:34
JoseAngel: Mejor ser becario en Facebook que catedrático en la Universidad de Zaragoza: http://www.ibercampus.es/articulos.asp?idarticulo=16356
28 dic 12, 10:21
JoseAngel: No estamos para inocentadas.
28 dic 12, 08:41
JoseAngel: Me está pareciendo que va a haber espantada en Bankia.
27 dic 12, 22:25
JoseAngel: Más sobre el origen del Universo: http://www.abc.es/ciencia/20121227/abci-nacio-universo-version-definitiva-201212271224.html
26 dic 12, 20:38
JoseAngel: Feist, The Reminder: http://youtu.be/R6N7imu9ncU
26 dic 12, 16:59
JoseAngel: Cuando estás de acuerdo con alguien en algo, ahí habéis encontrado la verdad, o parte de ella.
26 dic 12, 16:53
JoseAngel: El escritor y sus personajes (conferencia de J.M. de Prada) http://www.march.es/conferencias/anteriores/voz.aspx?id=2600&l=1
26 dic 12, 11:58
JoseAngel: Este es el año en el que llegó, creo, la última tarjeta de Navidad.
26 dic 12, 11:43
JoseAngel: Pachamama maya: http://cronicasbarbaras.blogs.com/crnicas_brbaras/2012/12/pachamama-maya.html
26 dic 12, 00:45
JoseAngel: Belén: http://perroantonio.com/2012/12/24/belen/
26 dic 12, 00:06
JoseAngel: Hoy de paseo por Sigüenza.
25 dic 12, 12:09
JoseAngel: Oyendo One Too Many Mornings: http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/search/label/One%20too%20many%20mornings
24 dic 12, 19:23
JoseAngel: Qué difícil es la dinámica de grupos social los días de Navidad. Por eso no me gustan las navidades, me estresan más que me relajan.
23 dic 12, 01:28
JoseAngel: Tengo cien amigos, dicen.
22 dic 12, 10:09
JoseAngel: Con la lotería salís PERDIENDO: http://www.europapress.es/sociedad/noticia-loteria-probabilidad-perder-apostado-loteria-navidad-casi-85-experto-20121222084003.html
21 dic 12, 22:19
JoseAngel: Demencia jurídica en España: UN MILLON DOSCIENTAS MIL PÁGINAS de nuevas normas en el año 2012.
21 dic 12, 15:52
JoseAngel: Ha salido el número 2 de Ctrl-Z: http://www.ctrl-z.net.au/journal/
21 dic 12, 12:47
JoseAngel: Comentario sobre John Donne (de hace 30 años): http://ssrn.com/abstract=2192436
21 dic 12, 09:27
JoseAngel: Salgo en el SSRN Classical Tradition eJournal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalBrowse&journal_id=997715
20 dic 12, 22:47
JoseAngel: Poe's Big Bang: http://garciala.blogia.com/2012/122004-poe-s-big-bang.php
20 dic 12, 22:23
JoseAngel: El nivel da miedo. Esto es una lección de democracia, votar a éstos... y éstas: http://t.co/kTwmzOGG
20 dic 12, 17:14
JoseAngel: Conferencia sobre Newton: http://www.march.es/conferencias/anteriores/voz.aspx?id=463&l=1
20 dic 12, 01:09
20 dic 12, 01:09
JoseAngel: Science&Literature en el Cognition & the Arts eJournal:
19 dic 12, 00:34
JoseAngel: Los Cuatro Jinetes del Apocalipsis, de Vicente Blasco Ibáñez: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2191185
17 dic 12, 19:53
JoseAngel: Vanity Fea on Evolution: http://garciala.blogia.com/temas/evolucion.php
17 dic 12, 18:27
JoseAngel: Sacks on Reading the Fine Print: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/books/review/reading-the-fine-print.html?ref=review
16 dic 12, 22:46
JoseAngel: Me enlazan la Bibliography en la Universidad del País Vasco: Biblioteca: Bibliografias http://t.co/i58lYV9S
16 dic 12, 21:42
JoseAngel: Seguimos actualizando Vanity Fea en Blogia, con cierto desfase. An Overview of American Literature:http://garciala.blogia.com/2012/121608-an-overview-of-american-literature.php
16 dic 12, 21:08
JoseAngel: Garcia Landa, Jose Angel: SSRN Author Rank: 3,300 by Downloads
16 dic 12, 13:32
JoseAngel: La depresión y enojo del hombre calvo: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/1677557/0/calvicie/impacto/psicologico/
15 dic 12, 20:07
JoseAngel: Intertextuality and Exoticism in Salman Rushdie's THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228174510
14 dic 12, 22:58
JoseAngel: The life of Virginia Woolf: http://youtu.be/2Hnlsh8WyPE
14 dic 12, 14:13
JoseAngel: Recortes de másteres en la UZ: http://www.unizar.es/prensa/noticias/noticias.php?noticia=35814&enlace=1212/121214_z1_periocortes.pdf&via=m&fecha2=2012-12-14
14 dic 12, 13:18
JoseAngel: Protesta contra los robos de los banqueros y políticos en la Puerta del Sol: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=kU70bfufMJc&feature=youtu.be
14 dic 12, 11:37
JoseAngel: Aspectos de la técnica narrativa en HARD TIMES de Charles Dickens: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2189362
14 dic 12, 09:31
JoseAngel: La refriega de las fregonas. Qué absurdos derechos. http://barrapunto.com/articles/12/12/11/1817215.shtml
13 dic 12, 22:05
JoseAngel: Pilamos un iPad en K-Tuin. Esto ya ni parece español.
13 dic 12, 21:21
JoseAngel: Pío Moa sobre la hispanofobia: http://www.periodistadigital.com/ocio-y-cultura/libros/2012/12/13/pio-moa-cebrian-tilde-insidiosa-reconquista-sandez-soberana-estupidez-pp-psoe-rajoy-espana-mas.shtml
13 dic 12, 18:45
JoseAngel: Homer in the Renaissance: The Troy Stories: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2188985
13 dic 12, 10:19
JoseAngel: A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day:http://www.unizar.es/departamentos/filologia_inglesa/garciala/materiales/poemas/Donne,Nocturnal.htm
13 dic 12, 00:21
JoseAngel: Canalla, falsario, manipulador: http://politica.e-noticies.es/duran-lamenta-que-el-castellano-sea-mayoritario-en-el-patio-70973.html
12 dic 12, 22:27
JoseAngel: Especiación y retrospección: El diseño inteligente de Vladimir Nabokov: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2188524
12 dic 12, 08:31
JoseAngel: 25 años del atentado de la casa cuartel de Zaragoza: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-12-11/editorial-de-cesar-vidal-11122012-52588.html
12 dic 12, 00:10
JoseAngel: Los británicos de raza blanca ya son minoría en Londres: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/1673784/0/raza-blanca/minoria-londres/inmigracion-censo/
11 dic 12, 09:52
JoseAngel: The History of Film by Larry Gormley: http://www.historyshots.com/film/index.cfm
11 dic 12, 00:55
JoseAngel: Josu Ternera ("el Sr. Urrutikoetxea" para el PNV) sigue protegido por las autoridades:http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/francisco-jose-alcaraz/malditos-en-mi-nombre-no-66696/
10 dic 12, 23:05
JoseAngel: Review of Nicholas Ray's TRAGEDY AND OTHERNESS: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228174230
10 dic 12, 20:12
JoseAngel: Estamos minimalistas.
8 dic 12, 12:00
JoseAngel: Acabo de subir «The Sad Cafe» a Vimeo: http://t.co/7BuXSBhJ
8 dic 12, 11:55
JoseAngel: "Filología, Lingüística y Teoría Literaria" en el Cognitive Linguistics eJournal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalBrowse&journal_id=1314047
7 dic 12, 18:07
JoseAngel: La Metafísica del Postmodernismo, en el Metaphysics eJournal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalBrowse&journal_id=950386
6 dic 12, 20:55
JoseAngel: La espiral hermenéutica, de Schleiermacher a Goffman: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228175059
5 dic 12, 16:39
JoseAngel: "An Apocalypse of Total Communication" en el English and Commonwealth Literature eJournal:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalBrowse&journal_id=949552
5 dic 12, 15:43
JoseAngel: Prohibido revertir la homosexualidad en California. No la heterosexualidad, claro:http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/1668203/0/california/prohibe/tratamientos-homosexualidad/
5 dic 12, 10:41
JoseAngel: Parece que en Ibercampus no quisieran sacar mi último artículo, sobre el Tribunal Constitucional. O están incomunicados conmigo, o se lo hacen.
5 dic 12, 10:23
JoseAngel: Primera asignatura impartida en inglés en la Facultad de Derecho: http://www.unizar.es/prensa/noticias/noticias.php?noticia=35477&enlace=1212/121204_z0_6.pdf&via=m&fecha2=2012-12-04
5 dic 12, 01:00
JoseAngel: La inmersión del negro entre los blancos, y el Catalán Obligatorio: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-12-04/editorial-de-cesar-vidal-4122012-52311.html
4 dic 12, 22:45
JoseAngel: Cataluña, gobierno de sinvergüenzas delincuentes.
4 dic 12, 22:40
JoseAngel: Acabo de subir «Heart of Gold» a Vimeo: http://t.co/7UyzWHXf
4 dic 12, 19:17
JoseAngel: Reseña de THEORIZING NARRATIVITY, en AccessMyLibrary: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-214102392/pier-john-and-jose.html
4 dic 12, 17:57
JoseAngel: Arresting Deconstruction: On Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's Cultural Criticism: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228174469
4 dic 12, 13:12
JoseAngel: Sale el vol. 33 de Narratologia: Antonius Weixler, ed., Authentisches Erzählen: Produktion, Narration, Rezeption (De Gruyter, 2012).
3 dic 12, 20:51
JoseAngel: The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau: http://thoreau.library.ucsb.edu/
2 dic 12, 21:13
JoseAngel: Los mangantes que nos gobiernan. No los votéis—ni a ellos ni al PSOE ni a los nacionalistas: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-12-02/sin-complejos-programa-completo-02122012-52214.html
2 dic 12, 17:22
JoseAngel: Thoreau, WALDEN audiobook: http://youtu.be/VcNccA9gu2g
2 dic 12, 01:42
JoseAngel: La metafísica del postmodernismo: http://www.unizar.es/departamentos/filologia_inglesa/garciala/publicaciones/metaf.html
2 dic 12, 00:59
JoseAngel: El lugar de la ética en la teoría crítica contemporánea: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2183732
1 dic 12, 08:32
JoseAngel: "Acting Quite Dramatically": http://www.unizar.es/departamentos/filologia_inglesa/garciala/z12-11.html

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Jueves, 10 de Enero de 2013 21:35. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Blogs

Mrs Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway.
Dir. Marleen Gorris. Screenplay by Eileen Atkins, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf. Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Rupert Graves, Natascha McElhone, Sarah Badel, Amelia Bullmore, Phyllis Calvert, Alan Cox, Oliver Ford Davies, Robert Hardy, Lena Headey, Michael Kitchen, Robert Portal, John Standing, Margaret Tyzack. Assoc. prod. Paul Frift. Prod. Des. David Richens. Music by Ilona Sekacz. Ed. Micheil Reichwein. Photog. Sue Gibson. Exec. Prod. Chris J. Ball, William Tyrer, Simon Curtis, Bill Shepherd. Co-prod. Hans de Weers. Prod. Lisa Katselas Paré and Stephen Bayly. First Look Pictures / Bayly/Paré / Bergen Film / Newmarket Capital / BBC Films / European Co-production Fund UK / NPS-Television  / Dutch Co-production Fund (CoBo) / The Dutch Film Fund, 1997.

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Jueves, 10 de Enero de 2013 21:36. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine

Filosofía de las relaciones

Conferencia de Gustavo Bueno:


Interesante la crítica que hace Bueno a la cosmología como ambiciosa ciencia del universo, ciencia frustrada e imposible según Bueno. Aquí disiento—aun estando de acuerdo con él en su crítica a las cosmologías variables y gratuitas. Tenemos que partir de una ciencia de la realidad humana (incluyendo las relaciones humanas) y fundar sobre esa ciencia el conocimiento del universo o los universos que la rodean. La realidad inmediata es la realidad fundamental. Pero sobre ella sí se funda una ciencia global del universo, y una ciencia de las distintas maneras de pensar el universo, y de la ubicación de los mundos imaginarios humanos en relación unos a otros.

Es bueno Bueno señalando contradicciones e incoherencias, pero hay que pasar por alto sus propios maximalismos y contradicciones. O apreciaciones selectivas. Por ejemplo, la idea monista de Parménides es contradictoria, pero esto no lo dice Bueno. Si el Ser es uno y uniforme, y no relacional, no puede tener forma de esfera—ni forma alguna, de hecho—cosa que parece evidente, aunque no a Parménides. (Y a Bueno... ¡según le dé el viento!).

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Jueves, 10 de Enero de 2013 21:38. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Filosofía

E. E. Cummings


E. E. Cummings

E[dward] E[stlin] Cummings (1894-1962), born in Cambridge, Mass., after receiving his A.B. (1915) and M.A. (1916) from Harvard joined the service of the American volunteer Norton Harjes Ambulance Corps in France before the U.S. entered World War I, and in 1917 was confined for several months in a French concentration camp on an unfounded charge of treasonable correspondence. This experience provided the basis for his first book, The Enormous Room (1922), a prose narrative of poetic and personal perception. His first book of poetry, Tulips and Chimneys (1923), followed by & (1925), XLI Poems (1925), and is 5 (1926, substantially augmented in a reprint of 1985), clearly established his individual voice and tone. The poems show his transcendental faith in a world where the self-reliant, joyful, loving individual is beautifully alife but in which mass man, or the man who lives by mind alone, without heart and soul, is dead. The true individual Cummings praised, often reverently and with freshness of spirit and idiom, but the "unman" was satirized as Cummings presented witty, bitter parodies of and attacks on the patriotic and cultural platitudes and shibboleths of the "unworld." This poetry is marked by experimental word coinages, shifting of grammar, blending of established stanzaic forms and free verse, flamboyant punning, typographic distortion, unusual punctuation, and idiosyncratic division of words, all of which became integral to the ideas and rhythms of his relatively brief lyrics. These he continued to write with subtlety of technique and sensitivity of feeling and to publish in ViVa (1931), No Thanks(1935), I/20 (1936), Collected Poems (1938), 50 poems (1940), I x I (1944), Xaire (1950), Poems: 1923-1954 (1954), 95 Poems (1958), and the posthumously collected 73 Poems (1963). His other works are him (1927), an expressionist drama in verse and prose, with kaleidoscopic scenes dashing from comedy to tragedy; a book which bears no title (1930); Eimi (1933), a travel diary utilizing the techniques of his poetry and violently attacking the regimentation of individuals in the U.S.S.R;  Tom(1935), a satirical ballet based on Uncle Tom's Cabin; CIOPW (1931), drawings and paintings showing his ability in charcoal, ink, oil, pencil, and watercolor; Anthropos, The Future of Art (1944); Santa Claus(1946), a morality play; and i (1954), "six nonlectures" delivered at Harvard.

Eimi, travel narrative by E. E. Cummings of his 36-day visit to the Soviet Union, published in 1933. This long prose work employs the techniques of his poetry and, like it, also celebrates the individual of the title (Greek, "I am"), and with wit and vigor attacks the regimentation of people in the USSR.


E. E. Cummings (Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia)


A Leaf


Una hoja que se escapaba 

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Jueves, 10 de Enero de 2013 21:39. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes




Pegatinas by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Pegatinas, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.


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Jueves, 10 de Enero de 2013 21:40. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

La idea de la Guerra desde el materialismo filosófico

Tiene Bueno una idea de lo que es el Estado demasiado idealizada, como si fuese un sistema racional en el que se puede fundamentar el Derecho, etc.  Como si no hubiese contradicciones objetivas también en los Estados.

Desacredita también a la etología como la filosofía última de la guerra, sólo porque hay otras perspectivas no reducibles a ella. Pero es que hay unas perspectivas más básicas o fundamentales que otras, y la economía, religión, economía, teoría militar, estratética, etc. de la guerra, han de explicarse con una comprensión previa de la etología humana. La teoría del cierre categorial, si se entiende como una manera de aislar las disciplinas en sí mismas, sin atender a la fundamentación de unas explicaciones en el marco de otras, tendrá unas limitaciones inherentes.  Eso mismo le lleva a rechazar acertadamente carácter trascendental o metafísico a la categoría de la guerra, que la saca absurdamente de su propia definición en el nivel de fundamentación que le corresponde propiamente, distinguiendo entre usos literales y metafóricos.  Pero el lugar donde la ubica propiamente es como fenómeno político, con lo cual restringe inadecuadamente (e incoherentemente) su análisis, e impide conceptualizar la violencia de grupo más allá de la categoría del Estado.

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Viernes, 11 de Enero de 2013 17:05. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Filosofía

Especiación y retrospección


Especiación y retrospección

Un estudio sobre algunos elementos narrativos y retrospectivos en biología evolutiva, en dos partes:

1) Especiación y retrospección: Darwin en el retrovisor
2) Especiación y retrospección: El diseño inteligente de Vladimir Nabokov

El segundo artículo acaba de aparecer en el American Literature eJournaldel SSRN.

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Viernes, 11 de Enero de 2013 17:07. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Evolución

Una rama iluminada


Una rama iluminada

Una rama iluminada by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Una rama iluminada, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Viernes, 11 de Enero de 2013 18:25. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

El lugar de la ética en la teoría literaria contemporánea


El lugar de la ética en la teoría literaria contemporánea

Una ponencia que presenté en una mesa redonda sobre este tema en un congreso de AEDEAN a finales de 2001, y que ahora he subido al SSRN:

"El lugar de la ética en la teoría crítica contemporánea." En Net Sight de JAGL (2004):
_____. "El lugar de la ética en la teoría crítica contemporánea." Social Science Research Network 1 Dec. 2012.*
Literary Theory and Criticism eJournal:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalBrowse&journal_id=949618
Ethics eJournal

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'Bloomsbury' and Beyond: Strachey, Woolf, and Mansfield


'Bloomsbury' and Beyond: Strachey, Woolf, and Mansfield

From The Short Oxford History of English Literature, by Andrew Sanders: 

When the narrator of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited goes up to Oxford as an undergraduate in 1922 he decorates his college rooms with objects indicative of his 'advanced' but essentially derivative taste. Charles Ryder hangs up a reproduction of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, a painting which had been shown at the first Post-Impressionist exhibition, and he displays a screen painted by Roger Fry that he has acquired at the closing sale at Fry's pioneering Omega Workshops (a byword for the clumsily experimental interior design of the period). He also shows off a collection of books which he later embarrassedly describes as 'meagre and commonplace.' These books include volumes of Georgian Poetry (the last in the series of which had just appeared), once popular and mildly sensational novels by Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972) and Norman Douglas (1868-1952), Roger Fry'sVision and Design of 1920 and Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians of 1918. These last two volumes, issued in a similar popular format in the early 1920s, are the clearest signals of the extent to which the young Ryder has been influenced by the canons of taste enunciated by the group of writers and artists who have come to be known as the 'Bloomsbury Group'. bloomsbury

'Bloomsbury' was never a formal grouping. Its origins lay in male frienships in late nineteenth-century Cambridge; in the early 1900s it found a focus in the Gordon Square house of the children of Leslie Stephen in unfashionable Bloomsbury; it was only with the formation of the 'Memoir Club' in 1920 that it loosely defined the limits of its friendships, relationships, and sympathies. The 'Memoir Club' originally centred on Leslie Stephen's two daughters Virginia and Vanessa, their husbands Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell, and their friends and neighbours Desmond and Molly MacCarthy, Duncan Grant, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, and John Maynard Keynes. The group was linked by what Clive Bell later called 'a taste for discussion in the pursuit of truth and a contempt for conventional ways of thinking and feeling, contempt for conventional morals if you will'. Their discussions combined tolerant agnosticism with cultural dogmatism, progressive rationality with social snobbery, practical jokes with refined self-advertisement.  When in 1928 Bell (1881-1964) attempted to define 'Civilization' (in a book of that name) he identified an aggrandized Bloomsbury ideal in the douceur de vivre and witty iconoclasm of the France of the Enlightenment (though, as Virginia Woolf commented, 'in the end it turns out that civiliztion is a lunch party at No 50 Gordon Square'). To its friends 'Bloomsbury' offered a prevision of a relaxed, permissive and élitist future; to its enemies, like the once patronized and later estranged D. H. Lawrence, it was a tight little world peopled by upper-middle-class 'black beetles'.

The prime 'Bloomsbury' text, Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, suggests that it is easier to see what the group did not represent than what it did. Strachey's book struck a sympathetic chord with both his friends and the public at large. Eminent Victorians (1918), a collection of four succint biographies of Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Arnold, and General Gordon, seemed to many readers to deliver the necessary coup de grâce to the false ideals and empty heroism of the nineteenth century. These were principles which seemed to have been tried on the Western Front and found disastrously wanting. Strachey (1880-1932) does not so much mock his subjects as let them damn themselves in the eyes of their more enlightened successors. He works not by frontal assault by by means of the sapping innuendo and the carefully placed, explosive epigram. His models, like Bell's, are the Voltaireand conversationalists of the Paris salons of the eighteenth century, not the earnest Carlylean lectures of Victorian London. When, for example, he speculates about Florence Nightingale's conception of God he jests that 'she felt towards Him as she might have felt towards a glorified sanitary engineer'. In a review written in 1909 Strachey had endorsed the idea that 'the first duty of a great historian is to be an artist'. As his later studies of Queen Victoria (1921) and of Elizabeth and Essex (1928) suggest, Strachey was neither a great historian nor, ultimately, a great biographer, but he was undoubtedly an innovative craftsman. The 'art' of biography has never been quite the same since. It is not simply that he was an iconoclast; he was the master of a prose of elegant disenchantment. His age, if it did not always cultivate elegance, readily understood disenchantment.

Strachey's biographies challenged the conventional wisdom of interpretation. They sprang, like the disparate essays assembled in Roger Fry's Vision and Design, from an urge to establish a new way of seeing and observing which was distinct from the stuffy pieties of the Victorians. Fry's title carefully avoids the word 'form', but it is that word, linked to the crucially qualifying adjective 'significant', which weaves, by direct reference and by implication, in and out of the twenty-five short essays. Although Vision and Design is primarily dedicated to reconsiderations of painting and sculpture, the implications of its theoretical formulations for the experimental fiction of Virginia Woolf are considerable. In his 'Essays in Aesthetics' Fry distinguishes between 'instinctive reactions to sensible objects' and the peculiarly human faculty of 'calling up again . . . the echo of past experiences' in the imagination. The 'whole consciousness', he argues, 'may be focussed upon the perceptive and the emotional aspects of the experience' and thus produced in the imaginative life 'a different set of values, and a different kind of perception'. As the 'chief organ of teh imaginative life' Art works by a set of values distinct from those of pure representation. When he specifically returns to his argument in the book's final 'Retrospect' Fry offers a further definition of the term 'significant form'  as 'something other than agreeable arrangements of form, harmonious patterns, and the like'. A work of art possessing this elusive, and seemingly indefinable quality implies, he asserts, 'the effort on the part of the artist to bend to our emotional understanding by means of his passionate conviction some intractable material which is alien to our spirit'.

Virginia Woolf's criticism distils and reapplies Bell's and Fry's aesthetic ideas as a means of arguing for the potential freedom of the novel from commonly received understandings of plot, time, and identity. In discussing the revision of traditional modes of representation in her essay 'Modern Fiction', Woolf (1882-1941) insists that each day 'the mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel'. The novelist, attempting to work with this 'incessant shower of innumerable atoms', is forced to recognize that 'if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention', there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe 'in the accepted style'. The task of the future novelist, Woolf therefore suggests, is to convey an impression of the 'luminous halo' of life—'this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit'—with as little mixture of the 'alien and external' as possible. What Woolf seeks to defend in her essays is not necessarily a new range of subjects for the novel, but new ways of rendering and designing the novel. She does more than present a challenge to the received idea of realism; she reaches out to a new aesthetic of realism. Essentially, she defines her own work, and that of contermporaries, such as Lawrence and Joyce, against the example of the Edwardian 'materialists' (and Arnold Bennett in particular) who, to her mind, laid too great a stress on 'the fabric of things'. Not only did they weigh their fiction down with a plethora of external detail, they too readily accepted the constraints of conventional obedience to 'plot' and sequential development. Much as Roger Fry had seen the liberated artist 'bending' intractable material into significance, Woolf insists that the twentieth-century novelist could evolve a new fictional form out of a representation of the 'myriad impressions' which daily impose themselves on the human consciousness.

As Virginia Woolf's fictional style developed beyond the relatively conventional parameters of The Voyage Out(1915) to the experimental representations of consciousness in Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931), specific characterization recedes and the detailed exploration of the individual identity tends to melt into a larger and freer expression. The discontinuities, fragmentations, and disintegrations which her avant-garde artistic contemporaries observed in both the external and the spiritual world become focused for Woolf in the idea, noted in her diary in 1924, of character 'dissipated into shreds'. Her novels attempt both to 'dissipate' character and to reintegrate human experience within an aesthetic shape or 'form'. She seeks to represent the nature of transient sensation, or of conscious and unconscious mental activity, and then to relate it outwards to a more universal awareness of pattern and rhythm. The momentary reaction, the impermanent emotion, the ephemeral stimulus, the random suggestion, and the dissociated thought are effectively 'bent' into a stylistic relationship to something coherent and structured. A 'coherence in things' is what Mrs Ramsay recognizes in a visionary, and quasi-religious, moment of peace in To the Lighthouse as 'as stability . . . something . . . immune from change'. The supposedly random picture of the termporal in Woolf's later fiction is also informed and 'interpreted' by the invocation of the permanent and universal, much as the 'arbitrary' in nature was 'interpreted' with reference to post-Darwinian science, or the complexities of the human psyche unravelled by the application of newly fashionable Freudian theory. Although her characters may often seem to be dissolved into little more than ciphers, what they come to signify is part of a complex iconographic discourse. In the instances of To the Lighthouse and The Waves the glancing insights into the identities of characters are complemented by larger symbols (a flickering lightouse or moving water) which are allowed to be both temporary and permanent, both 'real' and resonant, both constant and fluctuating. The fictional whole thus become a normative expression of certain Modernist themes and modes. Woolf's particular preoccupation with time is closely related to her manifest interest in flux, a dissolution or dissipation of distinctions within a fluid pattern of change and decay, which she recognizes in nature and science as much as in the human psyche.

The informing presence of women characters with an aesthetic propensity, or of particular women artists, serves to moderate and condition the larger ambitions of the narratives in which they appear. Although Virginia Woolf rarely directly echoes the insistent narrative voice of a George Eliot, her own work does reflect what she recognized in her pioneer essay on Eliot (1925) as a tendency to introduce characters who stand for 'that troubled spirit, that exacting and questioning and baffled presence' of the novelist herself. If neither Lily Briscoe nor Miss La Trobe possess the cultural significance of a Romola or a Dorothea, both are allowed, as amateur artists, to act out the ordering dilemma of the professional. In the final part of To the Lighthouse the 'weight' of Lily Briscoe's painting seems to be poised as she explores the elusive nature of mass and form: 'Beautiful and bright it should be on the surface, feathery and evanescent, one colour melting into another like the colours on a butterfly's wint; but beneath the fabric must be clamped together with bolts of iron.' A similar 'visionary' insight temporarily enlightens the amateur author of the historical pageant around which Between the Acts (1941) is shaped. Miss La Trobe watches entranced as butterflies (traditional images of the human soul) 'gluttonously absorb' the rich colours of the fancy dress strewn on the grass; the possibility of a completer art briefly dawns on her, only to fall apart again. In both novels women's sensibility (and sensitivity) constrasts with the factual 'materialism' of a world dominated by the kind of men who 'negotiated treaties, ruled India, controlled finance' or who insist, as Colonel Mayhew does in Between the Acts, that no picture of history is complete without reference to the British Army. The Mrs Ramsays, the Lily Briscoes, and the Miss La Trobes dream their brief dreams or are vouchsafed momentary 'epiphanies'; the men are often left content with a limited grasp, and presumed control, of the physical world. 

Virginia Woolf's most complete, but ambiguous, representation of the life of a woman character's mind in Mrs Dalloway is also her most thorough experiment with the new technique of interior monologue. The novel plays subtly with the problem of an identity which is both multiple and singular, both public and private, and it gradually insists on the mutual dependence and opposition of the perceptions of Clarissa Dalloway and the shell-shocked ramblings of a victim of the war, Septimus Warren Smith. Mrs Dalloway reveals both the particular originality of Woolf's fictional mode and the more general limitations of her social vision. When she returns to the problem of a dissipated identity in her extraordinary tribute to the English aristocracy, Orlando (1928), she seems to seek both to dissolve and define character in a fanciful concoction of English history nad shifting gender. The book is in part a sentimental tribute to the personal flair and ancestral fixation of her aristocratic friend and fellow-writer, Victoria ('Vita') Sackville-West (1892-1962), in part an exploration of a 'masculine' freedom traditionally denied to women. If Woolf's depiction of the society of her time is as blinkered as that of E. M. Forster by upper-middle-class snobberies and would-be liberalisms, the historical perspective which determined her feminism made for a far more distinctive clarity of argument. In the essay 'Street Haunting' (published in 1942) she writes of the pleasures of a London flâneuse who discovers as the front door shuts that the shell-like nature of domestic withdrawal is broken open 'and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye'. Almost the opposite process is delineated in the study A Room of One's Own (1929), where the existence of a private space, and of a private income, is seen as a prerequisite for the development of a woman writer's creativity. A Room of One's Own is, however, far more than an insistent plea for privacy, leisure, and education; it is a proclamation that women's writing has nearly come of age. It meditates on the pervasiveness of women as the subjects of poetry and on their absence from history; it plays as fancifully as the narrator ofOrlando might with the domestic fate of a woman Shakespeare, but above all it pays tribute to those English novelists, from Aphra Behn to George Eliot, who established a tradition of women's writing. 'Masterpieces are not single and solitary births', she insisted, 'they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.' It is in this tradition that Virginia Woolf most earnestly sought to see herself, a tradition which to her would eventually force open a way for the woman writer to see human beings 'not always in relation to each otehr but in relation to reality; and to the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves'.

Woolf's 'significant forms', shaped from glancing insights and carefully placed and iterated details, are to some degree echoed in the work of her New Zealand-born contemporary, Katherine Mansfield (the pseudonym of Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp, 1888-1923). If Mansfield's success with reviewers and readers seems to have stimulated Woolf's jealousy rather than critical generosity (Woolf generally found Mansfield 'inscrutable'), both writers can be seen as developing the post-impressionist principle of suggestiveness and rhythm from a distinctively feminine point of view. Mansfield worked determinedly on a small scale, concentrating on carefully pointed, delicately elusive short stories. Her succint narratives, collected as In a German Pension (1911), Bliss, and Other Stories (1920), and The Garden Party, and Other Stories (1922), are brief triumphs of style, as style which serves both to suggest a pervasive atmosphere and to establish a series of evanescent sensations (creaks, yawns, draughts, cries, footfalls, bird-calls, and cat's miaows). Where In a German Pension conveys a fastidious dislike of Teutonic manners and mannerisms (though Mansfiedl declined to have the volume reprinted during the Great War), her later stories move towards a greater technical mastery and to a larger world-view. She draws significantly on the landscapes and flora of her native New Zealand (in, for example, 'The Aloe'), she attempst to explore the responses of a wide spectrum of social types, and, by means of a style which takes on a yet more shimmreing elusiveness, she endeavours to describe the mysterious 'diversity of life . . . Death included'. Her own untimely death from tuberculosis cut short a remarkable innovative career.

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The Surfer's Guide


The Surfer's Guide

Cincuenta años se cumplían este año de La Galaxia Gutenberg de Marshall McLuhan. Hay que leeerlo aunque sea con cincuenta años de retraso. Y si no por lo menos mi "surfer's guide" al libro, que según veo aparece en el Cognition & Culture eJournal:


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Lucía brillo en los ojos


Lucía brillo en los ojos

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Domingo, 13 de Enero de 2013 16:42. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Hemingway and Faulkner


Hemingway and Faulkner

From Richard Gray’s History of American Literature: 

During the 1920s and 1930s Dos Passos aligned himself politically with the left. He became disillusioned with communism, however, and broke completely with his left-wing friends and allies at the time of the Spanish Civil War. His later fiction, such as the trilogy District of Columbia (1939-1949) and the novel Midcentury (1961), continue his stylistic innovations but show an increasingly conservative political stance. He was always, first and last, an individualist concerned with the threat to the individual posed first, as he saw it, by capitalism and then, in his later work, by communism. To that extent, he belonged in the American Atlantic tradition, with its commitment to the primacy of the individual, the supreme importance of the single, separate self.

Consistently, Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961) belonged to that tradition too. For Hemingway, as for many earlier American writers—Thoreau, for instance, Cooper and Twain—the essential condition of life is solitary, and the interesting, the only really serious business, is the management of that solitude. In this respect, the first story, "Indian Camp," in his first book, In Our Time (1925), is exemplary. Young Nick Adams, the protagonist, witnesses a birth and a death. The birth is exceptionally agonizing, with the mother, an Indian woman, being cut open by Nick’s father and being sewn up with a fishing line. And the death too is peculiarly awful, the husband in the bunk above, listening to the woman in her agony, and cutting his throat. "Why did he koll himself, Daddy?" Nick asks. "I don’t know, Nick." comes the reply. "He couldn’t stand things, I guess." Although this is the only significant, foreground suicide in Hemingway’s fiction, the terms have been set. "Things" will remain to the last hurtful and horrible, to be stood with as much dignity and courage as possible. For the moment, though, these things of horror are too much for Nick to dewell on. He must bury them far down in his mind and rest secure in the shelter of the father. "In the early morning on the lake sittting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing," the story concludes, "he felt quite sure that he would never die."

Such are the good times of boyhood in Hemingway,; not mother and home but out in the open with father, recreating a frontier idyll. So, in the second story in In Our Time, to escape his wife’s nervous chatter, Nick’s father goes out for a walk. "I want to go with you," Nick declares; "all right," his father responds, "come on, then." Soon, when Nick is older, in the later stories, "The End of Something" and "The Three-Day Blow," father will be replaced as companion by his friend Bill. But only the counters have altered, not the game. As the title of his second collection of stories, Men Without Women (1927), plainly indicates, the best times of all, because the least complicated, least hurtful, and most inwardly peaceful, are had by men or boys together, preferably in some wide space of land or sea, away from the noise, pace, and excitement of cities: Jake Barnes, the hero of The Sun Also Rises (1926) fishing with his companions Bill Gorton and Harris; Thomas Hudson and his three sons in Islands in the Stream (1970); and from In Our Time, in "Cross-Country Snow," Nick and his friend George skiing in Switzerland one last time before Nick commits himself to the trap of marriage and fatherhood. "Once a man’s married, he’s absolutely bitched," is Bill’s drunken wisdom in "The Three-Day Blow": bitched by responsibilities, by domesticity, but above all by the pain locked in with a love that, one way or another, may easily be broken or lost. And a man’s world, although safe from certain kinds of anxiety or threat, is for Hemingway only relatively so. A man wil lose his wife but he will also lose his father, not just in death but in disillusionment. Near the end of In Our Time, an exemplary father dies, not Nick’s but the jockey, "My Old Man," with whom, around the race-courses of France and Italy, the young narrator has had a perfect time out, with no mother or woman in sight. When his father falls in a steeplechase and is killed, the son is left to bear not only his grief but also the discovery that his father had been crooked. It is more than a life that has been lost. As he overhears the name of his father being besmirched, it seems to the boy "like when they get started, they don’t leave a guy nothing."
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"It was all a nothing," observes the lonely protagonist of "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" (Winner Take Nothing(1933)), "and man was a nothing too." In the face of palpable nothing, meaninglessness, there are, finally, only the imperatives of conduct and communion with one’s own solitariness. "I did not care what it was all about," Jake confides in The Sun Also Rises. "All I wanted to know was how to live in it." One way to "live in it," in some of Hemingway’s novels, has a political slant. To Have and Have Not (1937) is an emphatic protest against corruption, political hypocrisy, and the immorality of gross inequality. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1941) commemorates three days of a guerilla action in the Spanish Civil War and ceelbrates the Republican fight against fascism. "Is suppose I am an anarchist," Hemingway had written to Dos Passos in 1932; and the novel, like To Have and Have Not, shows a lonely individualist fighting while he can, not for a political program, but for the simple humanist principles of justice and, above all, liberty. But a more fundamental way to "live in it" is to live alone. In "Big Two-Hearted River," the story that concludes In Our Time, Nick starts out from the site of a burned-out town in Michigan. "There was no town, nothing but the rails and the burned-over country," the reader is told. "Even the surface had been burned off the ground." The disaster that has annihilated the town aptly crowns the world of violence and slaughter revealed in the vignettes that have interleaved the stories of In Our Time. For Hemingway, wounded in World War I, life was war, nasty, brutal, and arbitrary; and that is a lesson Nick has now learned. Putting this stuff of nightmares behind him, Nick heads away from the road for the woods ande the river. Far from other human sounds, he fishes, pitches a tent, builds a fire, prepares himself food and drink. "He was there, in the good place," the reader is told. "He was in his home where he had made it." It is a familiar American moment, this sealing of a solitary compact with nature. It is also a familiar concluding moment in Hemingway’s work: a man alone, trying to come to terms with the stark facts of life and death—sometimes the death of a loved one, as in A Farewell to Arms (1929), other times, as in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (1938), his own inevitable and imminent dying. And what seals the compact, and confirms the starkness is, always, the pellucid clarity of expression, the stark, simple economy of the terms in which Hemingway’s lonely heroes are rendered to us. "A writer’s job is to tell the truth," Hemingway observed. And he told that truth in a stuyle that was a verbal equivalent of the grace under pressure shown by his finest protagonists: concrete, contained, cleaving to the hard facts of life, only disclosing its deeper urgencies in its repetitions and repressions—in what its rhythms implied and what it did not say.

Hemingway called this verbal art the art of omission. "You could omit anything if you knew what you omitted," Hemingway reflected in A Movable Feast (1964), his memoir of his years in Paris after World War I; "and the omitted part would strenghten the story and make people feel something more than they undestood." He had begun to develop this art as a newspaperman: the copyroom of the Kansas City Star, where he worked before World War I, was as much his Yale and Harvard as it was for Mark Twain, or the whaling ship was for Herman Melville. "Pure objective writing is the only true form of storytelling," his closest companion on the Star told him. Hemingway never forgot that advice; and he never forgot the importance of his newspaper training to him either. "I was learning to write in those days," he recalled in Death in the Afternoon, "and I found the greatest difficulty . . . was to put down what really happened in action, what the actual things were which produced the emotions that you experienced." The "real thing," Hemingway remembered, "was something I was working very hard to try to get," first in Kansas and then in Paris, where he received encouragement in his pursuit of concrete fact, and an example of how to do it, from Ezra Pound and, even more, Gertrude Stein. The experience of war was also vital here. Like so many of his generation, Hemingway learned from that war not just a distrust but a hatred of abstraction, the high-sounding generalizations used as an excuse, or justification, for mass slaughter. "I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression, in vain," says the protagonist Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms, set, of course, in the Great War: "the things that were glorious had no glory and the stockyards were like the stockyards of Chicago." "There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity." Like Frederic Henry, Hemingway came to feel that "abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene"; the simple words, those that carried the samllest burden of stock attitudes, were the safest ones. What the individual, and the writer, had to respond to were things and experiences themselves, not ideas about them; and the closer he or she stuck to them, the less risk there would be of losing what was truly felt under a mass of evasions and abstractions. The real thing the person or writer must pursue, Hemingway felt, is the truth of the individual, immediate experience and emotion. That truth is discovered by the Hemingway hero—just as it is by Huckleberry Finn—in seeing and responding to things for himself. And it is expressed by Hemingway—just as it is for Huck’s creator, Mark Twain—in describing things for oneself, things as they are, not mediated by convention or abstraction. The style, in fact, is a measure of commitment: it is the proper reaction to the world translated into words. 

What Hemingway was after, in terms of words and action, is caught in perhaps his most successful novel, The Sun Also Rises, the seminal treatment of the "lost generation" and its disillusionment in the aftermath of World War I. The story is slight. The book describes a few weeks of spring in Paris, during which we watch the hero Jake Barnes living his customary life. He then goes on a fishing trip in Spain and attends a fiesta in Pamplona. Running through this small slice of life is a minimal plot, concerned largely with the relationship between Jake and an Englishwoman, Brett Ashley. Brett is the woman with whom Jake has beeen in love off and on for some time. But when the novel ends, Jake and Brett are exactly where they were at the start. The novel finishes where it began; the characters walk around in a circle, not getting anywhere but just surviving. This is a world full of people with nothing to do and no place, apparently, to go. The characters—typically, for Hemingway, and for many stories of the postwar period—are situated in another country, an alien place; and they seem cut off from all sense of purpose, communal identity, or historical direction. Their common situation is, as one of them succintly puts it, "miserable"—existentially, that is, rather than economically. Few of Hemingway’s characters have to worry about where the next meal is coming from; on the contrary, they tend to eat rather well, food being one of the "real things," the basic sensory pleasures of life. They live under constant stress, the pressure of living in a world without meaning, and their challenge is to show grace under that pressure. In a sense, this is a novel of manners: each character is judged according to how clearly he or she sees the truth—and, if they see it, how well or badly they behave.

The first question asked, implicitly, of all the characters in The Sun Also Rises is, is he or she "one of us?" That is the character one of those who have learned to see what their true circumstances are, and what they truly feel. Those who have learned this seem to recognize each other and so constitute a kind of secret society. They are "aficionados" of life because they understand the perils of existence just as the good bullfighter, and the good bullfight spectator, understand the perils of the bullring. Being "one of us," however, is not enough. There is also the question of how you behave. Some behave well, like Jake; some behave badly, sometimes, like Brett Ashley. Some never get the opportunity to behave well or badly because, like the least attractive character in the book, Robert Cohn, they never see what life is really like or know what they truly feel. They never recognize what the rules of the game are, and so they never get to be a player. What the good player in life should do, how he or she should behave, is illustrated in the description of the perfect bullfight, Romero—one of Brett’s several lovers—as he confronts the charging bull. "Romero never made any contortions, always it was straight and pure and natural in line," Jake tells the reader; he never tries to concoct "a faked look of danger." He had "The old thing," Jake concludes, "the holding of his purity of line thorugh a maximum of exposure." Romero confronts "the real thing," the challenge of life with immediately and intuitive simplicty. He responds to things as they are, without posture or pretence, and, in responding this way, he achieves a certain nobility. It is a neat example of how, in Hemingway’s work, realism assumes a heroic quality, even an aura of romance. The noblest character is invariably the one who sticks closest to the facts. 

That is especially true of Jake Barnes, who holds his purity of line as both the narrator and the protagonist. As narrator, Jake tries to tell us what he truly sees and feels, in a prose that is alert to the particular. As protagonist, Jakes tries for a similar clarity, simplicity, and honesty; and, for the most part, he succeds. What Jake has to see and deal with, above all, is his own impotence. He is incapable of sexual intercourse because of a wound sustained in World War I. This impotence is not a symbol. For Hemingway, life had no meaning independent of immediate experience, so symbolism was impossible for him. It is a fact, an instance of the cruel tricks life plays and the pressures everyone must, somehow and someday, confront. For Jake and Brett, love seeks its natural expression and issue in sex, sensory fulfillment. But this is impossible. And for Jake, as for Hemingway, to the extent that love or any emotion is not felt in sensory terms, translated into concrete experience, it is incomplete, even unreal. This is the trial Jake must face, the fundamental challenge thrown down to him in life: that his love can never be a "real thing," it must remain thwarted, a loss and a waste. Sometimes Jake begins to crack under this pressure. "It is really awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime," he observes, "but at night it is another thing." He finds himself sleepless; and, his mind "jumping around," he even starts quietly to cry. But, fundamentally, Jake weathers the storm. The end of the novel shows that, despite the temptation to pity himself, to dream of what might have been, to indulge in fantasy or fakery, he can see and stand things as they really are. He can be straight and pure and natural in his response to even the worst his life has to offer. Brett invites him to indulge, to escape from truth into daydream: "Oh Jake," she tells him, "We could have had such a damned good time together." His reply is simple, and supplies the last words in The Sun Also Rises: "Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so?" It is the perfect response for the Hemingway hero because it is so simple and stoical—so tersely, terribly rejecting the "pretty," the fanciful, and in doing so registering the volcanic feelings that have to be contained in order to prevent mental and moral confusion. Jake is wounded, an exile in a world without pity; but so are all men and women, Hemingway intimates. He is also a hero—just as, potentially, we all are if we have the courage to face things and ourselves. Purity of line is what Jake sticks to, in the face of nothing: he regards it as his job, his duty to tell the truth. So, of course, does Hemingway; and, at his best, he does so; he sees and calls things by their right names.


"I am telling the same story over and over," William Faulkner (1897-1962) admitted once, "which is myself and the world." That remark catches one of the major compulsions in his fiction. Faulkner was prone to interpret any writing, including his own, as a revelation of the writer’s secret life, as his or her dark twin. By extension, he was inclined to see that writing as shadowed by the repressed myths, the secret stories of his culture. Repetition was rediscovery, as Faulkner saw it; his was an art, not of omission like Hemingway’s, but of reinvention, circling back and circling back again, to the life that had been lived and missed, the emotions that had been felt but not yet understood. Shaped by the oral traditions of the South, which were still alive when he was young, and by the refracted techniques of modernism, to which he was introduced as a young man, Faulkner was drawn to write in a way that was as old as storytelling and, at the time, as new as the cinema and Cubism. It was as if he, and his characters, in T. S. Eliot’s famous phrase, had had the experience, but missed the meaning; and telling became an almost obsessive reaction to this, a way of responding to the hope that perhaps by the indirections of the fictive impulse he could find directions out. That the hope was partial was implicit in the activity of telling the story "over and over"; Faulkner, like so many of his protagonists and narrators, kept coming back, and then coming back again, to events that seemed to resist understanding, to brim with undisclosed meaning. There would always be blockage between the commemorating writer and the commemorated experience, as Faulkner’s compulsive use of the metaphor of a window indicated: the window on which a name is inscribed, for instance, in Requiem for a Nun (1951), or the window through which Quentin Compson gazes at his native South, as he travels home from Massachusetts, in The Sound and the Fury (1929). Writing, for Faulkner, was consequently described as a transparency and an obstacle, offering communication and discovery to the inquiring gaze of writer and reader but also impeding him, sealing him off from full sensory impact. 

"You know," Faulkner said once in one of his typically revelatory asides, "sometimes I think there must be a sort of pollen of ideas floating in the air, which fertilizes similarly minds here and there which have not had direct contact." In his case, that "pollen of ideas" was primarily Southern in origin. He was born, brought up, and spent most of his life in Mississippi; and most of his fiction is set in his apocryphal county of Yoknapatawpha, based on his home county of Lafayette. Not only that, every exploration of identity in his fiction tends to become an exploration of family, community, and culture. "No man is himself," Faulkner insisted. "He is the sum of his past." And, while he was thinking in particular of his own self haunted by his ancestors when he said this, he was also thinking in particular of that interpenetration of past and present that is, perhaps, the dominant theme in Southern society and its cultural forms—and of his own determining conviction that any identity anywhere is indelibly stamped by history. A society, Faulkner believed and said, was "the indigenous dream of any given collection of men having something in common, be it only geography or climate." It was a material institution and also a moral, or immoral, force. "Tell about the South," asks a Canadian character, Shreve, in Absalom, Absalom! (1936). "What’s it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all." In a sense, Faulkner never stopped "telling," since his novels constitute an imaginative recovery of the South, an attempt to know it as a region. Those novels not only tell, however, they show. Much of their power derives from the fact that, in drawing us a map of his imaginary county, Faulkner is also charting a spiritual geography that is, in the first instance, his but could be ours as well. The dreams and obsessions which so startle and fascinate Shreve—with place, with the past, with evil, with the serpentine connections between history and identity—all those are the novelist’s, and not just an aspect of described behavior. And as the reader is drawn into the telling, attends to the myriad voices of every story, he or she becomes an active member of the debate. The consequence is that when, for example, Quentin Compson is described in Absalom, Absalom!  as "a barracks filled with stubborn backlooking ghosts," each reader feels the description could equally well apply to the story itself, to Faulkner the master storyteller, and to us his apprentices. Each reading of the story is its meaning; each reader is caught up in the rhythm of repetition, the compulsion not only to remember but to reinterpret.

Faulkner began his creative life as a poet and artist. he published poems and drawings in student magazines in his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi; his first book, The Marble Faun (1924), was a collection of verse that showed the influence of an earlier generation of British and French poets, like Swinburne and Mallarmé. His first two novels, Soldier’s Pay (1925) and Mosquitoes (1927), are conventional in many ways; the one, a tale of postwar disillusionment; the other, a satirical novel of ideas. Soldier’s Pay, written in New Orleans, does, however, anticipate some familiar Faulkner trademarks; the absent center or central figure who is both there and not there (in this case, because he has been traumatized by war), the smalltown setting, the black characters, the present shadowed by the past. And Mosquitoes, set in and around New Orleans, carries traces of its author’s obsession with the link, if any, between words and doing, language and experience—and with the question, issuing from that, of whether writing and speech, by their very nature, are doomed to fail. Sartoris (1929), his third novel, is the first to be set in his fictional county of Yoknapatawpha (although it was not given this name until As I Lay Dying (1930)). "Beginning with Sartoris," Faulkner later recalled, "I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about, and that by sublimating the actual into the apocryphal I would have complete liberty to use whatever talent I might have to its absolute top." Sartoris was originally written as Flags in the Dust;it was rejected and only published, under its new title, in an edited version. Any other writer migh have been discouraged by this, to the point of silence. Faulkner, on the contrary, wrote a series of major modernist novels over the next seven years: The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932) and Absalom, Absalom!  These were, eventually, to secure his reputation, if not immediately his future. Although highly regarded, by other writers in particular, he was frequently in financial trouble. Selling stories to the magazines like the Saturday Evening Posthelped a little; working periodically in Hollywood, where his more notable credits included To Have and Have Not (1945) and The Big Sleep (1946), helped even more. The restoration of Faulkner’s reputation, and his financial health, began with the publication of The Portable Faulkner in 1946; it was consolidated by the award of the Nobel Prize in 1950. By this time, Faulkner had produced fiction reflecting his concerns about the mobility and anonymity of modern life (Pylon (1935); The Wild Palms (1939)), and his passionate interest in racial prejudice and racial injustice in the South (Go Down, Moses (1942); Intruder in the Dust (1948)). He had also written The Hamlet (1940), a deeply serious comedy focusing on social transformation in his region. This was to become the first book in a trilogy dealing with the rise to power of a poor white entrepreneur called Flem Snopes, and his eventual fall; the other two were The Town (1957) and The Mansion (1959). Generally, the later work betrays an inclination toward a more open, direct address of social and political issues, and a search for some grounds for hope, for the belief that humankind would not only endure but prevail. This was true not only of the later fiction set in Yoknapatawpha, like Requiem for a Nun, but also of his monumental A Fable (1954), set in World War I, which uses the story of Christ to dramatize its message of peace. There is, certainly, a clear continuity between this later work and the earlier. Faulkner, for example, never ceased to be driven by the sense that identity is community and history, that we are who we are because of our place and past. And he never ceased, either, to forge a prose animated by the rhythms of the human voice, talking and telling things obsessively even if only to itself. But there is also change, transformation. It can be summed up by saying that Faulkner gravitated, slowly, away from the private to the public, from the intimacies of the inward vision toward the intensities of the outward. Or, to put it more simply, he turned from modernism to modernity.

"Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished," reflects Quentin Compson in Absalom, Absalom!  Many lives are woven into one life in Faulkner, many texts into one text—a text that seems to be without circumference or closure. Repetition and revision are the norms of consciousness and narrative here. That makes it difficult, even dangerous, to separate the life of one text from the others. The inimitable texture of each individual text, and the translation of the author from modernism to modernity, prevent any one story or novel from acting properly as a mirror, reflective of Faulkner’s art as a whole. But some measure of that art, at least, can be taken from the fourth and among the finest of the novels Faulkner produced, The Sound and the Fury; it was the one most intimately related to his own experience ("I am Quentin in The Sound and the Fury, he once admitted), and his personal favorite because it was, he declared, his "most splendid failure." The novel is concerned with the lives and fates of the Compson family, who seem to condense into their experience the entire history of their region. Four generations of Compsons appear; and the most important of these is the third generation, the brothers Quentin, Jason, and Benjy and their sister Candace, known in the family as Caddy. Three of the four sections into which the narration is divided are consigned to the voices of the Compson brothers; the fourth is told in the third person and circles around the activities of Dilsey Gibson, the cook and maid-of-all-work in the Compson house. The present time of The Sound and the Fury is distilled into four days: three of them occurring over the Easter weekend, 1928, the Quentin section being devoted to a day in 1910 when he chooses to commit suicide. There is, however, a constant narrative impulse to repeat and rehearse the past, to be carried back on the old ineradicable rhythms of memory. The memories are many but the determining ones for the Compson brothers are of the woman who was at the center of their childhood world, and who is now lost to them literally and emotionally: their sister, Caddy Compson. 

Caddy is the source and inspiration of what became and remained the novel closest to Faulkner’s own heart. The Sound and the Fury began, he explained, with the "mental picture . . . of the muddy seat of a little girl’s drawers in a pear tree where she could see through a window where her grandmother’s funeral was taking place"—while her three brothers gazed at her from down below. She is also the subject of a book that, as this brief explanation suggests, carries linked intimations of sex and death. "To me she was the beautiful one, she was my heart’s darling," Faulkner said of Caddy later. "That’s what I wrote the book about," he added, "and I used the tools which seemed to me the proper tools to try to tell, try to draw the picture of Caddy." Trying to tell of Caddy, to extract what he called "some ultimate distillation" from her story is the fundamental project of the book. And yet she seems somehow to exist apart from or beyond it, to escape from Faulkner and all the other storytellers. To some extent, this is because she is the absent presence that haunts so many of Faulkner’s other novels: a figure like, say Addie Bundren in As I Lay Dying or Thomas Sutpen inAbsalom, Absalom!, who obsesses the other characters but very rarely speaks with his or her own voice. Even more important, though, is the fact that she is female, and so by definition someone who tends to exist for her creator outside the parameters of language: Faulkner has adopted here the archetypal male image of a woman who is at once mother, sister, daughter, and lover, Eve and Lilith, virgin and whore, to describe what Wallace Stevens once referred to as "the inconceivable idea of the sun"—that is, the other, the world outside the self. And while she is there to the extent that she is the focal point, the eventual object of each narrator’s meditation, she is not there in the sense that she remains elusive, intangible—as transparent as the water, as invisible as the odors of the trees and honeysuckle, with which she is constantly associated. It is as if, just as the narrator tries to focus her in his camera lens, she slips away leaving little more than the memory of her name and image.caddy

Not that Faulkner ever stops trying to bring her into focus—for himself, his characters, and of course for us. Each section of the book, in fact, represents a different strategy, another attempt to know her. Essentially, the difference in each section is a matter of rhetoric, in the sense that each time the tale is told another language is devised and with a different series of relationships between author, narrator, subject, and reader. When Benjy occupies our attention right at the start, for instance, we soon become aware of a radical inwardness. Profoundly autistic, Benjy lives in a closed world where the gap between self and other, being and naming cannot be bridged because it is never known or acknowledged. The realm outside himself remains as foreign to him as its currency of language does, and Faulkner is creating an impossible language here, giving voice to the voiceless. The second section, devoted to Quentin, collapses distance in another way. "I am Quentin," Faulkner said. And, as we read, we feel ourselves drawn into a world that seems almost impenetrably private. Quentin, for his part, tries to abolish the gap between Caddy and himself—although, of course, not being mentally handicapped he is less successful at this than Benjy. And he sometimes tends to confess to or address the reader, or try to address him, and sometimes to forget him. Whether addressing the reader or not, however, his language remains intensely claustrophobic and liable to disintegration. Quentin cannot quite subdue the object to the word; he seems always to be trying to place things in conventional verbal structures only to find those structures siled away or dissolve into uncontrolled stream-of-consciousness. Equally, he cannot quite construct a coherent story for himself because, in losing his sister Caddy, he has lost what Henry James would call the "germ" of his narrative—the person, that is, who made sense of all the disparate elements of life for him by providing them with an emotional center.

With Jason, in the third section of The Sound and the Fury, distance enters. Faulkner is clearly out of sympathy with this Compson brother, even if he is amused by him (he once said that Jason was the character of his that he disliked the most). Jason, in turn, while clearly obsessed with Caddy, never claims any intimacy with her. And the reader is kept at some remove by the specifically public mode of speech Jason uses, full of swagger, exaggeration, and saloon-bar prejudice. Attempting, with some desperation, to lay claim to common sense and reason—even where, as he is most of the time, he is being driven by perverse impulse and panic—Jason seems separated from just about everything, not least himself. The final section of the novel offers release, of a kind, from all this. The closed circle of the interior monologue is broken now, the sense of the concrete world is firm, the visible outline of things finely and even harshly etched, the rhtythms exact, evocative, and sure. Verbally, we are in a more open field where otherness is addressed; emotionally, we are released from a vicious pattern of repetition compulsion, in which absorption in the self leads somehow to destruction of the self. And yet, and yet . . . the language remains intricately figurative, insistently artificial. The emphasis throughout, in the closing pages, is on appearance and impression, on what seems to be the case rather than what is. We are still not being told the whole truth, the implication is; there remain limits to what we can know; despite every effort, even the last section of the novel does not entirely succeed in naming Caddy. So it is not entirely surprising that, like the three Compson brothers before her, Dilsey Gibson, who dominates this section, is eventually tempted to discard language altogether. Benjy resorted, as he had to, to a howl, Quentin to suicide, Jason to impotent, speechless rage—all to express their inarticulacy in the face of the other, their impotence as they stood in the eye of the storm, facing the sound and fury of  time and change. And Dilsey, responding to a more positive yet passionate impulse, becomes part of the congregation at an Easter Day service—where, we are told, "there was not even a voice but instead their hearts were speaking to one another in changing measures beyond the need for words." In ways that are, certainly, very different all four characters place a question mark over their attempts to turn experience into speech. And they do so, not least, by turning aside from words, seeking deliverance and redress in a nonverbal world—a world of pure silence or pure, unintelligible sound. 

The closing words of The Sound and the Fury appear to bring the wheel full circle. As Benjy Compson sits in a wagon watching the elements of his small world flow past him, "each in its ordered place," it is as if everything has now been settled and arranged. Until, that is, the reader recalls that this order is one founded on denial, exclusion, a howl of resistance to strangeness. The ending, it turns out, is no ending at all; it represents, at most, a continuation of the process of speech—the human project of putting things in its ordered place—and an invitation to us, the reader, to continue that process too. We are reminded, as we are at the close of so many of Faulkner’s stories, that no system is ever complete or completely adequate. Something is always missed out it seems, some aspect of reality must invariably remain unseen. Since this is so, no book, not even one like this that uses a multiplicity of speech systems—a plurality of perspectives, like a Cubist painting—can ever truly be said to be finished. Language can be a necessary tool for understanding and dealing with the world, the only way we can hope to know Caddy; yet perversely, Faulkner suggests, it is as much a function of ignorance as of knowledge. It implies absence, loss, as well as fulfillment. Sometimes, Faulkner admitted, he felt that experience, life "out there," existed beyond the compass of words: a feeling that would prompt him to claim that all he really liked was "silence. Silence and horses. And trees." But at other times he seemed to believe that he should try to inscribe his own scratchings on the surface of the earth, that he should at least attempt the impossible and tell the story over again, the story of himself and the world, using all the tools, all the different voices and idioms available to him. As Faulkner himself put it once, "Sometimes I think of doing what Rimbaud did—yet I will certainly keep on writing as long as I live." So he kept on writing: his final novel,The Reivers (1962), was published only a month before he died. To the end, he produced stories that said what he suggested every artist was trying, in the last analysis, to say: "I was here." And they said it for others beside himself: others, that is, including the reader.

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martes, 18 de diciembre de 2012


Fangtasía by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Fangtasía, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 14 de Enero de 2013 12:58. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

W. H. Auden

martes, 18 de diciembre de 2012

W. H. Auden


From the Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble:

AUDEN, W[ystan] H[ugh] (1907-73), the youngest son of a doctor, brought up in Birmingham and educated at Gresham's School, Holt. He began to be taken seriously as a poet while still at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was much influenced by Anglo-Saxon and Middle English poetry, but also began to explore the means of preserving 'private spheres' (through poetry) in 'public chaos'. Among his contemporaries, who were to share some of his left-wing near-Marxist response to the public chaos of the 1930s were MacNeice, Day-Lewis, and Spender, with whom his name is often linked (See PYLON SCHOOL).  After Oxford, Auden lived for a time in Berlin; he returned to England in 1929 to work as a schoolteacher, but continued to visit Germany regularly, staying with his friend and future collaborator Isherwood. His first volume, Poems (including some previously published in a private edition, 1928) was accepted for publication by T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber and appeared in 1930; it was well received and established him as the most talented voice of his generation.The Orators followed in 1932, and Look Stranger! in 1936. In 1932 he became associated with Rupert Doone's Group Theatre, which produced several of his plays (The Dance of Death, 1933; and, with Isherwood, The Dog Beneath the Skin, 1935); these owe something to the early plays of Brecht. (See also EXPRESSIONISM). Working from 1935 with the GPO Film Unit he became friendly with Britten, who set many of his poems to music and later used Auden's text for his opera Paul Bunyan. In 1935 he married Erika Mann to provide her with a British passport to escape from Nazi Germany. A visit to Iceland with MacNeice in 1935 produced their joint Letters from Iceland (1937); Journey to a War (1939, with Isherwood) records a journey to China. Meanwhile in 1937 he had visited Spain for two months, to support the Republicans, but his resulting poem 'Spain' (1937) is less partisan and more detached in tone than might have been expected, and in January 1939 he and Isherwood left Europe for America (he became a US citizen in 1946) where he met Chester Kallman, who became his lifelong friend and companion. Another Time(1940), containing many of his most famous poems (including 'September 1939' and 'Lullaby'), was followed in 1941 by The Double Man (1941), published in London asNew Year Letter), a long transitional verse epistle describing the 'baffling crime' of 'two decades of hypocrisy', rejecting political simplifications, accepting man's essential solitude, and ending with a prayer for refuge and illumination for the 'muddled heart'. From this time Auden's poetry became increasingly Christian in tone (to such an extent that he even altered some of his earlier work to bring it in line and disowned some of his political pieces); this was perhaps not unconnected with the death in 1941 of his devout Anglo-Catholic mother, to whom he dedicated For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio (1944). This was published with The Sea and the Mirror, a series of dramatic monologues inspired by The Tempest. The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue (1948) is a long dramatic poem, reflecting man's isolation, which opens in a New York bar at night, and ends with dawn on the streets.

Auden's absence during the war led to a poor reception of his works in England at that period, but the high quality of his later work reinstated him as an unquestionably major poet; in 1956 he was elected professor of poetry at Oxford, and in 1962 he became a student (i.e. fellow) of Christ Church. His major later collections include Nones (1951, NY; 1952, London), The Shield of Achilles (1955), which includes 'Horae Canonicae' and 'Bucolics' and is considered by many his best single volume; and Homage to Clio(1960), which includes a high proportion of light verse. Auden had edited The Oxford Book of Light Verse in 1938, and subsequently many other anthologies, collections, etc.; his own prose criticism includes The Enchafèd Flood (1950, NY; 1951, London), The Dyer's Hand (1962, NY; 1963, London), and Secondary Worlds (1968, T. S. Eliot Memorial Lectures). He also wrote several librettos, notably for Stravinsky's The  Rake's Progress (1951, with Kallman). About the House (1965, NY; 1966, London), one of his last volumes of verse, contains a tender evocation of his life with Kallman at their summer house in Austria. Auden spent much of the last years of his life in London, and died suddenly in Vienna. His Collected Poems, edited by Edward Mendleson, were published in 1991. A volume of Juvenilia, edited by Katherine Bucknell, appeared in 1994.

Auden's influence on a succeeding generation of poets was incalculable, comparable only with that, a generation earlier, of Yeats, to whom Auden himself pays homage in 'In Memory of W.B. Yeats' (1939). His progress from the engaged, didactic, satiric poems of his youth to the complexity of his later work offered a wide variety of models—the urbane, the pastoral, the lyrical, the erudite, the public, and the introspective mingle with great fluency. He was a master of verse form, and accomodated traditional patterns to a fresh, easy, and contemporary language. A life by Humphrey Carpenter was published in 1981. See also The Auden Generation by S. Hynes (1976).

Memento Auden-Spender 

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Sleepwalking Scene



From Verdi's Macbeth, sung by Shirley Verrett:

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Lunes, 14 de Enero de 2013 21:30. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

Julius Caesar

La versión de la serie sobre Shakespeare de la BBC, producida por Cedric Messina en 1979 (dir. Herbert Wise). (El vídeo de YouTube la atribuye incorrectamente a Mankiewicz).



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Lunes, 14 de Enero de 2013 21:36. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine

A Wild Spot


A wild spot

A wild spot by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
A wild spot, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 14 de Enero de 2013 22:59. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

The Poetics of Subliminal Awareness


The Poetics of Subliminal Awareness

—artículo sobre Nabokov y sobre la poética de la consciencia subliminal que publiqué en e European Journal of English Studies, y que ahora veo incluido en las páginas de tres revistas electrónicas del SSRN:
- Cognitive Neuroscience eJournal 

- Cognition and the Arts eJournal

- American literature eJournal

También habla de un cuento de Navidad.

A photo on Flickr

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Wanted Man - on Vimeo


Wanted Man on Vimeo

Aquí cantado a coro con el perro blanco....

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Martes, 15 de Enero de 2013 23:00. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Músicas mías

Una narración

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012

Una Narración

Una Narración by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Una Narración, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Miércoles, 16 de Enero de 2013 08:47. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Nenes

Toni Morrison

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012

Toni Morrison

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature, ed. Hart and Leininger:

Toni Morrison (1931-), Ohio-born novelist, originally named Chloe Anthony Wofford, a graduate of Harvard University, writes about the problems of black women in the North, like herself. Her novels include The Bluest Eye (1970), about a young black woman who moves from the old South with the belief that if only she had blue eyes she would be well accepted; Sula (1973); Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981); and Beloved (1987), about a black woman after the Civil War recalling her need and thus her action of killing her baby, Beloved, but now pleasantly greeted by a young woman of that name, aged about 20, some years after the war. It was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Jazz (1992), set in Harlem of the 1920s, details the experiences, often bitter, of a couple, Joe and Violet. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992) collects the William E. Massey Sr. Lectures, at Harvard, in the History of American Civilization. Morrison won the Nobel Prize in 1993, the first African-American writer to be so honored.


From Richard Gray's History of American Literature (August Wilson and Toni Morrison):

While [Ed] Bullins has been central to the story of alternative theater, success on the mainstream stage has tended to elude him. By contrast, August Wilson [1945-2005] enjoyed considerable mainstream success. His Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1982), Fences (1983), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1984), The Piano Lesson (1986), Two Trains Running (1992), and Seven Guitars (1995) were all produced on Broadway, for the most part to critical and commercial acclaim. Born on "The Hill," a racially mixed area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a black mother and a white father he seldom saw, Wilson encountered racial prejudice early. He also encountered two formative cultural influences: black talk and black music. In a cigar store in Pittsburgh, he recalled, he would stand around when he was young listening to old men talling tales and swapping stories. Later, listening to the records of the blues singer Bessie Smith, he became determined to capture black cultural and historical experience in his writing. One of his first publications was, in fact, a poem called "Bessie." Beginning to write plays in the 1970s, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom established his reputation. Set in 1920s Chicago, it describes the economic exploitation of black musicians by white record companies and the ways in which victims of racism are compelled to direct their rage at each other rather than at those who cause their oppression. It is also a memorable combination of the vernacular, violence, and humor. So is Fences, which concerns the struggles of a working-class family in the 1950s to find security. Here, Wilson also uses myth to tell the story of Troy Maxson, a garbageman, ex-convict, and former Negro Baseball League player, who cannot believe that his son wil be allowed to benefit from the football scholarship he has been offered.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone is set some forty years earlier than Fences, in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911. Focusing on the personal and cultural aftermath of slavery and the Great Migration, it explores the lives of characters who are in danger of being cut off from their roots. The Piano Lesson, in turn, is placed in 1937 in Pittsburgh: concentrating on a conflict between a brother and a sister, over who has the right to won a family heirloom, the piano of the title, it dramatizes the debate between African-American and mainstream cultural values.
Two Trains Running moves forward several decades, to the late 1960s—to a coffee shop where regulars discuss their troubled relation to the times—and Seven Guitars then moves back to the 1940s. Wilson declared that, as a playwright, he wanted to "tell a history that has never been told." His major plays reflect this. For him, they were all part of a major project: the "Century Cycle" of ten plays, each of them intended to investigate a central issue facing African-Americans in a different decade of the twentieth century. The others are Jitney (1983), King Hedley II (2000), Gem of the Ocean (2003), and Radio Golf (2005). He was aiming at nothing less than raising collective awareness: rewriting the history of every decade so that black life would become a more acknowledged part of the theatrical history—and, for that matter, the general history—of America. In 1991 Wilson recalled that his plan, to bring a silenced past into dramatic speech, began with "a typewritten yellow-labeled record titled 'Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jellyroll Like Mine' by someone called Bessie Smith." "It was the beginning," he explained, "of my consciousness that I was a representative of a culture and the carrier of some very valuable antecedents." He continued to pursue that plan after that, in plays that work precisely as the "yellow-labeled record" did: by bringing a whole culture and its past to life, with rhythmic flair and passion.

If any novelist can be said to have a project similar to that of August Wilson in dr
Toni  Morrisonama, it is surely Toni Morrison (1931-). "For me, in doing novels about African-Americans," she has declared, "I was trying to move away from the unstated but overwhelming and dominant context that was white history and to move it into another one." Her work can, in fact, be seen as an attempt to write several concentric histories of the American experience from a distinctively African-American perspective. A series of fictional interventions in American historiography, her novels draw what she has called, in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992), "the overwhelming presence of black people in the United States" from the margins of the imagination to the center of American literature and history. What has been distinctive about the history of the United States, Morrison has argued, is "its claim to freedom" and "the presence of the unfree within the heart of the democratic experiment." This was, and remains, "a nation of people who decided that their world view would combine agendas for individual freedom and mechanisms for devastating racial oppression." As such, it "presents a singular landscape for a writer." And her aim in mapping that landscape has been twofold. On the one hand, she has charted a specifically black history, giving voice to the silence: pointing to the culpability for it of White America's 'failure' to apportion human rights equally, while simultaneously celebrating that history's achievement and identifying its own failings. On the other, she maps out a general history of America from the readjusted perspective, the angle of black experience. As Morrison has noted in Playing in the Dark, "Africanism is inextricable from the definition of Americanness—from its origins on through its integrated or disintegrating twentieth-century self." The history of black America, over the last two humdred years and perhaps more, is the history of America, as she sees it. So what she is pursuing, reclaiming in imaginative terms, is a history of the whole American experience.

"The crucial difference for me is not the difference between fact and fiction," Morrison once admitted, "but the distinction between fact and truth. Because facts can exist without human intelligence, but truth cannot." That search for truth began with her first novel,
The Bluest Eye (1970). It has a simple premise. A narrator, Claudia McTeer, tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a black girl whose hunger for love is manifested in a desire for blue eyes that eventually drives her to insanity. What complicates is both structural and social. Morrison has said that one of her goals as a writer is "to have the reader work with the writer in the construction of the book." And here she uses a number of narrative devices to realize that goal. The novel opens, for example, with a parodic passage from a Dick and Jane school primer that presents an ideal, inevitably white family: the kind of cultural intervention that seems calculated to create false consciousness. Working with the writer here and elsewhere in the novel, the reader gradually unravels a tale of personal and social disintegration. Pecola, it seems, is driven inward by the norms of white society (the bluest eye, the ideal family) to shame, the destruction and division of the self. Claudia, the narrator, finds herself directed outward, to anger against white society: finding a convenient scapegoat, a focus for anger, for instance, in the "white baby dolls" she cuts up and destroys. The Bluest Eye deconstructs the image of the white community as the site of normality and perfection. It also exposes the realities of life in an impoverished African-American community, whose abject socioeconomic status is exacerbated by the politics of race. Those politics point, in particular, to internalized racism, manacles that are mind-forged as well as devastatingly material. as Morrison has put it in an afterword to a recent edition of the novel: "the trauma of racism is, for the racist and victim, the severe fragmentation of the self."

Coextensive with Morrison's concern with the psychosocial consequences of racism is her interest in what she calls "silence and evasion:" the shadows and absences, the gaps and omissions in American history. In her second novel, Sula (1973), for example, she shows how a black community evolves and shapes itself, with its own cultural resources and elaborate social structure. She rescues it from a kind of historical anonymity. Through the lives of the two main characters, Sula Peace and Nel Wright, in turn, she opens up the area of intimate friendship between African-American women. Also, though a poignant account of the rifts and disputes between Sula and Nel, she charts differences, the diverse paths and possibilities available to females as part of or apart from communal tradition. Morrison's third novel, Song of Solomon (1977), sustains her commitment to what is called here "names that had a meaning:" the evolution of a distinctive black identity and community through the habit of language. A complex tapestry of memory and myth, Song of Solomon tells the story of a young man, Milkman Dead, who comes to know himself through a return to origins. He is captivated by the legends surrounding his family from slave times. He learns, in particular, from the stories of men who flew to freedom and the realities of women who remained to foster and to nurture. Just as the novel does, he returns to the past and, through that, discovers how to live in the present. Tar Baby (1981) also pursues themes of ancestry and identity, how African-Americans come to name and know themselves. It does this primarily through the contrast between two characters, Jadine Childs, a model, and William (Son) Green, an  outcast and wanderer. Jadine, brought up with the help of white patrons, has been assimilated into white culture; Son remains outside it, in resistance to it. Drawn to each other, they seem to be trying to "rescue" each other, the one from assimilation, the other from separation. "One had a past, the other a future and each bore the culture to save the race in his hands," the reader is told. "Mama-spoiled black man, will you mature with me? Culture-bearing black woman, whose culture are your bearing?" The love affair between them is aborted. Neither fundamentally changes. And, although the perspective on Jadine is less than sympathetic ("she has forgotten her ancient properties," one oracular black character observes of her), the identity crisis posed by the conflict between her and Son is never really resolved. Morrison adopts her usual strategy, of leaving the narrative debate open.

With her fifth and most important novel so far, Beloved (1987), Morrison took the core of a real story she had encountered while working as a senior editor at Random House. It was recorded in The Black Book (1974), an eclectic collection of material relating to more than three hundred years of African-American history. And it concerned a fugitive slave called Margaret Garner who killed her daughter, then tried to kill her other children and herself rather than be returned to slavery. Morrison took this as the nucleus, the germ of her story about Sethe Suggs, who killed her own young daughter, Beloved, when faced with the same threat. Circling backwards and forwards in time, before and after the Civil War, the novel discloses how Sethe and other characters—especially her daughter Denver and her lover Paul D—struggle with a past that cannot but must be remembered, that cannot yet must be named. In other words, it pivots around the central contradiction in African-American, and for that matter American, history: living with impossible memories. There is the need to remember and tell and the desire to forget; there are memories here with an inexhaustible, monstrous power to erupt and overwhelm the mind that must somewhere be commemorated yet laid aside if life is to continue. it is a contradiction caught in a phrase repeated in the concluding section of the narrative: "It was not a story to pass on" (where "pass on" could mean either "pass over" or "pass on to others"). It is one caught, too, in the scandalous nature of the act, the killing that haunts Sethe. In that sense, the mother-daughter relationship that Morrison characteristically focuses on here is at once a denial of the institution of slavery and a measure of its power.

Beloved is an extraordinary mix of narrative genres. It has elements of realism, the Gothc, and African-American folklore. It is a slave narrative that internalizes slavery and its consequences. It is a historical novel that insists on history as story, active rehearsal and reinvention of the past. It weaves its way between the vernacular and a charged lyricism, the material and the magical, as it emphasizes the centrality of the black, and in particular black female, experience. It also forces the reader to collaborate with the author, narrator, and characters in the construction of meaning: the energetic refiguring of a past that is seen as a necessary precondition of the present—determining (and so to be resurrected) yet different (and so to be laid to rest). This involvement of the reader in the exhumation of a secret that is also the narrative's secret—the unspeakable heart of the story that remains intimated rather than spoken—is the main grounds for the emotional intensity of Beloved. This is a novel that reorients history, American history in particular, to the lived experience of black people. it is also a passionate novel, that sets up a vital, unbreakable circuit between historical events and emotional consequences, and then connects up that circuit to any one, black or white, or whatever, who reads it. We the readers are caught as the main characters of Beloved are in the "look," the gaze that seeks to reduce the black subject to the position of otherness. We share with these characters the rigors of the disciplined body—the denial of the ownership of one's own flesh. We also participate in the strenuous, successful effort to resist all this: the right to one's own body and consciousness, the responsibility for them in the past, present, and future. Above all, we share in the project of naming. "Did a whiteman saying make it so?" Paul D asks himself at one point. The immediate answer turns out to be "yes"; the ultimate answer is "no." The novel and its characters turn out, after all, to offer another form of "saying," a more authentic way of seeing and telling the personal and historical past. That is why the last word of Beloved is, precisely, "Beloved," because the whole aim of the story, and its protagonist, has been to name the unnameable. That way, we know by now, African-Americans and all Americans can come to terms with a past that should be told, that will not be told (the paradox is irresolvable)—and then, perhaps, be able to continue.

After Beloved, Morrison published two books that, with it, form part of a loosely connected trilogy, Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1998). Morrison has said that the three novels are about "various kinds of love"—the love of a mother for her child, romantic love, and "the love of God and love for fellow human beings." The three might equally be described as charting the history of African-Americans. Jazz, set in Harlem in 1929, was inspired by Morrison reading in a book she was editing,  The Harlem Book of the Dead, about a young woman who, as she lay dying, refused to identify her lover as the person who had shot her. What distinguishes the novel more thatn its plot, however, is Morrison's innovative way of telling it. Imitating the improvisational techniques of jazz music, she presents us with a narrative that constantly revisits events and a narrator who frankly confesses her fallibility. "I have been careless and stupid," the narrator declares at one point, "and it infuriates me to discover (again) how unreliable I am." History is consequently presented as a process of constant telling and retelling, with the openings for chance, the impromptu, and mistakes that implies. And, at the end, the responsibility for that process is passed to us, the readers. "Make me, remake me," the narrator tells us. "You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now." Paradise is set in 1976. However, in describing the intimate contact between two communities, one a black township and the other a refuge for women, it circles as far back as 1755. It also supplies another example of Morrison's characteristic strategy of giving voice to the silence while initiating its own forms of silence. That is, it brings those traditionally exiled to the margins, for reasons of race, gender, or both, to the center of the stage; it allows them to name themselves and narrate their history. But it quietly intimates its own lack of authority, the blanks and absences detectable in its own account, and the responsibility that this imposes on the reader.

In Beloved, for example, the reader never knows who the young girl is who returns to Sethe during the course of the story. Is she the ghost of the 2-year-old-daughter Sethe killed twenty years earlier? Does she recall Sethe's nameless mother, since some of her dreams and narrations seem to recall the horrors of the Middle Passage? Is she a myriad figure, a composite of all the women ever dragged into slavery? Or is she a very singular young woman who has been driven mad by her enslavement? We cannot know for sure; all we can do is allow these possibilities to feed into our own retelling of an intolerable, impossible past, our own project of naming the unnameable. Nor, for that matter, can we be certain what happens at the end of Paradise. The pivotal act of this novel is the shooting, and apparent killing, of the women at the refuge by nine men from the township. Paradise closes, however, with the "marvelous" disappearance of the bodies of the women and the reappearance, then, of four of them. One of the several, unresolved puzzles of this story is, therefore, what they return as —ghosts or human beings who somehow survived the attack. But just as Beloved, for all its push beyond realism, leaves no doubt as to the monstrous fact of slavery and its central place in the story of America (indeed, using magic, mystery, as a measure of that monstrosity), so Paradise  lesaves no doubt about the necessity for the reappearance of women like these, in some form or another, for the survival of the republic. Paradise is a book about the failures of American democracy (hence its setting in the bicentennial). It is about the strengths and fatal flaws in the black community (hence its complicity in the shootings). It is about the core meaning of the African-American story to American history (hence the narrative connections forged with key events since 1776). And it is also a book about the failure of patriarchy. Morrison has resisted the description of herself as a feminist. She is right to do so because Paradise, like all her novels, is much more than a polemical statement of a position. But, in itws own way, it registers a fundamentally optimistic belief in the recovery of the American republic—a belief that all her work tends to share—and, in this case, at the hands of women. The beguiling mystery at the end of Paradise is centered, just as the mystery at the heart of Beloved is, by a powerful analysis of history, past disasters, and possible future directions. Any doubts about that surely dissolve in the meditations of one female character as she considers the possibility of reappearance, the return of the women shot by the men of the township. "When will they return?" she asks herself. "When will they reappear . . . to rip up and stomp down this prison calling itself a town?" "She hoped with all her heart that the women were out there," the meditation concludes, "darkly burnished, biding their time, brass-metaling their nails, filing their incisors—but out there. Which is to say she hoped for a miracle."

Apart from the occasional excursion into drama (Dreaming Emmett (1986)) and critical and social theory (Playing in the Dark, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality (1992)), Morrison has focused on the writing of novels, her most recent being Love (2003), set mainly in the 1990s, which explores different forms of love—familial, romantic, self—and childhood confusion, miscommunication, and their consequences; and A Mercy (2008), set in early America, which examines the beginnings of slavery and the roots of racism.

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Miércoles, 16 de Enero de 2013 08:49. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica





Mi aparición en la base de datos de ISOC. Qué escasica. Así no haré sexenio; aunque dicen que van a emplear como base de datos el Scopus y la Web of Science—donde aún aparezco menos.  En general, a las humanidades les esperan criterios más científicos...

Page 1 of 1

—Más abundo en las antípodas, en Trove (Biblioteca Nacional de Australia). ¡Igual me conocen más aún un poco más lejos...!  No me extrañaría, si nos espían los Aliens.


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Miércoles, 16 de Enero de 2013 23:53. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Trabajos

Baladrás desde Biescas



Baladrás desde Biescas

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Miércoles, 16 de Enero de 2013 23:54. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Aníbal el Caníbal

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

Aníbal el Caníbal

Sigue sorprendiéndonos Polibio con sus rincones curiosos o terroríficos. Esto cuenta sobre la preparación de la expedición de Aníbal contra Roma, desde España (IX, 24):

Cuando proyectaba marchar de España a Italia con un ejército, Aníbal preveía la gran dificultad de avituallarlo y de disponer siempre de víveres, ya que, por su duración, la marcha era casi inacabable y, encima, había que contar con el número y la ferocidad de los bárbaros que vivían a lo largo de ella. En el consejo esta dificultad se debatió ampliamente y uno de sus miembros, llamado también Aníbal, por sobrenombre "el gladiador", hizo evidente que había sólo un único medio para poder llegar a Italia. Aníbal le pidió que lo expusiera y él contestó que era preciso enseñar al ejército a comer carne humana, y habituarle a ello. Aníbal fue incapaz de oponerse razonadamente a la audacia y a la eficacia de esta idea, pero nunca la tomó en serio y no intentó convencer a sus amigos. No falta quien afirma que los actos de salvajismo cometidos por Aníbal en Italia se deben imputar al otro Aníbal, pero en gran medida se debieron también a las circunstancias.

Las circunstancias, y los consejos de nuestros amigos, nos vuelven caníbales....  ¡pero aún tenían el cuajo estos cartagineses de hablar de la "ferocidad de los bárbaros"!

La Autómata Asesina

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Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2013 15:47. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Historia

Buscando en el Buscón, etc.

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

Buscando en el Buscón, etc.

Aparecen cosas mías, buscando en el buscador de la Biblioteca nacional, llamado Buscón. (Bueno, mías y de otros Garcialandas, Mercedes y Mariano). Vienen en su mayoría de Rebiun (Red de Bibliotecas Universitarias). Incluso listan allí mi bibliografía, cosa rara.

También aparece entre mi lista de publicaciones en WorldCat, entre los ebooks, tal que así:

Save to: [New List][Existing Lists]Things I RecommendThings I OwnThings to Check Out    Sort by: Relevance Author (A-Z) Title (A-Z) Date (Oldest First) Date (Newest First)   


Así que aprovecho para incluir un enlace a la bibliografía en el artículo de la Wikipedia sobre Bibliography.


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Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2013 15:52. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Trabajos

The Country Wife

A comedy by William Wycherley, 1675. A BBC production with Helen Mirren, 1976:



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The Way of the World

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature:

The Way of the World, a comedy by Congreve, produced 1700.

Mirabell is in love with Millamant, a niece of Lady Wishfort, and has pretended to court the aunt in order to conceal his suit of the niece. The deceit has been revealed to lady Wishfort by Mrs Marwood to revenge herself on Mirabell, who has rejected her advances. Lady Wishfort, who now hates Mirabell 'more than a quaker hates a parrot', will deprive her niece of the half of the inheritance which is in her keeping if Millamant marries Mirabell. The latter accordingly contrives that his servant Waitwell shall impersonate an uncle of his, Sir Rowland, make love to Lady Wishfort, and pretend to marry her, having, however, first married Lady Wishfort's woman Foible. He hopes by this deception to force Lady Wishfort to consent to his marriage to her niece. The plot is discovered by Mrs. Marwood, and also the fact that Mirabell has in the past had an intrigue with Mrs Fainall, daughter of Lady Wishfort. She [Mrs. Marwood] conspires with Fainall, her lover, and the pretended friend of Mirabell, to reveal these facts to Lady Wishfort, while Fainall is to threaten to divorce his wife and discredit Lady Wishfort, unless he is given full control of Mrs Fainall's property and Millaman's portion is also handed over to him. The scheme, however, fails. Mrs Fainall denies the charge against her and brings proof of Fainall's affair with Mrs Marwood, while Mirabell produces a deed by which Mrs Fainall, before her last marriage, made him trustee of her property. Lady Wishfort, in gratitude for her release from Fainall's threats, forgives Mirabell and consents to his marriage to Millamant.

Congreve enlives the action with a fine gallery of fools, including Sir Willful Witwhould, Lady Wishfort's boisterous and good-natured country nephew; they serve to highlight the central contrast between the passionate and grasping relationship of Fainall and Mrs Marwood and the delicate process by which Mirabell persuades Millamant that even in such a mercenary society, love can survive into marriage. The dialogue is exceptionally brilliant, and many critics also consider the play a study of the battle between good and evil, rather than of the characteristically Restoration conflict between the witty and the foolish.


On a recent production of  The Way of the World.

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The importance of Being Earnest

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature:

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, a play by Oscar Wilde, first performed at the St James's Theatre, London, on 14 Feb. 1895.

Wilde's most dazzling and epigrammatic work, it describes the courtships and betrothals of two young men about town, John Worthing (Jack) and Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff, who are in pursuit respectively of Gwendolen Fairfax (Algy's cousin) and Jack's ward, Cecily Cardew. Both young men lead double lives, in that Jack is known in town under the name of Ernest, while representing to his ward Cecily in the country that he has a wicked brother Ernest. Algy, to cover his own diversions, has created a fictitious character, the sickly Bunbury, whose ill health requires a visit whenever engagements in town (particularly those with his formidable aunt Lady Bracknell) render his absence desirable. After many confusions of identity, during which it transpires that Cecily's governess, Miss Prism, had once mislaid Jack as a baby in a handbag at Victoria Station, it is revealed that Jack and Algy are in fact brothers, and that Jack's name is indeed Ernest. All objections, both financial and genealogical, to both matches, are thus overcome and Gwendolen's addiction to the very name of 'Ernest' is satisfied, so all ends happily.


BBC TV production, 1986:


The Life and Loves of Oscar Wilde:

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Las Chicas me Ignoran



Las Chicas Me Ignoran

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Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2013 18:22. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes




My review of The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs, by Viviane Serfaty (complete version): http://www.unizar.es/departamentos/filologia_inglesa/garciala/publicaciones/serfaty.htm 
_____. "Review of Viviane Serfaty's The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs" (2005). Online PDF at Social Science Research Network (Nov. 2007)

Literary Theory and Criticism eJournal (2007)
    Writing Technologies eJournal (2007)

_____. "Review of Viviane Serfaty's The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs" (2005). iPaper at ResearchGate 16 May 2012.* (Long version) http://www.researchgate.net/publication/33419607_Review_of_Viviane_Serfaty's_The_Mirror_and_the_Veil_An_Overview_of_American_Online_Diaries

A shortened version appeared in Atlantis 27.1 (June 2005): 117-22.*

_____. "Review of Viviane Serfaty's The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs." (Short version from Atlantis). iPaper at Academia.edu 23 Sept. 2010.*

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Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2013 19:27. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Blogs

Hemingway Delira on Vimeo


Hemingway delira on Vimeo


Hemingway delira from Jose Angel García Landa on Vimeo.

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Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2013 19:29. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Músicas mías

Ranking Web of World Repositories



Ranking Web of World Repositories

Este ranking mundial de repositorios de libre acceso lo publica el CSIC. Esta es la clasificación global basada en una serie de parámetros. Copio aquí los repositorios que ocupan los 20 primeros puestos:

1Social Science Research Networkbandera31223
2Arxiv.org e-Print Archivebandera1811152
3(1) Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data Systembandera4411301
4Research Papers in Economicsbandera1163755
6UK PubMed Centralbandera311396
7Universidade de São Paulo Biblioteca Digital de Teses e Dissertaçõesbandera508187
8CERN Document Serverbandera1710618
9HAL Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique Archive Ouvertebandera6514716
10(1) Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Dipòsit Digital de Documentsbandera38241214
11Virginia Tech University Digital Library and Archivesbandera32674770
12Universiteit Utrecht Igitur Archivebandera412221110
13HAL Sciences de l'Homme et de la Sociétébandera87138221
14MIT DSpacebandera80171430
15University of California eScholarship Repositorybandera238252421
16National Taiwan University Repositorybandera67315027
17Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya UPCommonsbandera42742011
18University of Queensland UQ eSpacebandera44527417
19Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopemeber Repositorybandera816149
20NASA Technical Reports Serverbandera6091416

Se ve, se ve que el primero sigue siendo, como otros años anteriores, el SSRN. Más sorprende que en el puesto 10, y luego en el 17, haya unos repositorios españoles (catalanes en concreto).

Entré en el SSRN en 2007, al crearse el Humanities Research Network. A finales de 2012 tengo 132 artículos subidos, y un total de descargas de 5617. Lecturas, no diré que tantas.

En posicionamiento dentro del SSRN sigo subiendo puestos, tanto absoluta como relativamente:

Jose Angel Garcia Landa Author Rank is 3,267 out of 213,564

—a fecha de hoy, vengo a estar por delante del 98,5% de autores (o, lo que es lo mismo, en el 1,5 % superior). No es mala ubicación, aunque las puede haber mejores: 3.266 mejores puede haber, en concreto. Seguiremos escalando, hasta llegar a nuestro nivel de incompetencia, como dicta el Principio de Peter.

Del repositorio de nuestra universidad, Zaguán, mejor ni hablar. Estoy allí creo el número uno en contribuciones, pero lo han cerrado y no admiten más envíos, entretanto se piensan qué hacen con él. A nivel mundial está el 570, y el 23 de entre los repositorios españoles. Incluyendo catalanes de momento. Creo que sólo subirá de puesto con la independencia de Cataluña.

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Viernes, 18 de Enero de 2013 19:32. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Trabajos

Hojas de dos colores


Hojas de dos colores

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Martes, 22 de Enero de 2013 17:24. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

George Bernard Shaw


George Bernard Shaw

From the Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble: 

(George) Bernard SHAW (1856-1950), born in Dublin, the youngest child of unhappily married and inattentive parents. In 1876 he moved to London, joining his mother and sister, and began his literary career by ghosting music criticism and writing five unsuccessful novels (including Cashel Byron's Profession, 1886, and An Unsocial Socialist, 1887, both first published in Today, in 1885-6- and 1884 respectively). During his first nine years in London he calculated that he earned less than £10 by his pen. He wrote music, art, and book criticism for the Dramatic Review (1885-6), 
Our Corner (1885-6), the Pall Mall Gazette (1885-8), the World (1886-94) and the Star (1888-90, as 'Corno di Bassetto'). His music criticism has been collected in three volumes as Shaw's Music (1981, ed. Dan H. Laurence) (see also under MUSIC, LITERATURE OF) and his theatre criticism in four volumes as The Drama Observed (1993, ed. B. Dukore). He was a drama critic for the Saturday Review (1895-8) and produced a series of remarkable and controversial weekly articles (published in book form as Our Theatres in the Nineties, 3 vols, 1932), voicing his impatience with the artificiality of the London theatre and pleading for the performance of plays dealing with contemporary social and moral problems. He campaigned for a theatre of ideas in Britain comparable to that of Ibsen and Strindberg in Scandinavia, and came nearest to achieving this with Granville-Barker at the Court Theatre in London between 1904 and 1907. During this period he took up various causes and joined several literary and political societites, notably the Fabian Society, serving on the executive committee from 1885 to 1911. Not naturally a good public speaker, he schooled himself to become a brilliant one and gave over 1,000 lectures. he edited and contributed to Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889) and wrote many tracts setting down his socialist and collectivist principles. He was a freethinker, a supporter of women's rights, and an advocate of equality of income, the abolition of private property, and a radical change in the voting system. He also campaigned for the simplification of spelling and punctuation and the reform of the English alphabet. He was well known as a journalist and public speaker when his first play, Widowers' Houses (pub. 1893), was produced in 1982, but it met with little success. There followed Arms and the Man (1894, pub. 1898: partly used for Oscar Straus's musical The Chocolate Soldier), The Devil's Disciple (perf. NY 1897, pub. 1901), You Never Can Tell (1899, pub. 1898), Caesar and Cleopatra (pub. 1901, perf. Berlin 1906), Mrs Warren's Profession (pub. 1898, perf. 1902), and John Bull's Other Island (1904, pub. NY 1907), a play which, thanks to its characteristic 'Shavian' wit, brought his first popular success in London. The critics also were gradually persuaded that the plays were not simply dry vehicles for his reformist zeal.

Shaw was an indefatigable worker, writing over 50 plays, including Man and Superman (pub. 1903, perf. 1905), Major Barbara (1905, pub. NY 1907), The Doctor's Dilemma(1906, pub. Berlin 1908). Getting Married (1908, pub. Berlin 1910), Misalliance (191, pub. Berlin 1911), Androcles and the Lion (pub. Berlin 1913, perf. Hamburg 1913),Pygmalion (perf. Vienna 1913, pub. Berlin 1913, later turned into the popular musical My Fair Lady), Heartbreak House (pub. 1919, perf. 1920, both NY), Back to Methuselah (pub. and perf. NY 1921, 1922), Saint Joan (perf. NY 1923, pub. 1924), The Apple Cart (perf. Warsaw 1929, pub. Berlin 1929), Too True to Be Good (perf. Boston 1932, pub. Berlin 1932), Village Wooing (pub. Berlin 1933, perf. Dallas 1934), The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles (perf. NY 1935, pub. Berlin 1935), In Good King Charles's Golden Days (perf. and publ 1939), and Buoyant Billions (perf. and pub. Zurich 1948).

These plays were published (some in collections: Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, 1898; Three Plays for Puritans, 1901) with lengthy prefaces in which Shaw clearly expresses his views as a non-romantic and a champion of the thinking man. The dramatic conflict in his plays is the conflict of thought and belief, not that of neurosis or physical passion. Discussion is the basis of the plays, and his great wit and intelligence won audiences over to the idea that mental and moral passion could produce absorbing dramatic material. He believed that war, disease, and the present brevity of our lifespan frustrate the 'Life Force' (see under MAN AND SUPERMAN) and that functional adaptation, a current of creative evolution activated by the power of human will, was essential to any real progress, and indeed to the survival of the species. The plays continued to be performed regularly both during and after his lifetime (several were made into films) and his unorthodox views, his humour, and his love of paradox have become an institution. Amongst his other works should be mentionedThe Quintessence of Ibsenism (1891, revised and expanded 1913), which reveals his debt to Ibsen as a playwright and presents an argument for Fabian socialism; The Perfect Wagnerite (1898); Common sense about the War (1914); 
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928); and Everybody's Political What's What (1944) Shaw was a prolific letter writer. his correspondence with the actressses Ellen Terry and Mrs Patrick Campbell, with friends and colleagues such as H.G. Wells and Gabriel pascal, as well as several volumes of collected letters, are available in book form.

In 1898 Shaw married Charlotte Payne Townshend. It seems to have been a marriage of companionship, and they lived together until her death in 1943. He was a strict vegetarian and never drank spirits, coffee, or tea. He died at the age of 94, as independent as ever an still writing for the theatre. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1925. See The Bodley Head Collected Plays with Their Prefaces (7 vols, 1970-74).

The Fabian Society, a society founded in 1884 consisting of socialists who advocate a 'Fabian' policy, as opposed to immediate revolutionary action, and named after Quintus Fabius Maximus, nicknamed Cunctator or 'the Delayer' [d. 203 BC - was appointed dictator after Hannibal's crushing victory at Trasimene (217 BC). He carried on a defensive campaign, avoiding direct engagements and harassing the enemy. Hence the expression 'Fabian tactics' and the name of the Fabian Society (1884) dedicated to the gradual introduction of socialism]. One of its instigators was Thomas Davidson (1840-1900), the illegitimate son of a Scottish shepherd, a charismatic figure with many disciples who was also responsible for founding in 1883 the Fellowship of the New Life, a body which at first attracted some of the same membership, although its aims were mystical and philsophical rather than political. The Fabians aimed to influence government and affect policy by permeation rather than by direct power, and to provide the reseach and analysis to support their own views and introduce them to others. One of their methods was the publishing of tracts, or pamphleteering: the first two Fabian tracvts weere Why Are the many Poor? (1884) by W. L. Phillips, a house painter and one of the few working-class members, and A Manifesto (1884) by G. B. Shaw. Shaw wrote  many other important tractsas did S. Webb. Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889), edited by Shaw and with contributions by Webb, Sydney Olivier, and A. Besant sold well and attracted much attention. The Society itself continued to attract a distinguished membership of politicians, intellectuals, artists, and writers, ranging from Keir Hardie, Ramsay Macdonald, and G. D. H. Cole to E. Carpenter, E. Nesbit, R. Brooke, and W. Crane. See Margaert Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (1961) and N. and J. Mackenzie, The First Fabians (1977).
Widowers' Houses, 
a play by Bernard Shaw, first performed 1892, published 1893, and published (with The Philanderer and Mrs Warren's Profession ) in Plays Unpleasant (898). It is designed to show the manner in which the capitalist system perverts and corrupts human behaviour and relationships, through a demonstration, in Shaw's words, of 'middle-class respectability and younger son gentility fattening on the poverty of the slum as flies fatten on filth'.

Dr. Harry Trench, on a Rhine holiday, meets Blanche Sartorius, travelling with her wealthy father, and proposes marriage to her: Sartorius is willing to permit the match if Trench's family (including his aunt Lady Roxdale) agrees to accept her as an equal. All seems well, until it is revealed in Act II that Sartorius is a slum landlord. Trench is horrified, refuses to accept Sartorius' money, suggests that he and Blanche should live on his  £700 a year, and is even more horrified when Sartorius points out that this income is derived from a mortgage of Sartorius' property, and that he himself and his miserable rent collector Lickcheese are merely intermediaries. 'You are the principal.' Blanche, revealing a passionate and violent nature, rejects Trench for his hesitations. In the third act Lickcheese, himself now rich through dubious dealings to the property market, approaches Sartorius with an apparent philanthropic but in fact remunerative proposition, which involves Lady Roxdale as a ground landlord and Trench as mortgagee. Trench, now considerably more cynical, accepts the deal, and he and Blanche are reunited.

John Bull's Other Island, an ironic description of Ireland deriving from Leon Paul Blouet's John Bull and His Island  (1884) and used by G. B. Shaw as the title of a play (1904) written at the request of Yeats 'as a patriotic contribution to the repertory of the Irish Literary Theatre'.

Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy, a play by Bernard Shaw, first published 1903, first performed (without Act III) in 1905 by the Stage Society at the Court Theatre.

The play is Shaw's paradoxical version of the Don Juan story, in which his hero John Tanner (Don Juan Tenorio), provocative, eloquent, and witty ideologue and author of theRevolutionist's Handbook (a work which appears in full as an appendix to the play), is relentlessly if obliquely pursued by Ann Whitefield, who is more interested in him as a potential husband than she is in his political theories. Ann has been entrusted as ward by her dead father jointly to Tanner and to the elderly respectable Ramsden, who expects her to marry the devoted and poetic Octavius. Tanner is made aware of Ann's intentions by his chauffeur Straker (the new man of the polytechnic revolution), and flees to Spain whither he is pursued by Ann and her entourage, which includes her mother and Octavius's sister Violet, who demonstrates, through a matrimonial sub-plot, the superior force of women. Act III consists of a dream sequence set in hell in which Tanner, captured by the brigand Mendoza, becomes his ancestor Don Juan, Mendoza the Devil, Ramsden 'the Statue', and Ann becomes Ana: in one of Shaw's most characteristic 'Shavio-Socratic' debates, the four characters discuss the nature of progress, evolution, and the Life Force, the Devil arguing powerfully that man is essentially destructive, and Don Juan arguing for the saving power of ideas and rational effort, for the philosopher as 'nature's pilot'. In the last act Ann achieves her object, despite Tanner's struggles; the play ends with the announcement of their impending marriage and Tanner's submission to the Life Force.

The concept of the Life Force bears some similarity to Bergson's 'élan vital', although Shaw was not at the time familiar with Bergson's work: the echo in his 'Superman' of Nietzsche's 'Übermensch' (Also sprach Zarathustra) is, however, deliberate.

Major Barbara,
 a play by Bernard Shaw performed 1905, published 1907.

It portrays the conflict between spiritual and worldly power embodied in Barbara, a major in the Salvation Army, and her machiavellian father, millionaire armaments manufacturer Andrew Undershaft. While visiting her East End shelter for the poor, as part of a bargain struck between them, he reveals that the shelter's benefactor, Lord Saxmundham, made his money through 'Bodgers' whisky', and she suffers a crisis of faith as she glimpses the possibility that all salvation and philanthropy are tainted at the source: the next day, visiting his factory with her mother Lady Britomart and her fiancé, classical scholar Adolphus Cusins, she is further shaken to discover her father is a model employer. Cusins enters the debate, reveals that he is technically a foundling nd therefore eligible to inherit the Undershaft empire (as Undershaft's own children are not), strikes a hard bargain with his prospective father-in-law, and agrees to enter the business, partly persuaded by Undershaft's quoting of Plato to the effect that 'society cannot be saved until either the Professors of Greek take to making gundpowder, or else the makers of gunpowder become Professors of Greek'. Barbara, recovering her spirits, embraces this synthesis as a possibility of hope for the future. The portrait of Cusins is based on G. Murray.  

Pygmalion, one of the most popular plays of Bernard Shaw, first performed 1913 in Vienna, published in London, 1916.

It describes the transformation of a Cockney flower-seller, Eliza Doolittle, into a passable imitation of a duchess by the phonetician Professor Henry Higgins (modelled in part on H. Sweet, and played by Beerbohm Tree), who undertakes this task in order to win a bet and to prove his own points about English speech and the class system: he teaches her to speak standard English and introduces her successfully to social life, thus wining his bet, but hse rebels against his dictatorial and thoughtless behaviour, and 'bolts' from his tyranny. The play ends with a truce between the two of them, as Higgins acknowledges that she has achieved freedom and independence, and emerged from his treatment as a 'tower of strength: a consort battleship':  in his postscript Shaw tells us that she marries the docile and devoted Freddy Eynsford Hill. My Fair Lady, the 1957 musical version, makes the relationship between Eliza and Higgins significantly more romantic.

Pygmalion, in classical legend, was the king of Cyprus, who fell in love with his own sculpture; Aphrodite endowed the statue with life and transformeed it into the flesh and blood of Galathea.

Heartbreak House:A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes,  a play by Bernard Shaw, first performed in New York 1920, published there 1919; probably written 1916-17, despite Shaw's claims that he began it before the war.

It deescribes the impact of Ellie Dunn, daughter of the idealistic and undworldly Mazzini Dunn, upon the eccentric, complacent, and 'horribly Bohemian' household of 88-year-old Captain Shotover, with whom she strikes up an alliance: the inmaes include energetic, beautiful, dominating Hesione Hushabye (determined Ellie shall not marry the ageing business magnate Boss Mangan); her husband, the romantic liar and fantasist Hector Hushabye; her sister, the apparently conventional, newly returned Lady Utterword; and Lady Utterword's devoted brother-in-law Randall, prototype of the useless artist. Shaw appears to be portraying in 'this silly house, this strangely happy house, this agonizing house, this house without foundations', an aspect of British (or European) civilization (suggested in part by the Bloomsbury Group, in part by the society portrayed by Chekhov), about to run on the rocks or blow itself up through lack of direction and lack of grasp of economic reality, but, after various Shavian debates on money, marriage, and morality, the play ends in deep ambiguity: an air raid destroys Boss Mangan, the practical man (who takes refuge in a gravel pit where the captain stores dynamite), and is greeted with exhilarated rapture by Hesione and Elie ('It's splendid: it's like an orchestra: it's like Beethoven'), who with the rest of the household refuse to take shelter, and survive.

Back to Methuselah:  A Metabiological pentateuch (1918-20) is an infrequently performed cycle of five plays by Bernard Shaw, beginning in the Garden of Eden and reaching the year AD 31,920, which examines the metaphysical implications of longevity. Shaw revised the text and its preface, and added a postscript, in the mid-1940s when choosing Back to Methuselah to represent his work in the Oxford University Press World's Classics seires.

Too True to Be Good,  (1931), a three-act political extravaganza by Bernard Shaw which opens in one of the richest cities in England, in a patient's bedroom inhabited by a 'poor innocent microbe' made of luminous jelly, and then moves to a sea beach in a mountainous country patrolled by the omnipresent Private Meek, Shaw's imaginative portrait of T. E. Lawrence. The surreal plot, which progresses by means of a series of fantastical illusions and proliferating identities, contains echoes from The Pilgrim's Progress and The Tempest, and reaches its climax in a long peroration on the place of human beings in the evolution of the world.

The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928), G. B. Shaw's answer, 200,000 words long, to a request for 'a few ideas on socialism' from his sister-in-law, to whom the book is dedicated. This closely argued and passionately felt political testament treats women as the have-nots of a male culture and traces specific social evils to inequality of income. A new edition, with two additional chapter and retitled The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism, was published in 1937 as the first two Pelican Books.

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I'm Leaving, I'm Leaving, I'm Left


I'm Leaving, I'm Leaving, I'm Left

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Martes, 22 de Enero de 2013 17:40. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Discurso del diablo en MAN AND SUPERMAN

lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2012

Discurso del diablo en "Man and Superman"

En el Acto III de Man and Superman, de  George Bernard Shaw, los personajes discuten sobre el sentido de la acción, y del matrimonio y de la reproducción y de la vida y de la existencia, concluyendo con una defensa de la Fuerza Vital en boca de Don Juan, una fuerza que guía la evolución y que llevará al hombre hacia su destino en el Superhombre (en la obra se alude explícitamente a Nietzsche). El Diablo, otro de los interlocutores, es mas escéptico: el Universo visto globalmente no tiene propósito, y el hombre, con todo su cerebro y su inteligencia, no es  sino una especie destructiva:

foto de hoyDON JUAN. You forget that brainless magnificence of body has been tried. Things immeasurably greater than man in every respect but brain have existed and perished. The megatherium, the icthyosaurus have paced the earth with seven-league steps and hidden the day with cloud vast wings. Where are they now? Fossils in museums, and so few and imperfect at that, that a knuckle bone or a tooth of one of them is prized beyond the lives of a thousand soldiers. These things lived and wanted to live; but for lack of brains they did not know how to carry out their purpose, and so destroyed themselves.THE DEVIL. And is Man any the less destroying himself for all this boasted brain of his? Have you walked up and down upon the earth lately? I have; and I have examined Man's wonderful inventions. And I tell you that in the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence and famine. The peasant I tempt to-day eats and drinks what was eaten and drunk by the peasants of ten thousand years ago; and the house he lives in has not altered as much in a thousand centuries as the fashion of a lady's bonnet in a score of weeks. But when he goes out to slay, he carries a marvel of mechanism that lets loose at the touch of his finger all the hidden molecular energies, and leaves the javelin, the arrow, the blowpipe of his fathers far behind. In the arts of peace Man is a bungler. I have seen his cotton factories and the like, with machinery that a greedy dog could have invented if it had wanted money instead of food. I know his clumsy typewriters and bungling locomotives and tedious bicycles: they are toys compared to the Maxim gun, the submarine torpedo boat. There is nothing in Man's industrial machinery but his greed and sloth: his heart is in his weapons. This marvellous force of Life of which you boast is a force of Death: Man measures his strength by his destructiveness. What is his religion? An excuse for hating ME. What is his law? An excuse for hanging YOU. What is his morality? Gentility! an excuse for consuming without producing. What is his art? An excuse for gloating over pictures of slaughter. What are his politics? Either the worship of a despot because a despot can kill, or parliamentary cockfighting. I spent an evening lately in a certain celebrated legislature, and heard the pot lecturing the kettle for it s blackness, and ministers answering questions. When I left I chalked up on the door the old nursery saying—"Ask no questions and you will be told no lies." I bought a sixpenny family magazine, and found it full of pictures of young men shooting and stabbing one another. I saw a man die: he was a London bricklayer's laborer with seven children. He left seventeen pounds club money; and his wife spent it all on his funeral and went into the workhouse with the children next day. She would not have spent sevenpence on her children's schooling: the law had to force her to let them be taught gratuitously; but on death she spent all she had. Their imagination glows, their energies rise up at the idea of death, these people: they love it; and the more horrible it is the more they enjoy it. Hell is a place far above their comprehension: they derive their notion of it from two of the greatest fools that ever lived, an Italian and an Englishman. The Italian described it as a place of mud, frost, filth, fire, and venomous serpents: all torture. This ass, when he was not lying about me, was maundering about some woman whom he saw once in the street. The Englishman described me as being expelled from Heaven by cannons and gunpowder; and to this day every Briton believes that the whole of his silly story is in the Bible. What else he says I do not know; for it is all in a long poem which neither I nor anyone else ever succeeded in wading through. It is the same in everything. The highest form of literature is the tragedy, a play in which everybody is murdered at the end. In the old chronicles you read of earthquakes and pestilences, and are told that these showed the power and majesty of God and the littleness of Man. Nowadays the chronicles describe battles. In a battle two bodies of men shoot at one another with bullets and explosive shells until one body runs away, when the others chase the fugitives on horseback and cut them to pieces as they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes, shows the greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of the vanquished. Over such battles the people run about the streets yelling with delight, and egg their Governments on to spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter, whilst the strongest Ministers dare not spend an extra penny in the pound against the poverty and pestilence through which they themselves daily walk. I could give you a thousand instances; but they all come to the same thing: the power that governs the earth is not the power of Life but of Death; and the inner need that has nerved Life to the effort of organizing itself into the human being is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient engine of destruction. The plague, the famine, the earthquake, the tempest were too spasmodic in their action; the tiger and crocodile were too easily satiated and not cruel enough: something more constantly, more ruthlessly, more ingeniously destructive was needed; and that something was Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the gallows, and the electrocutor; of the sword and gun; above all, of justice, duty, patriotism and all the other isms by which even those who are clever enough to be humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most destructive of all the destroyers.

Más adelante este diálogo, expone o reconoce Don Juan la tesis de que la evolución humana está guiada por la guerra y la lucha por el poder. Es una interesante y temprana exposición de la tesis evolutiva de que somos hijos de la guerra: 

THE DEVIL. Yes; and this civilization! what is it, after all?DON JUAN. After all, an excellent peg to hang your cynical commonplaces on; but BEFORE all, it is an attempt on Man's part to make himself something more than the mere instrument of Woman's purpose. So far, the result of Life's continual effort not only to maintain itself, but to achieve higher and higher organization and completer self-consciousness, is only, at best, a doubtful campaign between its forces and those of Death and Degeneration. The battles in this campaign are mere blunders, mostly won, like actual military battles, in spite of the commanders.THE STATUE. That is a dig at me. No matter: go on, go on.DON JUAN. It is a dig at a much higher power than you, Commander. Still, you must have noticed in your profession that even a stupid general can win battles when the enemy's general is a little stupider.THE STATUE. [very seriously] Most true, Juan, most true. Some donkeys have amazing luck.DON JUAN. Well, the Life Force is stupid; but it is not so stupid as the forces of Death and Degeneration. Besides, these are in its pay all the time. And so Life wins, after a fashion. What mere copiousness of fecundity can supply and mere greed preserve, we possess. The survival of whatever form of civilization can produce the best rifle and the best fed riflemen is assured.THE DEVIL. Exactly! the survival, not of the most effective means of Life but of the most effective means of Death. You always come back to my point, in spite of your wrigglings and evasions and sophistries, not to mention the intolerable length of your speeches.

El ideal de Don Juan, la evolución creadora de formas superiores, requiere sin embargo la inteligencia, sea cual sea su origen. La  cima de la  existencia humana, lo más parecido al superhombre que tenemos hoy, es

the philosophic man: he who seeks in contemplation to discover the inner will of the world, in invention to discover the means of fulfilling that will, and in action to do that will by the so-discovered means. Of all other sorts of men I declare myself tired.

—sin embargo la obra termina con Don Juan (Tanner) casado con Doña Ana, impulsado se supone por la Fuerza Vital, y rindiéndose a las argucias matrimoniales femeninas: "The Life Force enchants me: I have the whole world in my arms when I clasp you".... 

Tanto más curiosa esta conclusión desde el punto de vista de Bernard Shaw, cuando se piensa que su propia esposa impuso en su matrimonio la condición de no tener relaciones sexuales. Debería de estar pensando en la vida y deseos de los otros.

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Miércoles, 23 de Enero de 2013 09:29. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Too True to Be Good: Cartografía narrativa

lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2012

 Too True to Be Good: Cartografía narrativa

Too True to Be Good: A Political Extravaganza. By George Bernard Shaw. Online at Project Gutenberg Australia

La cartografía narrativa consiste en la ubicación de un fenómeno narrativo (un texto narrativo en este caso) en el marco de una narratividad general, o de la realidad como gran narración o sistema de narraciones. La realidad es otras cosas, por supuesto, además de una gran narrración o un sistema de narraciones; se trata de un aspecto relevante de la realidad al que estamos prestando atención, o resaltando con nuestra atención.

El estudio del anclaje narrativo, un aspecto concreto de la cartografía narrativa, consistirá en examinar cómo se sitúa una narración a sí misma en relación a otros fenómenos narrativos que dan cuenta del mundo como secuencia temporal organizada e interpretable—que sitúan a esa narración en el marco el mundo como gran relato. Para ver qué tipo de anclaje narrativo se da en una narración, habrá que determinar qué tipo de conceptualización del mundo en tanto que gran relato se está invocando o presuponiendo. La historicidad es una manera específica (moderna, pongamos) de anclaje narrativo.

La cartografía narrativa en sentido amplio también atiende a otras cuestiones, a saber, la cuestión de los géneros narrativos. Dado el mundo como gran historia, hay muchas maneras posibles de hablar de ella, muchos géneros de discurso al respecto. Y un texto narrativo también puede caracterizarse a sí mismo como una manera determinada de presentar el mundo, o puede ubicarse de modo más o menos consciente o explícito en el mapa de los géneros posibles, o aludir a otros géneros que presenten una perspectiva determinada sobre la realidad (en el aspecto que se está tratando) o sobre el propio texto, entrando así en un dialogismo intertextual (del cual nos interesa aquí la dimensión narrativa, historicista o temporal).

La obra de Bernard Shaw Too True to Be Good (1931) se ubica explícitamente en un momento dado de la evolución de la humanidad, más en concreto en el debate entre socialismo y capitalismo en el siglo XX. Shaw, un socialista de costumbres austeras, ve gran parte de los males de la humanidad como consecuencia de la desigualdad de riquezas, y propone en toda una serie de obras la abolición de la propiedad privada. Por tanto, Too True to Be Good se ubicará no sólo en el contexto histórico de una determinada fase del desarrollo del capitalismo, y de la reacción comunista, sino también en el contexto de la obra socialista de Shaw.

Hay que decir que Shaw, con su estilo de vida personal, era muy consciente de que la vida de los ricos no es una condición para la felicidad; que la sobreabundancia de propiedades y bienes puede incluso ser un obstáculo para ella (y aquí es a donde apunta esta obra en concreto). La visión de los ricos como el ideal de vida puede cegar a los pobres sobre la naturaleza de la felicidad, y eso es un problema mayor incluso que el de la propia existencia de desigualdades en los bienes.  La pesadilla insensata que es la vida del rico la describe la Paciente en el acto III "I was devoured by parasites: by tourist agencies, steamboat companies, railways, motor car people, hotel keepers, dressmakers, servants, all trying to get my money by selling me things I dont really want; shoving me all over the globe to look at what they call new skies, though they know as well as I do that it is only the same old sky everywhere; and disabling me by doing all the things for me that I ought to do for myself to keep myself in health. They preyed on me to keep themselves alive: they pretended they were making me happy when it was only by drinking and drugging--cocktails and cocaine--that I could endure my life."

Son éstos ricos modernos, como queda claro por su tren de vida. El tipo de ricos de quienes se ocupa la obra también la sitúa históricamente.

Otra dimensión de la cartografía narrativa irá dirigida a la obra (texto, fenómeno, etc.) como fenómeno parcial ubicado en el ámbito global de la producción de un autor—a la relación entre el fenómeno narrativo concreto (TToo True to Be Good en este caso) y otro fenómeno histórico-temporal narrativizado: la vida de un autor, su sentido y su lugar en ella.

Todos estos fenómenos son perspectivizados por el papel del analista y su situación histórica. Por ejemplo (y haciendo abstracción de la cuestión principal aquí, nuestro interés por la cartografía y anclaje narrativos)—podemos valorar las ideas socialistas de Shaw, vistas a principios del siglo XXI, sobre el trasfondo histórico de la experiencia socialista y comunista del siglo XX, y de ello se seguirían como poco importantes matizaciones a su postura. Podríamos argüír, por ejemplo, cómo Shaw subestima el papel de la iniciativa privada como creadora de riqueza y civilización, o cómo subestima a Stalin, en esta obra de 1931, como opresor de vidas, cuerpos y mentes.

Shaw, dramaturgo de ideas, abre sus obras con grandes prefacios teórico-filosóficos. Y éstos son de interés para nuestro proyecto aquí porque atienden a diversas dimensiones de la cartografía narrativa. En este caso presenta una panorámica de los sistemas de gobierno social, basados en última instancia en una interpretación de la naturaleza y de las motivaciones humanas—los impulsos egoístas y parasitarios, frente a los altruistas y socialistas, o, tal y como lo pone Shaw, el Imperio frente a la Iglesia. También aludirá a su propia intervención en el debate político en forma de drama, teniendo en cuenta a su público y su trayectoria pasada todo ello de modo explícito. A lo cual hay que sumar el dialogismo implícito que el análisis extraiga ya sea del prólogo, ya de la obra en sí.

Por supuesto que la perspectiva de Shaw (o "la perspectiva de Shaw tal como la interpreta el analista") no coincidirá con la perspectiva del analista, y ello añade dimensiones perspectivísticas y narrativas propias. Por ejemplo, la admiración hacia Stalin o que mencionábamos, y también hacia el fascismo (" Stalin and Mussolini are the most responsible statesmen in Europe because they have no hold on their places except their efficiency"...) —claramente, Shaw no sólo ignora hechos relevantes que han sido puestos de manifiesto por la historia subsiguiente, sino que su análisis se basa en una interpretación errónea de la naturaleza humana, de las motivaciones de la acción humana, y de la dinámica social. Ignora o es incapaz de ver la dinámica de opresión y conformismo, de control y de vigilancia mutua, que se da en la sociedad al margen de la adquisición de bienes materiales. Por eso no ve a Stalin como un grotesco y monstruoso acumulador de poder, aunque lo vea como un nuevo Papa, sino como un honesto funcionario dedicado a su trabajo en la máxima austeridad; por eso es totalmente ciego al distinto tipo de parasitismo social y de opresión que ejercen los comisarios políticos, para Shaw una especie de monjes laicos. Shaw cree que puede haber un gobierno objetivamente científico de los asuntos humanos al margen de los intereses de lucro personal. Eso sería too good to be true: no parece la naturaleza humana responder a esa creencia, pues el lucro no sólo se expresa en objetos caros o cuentas millonarias; la naturaleza humana se lucra a expensas de los demás con poder, opresión, atención e influencia.

La obra se abre con un acto en el que un monstruo o microbio gigante dialoga con un médico sobre la paciente que está en la cama. El médico arguye que no hay un microbio conocido que cause el sarampión. Y en efecto no lo había dn 1931. Según la Wikipedia, "Measles (also known as Rubeola, morbilli, or English measles), is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus" ... " In 1954, the virus causing the disease was isolated from an 11-year old boy from the United States, David Edmonston, and adapted and propagated on chick embryo tissue culture. To date, 21 strains of the measles virus have been identified. While at Merck, Maurice Hilleman developed the first successful vaccine. Licensed vaccines to prevent the disease became available in 1963."

El médico reonoce que no tiene tratamiento para el sarampión, y que sin embargo lo simula por el efecto placebo: "Faith is humbug. But it works."

—quizá de allí pasamos a la explicación del título de la obra. Las ideas religiosas son too good to be true, pero quizá en cambio el análisis científico y escéptico de la realidad sea too true to be good, es incapaz de generar el ilusionismo, el efecto placebo necesario para un funcionamiento adecuado de las motivaciones humanas y por tanto de la sociedad.

Otra manera de situar la obra en la historia es mediante los detalles de la ambientación y la realidad representada (incluyendo, por ejemplo, el mobiliario e interiores que se empleen en la representación, pero también detalles como la caja fuerte de seguridad, el teléfono o el timbre eléctrico mencionados en el primer acto). Hay que tener en cuenta el posible desfase entre el momento en que se escribió la obra y el momento que escenifica, algo que puede hacerse más o menos explícito con señales deliberadas de historicidad; y también las posibles distorsiones o desfases temporales introducidos por la adaptación o recepción posterior de la obra—por ejemplo reubicaciones en una época anterior o posterior, que pueden a su vez causar incongruencias o tensiones con diferentes aspectos de la obra, su lenguaje o sus representaciones de la realidad. Así, un montaje actual de la obra podría mantener su ambientación en los años 30, o actualizarla en algunos aspectos —etc.

Shaw alude a su propia reputación como autor de teatro "de ideas," con obras basadas en debates más que en intriga, con las palabras del monstruo o microbio al final del acto I: "The play is now virtually over; but the characters will discuss it at great length for two acts more".

Un aspecto importante de la cartografía narrativa de la obra es su ubicación en el panorama comunicativo—en concreto, en este caso, en la historia del teatro británico o del teatro moderno. En este sentido vemos a Shaw como un socialista de salón, es decir, un autor fundamentalmente integrado (no digamos ya en su círculo social, su vida personal, etc.) en los círculos sociales e intelectuales más influyentes de su tiempo. Trabaja "para la humanidad", pero dirigiéndose a un público muy concreto que es el suyo, y con un género muy específico que ha de ser recibido por ese público. Por ejemplo, los personajes de Shaw son siempre caballeros, aristócratas, con una conciencia de clase extraordinariamente desarrollada, a la británica—y ése es el trasfondo sobre el cual sus obras se constryen y sobre el que actúan. Shaw no inaugura nuevos protocolos comunicativos, sino que sus obras vienen marcadas como fundamentalmente convencionales, sean las que sean las ideas que en ellas se ventilan. No es sorprendente que muchas de ellas acaben con protocolos de conciliación social menos radicales de lo que son las proclamadas ideas del autor—matrimonios en la clase alta, pactos entre capitalistas y progresistas, herencias para los intelectuales, desengaños de los idealistas, etc. El argumento, y no ya tanto el argumento como la galería de personajes, desactiva por anticipado el socialismo del autor, reubicándolo no en la acción política sino en un debate de ideas (en línea, en realidad con las tesis "Fabianas" antirrevolucionarias). La benevolencia con que se presenta a las clases altas y a sus humores y caprichos contrasta curiosamente con la supuesta virulencia política del mensaje de Shaw; en esto, como en tantas otras cosas, la obra es característica de su época como fenómeno histórico.

Una obra se construye por alusión a géneros anteriores o a referencias culturales que le proporcionan un tono, una estrucutra, una serie de convencione. Por ejemplo, Heartbreak House de Shaw se presenta explícitamente como una pieza "al estilo ruso" —de Chejov, pongamos—sobre temas británicos. En Man and Superman alude a Nietzsche y al darwinismo. En este caso, el acto segundo nos remite a pastiches imperiales humorísticos, quizá en la tradición de Gilbert y Sullivan, o, en la caracterización de la "paciente" del primer acto en su disfraz indígena, a indígenas explícitamente teatrales, de los que sólo se encuentran en el "ballet ruso".

Critica la obra la hipocresía social que cultiva las mentiras y ficciones por su propia conveniencia. Dice Aubrey, el gentilhombre metido a ladrón:

"Make any statement that is so true that it has been staring us in the face all our lives, and the whole world will rise up and passionately contradict you. If you dont withdraw and apologize, it will be the worse for you. But just tell a thundering silly lie that everyone knows is a lie, and a murmur of pleased assent will hum up from every quarter of the globe."

La verdad no tiene valor social en sí: muchas cosas son too true to be good. Quizá esté reflexionando Bernard Shaw sobre cómo muchos de sus mensajes revolucionarios son aceptados por su público únicamente porque el vehículo de los mismos es la ficción, la mentira consensuada.

Otra verdad inconventiente dice la "Paciente" Miss Mopply; que los tres estafadores no son sino "inefficient fertilizers. We do nothing but convert good food into bad manure. We are walking factories of bad manure: thats what we are"—pero Aubrey le reprocha que "ther are certain disgusting truths that no lady would throw in the teeth of her fellow creatures--"

Una alusión a H. G. Wells y al creciente pesimismo de estos Fabianos al final de su vida:

(el Sargento, en el acto III): "What must we do to be saved?" There it is: not a story in a book as it used to be, but God's truth in the real actual world. And all the comfort they get is "Flee from the wrath to come." But where are they to flee to? There they are, meeting at Geneva or hobnobbing at Chequers over the weekend, asking one another, like the man in the book, "Whither must we flee?" And nobody can tell them. The man in the book says "Do you see yonder shining light?" Well, today the place is blazing with shining lights: shining lights in parliament, in the papers, in the churches, and in the books that they call Outlines--Outlines of History and Science and what not--and in spite of all their ballyhoo here we are waiting in the City of Destruction like so many sheep for the wrath to come."

El Anciano, padre de Aubrey, hace su aparición para lamentarse de la educación dada a su hijo, que lo ha convertido en sacerdote y en estafador. El Anciano era un escéptico, un librepensador, un defensor de la Verdad, principios que intentó inculcar a su hijo—y ahora ve que la Verdad quizá haga libre a la gente, pero no la hace mejor. Y así ve cómo el universo en el que creía, el universo del racionalista escéptico, se desmorona:

THE ELDER. Yes, sir: the universe of Isaac Newton, which has been an impregnable citadel of modern civilization for three hundred years, has crumbled like the walls of Jericho before the criticism of Einstein. Newton's universe was the stronghold of rational Determinism: the stars in their orbits obeyed immutably fixed laws; and when we turned from surveying their vastness to study the infinite littleness of the atoms, there too we found the electrons in their orbits obeying the same universal laws. Every moment of time dictated and determined the following moment, and was itself dictated and determined by the moment that came before it. Everything was calculable: everything happened because it must: the commandments were erased from the tables of the law; and in their place came the cosmic algebra: the equations of the mathematicians. Here was my faith: here I found my dogma of infallibility: I, who scorned alike the Catholic with his vain dream of responsible Free Will, and the Protestant with his pretence of private judgment. And now--now--what is left of it? The orbit of the electron obeys no law: it chooses one path and rejects another: it is as capricious as the planet Mercury, who wanders from his road to warm his hands at the sun. All is caprice: the calculable world has become incalculable: Purpose and Design, the pretexts for all the vilest superstitions, have risen from the dead to cast down the mighty from their seats and put paper crowns on presumptuous fools. Formerly, when differences with my wife, or business worries, tried me too hard, I sought consolation and reassurance in our natural history museums, where I could forget all common cares in wondering at the diversity of forms and colors in the birds and fishes and animals, all produced without the agency of any designer by the operation of Natural Selection. Today I dare not enter an aquarium, because I can see nothing in those grotesque monsters of the deep but the caricatures of some freakish demon artist: some Zeus-Mephistopheles with paintbox and plasticine, trying to surpass himself in the production of fantastic and laughable creatures to people a Noah's ark for his baby. I have to rush from the building lest I go mad, crying, like the man in your book, "What must I do to be saved?" Nothing can save us from a perpetual headlong fall into a bottomless abyss but a solid footing of dogma; and we no sooner agree to that than we find that the only trustworthy dogma is that there is no dogma. As I stand here I am falling into that abyss, down, down, down. We are all falling into it; and our dizzy brains can utter nothing but madness. My wife has died cursing me. I do not know how to live without her: we were unhappy together for forty years. My son, whom I brought up to be an incorruptible Godfearing atheist, has become a thief and a scoundrel; and I can say nothing to him but "Go, boy: perish in your villainy; for neither your father nor anyone else can now give you a good reason for being a man of honor."

Determinism is gone, shattered, buried with a thousand dead religions, evaporated with the clouds of a million forgotten winters. The science I pinned my faith to is bankrupt: its tales were more foolish than all the miracles of the priests, its cruelties more horrible than all the atrocities of the Inquisition. Its spread of enlightenment has been a spread of cancer: its counsels that were to have established the millennium have led straight to European suicide. And I--I who believed in it as no religious fanatic has ever believed in his superstition! For its sake I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now look at me and behold the supreme tragedy of the atheist who has lost his faith--his faith in atheism, for which more martyrs have perished than for all the creeds put together. Here I stand, dumb before my scoundrel of a son; for that is what you are, boy, a common scoundrel and nothing else.

Aubrey a su vez, tranquilo en su cinismo actual, le reprocha al anciano su propia inmoralidad, que tolera la guerra y los bombardeos si son actos "patrióticos", y contribuyó a hacerlo inmoral a él mismo. La experiencia del desengaño del patriotismo y del heroísmo guerrero también es característicamente moderna, históricamente situada. Como dice el Sargento en el acto III, "We were not killing the right people in 1915. We werent even killing the wrong people. It was innocent men killing one another." En sus notas al final de la obra (1932) el autor recalca la manera en que fue la experiencia de la Primera Guerra Mundial para toda una generación la que hizo caer las viejas "verdades" y abrió los ojos a una crisis espiritual e ideológica generalizada.

En el happy end el coronel Tallboys es ascendido por error, aunque observa "la justicia es justicia aunque se haga por error"; su hijo que evitó el servicio militar se ha hecho durante la guerra "so enormously rich that I cannot afford to keep up his acquaintance"; la estafadora Sweetie se casa con el recto Sargento, convencido de que caracteres distintos garantizan la armonía del matrimonio. Y la Sra Mopply, madre de la paciente, se libera del mundo de mentiras en que ha vivido toda su vida, fingiendo ficciones convenientes, y de su papel de madre sacrificada y sufridora:

MRS MOPPLY. (...) What do you know about myself? my real self? They told me lies; and I had to pretend to be somebody quite different.

TALLBOYS. Who told you lies, madam? It was not with my authority.

MRS MOPPLY. I wasnt thinking of you. My mother told me lies. My nurse told me lies. My governess told me lies. Everybody told me lies. The world is not a bit like what they said it was. I wasnt a bit like what they said I ought to be. I thought I had to pretend. And I neednt have pretended at all.

—y si el escepticismo del Anciano se ha visto alterado, ella por su part declara que "I will never believe anything again as long as I live."

—y se reconcilia con su hija, que la aborrecía en su vida de señoras ricas, habiéndose liberado ahora ambas del peso de sus identidades respectivas.

El servicial  cabo Meek les proporciona a todos pasaportes para Beocia, un sueño utópico situado en una dimensión distinta de la URSS: "The Union of Federated Sensible Societies, sir. The U.F.S.S. Everybody wants to go there now, sir." Pero sólo hay visado para Tallboys, por su afición a las acuaelas; los demás habrán de volver a Inglaterra.

Aubrey, abandonado por su amante, se dedicará a predicador, que era su vocación; un predicador sin credo ahora. Y erigiénsose en portavoz del autor, ha de despedir a todos con uno de los característicos sermones de Shaw, y decir las verdades aunque sean inconvenientes:

AUBREY [rising] If I may be allowed to improve the occasion for a moment--

General consternation. All who are seated rise in alarm, except the patient, who jumps up and claps her hands in mischievous encouragement to the orator.

MRS MOPPLY    }    [together]    {    You hold your tongue, young man.
SWEETIE    }        {    Oh Lord! we're in for it now.
THE ELDER    }        {    Shame and silence would better become you, sir.
THE PATIENT    }        {    Go on, Pops. It's the only thing you do well.
AUBREY [continuing]--it is clear to me that though we seem to be dispersing quietly to do very ordinary things: Sweetie and the Sergeant to get married [the Sergeant hastily steals down from his grotto, beckoning to Sweetie to follow him. They both escape along the beach] the colonel to his wife, his watercolors, and his K.C.B. [the colonel hurries away noiselessly in the opposite direction] Napoleon Alexander Trotsky Meek to his job of repatriating the expedition [Meek takes to flight up the path through the gap] Mops, like Saint Teresa, to found an unladylike sisterhood with her mother as cook-housekeeper [Mrs Mopply hastily follows the sergeant, dragging with her the patient, who is listening to Aubrey with signs of becoming rapt in his discourse] yet they are all, like my father here, falling, falling, falling endlessly and hopelessly through a void in which they can find no footing.[The Elder vanishes into the recesses of St Pauls, leaving his son to preach in solitude]. There is something fantastic about them, something unreal and perverse, something profoundly unsatisfactory. They are too absurd to be believed in: yet they are not fictions: the newspapers are full of them: what storyteller, however reckless a liar, would dare to invent figures so improbable as men and women with their minds stripped naked? Naked bodies no longer shock us: our sunbathers, grinning at us from every illustrated summer number of our magazines, are nuder than shorn lambs. But the horror of the naked mind is still more than we can bear. Throw off the last rag of your bathing costume; and I shall not blench nor expect you to blush. You may even throw away the outer garments of your souls: the manners, the morals, the decencies. Swear; use dirty words; drink cocktails; kiss and caress and cuddle until girls who are like roses at eighteen are like battered demireps at twenty-two: in all these ways the bright young things of the victory have scandalized their dull old prewar elders and left nobody but their bright young selves a penny the worse. But how are we to bear this dreadful new nakedness: the nakedness of the souls who until now have always disguised themselves from one another in beautiful impossible idealisms to enable them to bear one another's company. The iron lighting of war has burnt great rents in these angelic veils, just as it has smashed great holes in our cathedral roofs and torn great gashes in our hillsides. Our souls go in rags now; and the young are spying through the holes and getting glimpses of the reality that was hidden. And they are not horrified: they exult in having found us out: they expose their own souls; and when we their elders desperately try to patch our torn clothes with scraps of the old material, the young lay violent hands on us and tear from us even the rags that were left to us. But when they have stripped themselves and us utterly naked, will they be able to bear the spectacle? You have seen me try to strip my soul before my father; but when these two young women stripped themselves more boldly than I--when the old woman had the mask struck from her soul and revelled in it instead of dying of it--I shrank from the revelation as from a wind bringing from the unknown regions of the future a breath which may be a breath of life, but of a life too keen for me to bear, and therefore for me a blast of death. I stand midway between youth and age like a man who has missed his train: too late for the last and too early for the next. What am I to do? What am I? A soldier who has lost his nerve, a thief who at his first great theft has found honesty the best policy and restored his booty to its owner. Nature never intended me for soldiering or thieving: I am by nature and destiny a preacher. I am the new Ecclesiastes. But I have no Bible, no creed: the war has shot both out of my hands. The war has been a fiery forcing house in which we have grown with a rush like flowers in a late spring following a terrible winter. And with what result? This: that we have outgrown our religion, outgrown our political system, outgrown our own strength of mind and character. The fatal word NOT has been miraculously inserted into all our creeds: in the desecrated temples where we knelt murmuring "I believe" we stand with stiff knees and stiffer necks shouting "Up, all! the erect posture is the mark of the man: let lesser creatures kneel and crawl: we will not kneel and we do not believe." But what next? Is NO enough? For a boy, yes: for a man, never. Are we any the less obsessed with a belief when we are denying it than when we were affirming it? No: I must have affirmations to preach. Without them the young will not listen to me; for even the young grow tired of denials. The negativemonger falls before the soldiers, the men of action, the fighters, strong in the old uncompromising affirmations which give them status, duties, certainty of consequences; so that the pugnacious spirit of man in them can reach out and strike deathblows with steadfastly closed minds. Their way is straight and sure; but it is the way of death; and the preacher must preach the way of life. Oh, if I could only find it! [A white sea fog swirls up from the beach to his feet, rising and thickening round him]. I am ignorant: I have lost my nerve and am intimidated: all I know is that I must find the way of life, for myself and all of us, or we shall surely perish. And meanwhile my gift has possession of me: I must preach and preach and preach no matter how late the hour and how short the day, no matter whether I have nothing to say--

The fog has enveloped him; the gap with its grottoes is lost to sight; the ponderous stones are wisps of shifting white cloud; there is left only fog: impenetrable fog; but the incorrigible preacher will not be denied his peroration, which, could we only hear it distinctly, would probably run--

--or whether in some pentecostal flame of revelation the Spirit will descend on me and inspire me with a message the sound whereof shall go out unto all lands and realize for us at last the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory for ever and ever. Amen.


The audience disperses (or the reader puts down the book) impressed in the English manner with the Pentecostal flame and the echo from the Lord's Prayer. But fine words butter no parsnips. A few of the choicer spirits will know that the Pentecostal flame is always alight at the service of those strong enough to bear its terrible intensity. They will not forget that it is accompanied by a rushing mighty wind, and that any rascal who happens to be also a windbag can get a prodigious volume of talk out of it without ever going near enough to be shrivelled up. The author, though himself a professional talk maker, does not believe that the world can be saved by talk alone. He has given the rascal the last word; but his own favorite is the woman of action, who begins by knocking the wind out of the rascal, and ends with a cheerful conviction that the lost dogs always find their own way home. So they will, perhaps, if the women go out and look for them.


Vemos que la obra se evalúa a sí misma en el discurso final del personaje, convertido en trasunto del Autor como Profeta, y se expone a sí misma como una revelación, "too true to be good", del interior de las mentes y de las actitudes de las personas, arrojadas a una crisis de sus verdades convencionales tras el shock de la Primera Guerra Mundial, y el temor a la Segunda que se ve venir. El anclaje narrativo de la obra en la historia es por tanto excepcionalmente consciente y deliberado, cosa no extraña tratándose de una obra de vejez de un autor célebre por su visión crítica del mundo en que vivía.

El autor continúa en propia voz en las notas sobre la obra escritas para el festival de Malvern (1932), sosteniendo que a pesar de las palabras del Viejo escéptico no ha abandonado ninguna de sus posiciones críticas escépticas y socialistas, y que para los males sociales y espirituales del momento, "extremely practical and precise remedies, including a complete political reconstitution, a credible and scientific religion, and a satisfactory economic scheme, are discoverable by anyone under thirty (the older ones are past praying for)". También justifica la extraña estructura de su obra en atención a una necesidad de manatener la atención del público:

"When people have laughed for an hour, they want to be serio-comically entertained for the next hour; and when that is over they are so tired of not being wholly serious that they can bear nothing but a torrent of sermons.

My play is arranged accordingly."

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Miércoles, 23 de Enero de 2013 09:43. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Belén 2012

martes, 25 de diciembre de 2012

Belén 2012

Belen 2012


Aquí el belén de Lucía, para felicitaros la navidad:

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Miércoles, 23 de Enero de 2013 10:13. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Nenes

My Street through the Trees 3

martes, 25 de diciembre de 2012

My Street through the Trees 3

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Miércoles, 23 de Enero de 2013 10:15. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Captain Nemo

miércoles, 26 de diciembre de 2012

Captain Nemo

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Miércoles, 23 de Enero de 2013 10:19. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

La preciosa estimación del yo

miércoles, 26 de diciembre de 2012

La preciosa estimación del yo

Un artículo de Pío Moa en Dichos, Actos y Hechos, sobre "el yo y la vida humana", relevante para el tema de la Vanidad y la Autoestima:

La interesante discusión en el blog  sobre el artículo de los tres niveles, se centró en el problema de la evolución, aunque este era solo derivado. Y no fue muy acertado por mi parte hablar de tres niveles  de la vida humana, pues más bien se trataba de la condición humana o de la psique humana, o algo así. La vida humana es otra cosa, se manifiesta en dos vertientes: la vida de cada persona en particular, o biografía,  y la conjunta de las diversas sociedades y naciones, incluso la del total de la humanidad, o historia.

Sobre la primera,  la vida transcurre como un rosario de avatares, accidentes y casualidades, mil  sucesos que solo muy parcialmente responden al designio o voluntad del individuo. Por lo común, el yo se maneja en esos sucesos como el tripulante que intenta llevar una barca a algún sitio, unas veces con el mar en calma, otras con viento favorable y otras con borrascas.  Pero la embarcación le viene dada, no la ha hecho él a su gusto, salvo en muy pequeña medida,  pues se compone de las cualidades físicas, intelectuales y psíquicas, los “dones de los dioses”,  o de los genes, que lo limitan o excluyen de ciertas navegaciones y en cierto grado le impulsan a otras. Y lo mismo pasa con su orientación: con frecuencia, sobre todo en la juventud,  nos hacemos un proyecto ideal de vida que luego la vida misma se encarga de modificar, trastocar o desbaratar por completo: los naufragios vitales no son cosa rara.

A veces suponemos el yo como simple resultado de los “tres niveles” de que hablaba, o meramente de las condiciones y presiones sociales, pero fácilmente vemos que no es así o, mejor dicho, solo lo es hasta cierto punto. Casi nadie está del todo satisfecho  con los dones que ha recibido al nacer, le parecen escasos para sus merecimientos u objetivos, y  el sentimiento más o menos acentuado de frustración está muy difundido. En sus memorias, Lerroux cuenta esta anécdota: En el periódico donde trabajaba de joven había un poeta llamado Luna, jorobado. Un día discutían de la existencia de Dios, y alguien dijo: “Vamos a ver, el poeta señor Luna, ¿qué piensa usted de Dios?” El garabato humano saltó de la silla al suelo, se enderezó tanto como pudo, sacó de debajo de la mesa la navaja cabritera y clavándola con gesto de fiereza sobre el tablero, contestó… soltando redonda blasfemia. El gusano se levantaba iracundo contra el Creador, que había permitido que un alma altiva y ambiciosa se alojase en un cuerpo miserable y ridículo. Creyentes y ateos sintieron cruzado su rostro por el trallazo de la grosería y por el grito de Satanás rebelándose contra la injusticia divina. Por donde el blasfemo resultaba el más poseído de los deístas, confesor de la divinidad a la que injuriaba”. Casi todo el mundo tiene una idea elevada de sí mismo, sea más o menos acertada o equivocada, y lo que menos tolera es el desprecio a su persona. Una persona que se siente menospreciada o tratada con injusticia puede llegar a enfermar psíquicamente o a cometer actos inesperados, crímenes o suicidio.

En cuanto a la presión social solo moldea parcialmente a las personas. La historia muestra la gran frecuencia con que diversos individuos  se rebelan contra su circunstancia social, tanto en un sentido colectivista (tratan de cambiar la sociedad) como personal, rechazando las convenciones o las leyes. Así, el yo resulta hasta cierto punto independiente tanto de los condicionantes sociales como de los condicionantes biológicos, sin que unos y otros sean desdeñables.

Es más, el yo se siente por lo general independiente en alguna medida de su propia vida.  He aquí una frase genial, cuyo autor ignoro, creo que era francés, por lo sutil: “¿Quién no es mejor que su propia biografía?”. O, mejor “¿Quién no se siente superior a su propia biografía?”. La navegación vital incluye numerosos errores, o actos que nos avergüenzan, o humillaciones que nos parecen intolerables y que debemos dejar pasar.  De ahí el gran esfuerzo psíquico por justificar  de mil modos  esos pequeños o grandes  desastres, a fin de mantener la preciosa estimación del yo, sin la cual la vida se hace insoportable.

La necesidad de autoestima puede ser exagerada hasta la estupidez, pero existe siempre. Incluso los esclavos la tenían y a menudo trataban de vengarse de sus amos o de burlarlos, como muestran, por ejemplo, algunas obras de Plauto; o como aquel que en la terribles minas de plata de Laurion dejó escrita su jactancia de ser el mejor en el tajo. Algún autor romano, no recuerdo cual, escribió “tantos enemigos tienes como esclavos” o algo así. Pero, en fin, la cuestión es esta:  puesto que el yo se autoconsidera por encima de los condicionantes sociales y biológicos, ¿de dónde sale  él y su autoestima, sea  razonable o deformada, sin la cual la vida le parece indigna o repugnante?


—Un argumento muy parecido sobre el imporatante papel de la autoestima y de la autoevaluación del yo en las motivaciones lo hace Mark Twain en What Is Man?

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Miércoles, 23 de Enero de 2013 12:08. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cómo somos

Nunca pensé que viviría en 2012


Nunca pensé que viviría en 2012

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Jueves, 24 de Enero de 2013 23:39. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Va de actualidad

Este blog va de actualidad—no de la actualidad de la actualidad en general, sino de mi actualidad (para eso es un blog personal). Lo que sucede en la actualidad me interesa a veces, unas cosas más que otras evidentemente, pero no necesariamente más que lo que sucedió en otro tiempo y me acabo de enterar yo ahora, o de las cosas que me atraen la atención ahora aunque sabía que deberían habérmela atraído tiempo ha. El mundo pasa simultáneamente, en el pasado y en el presente, y hay que secuenciarlo aquí poco a poco y en parte, seleccionando claro. No es pecado que ahora te llame la atención por primera vez Bleak House, o tal aspecto de esa novela, o las canciones de Reynaldo Hahn, que ya nadie las oye, lástima—o esta canción de hacia 1990 cuando éramos otros y no sabíamos que existía.


Cada cual construye su actualidad con lo que le va atrayendo la atención. Por qué se la atrae, eso podría estudiarse, pero igual otras cosas nos atraen más la atención. Es un error dejarse llevar por principio por la actualidad de los demás, o por la actualidad en general. Hay que hacerse la de uno mismo. Qué pretencioso creer que ya conocemos todos los clásicos y que por tanto no han de estar nunca de actualidad para nosotros, o las curiosidades que jamás llegaron a clásicas...

—y qué pretencioso simular que lo de anteayer ya no es relevante porque estamos de vuelta, porque anteayer estábamos atentos a todo lo que sucedía simultáneamente, estábamos siempre en el centro de la acción, where the action is, atentos al meollo.

Y a lo que ya había sucedido, siempre. ¡Anda ya...!

A photo on Flickr

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Viernes, 25 de Enero de 2013 07:34. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Blogs

My ResearchGate in 2012



My ResearchGate in 2012

Your published research —me dicen— was viewed 6468 times in 2012.




También empecé el año con una score muy alta, cerca del máximo, en ResearchGate— pero le dieron un tuneado radical a este índice, y ahora mi posicionamiento es francamente mediocre—y no sé si mejorable
—estoy en el 1,59 inferior. En fin, igual que empeoró radicalmente, quizá mejore por imponderables semejantes. En el SSRN voy mejor, posicionado en el 1,50 % superior. La verdad quizá esté en la áurea mediocridad.

En fin: los últimos serán los primeros, y así mi última publicación subida a ResearchGate es una que no contribuirá mucho a subirme los índices ni los pulgares: Reading Notes on some English Classics—unas notas de lectura que tomé hace más de 30 años, cuando leíamos un buen fajo de libros en cada curso de literatura.

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Viernes, 25 de Enero de 2013 07:37. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Trabajos

The Wall



The Wall

Lo que oímos The Wall de Pink Floyd en los años 70 finales y en los ochenta, en el cuartito del Cerbuna. El año pasado remasterizaron el álbum:

It does ring a new note now...

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Viernes, 25 de Enero de 2013 07:41. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

The Nether Sky



The Nether Sky

The Nether Sky by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
The Nether Sky, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Viernes, 25 de Enero de 2013 07:43. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Chanson simple



Con Patricia Kaas:

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Sábado, 26 de Enero de 2013 07:42. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

The Speculative Theatre 1871-91


The Speculative Theatre 1871-91

Ch. 16 of The Cambridge Illustrated History of British Theatre, by Simon Trussler:

However clear-sighted may have been Karl Marx's diagnosis of the ill-effects of nineteenth-century laissez faire capitalism, his prognosis, especially if misread as a programme for continuing action, was deeply flawed. He acknowledged the skill of the English ruling classes in deflecting revolutionary tendencies through timely concessions: but he recognized less well their capacity to assimilate or, where necessary, to cauterize the traditional culture of the proletariat—the breeding ground of effective subversion.

At the lowly level of recreation, the process of assimilation had been accelerating since mid-century. many of the sports which, though played for generations according to vague but locally recognized oral codes, had been banned as disruptive in their 'unofficial' forms now began to be 'officially' resuscitated—replete with printed rulebooks, top-hatted regulating bodies, and all the class ramifications of 'amateur' and 'professional' status. However, those popular customs which threatened profits as well as peace of mind had, necessarily, to be put down rather than merely contained. And so it was, for example, that the diverse ways in which midwinter had traditionally been celebrated were now tidied up and at first confined to Christmas Day itself: the addition of Boxing Day (following the act of 1871 which established Bank Holidays) was thus made to appear a benevolent concession rather than a grudging acknowledgement of a far ampler ancient right.

Not only were the twelve days reduced to two, but a once-communal feast was turned inward upon the family and the domestic hearth—even the raucous street music of the waits being suppressed in favour of the 'rediscovery' of carols, so much more reverent and demure. And all those charitable ladies who, on Christmas Day, massaged their consciences by doling out to those incarcerated in prisons and workhouses their one decent meal of the year had now, in the cause of temperance, to concede that their healths be drunk in water instead of good ale—while the annual treat was, of course, preferably to be confined to the 'deserving' rather than the recalcitrant poor.

Despite all these tendencies, Epiphany long kept its hold on the popular imagination, although its traditional inversions had become largely symbolic—practical jokes, typically, rendered down to cardboard as the subjects of Twelfth Night cards (which long predated Christmas cards as we know them). Stubbornly, however, seasonal topsy-turvydom did survive—not least in traditions of cross-dressing, an indecorous ebullience which disturbed not only the smug religiosity of the makers of the Victorian Christmas but the discreet hypocrisies of their sexual habits.

And so it was that the subversive transvestism of old became a sanctioned form of sublimation, made manifest in the rituals of pantomime—which, although often a Christmas offering in the past, was now becoming exclusively so. In the process, most lingering associations with the old commedia masks were purged, as Harlequin and Columbine gave way to a transsexually titillating principal boy and principal girl, backed up by a chorus line inf fleshings. The Clown was cut down to the likes of Buttons, and Pantaloon unsexed to become the Dame—a male in drag, usually a music-hall favorite drafted in to boost the box-office, as pop stars and television personalities are today.

Drury Lane, notably under the management of Augustus Harris from 1879 to 1896 restored its drifting fortunes by specializing, for ever-lengthening Christmas seasons, in pantomimes of the most spectacular kind—filling out its year with sensation dramas similarly dependent upon extravagant effects, for which the theatre's technical resources as well as its sheer size made it well suited. Such effects ranged from the sinking of the Birkenhead in Cheer, Boys, Cheer (1895) to August Bank Holiday on Hampstead Heath in The Great Ruby (1898) and a full-scale horse-race in The Whip (1909).

[Illustr.] Augustus Harris (1852-96)  under whose management from 1879 Drury Lane interspersed its regular diet of spectacular dramas with an annual 'Christmas' pantomime which might run past Easter. Although condemned by traditionalists for his recruitment of music-hall performers in panto, Harris retained many of its older features, including the Clown and the harlequinade—which duly featured in Babes in the Wood. Dan Leno, whom Harris introduced to the West End in this production, remained teamed with Herbert Campbell in pantomimes at the Lane until both died in 1904. This cartoon was one of the long sequence published in Vanity Fair by 'Ape' and (as in this case) 'Spy', otherwise Sir Leslie Ward.

(Illustr.): Impressions of characters from  
Babes in the Wood, Augustus Harris's Drury Lane pantomime of 1888. These were drawn for the  Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic—the journalistic conjunction reminding us of the strong links between the stage and the turf at this time. Dan Leno is shown here in the 'dame' role of the wicked aunt, with Harriet Vernon (she of the redoubtable thighs) as the 'principal boy', Robin Hood. The two babes ('of forty or thereabouts', as the Sporting and Dramatic reminds us) are older music-hall stars, Herbert Campbell and Harry Nicholls.


That the ruling classes were now showing some readiness to alleviate the harshest excesses of the industrial revolution had to do in part with enlightened self-interest, in part with a calculated a ppeal to class allegiances. Thus, because factory owners tended to be free-trading Liberals, and imperialist Conservative government might embark upon industrial reforms without offence to its supporters in the rural shires—while in the process wooing those newly enfranchised by the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884, which gave the vote to virtually all male householders. No less important, the Ballot Act of 1872 kept secret from employers and landlords alike the way in which a man cast that vote: and although no woman was yet able to cast hers, the Married Women's Property Acts of 1870 and 1882 marked a first step towards greater economic independence.

Although the Elementary Education Act of 1870 was passed by Gladstone's first Liberal administration, it was thus his successor Disraeli—the first to deplore 'two nations' living in mutual ignorance—who as leader of the Conservative government of 1874 enacted a programme of reforms which one of the first two Labour MPs then elected declared to have 'done more for the working classes in five years than the Liberals in fifty'. Factory legislation significantly loosened the shackles of long hours and insufferable conditions, while trades unions were freed from criminal penalties for strike action and peaceful picketing. Under a Public Health Act, sewage systems were built which have only recently begun to show their age. An Enclosures Act not only brought the private absorption of common land virtually to an end, but increased the provision of public recreation grounds and allotments And local authorities were encouraged to build 'artisans' dwellings'—thus creating the very system of council houses that more recent Conservative governments have been anxious to dismantle.

Although conditions for ordinary working people thus began slowly to improve, the 1870s saw also the start of a severe trade depression which, with only two brief intermissions, persisted almost until the end of the century. But since some of the causative factors—tariff barriers abroad, the end of the railway boom at home—left investors with spare capital, the theatre, as an alternative focus for speculation, ironically benefited, and it was during this period that an 'entertainment industry' effectively emerged.

However, the tale of the two London theatres known as 'the rickety twins' suggests that this development could have its pitfalls. On a site between the churches of St Clement Dane and St Mary le Strand were thus constructed in 1868 and 1870 the back-to-back playhouses best remembered as the Globe and the Opera Comique. Slum clearance in the area to make way for the Aldwych and Kingsway development was already being actively planned, and the speculative builder Sefton Parry therefore erected both theatres of the flimsiest materials in expectation of their imminent demolition—and his own hefty compensation. They were considered serious fire hazards, although in the event both manged just to outlive the century.

Two sturdier products of the new boom in theatre building also opened in 1870—the charming Vaudeville in the Strand, and the first Royal Court, whose situation in Sloane Square testified to the ever-westward drift of fashionable London. On Regent (soon to be Piccadilly) Circus, the subterranean location of the Criterion Theatre, built in 1874 beneath the restaurant of the same name, bore witness to the spiralling land values in the heart of the West End. Even further west, if never quite so fashionable, Hammersmith saw its Lyric Opera House go up in 1888. And in 1881 had opened both the Comedy, in Panton Street between the Haymarket and Leicester Square, and the first Savoy, midway along the Strand. The Playhouse, which followed a year later, was anecdotally another of Sefton Parry's gambles, owing its obscure situation off the Embankment to an anticipated extension of the Charing Cross railway, from which he hoped in vain to profit.

In 1884 the Prince of Wales's opened in Covent Street, off Piccadilly Circus—and then, in 1887, were completed the slum clearances which now drove Charing Cross Road north towards Oxford Street from Trafalgar Square, and Shaftesbury Avenue south-west from Holborn down to Piccadilly. The very heart of theatreland now underwent a rapid transplant, fed by these wide, well-lit, and accessible arteries. In 1888 the first Shaftesbury Theatre went up near Cambridge Circus, where the two roads crossed, to be closely followed by the Lyric, just a little further west: and then, in 1891, arose the great sprawl of the Palace, at first as the Royal English Opera, to dominate the Circus itself. The Garrick had already staked a first claim for the theatre along Charing Cross Road in 1889, and three years later arose the almost abutting Trafalgar, now known as the Duke of York's, with its frontage on St Martin's Lane.

Empire Music Hall

The Empire music hall, Newcastle, pictured in 1891, and probably much as it had been for the previous half century. Note the cane chairs for the orchestra, the plush seats in the 'front stalls' —and the hard benches in the slips. Flock wallpaper and pictures lend a homely touch to the auditorium, which contrasts with the fantasy world conjured up on the stage

Our illustration shows some typical features of the vintage Victorian theatre: its fully-formed and ornately gilded picture-frame stage, from which any residual trace of apron and stage doors has been eliminated; its rich but highly (and sometimes confusingly) eclectic embellishments; its pit foreshortened or (as here) abandoned before encroaching stalls; and upper tiers ever-extending towards the stage, as new techniques of cantilevering removed the necessity for so many supporting pillars. Other less immediately obvious characteristics were dictated by considerations of safety: these included, besides improved ventilation, a new tendency for the pit to be sunk below ground so that the dress circle was at entrance level, and a requirement that the theatre should be isolated from surrounding buildings by passageways. 

Since rooms could no longer be built above the auditorium, the fly-tower now became a dominant external feature, while new scenographic techniques were encouraging the internal improvement and development of the flying space. However, overriding commercial considerations meant that, in comparison with continental practice, front-of-house facilities in the new theatres were meagre, with box-office, cloak-room, and refreshment areas often so cramped as not even to be adequately functional. As, in many such theatres, they remain.

But the most enduringly important innovation in theatre construction to occur during this period lay, of course, in the use of electric lighting. Richard D'Oyly Carte led the way in 1881, his new Savoy not only the first theatre but the first public building of any kind in London to be so lit; and later in the 1880s two disastrous fires within two years at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, accelerated a nationwide conversion from gas which was virtually complete by the end of the century. But D'Oyly Carte continued to illuminate the auditorium as well as the stage during performances, and this hungover habit at first limited the artistic potential of electricity—at a time when Henry Irving was insisting not only on the lowering of the house lights at the Lyceum, but on the retention where possible of gas, which he believed to permit subtler control over his effects.

Irving was, indeed, entirely modern in deploying light not merely for illumination but for dramatic emphasis, a diffusion and variation allowed more readily by the banks of individual gas taps and valves than by the initially more limited controls over the new source. Famously, Irving relished, too, the resources of limelight—not merely for its mellow brilliance in tracking his own actions like a modern follow-spot but for the varying impressions of moonlight and directional or waning sunlight it facilitated.



In view of his approach to lighting, it is ironic that in other respects the period's leading actor-manager, Henry Irving, was a rather old-fashioned player with a preference for an old-fashioned repertoire. Indeed, in 1877 there even appeared a small, anonymous pamphlet entitled The Fashionable Tragedian—a 'criticism with ten illustrations' which set out to prove that, for all his then burgeoning influence, Irving was, in truth, 'a very bad actor'. 

Unlike much of the critical sniping to which he was subjected, this squib in brown paper wrappers merits attention because its authors, William Archer and Robert W. Lowe, were to become respectively the leading critic and theatre historian of their generation. And both clearly sensed, as early in their own careers as in Irving's, that the grip this charismatic performer was already exerting would encourage (as it also exemplified) a spirit of conservatism which for some time yet would insulate the British theatre from the new drama of Europe. For while Irving was not a 'very bad actor', he did, as Shaw perceived and complained, choose to contour his greatness within a corset of very constraining trim.

Having served an old-style extended apprenticeship in the provinces, Irving spent five inconspicuous years in London before being noticed in 1871, at the age of 32, in the role of Digby Grant in James Albery's Two Roses— a role which, ironically, was also to be among the most modern he ever attempted. Albery, whose dilutions of what Archer described as the 'flippant and feebly sentimental small talk' of the 'Robertsonian school of playwriting' kept the new Vaudeville full for 294 performances, was briefly hailed as the natural successor of Tom Robertson—who, already in ill-health, died the following year. However, Robertson proved to have no natural successor—although hes widely imitated knack of making dialogue trip with seeming ease from well-mannered tongues made this an era when affluent amateurs encouraged themselves to believe that acting was an accomplishment easily acquired.

Thus arose a new breed of superior supernumeraries—'extra ladies and gentlemen' who duly got their billing, but seldom in other than walk-on roles. And among the fond (though in this case not so foolish) parents who encouraged their offspring in their histrionic ambitions was one Hezekiah Bateman, who, also in 1871, had gone so far as to take the lease of the old Lyceum Theatre—which was still finding it hard to live up to the pretensions of its portico—as a showcase for the talents of his four daughters.

Bateman duly recruited Irving to the company: but neither the opening play by his own wifre nor the stage adaptation of Dickens's Pickwick Papers which followed caught the imagination of audiences. And so it was very much as a final fling that Bateman agreed to let Irving take the lead in an adaptation from the French by Leopold Lewis of a melodrama entitled The Bells, in which Irving was to take the role of the haunted burgomaster Mathias. The opening night of 25 November 1871 not only rescued Bateman's fortunes but, in the words of Clement Scott—a critic as traditional in his tastes as Archer was innovatory—lifted Irving 'at one bound above his contemporaries'.

That same night, Irving, returning home, is said to have stepped down from his cab and out of his marriage when his socially ambitious wife asked irritably if he was going to go on making a fool of himself all his life. His subsequent career was dedicated to showing that making a fool of oneself might be no bar to social advancement: and in 1895, at the second time of asking, he duly accepted a knighthood—the first such honour for services to the theatre, which could from then on regard itself as officially respectable and respectably official. A knighthood for Squire Bancroft followed in 1897, and for Charles Wyndham, aptly an Edwardian creation, in 1902.

Meanwhile, in September 1872, began Irving's long association with the hack dramatist W. G. Wills, whose reincarnation of the martyr king in the actor's won image for the historical romance Charles I led to his appointment as house dramatist to the Lyceum at £300 a year. Wills's talent, like Lewis's, was mediocre, but in every sense adaptive—and subervient to Irving's requireemnts, as in his mangling of Goethe's Faust in 1885, to the interests of the actor's Mephistopheles. 

Henry Irving's Mephistopheles in W. G. Wills's version of Goethe's Faust (Lyceum, 1885). Against massive costs of over £15,000, the production (five years in the planning) took in nearly £70,000 in its first year and £57,000 in its second. By then Irving had added the grotesque splendours of a scene in the Witches' Kitchen to the climactic Walpurgisnacht revels on the Brocken Mountain, in which (according to Clement Scott) a 'shrieking, gibbering crowd' of witches, goblins, and apes from hell made a terrifying contrast with 'shadowy greys and greens' suggestive of Gustave Doré. 

henry irving

Even the poet Tennyson, then entering his dotage, permitted Irving to shape the part of Philip of Spain in Queen Mary (1876) as a vehicle for his talents, and while the laureate lay dying, Irving went to work on Becket (1893), reconstructing the role of the archbishop and a good else besides.

Irving's first Shakespearean production at the Lyceum, judiciously chosen, was his Hamlet of 1874. He played the title role 'like a scholar and a gentleman', wrote Clement Scott: Irving was 'not acting' but 'talking to himself . . . thinking aloud'. During the run of 200 nights, then unprecedented for a Shakespeare revival, Bateman died, and his widow, after briefly toying with the reins of management, amicably resigned them to Irving in 1878. Irving continued to extend his Shakespearean range, a mannered Othello (1876) and a curiously unromanticRomeo and Juliet (1882) easily outweighed by triumphs as Richard III in 1877, as Shylock in 1879, as Wolsey in Henry VIII in 1892, and as Iachimo in Cymbeline in 1896.

Despite scenic embellishments of a kind which had driven others into bankruptcy, incidental music often specially composed for an orchestra of thirty, and ambitiously choreographed crowd scenes, Irving managed to make more money from Shakespeare and to play him for lengthier runs, than had ever proved possible before. He took no less trouble over lesser plays: his biographer Alan Hughes has thus calculated that the formidable number of 639 people were employed to work on Robespierre, including 355 performers and musician, 236 technicians (the lighting crew alone numbering 38), and 48 administrative staff. 
That was in 1899: later in the same year Irving gave up his management of the Lyceum, which he had recently turned into a limited company. He died six years later, during what he had already declared to be his farewell tour.

A rare photograph of Irving in performance—in Sardou's Robespierre, on tour to New York in 1900 (cameras were banned at the Lyceum, where the production had opened the previous year). Irving as Robespierre is here addressing the hall of the revolutionary Convention in the last act of the play. The picture is, of course, posed, but begins to suggest Irving's concern for the careful orchestration of his crowd scenes.robespierre irving

As an actor, Irving seems to have exerted a force of will which not only infused his role but took command of his audience. An unusual mixture of the protean and the idiosyncratic, he was physically adept at shrinking, extending, and otherwise dissembling his spidery limbs into a new character, while deploying mannerisms of speech and gait which made him, unmistakably and with deliberation, Irving. An eccentric showman who wooed his audiences rather as Disraeli wooed his Queen, he sustained the dying tradition of a permanent acting company, but not in the spirit of interdependence on which Richard Burbage or even David Garrick had built; rather, Irving was the undisputed first among unequals.

Only his leading lady, Ellen Terry—whose hiring was one of the first acts of his independent management—was permitted to complement rather than challenge his supremacy, and even she had to confine herself to roles which would reflect Irving's brilliance. As Beatrice and Benedick, Portia and Shylock, or Imogen and Iachimo the pair could thus work on an equal footing, but she was unable to play, for example, Rosalind in As You Like It, because there was no role of equivalent stature for the 'partner' who was also the boss. Terry's Imogen, which was much to the taste of virtuous Victorians:

ellen terry

As a manager, Irving well understood his respectable Lyceum audiences and was always responsive to their predictably limited tasts: but within these limits his productions were rigorously rehearsed by disciplined companies, and their polish scrupulously maintained during long runs which would otherwise have fallen apart. And to be found among the names of his company were such harbingers of the theatrical future as George Alexander, Johnston Forbes-Robertson, and John Martin-Harvey.


Irving not only brought commercial and (by his own and his audience's standards) artistic success to the old Lyceum: he also did much to create a climate in which other West End managements might prosper—though all, confessedly, were assisted by favourable economic conditions. Thus, the increase in middle-class incomes consequent upon falling prices and stable salaries after 1873 allowed them not only to shunt many patrons of the pit to a more fitting place—well out of sight in the upper gallery—but also to risk increases in seat prices, thereby boosting profit margins. 

And so, despite Tom Robertson's death in 1871, the Bancrofts continued to prosper at the Old Prince of Wales's, prettifying safe classics from Shakespeare to Sheridan with what Bancroft called 'elaborate illustration'. In 1880, following the retirement of the veteran Buckstone, they moved to the Haymarket, which he had left largely unrefurbished: they proceeded to refurbish it thoroughly, gilding the picture-frame of their proscenium arch, cunningly concealing the footlights and orchestra, and, to howls of impotent protest, pioneering the total abolition of the pit. Meanwhile, their protégé John Hare, in partnership with Madge Robertson and her husband W. H. Kendal, was winning the public's initially uncertain favour for the new Court Theatre, the same team later moving successively and successfully to the St James's and the Garrick.

In 1875 Charles Wyndham began his long association with the underground Criterion, where at first he specialized in vasectomized adaptations of French farces, before becoming his own matinee idol in middle age. Augustus Harris was soon to begin his long reign over pantomime at Drury Lane, and Richard D'Oyly Carte to take Gilbert and Sullivan's light operas to triumph from the Opera Comique to the SAvoy—whence George Edwardes crossed the road to help John Hollingshead keep 'the sacred lamp of burlesque' burning at the Gaiety. J. L. Toole, taking on the little Charing Cross Theatre in King William Street in 1879, reflected the prevailing managerial self-confidence by renaming it after himself—an American fashion which found few other followers.

The promenade of the Empire, Leicester Square, in 1902. A youthful Winston Churchill was among those opposed to the attempts led by Mrs Ormiston Chant to close down the promenade in 1894 (on the grounds that it was a haunt of 'ladies of the town'). Later, the theatre housed revue, and, after the First World War, musicals were performed there, until it was demolished in 1927 to make way for a cinema.


When, as the spectacular centrepiece to A Life of Pleasure (1893), the promenade at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square was recreated on the stage of Drury Lane, a back-handed compliment was being paid to the famous music hall. As the notoriety of the Empire promenade confirms —it was allegedly a favoured haunt of prostitutes—music hall continued to offend the bourgeoisie, though its appeal (like that of horse-racing) united the more raffish elements of the aristocracy with the generality of the working class. This was in spite of the endeavours of those would-be respectable music-hall managers who banned alcohol from the auditorium—an auditorium in which the old, convivial clusters of tables and chairs were giving way before regular rows of fixed seating, and where performers once welcomed with the raised glass of the chairman were now identified by numbers slotted into the invasive and alienating proscenium arch. 

Such palatial West End establishments as the Empire, the nearby Alhambra in Leicester Square, and later the surviving Palace on Cambridge Circus were, of course, aiming to attract customers of a different class from those who attended the humbler halls down in the East End, and there were many gradations of neighbourhood hall in between. But after 1888 all had to obtain a Certificate of Suitability by meeting minimum legal standards of safety and sanitation: and the cost of the necessary reconstruction work often required a major injection of capital. Companies were therefore floated to build new halls as well as to rebuild old—often to the designs of 'legit' theatre architects, such as the prolific Frank Matcham. 

Some managements also began to accrete first a local chain of halls, and then a larger circuit—the beginnings of the music-hall empires of the likes of Oswald Stoll and Edward Moss. At the same time, a divide began to open up between the top-billing stars who were able to command huge salaries to work the new circuits—Dan Leno and Marie Lloyd being probably the most familiar to emerge during this period—and their lowlier brethren, whose dispensable services were open to exploitation. A long struggle for better conditions began with the formation of the Variety Artists' Association in 1885, well before 'legitimate' players had successfully formed thamselves into a union—a right at last acknowledged by the social reforms of the 1870s.

[Illustration:] Opening bill ofr the New Cross Empire in 1899. Designed by the prolific Frank Matcham, this typical suburban hall had a capacity of around 2,000. Note the 'credentials of the organizers' whose capital investments are listed along with their 'present market value'.

Managements in the [1870s] required new writing to provide vehicles for the acting talent at their command and to satisfy the expectations of their paying public. Indeed, by the 180s the problem of the English drama was not particularly the absence of a 'literary' output of intellectual substance—none such had existed for over a century—but rather the presence of a deeply bourgeois audience which, scornful of the hearty affirmations of melodrama, had come to prefer the enervated emotional shorthand of the 'society' style. Writers now seen as harbingers of a 'new dram' could and did get their work staged in the West End—just so long as their innovations titillated but did not seriously disturb their audiences.
The production of original work was encouraged by the international copyright agreements which now began to stem the flood of foreign imports and adaptations. The five years of protection from unauthorized translation given to foreign writers in 1852 was extended in 1875 to cover adapted pieces, and in 1887 the Berne Convention strengthened copyright arrangements between most European countries—the most important non-signatory, the United States, following with its own legislation in 1891. Some doubts remained until 1911 as to how far prior publication of a play might endanger performing rights, and this led to numerous one-off 'copyright performances': but the new arrangements did help to encourage reading editions, alongside the ubiquitous acting texts of Lacy and French—whose technical jargon and abbreviations proved forbidding to the uninitiated.
As commissions to adapt foreign plays began to dry up, some writers unwisely made bids for posterity by attempting those five-act historical tragedies in blank-verse for which posterity was presumed to have an unquenchable thirst. As Irving wryly observed in 1880, many of the unknown authors who submitted such works to him by the score 'proudly claimed that they made a point of never going near a theatre'. Even such a piece as Joan of Arc (1871) by the thoroughly professional veteran Tom Taylor, has not only failed to impress posterity ever since but owed such notoriety as it enjoyed in its own day to the realism with which the saintly maid was burnt at the stake.
Among the few writers who achieved both an immediate and more enduring fame, W. S. Gilbert occupies a special place. His 'fairy' comedies for the Kendals at the Haymarket in the early 1870s were, improbably, satiric burlesques in blank-verse in which Gilbert made audiences laugh at their own hypocrisies by transplanting them to fairyland. Despite a prolific early career (in 1872, for example, no fewer than five of his plays were running in London theatres) at first he won more respect than acclaim. His satirical edge was a touch too sharp for comfort, needing not so much to be blunted as to be melodically honed to the music of Arthur Sullivan.
Although John Hollingshead first teamed the pair in the over-erudite Thespis at the Adelphi in 1871, it was only when Richard D'Oyly Carte, in search of a native equivalent to the French opera bouffe, persuaded Gilbert to adapt his Trial by Jury for a musical setting at the Royalty in 1875 that the long, symbiotic association began, finding a first permanent theatre at the Opera Comique from 1877 to 1881. Then the team transferred along with their latest production,  Patience, to the new Savoy Theatre, a slight but salubrious step westwards along the Strand. G. K Chesterton described the characteristic tone of what have ever since been known as the 'Savoy operas' as capturing that 'half-unreal detachment in which some Victorians came at last to smile at all opinions including their own'.

The Savoy Theatre, during the opening production, Patience, in 1881. So closely were Gilbert and Sullivan's light operas associated with Richard D'Oyly Carte's new theatre that they are often known collectively as the 'Savoy operas'. The theatre was the first to incorporate electric lighting, and in its decorations and colouring it was more subdued than earlier Victorian houses. It was to the Savoy that J. E. Vedrenne and Granville Barker moved in 1907 from the Court, staging the first London production of Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. Between 1912 and 1914 Barker staged here his innovatory productions of Shakespeare, further described on p. 271. The theatre was reconstructed in art deco style in 1929, but severely damaged by fire in 1990.


A scene from HMS Pinafore, by Gilbert and Sullivan:



Arthur Wing Pinero, whose later 'problem plays' contributed to the theatrical debate over the 'woman question' (to which we shall turn in the next chapter), made an earlier and arguably more deservedly enduring reputation as the writer of a string of successful farces, largely for the Court Theatre. From The Magistrate in 1885 through The Schoolmistress and Dandy Dickto The Amazons in 1893, he rang proficient changes on that distinctively British pattern whereby would-be adultery and its exposure are secondary to the dread of embarrassment and social gaffes—a dramatic emphasis also happily inoffensive to the Lord Chamberlain.

Unlike many other farceurs, Pinero gave the impression of being almost fond of characters who were only a degree or so offset from reality. George Rowell compares the types with those of the Aldwych farces of the 1920s—among them a 'pure and persecuted husband', a 'knowing man of the world' with his 'vacuous companion' , and a 'formidable matron'. These were played respectively by Arthur Cecil, John Clayton, Fred Kerr, and Mrs John Wood—a team whose regular 'lines', well-developed sense of ensemble, and consummate timing must have endowed Pinero's writing with the same ring of confidencethat Robertson Hare, Tom Walls, Ralph Lynn, and Mary Brough were later to give Ben Travers.

[Illustration:] Arthur Cecil as Posket, The Magistrate in Pinero's farce of that name. Seen at the Court in 1885, this was one of the sequence of plays at that theatre with which Arthur W. Pinero (1855-1934) consolidated his early reputation as a farceur. After flirting with a seduction theme in The Profligate(1890), he turned, most famously in The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1893), to social dramas and 'problem plays': but these have generally worn less well than either the farces or such later comedies as  Trelawny of the 'Wells'(1898) and The Gay Lord Quex (1899). He wrote inextinguishably on, but was out of touch with the style and values of the post-Victorian world.

Among those considered leading writers at the time, Henry Arthur Jones cuts the least appealing figure today. The equivocal stance of his 'problem plays'—and their no less equivocal solutions—must, like Pinero's, await later discussion: meanwhile, in his early work his success depended upon combining an old-fashioned melodramatic instinct—well-matched to the temperament of the actor-manager Wilson Barrett at the Princess's—with a solid storytelling technique and a good ear for dialogue. However, such structural skills were too often blighted by a pervasive and invasive social snobbery—perhaps inspired by contempt for his own petty-bourgeois origins—as early exemplified in Saints and Sinners(1884).

Jones went on to specialize variously in dramas of thwarted or distorted passion, such asJudah (1890), and old-fashioned intrigue comedies of which The Triumph of the Philistines(1895) is a typical and The Liars (1897) a rare superior example. Unfortunately his satire was not only heavy-handed, but betrayed an almost clinical detestation of the common people—also evident in his distaste for 'The Theatre of the Mob', as Jones dubbed it in one of his numerous polemics for a higher drama. Elsewhere, a shrill anti-clericalism sits oddly with an awed reverence for high society—any intended criticism of which is effectively muted by his insistence that those of lowly origins, inhabiting 'the dark places of the earth', are beneathe the notice of art. Later, he was to prophesy that 'the epitaph on . . . all this realistic business will be—it does not matter what happens in kitchen-middens'. 

Oscar wilde was outraging and amusing fashionable London by strutting his aesthetic stuff as early as 1881, when Gilbert parodied such greenery-yallery decadence (as it was viewed by the properly grey majority) in Patience. Although, with nice incongruity, Wilde was a cousin of W. G. Wills, it was only with Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and A Woman of No Importance(1893) that he found his own, very different kind of theatrical voice: for within the ostensibly well-made structures of these plays social norms are obliquely questioned by means of that calculated confusion of satire, cynicism, and delight in paradox, which was already shaping the Wildean inverted epigram.

Wilde's masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), which pushd this technique to its comic limits, is a farce rooted in the native stock of situation and mistaken identity rather than in threatened adultery—though here sublime aristocratic insouciance substitutes for the precarious poise which Pinero's middle-class characters strive to maintain. The play is, indeed, in part a parodic reaction to the Robertsonian style of understatement, still dwindling into the drawin-room miniaturism of the likes of James Albery; but where those authors believed that their neatly-turned phrases aspired to some ultimate truth, Wilde delighted in ultimate paradox, avowedly aiming at an 'art divorced from life'.

[Illustration:] George Alexander as Jack Worthing, in mourning for his pretended brother Ernest, in the first production of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at the St James's in 1895. In an interview published one month before the opening in February, and four months before the libel action which changed the course of his life, Wilde declared of the play: 'It is exquisitely trivial, a delicate bubble of fancy, and it has its philosophy . . . that we should treat all the trivial things of life very seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied frivolity'.

Wilde was the first in a line of homosexual dramatists whose legally prescribed distance from social and sexual norms lends ironic weight to their latter-day comedies of manners. InEarnest, his own delight in outraging the proprieties gave us an inimitable slice of art divorced from life—but, as life divorced him so cruelly from art, it was also to enmesh him in the scandal and imprisonment which (compounded, it is now believed, by the debilitating progress of syphilis) led to his premature death.

The would-be successful social critic had to find a more protective persona, and it was through his genius in creating just such a persona that Bernard Shaw secured his dominance over the drama of the ensuing decades. Shaw was, of course, a novelist and critic well before he found success in the theatre—and by the time he pitched himself into the critical front-line in the ealry 1890s two of his contemporaries, Clement Scott and William Archer, had already staked out positions as heads of the opposing forces in a new battle of 'ancients' versus 'moderns'.


Scott, the theatre critic of the Daily Telegraph, who also edited the leading general-interest theatre journal of the day, The Theatre, headed the traditionalists, while Archer had sounded his optimistic clarion call for the new in English Dramatists of To-day as early as 1882. Writers such as Robert Lowe and Percy Fitzgerald were at the same time introducing some scholarly discipline into the writing of theatre history and biography, which in the past had been largely impressionistic when not unashamedly anecdotal. Lowe also produced his massiveBibliographical Account of English Theatrical Literature, the first serious attempt to review everything published about the theatre—as valuably distinguished from treatments of the drama as if it were a branch of literature.

Even the theory of acting, which had not much concerned either the profession or its critics of late, began to be debated with some liveliness. As long ago as the 1770s the French encyclopedist and playwright Denis Diderot had written in defence of objectivity as opposed to emotional identification in acting: now, Walter Pollock's translation of Diderot's work as The Paradox of Acting (1883) became central to a dispute which found Diderot's fellow-countryman and disciple, Constant Coquelin (who had published his own study of intellectually controlled acting technique in 1880), ranged against no less an authority than Henry Irving. The isues—and the opinions offered by these and numerous other actors—were summarized and aanlyzed in Archer's aptly titled Masks or Faces? in 1888.

Thanks to ever-speedier means of transport, this international exchange of ideas was increasingly complemented by the cross-fertilization of theatrical activity. Irving and Wyndham took full companies to America where earlier they would have taken only themselves, while Sarah Bernhardt with the company of the Comédie Française visited London from Paris. From the USA came Edwin Booth to play Othello (to an Iago whicvh far betted fitted Irving's temperament than his earlier Moor), from Italy the great tragedian Tomasso Salvini, and from Germany the company of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen—often regarded as the first director in the modern sense, whose meticulous concerns with ensemble playing certainly influencedIrving's treatment of his Lyceum crowd scenes.

Then in 1891 a visit from André Antoine's Théâtre Libre from Paris inspired the creation of a similar experimental art theatre in London, the Independent Theatre, by the critic J. T. Grein. This provided a living platform on which the 'moderns' might focus their attack against the 'ancients' through their promotion of the already ageing Norwegian dramatist Henryk Ibsen—among whose champions were both Shaw, whose Quintessence of Ibsenism also appeared in 1891, and Archer, whose first complete edition of his works in translation was then in preparation.

However, for most British audiences ibsen remained merely an obscure dramatist from an obscure vcountry whom such intellectuals had made it their business to promote well above the heads of their good selves—and who might therefore consider himself lucky to have had his Doll's House redeemed by the use of its happy ending in Henry Arthur Jones's version of 1884, coyly retitled Breaking a Butterfly. Janet Achurch acted in Archer's more faithful translation in 1889, and this was duly pronounced 'ibscene' by Scott—who two years later was scandalized beyond such punning put-downs into his legendary scream of outrage against the first English performance of Ibsen's Ghosts. Staged as the opening production of the Independent Theatre at the Royalty, on 13 March 1891, this was at once condemned by Scott as 'an open drain, a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly'—and anything phoney about the war between 'ancients' and 'moderns' was clearly over.

[Illustration: ] Wilde's 'studied frivolity' as ironic liberation: Janet Achurch as Nora Helmer, dancing the tarantella in the middle act of Ibsen's  A Doll's House. This pen and ink drawing was made when the play was staged for thirty performances at the Avenue Theatre in 1892—one of no fewer than five London revivals during the 1890s.


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Surface Tension


Surface tension

Surface tension by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Surface tension, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.


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Sábado, 26 de Enero de 2013 14:03. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes


Patience, de Gilbert y Sullivan (1881), en la ópera de Sydney:

Oh, no. Me suprimen el vídeo, y el canal, inmediatamente. Pero me la compro, y la veo, y la recomiendo. Patience: 

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Sábado, 26 de Enero de 2013 14:11. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

Arthur Wing Pinero


Arthur Wing Pinero

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature: 

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero 
 (1855-1934). He left school at 10 to work in his father's solicitor's practice, but, stage-struck from youth, became an actor, and was noticed by H. Irving who later produced some of his plays. His first one-act play, Two Hundred a Year, performed in 1877, heralded a successful and prolific career. The first of his farces, The Magistrate (perf. 1885), involves a series of ludicrous confusions between Mr Posket, the magistrate, and his family; it brought Pinero both fame and wealth. Later farces, such as The School-Mistress(1887), did nearly as well, as did his sentimental comedy S
weet Lavender (1888). His first serious play, on what was to be the recurrent theme of double standards for men and women, was The Profligate (1889); it was praised by Archer, and noted not only for its frankness but also for its absence of the standard devices of soliloquy and aside. Lady Bountiful (1891) was the first of the 'social' plays in which Pinero was deemed to display his understanding of women. The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1893), returning to the theme of double standards, was a lasting success. The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith (1895) again dealt with a woman's dubious past. Trelawny of the 'Wells' (1898), a sentimental comedy nostalgically recalling his own passion for the theatre he had haunted as a boy, also had great success. He continued to write, but, although knighted in 1909, lived through many years of dwindling reputation and disillusion, eclipsed by the reising popularity of the new theatre of Ibsen and G. B. Shaw

The Second Mrs Tanqueray, a play by Sir A. Pinero, first performed 1893. 

Tanqueray, knowing of Paula's past reputation, still determines to marry her, in the belief that his love and the generosity of his friends will prove strong enough to counter prejudice and hypocrisy. Ellean, his young convent-bred daughter from a previous marriage, comes to live with him and Paula; soon Tanqueray begins to realize that Ellean, his friends, and his own suspicions are proving too powerful an opposition to his once-loving marriage. whan Paula realizes that she has lost his love, she kills herself. Because of the daring theme Pinero had great difficulty in having the play accepted for production, but once produced it was an immediate and abiding success. 

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British Drama 1800-1950


British drama 1800-1950


Hay que ver el capítulo correspondiente de la Cambridge History of English and American Literature, en red en Bartleby.com, en el volumen XIII, sobre teatro del siglo XIX:

VIII.Nineteenth-Century Drama
  By HAROLD CHILD, sometime Scholar of Brasenose College, Oxford 
  1. The drama a popular amusement in the nineteenth century
  2. Richard Lalor Sheil
  3. Charles Robert Maturin
  4. H. H. Milman
  5. Sheridan Knowles; R. H. Horne
  6. J. Westland Marston
  7. Melodrama
  8. Black-ey’d Susan
  9. Dion Boucicault
  10. Tom Taylor
  11. W. G. Wills
  12. Douglas Jerrold
  13. John Poole; Box and Cox; J. R. Planché; Shirley Brooks; H. J. Byron
  14. T. W. Robertson
  15. W. S. Gilbert


Hay muchos materiales sobre el periodo 1890-1950, y sobre todo sobre la obra de Bernard Shaw, que lo domina, en el sitio web de Richard F. Dietrich, Richard F. Ozymandias: The Complete Works of R. F. Dietrich
Sobre todo está allí la edición revisada de British Drama, 1890 to 1950: A Critical History(Boston: Twayne, 1989, titulada ahora British and Irish Drama 1890 to 1950: A Critical History.   http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~dietrich/britishdrama.htm

o en http://www.rfd2.net/britishdrama.htm


    I.       Introduction: A Renaissance of the Drama              
    II.      “Our Theatres in the Nineties”: Haunted by Ghosts                  
    III.     1900-1930: The Triumph of the New Drama                
    IV.     Irish Drama: Soul Music from John Bull’s Other Island         
    V.    1930-1950: Waiting for Beckett                           
    VI.        Common Cause: A National Theater           

A photo on Flickr

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Waiting for the Future


Waiting for the Future

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Sábado, 26 de Enero de 2013 21:00. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Harold Pinter


Harold Pinter

Pinter, Harold. The Room. 1957. In Pinter, The Room and The Dumb Waiter. 
_____. The Birthday Party.
 Drama. 1958. 
_____. The Caretaker. Drama. 1959.
_____. The Dumb Waiter. Drama. First performed 1960.
_____. A Slight Ache. Drama. In Pinter, A Slight Ache. A Night Out. London: Methuen, 1961.
_____. The Hothouse. Drama. In Pinter, Plays One. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. A Night Out.  Drama. In Pinter, A Slight Ache. A Night Out. London: Methuen, 1961.
_____. The Black and White. In Pinter, Plays One. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. The Examination. London: Methuen, 1963.
_____. The Dwarfs. In Pinter, Plays Two. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. The Lover. Drama. 1963. In Pinter, The Collection and The Lover. (Methuen's Modern Plays).
_____. Tea Party. TV drama. 1965.
_____. The Collection. Drama. In Pinter, The Collection and The Lover. (Methuen's Modern Plays).
_____. Night School. Drama.  In Pinter,  Plays Two. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. The Homecoming. Drama. 1965. (Methuen's Modern Plays). London: Methuen.
_____. The Basement. TV drama. 1967.
_____. Landscape. Drama. First broadcast BBC, 25 April 1968. 1st staged by the RSC, Aldsych Theatre, London , 2 July 1969. Dir. Peter Hall.
_____. The Go-Between. Screenplay, based on L. P. Hartley's novel. 1969.
_____. Silence. 1969. In Pinter, Plays: Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991. 189-209.
_____. Old Times. Drama. London: Methuen, 1971.
_____. No Man's Land. TV drama. 1975.
_____. Betrayal. TV drama. 1978.
_____. Poems and Prose 1949-1977. London: Eyre Methuen, 1978.
_____. The Proust Screenplay. (= A la Recherche du Temps Perdu). Screenplay, based on Marcel Proust's novel. 1978.
_____. Mountain Language. New York: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988.
_____. One for the Road. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Four. London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
_____. Victoria Station. In Pinter, Plays Four. London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
_____. Party Time. Drama.
_____. Request Stop. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Two. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. Last to Go. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Two. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. Special Offer. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Two. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. Trouble in the Works. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Two. London: Faber and Faber.
_____. Family Voices. London: Next Editions / Faber, 1981.
_____. The French Lieutenant's Woman. Screenplay based on John Fowles' novel. 1982.
_____. A Kind of Alaska. Drama. 1982.
_____. Night. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
_____. That's Your Trouble. Drama. In Pinter, Plays Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
_____. That's All. In Pinter, Plays Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
_____. Applicant. In Pinter, Plays Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
_____. Interview. In Pinter, Plays Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
_____. Dialogue for Three. In Pinter, Plays Three. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
_____. Collected Poems and Prose. London: Methuen, 1986.
_____. Monologue. In Pinter, Plays Four. London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
_____. The Heat of the Day. Screenplay.
_____. The Comfort of Strangers and Other Screenplays (Reunion, Victory, Turtle Diary).
_____. The Trial. Screenplay.
_____. Moonlight. Drama. 1993.
_____. Ashes to Ashes. Drama. 1996.
_____. Various Voices: Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-1998.
_____. "Art, Truth, and Politics." Nobel Lecture, Dec. 2005. Nobelprize.org
_____. "Arte, verdad y política. Trans. José Ángel García Landa and Beatriz Penas Ibáñez. In Fírgoa: Universidade pública 9 Dec. 2005.

From the Oxford Companion to English Literature: 

Harold Pinter (1930-[2008]), poet and playwright, born in East London, the son of a Jewish tailor, and educated at Hackney Downs Grammar School. He began to publish poetry in periodicals before he was 20, then became a professional actor, working mainly in repertory. His first play, The Room, was performed in Bristol in 1957, followed in 1958 by a London production of The Birthday Party, in which Stanley, an out-of-work pianist in a seaside boarding house, is mysteriously threatened and taken over by two intruders, an Irishman and a Jew, who present him with a Kafkaesque indictment of unexplained crimes. Pinter's distinctive voice was soon reconized, and many critical and commercial successes followed, including The Caretaker (1960), The Lover (1963), The Homecoming (1965), Old Times(1971), and No Man's Land (1975). Betrayal (1978; film, 1982) is an ironic tragedy which ends in beginning and traces with a reversed chronology the development of a love affair between a man and his best friend's wife. Later plays include A Kind of Alaska (1982), based on a work by O. Sacks, One for the Road (1984), Mountain Language (1988), 
Party Time (1991), and Ashes to Ashes (1996, a short drama of the Holocaust). Pinter's gift for portraying, by means of dialogue which realistically produces the nuances of colloquial speech, the difficulties of communication and the many layers of meaning in language, paue, and silence, have created a style labelled by the popular imagination as 'Pinteresque'., and his themes —nameless menace, erotic fantasy obsession and jealousy, family hatreds, and mental disturbance—are equally recognizable. Pinter has also written extensively for radio and television, directed plays, and written several screenplays, which include versions of L. P. Hartley's The Go-Between (1969), A la recherche du temps perdu (1978) and J. Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1982). Poems and Prose, 1947-1977 was published in 1978. See The Life and Work of Harold Pinter (1996) by Michael Billington.

The Caretakera play by H. Pinter, performed and published in 1960.

One of Pinter's characteristically enigmatic ddramas, it is built on the interaction of three characters, the tramp Davies and the brothers Aston and Mick. Aston has rescued Davies from a brawl and brought him back to a junk-filled room, in which he offers Davies a bed and, eventually, an ill-defined post as caretaker. The characters reveal themselves in inconsequential dialogue and obsessional monologue. Davies is worried about his papers, the blacks, gas leaks, and getting to Sidcup; Aston reveals that he has suffered headaches ever since undergoing electric shock treatment for his 'complaint'; Mick, the youngest, is alternately bully, cajoler, and materialist visionary, with dreams of transforming the room into a fashionable penthouse. In the end both brothers turn on Davies and evict him. The dialogue is at once naturalistic and surreal; the litany of London place names (Finsbury Park, Shepherd's Bush, Putney) and of decorator's jargon (charcoal-grey worktops, teak veneeer) serves to highlight the no man's-land in which the characters in fact meet.

The Homecoming, a play by H. Pinter, performed and published 1965. 

A black Freudian family drama, the play presents the return to his north London home and ostentatiously womanless family of Teddy, an academic, and his wife of six years, Ruth, once a photographic model. The patriarch, Mac, a butcher, is alternately violent and cringing in manner, and the other two sons, Lenny and Joey, in a very short time make sexual overtures to Ruth, who calmly accepts them; by the end of the play, Teddy has decided to leave her with the family, who intend to establish her as a professional prostitute. The tone is dark, erotic, and threatening; the shocking and the banal are sharply juxtaposed throughout. Ruth's acceptance of her role as mother, mistress, and possibly breadwinner for her new family, and her rejection of her husband, are intricately connected with the enigmatic figure of the long-dead mother. Jessie, who is both reviled and idolized by her survivors.

A photo on Flickr

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From The City of Dreadful Night

In The Cambridge History of English Literature: 

(... )  all that is most authentic and arresting in the poetry of James Thomson is absolutely “without hope, and without God in the world.” It is the poetry of sheer, overmastering, inexorable despair—a passionate, and almost fierce, declaration of faith in pessimism as the only true philosophy of life. Here we have one who unequivocally affirms
that every struggle brings defeat
Because Fate holds no prize to crown success;
That all the oracles are dumb or cheat
Because they have no secret to express;
That none can pierce the vast black veil uncertain
Because there is no light behind the curtain;
That all is vanity and nothingness.


blade runner

  This little life is all we must endure,
  The grave's most holy peace is ever sure,                  
    We fall asleep and never wake again;
  Nothing is of us but the mouldering flesh,
  Whose elements dissolve and merge afresh
    In earth, air, water, plants, and other men.

  We finish thus; and all our wretched race                 
  Shall finish with its cycle, and give place
    To other beings with their own time-doom:
  Infinite aeons ere our kind began;
  Infinite aeons after the last man
    Has joined the mammoth in earth's tomb and womb.          

  We bow down to the universal laws,
  Which never had for man a special clause
    Of cruelty or kindness, love or hate:
  If toads and vultures are obscene to sight,
  If tigers burn with beauty and with might,               
    Is it by favour or by wrath of Fate?

  All substance lives and struggles evermore
  Through countless shapes continually at war,
    By countless interactions interknit:
  If one is born a certain day on earth,                   
  All times and forces tended to that birth,
    Not all the world could change or hinder it.

  I find no hint throughout the Universe
  Of good or ill, of blessing or of curse;
    I find alone Necessity Supreme;                  
  With infinite Mystery, abysmal, dark,
  Unlighted ever by the faintest spark
    For us the flitting shadows of a dream.

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When the Foeman Bares His Steel

Una escena de The Pirates of Penzance, de Gilbert y Sullivan (1879), sobre eso de enviar soldados a la guerra a cubrirse de gloria.... Toda una sátira mordaz del discurso patriótico y militarista de la época victoriana—y una coreografía genial en esta adaptación cinematográfica:

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Visto en un pato


Visto en un pato

Visto en un pato by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Visto en un pato, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Domingo, 27 de Enero de 2013 23:36. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Romance and Realism 1891-1914


Romance and Realism 1891-1914

Chapter 17 of The Illustrated Oxford History of British Drama, by Simon Trussler: 
The tension between Victorian verities and Edwardian frivolities was already perceptible when, in 1901, the portly Prince of Wales belatedly succeeded to the throne. A world ever more closely resembling our own had been ushered in as much by the arrival of primitive film and popular halfpenny newspapers in the 1890s as by the activities of trades unionists and the suffragettes at home and intimations of revolution abroad in the following decade—which also saw the parliamentary struggle of the last great Liberal government to lay the foundations of a Welfare State. Already the rights and wrongs of the Boer War, bridging the old century and the new, had divided the nation, and soon the First World War (by present-day standards a conflict somewhat short on technology, but profligate of suffering and death) was to cast its long, engulfing shadow.
[Illustration:] the fall from the tower of the title character in The Master Builder, by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). This illustration (from the Pall Mall Budget) is of the first British production at the Trafalgar Theatre in 1893.Watching Herbert Waring's Solness is his youthful hero-worshipper Hilda Wangel, played by the anglicized American actress Elizabeth Robins (1862-1952), who held the British stage rights to most of Ibsen's plays. Among other of his leading female roles, she played Martha Bernick in Pillars of Society (1889), Mrs. Linde in A Doll's House (1891), the title role in Hedda Gabler (1891), Rebecca West in Rosmersholm (1893), Asta Allmers in Little Eyolf(1896), and Ella Rentheim in John Gabriel Borkman (1896). Controversy over the true merits of the Norwegian dramatist dominated critical discussion during this period. Though his cause was championed both by his first translator William Archer and by the young Bernard Shaw, he was virulently attacked by such conservative writers as the ageing but influential theatre critic of theDaily Telegraph, Clement Scott.

THEATRE AS 'SOCIAL LUXURY'In the face of all this, commercial theatre remained cosily complacent, concerned to insulate the class interests it served. An Italian observer, Mario Borsa, writing in 1908 in The English Stage of Today, summed it up: 'The entire organization of the theatre reflects that special and aristocratic conception of its status which is the point of view of its patrons.' In consequence, although London was 'overrun with theatres', there was, in Borsa's judgement, a pervasive 'intellectual apathy' behind the 'lack of good prose drama'—or, as even that most Anglophilic of immigrants, Henry James, had to concede, the theatre in England was 'a social luxury and not an artistic necessity'.Such contemporary comments should serve to caution us against the selective recall to which some theatre historians have been prone as they earnestly trace the ascendancy of 'the new drama'. This, although it undeniably existed, was in truth written by and for a mere handful of intellectuals—while the West End theatre continued to cater to audiences who were either unconcerned with or actively seeking diversion from political and industrial struggles symptomatic of profound social discontent. Ibsenism may have been as quintessential to Bernard Shaw as socialism: but neither was considered a fit subject in polite conversation.The nation was becoming no less intellectually than it was socially divided. The 'moderns' in the theatre, as in all the arts, were by and large radical in their political as in their artistic beliefs, just as they not only held but were now able to propound a rationalist philosophy which would have been unmentionable (if not unthinkable) a bare thirty years earlier. Yet they still sought to storm the citadels of that 'special and aristocratic' theatre, with little thought of reaching a popular audience through its own forms of art—of which the music hall, as we shall see, was enjoying a proud heyday before its fall—or of touching the habits and tastes of other than the well-to-do.In the West End theatres, the curtain generally rose at eight o'clock, to permit patrons to dine beforehand, and was down in time for 'carriages at eleven' and a late supper. Evening dress was de rigueur except in the residual pit and the gallery, whose lowlier patrons were generally assigned their own entrances in adjoining alleyways—and so discouraged from joining the fashionable foyer throng. Certainly, they were not expected to have much to contribute to the plays themselves: thus, Arthur Pinero claimed that 'a certain order of ideas expressed or questions discussed' was simply beyond the powers 'of the English lower-middle and lower classes' to articulate. And it is ironic that even Bernard Shaw, for all his declared socialism, in practice seemed to concur—his occasional working-class characters being drawn either from the long typology of clever servants, such as Enry Straker in Man and Superman, or conceived as good-natured but indolent buffoons, as when Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion fulfils the expectations of his charactonym (a convention now rare in the 'realistic' drama).THE ACTOR-MANAGER AS MATINEE IDOLOften, when dramatists strayed from idealizing the respectable classes in their contemporary drawing-rooms, it was to transplant their value system into the realms of romance: and the last great generation of actor-managers increasingly found it expedient to cast themselves in the choicest romantic leads. It was George Alexander who began the trend in 1896 when, in the face of scepticism from his contemporaries, he accepted Edward Rose's adaptation of Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, himself doubling the roles of Rudolf Rassendyl and the King—thereby restoring the fortunes of the St James's Theatre, which he managed from 1891 until his death in 1918.But sometimes actors found themselves trapped within the romantic personae they created. Lewis Waller, for all his personal modesty and classical ambitions, thus came to be increasingly identified with just two parts—those of D'Artagnan in the most successful of numerous adaptations of Dumas's The Three Musketeers (1898), and of Booth Tarkington's eponymous Monsieur Beaucaire (1902). To Waller is usually given the doubtful credit of becoming the first matinee idol—his faithful followers even wearing badges proclaiming that they were 'Keen on Waller' (a slogan which quickly gave way to it unfortunate acronym).Among his fellow matinee idols, none was a better physical embodiment of the 'interesting' romantic type than Johnston Forbes-Robertson. This 'dreamy, poetic-looking creature'—as he was described by Ellen Terry, who had played opposite him as early as 1874 in The Wandering Heir—was already in his forties when, to Irving's absence, he triumphed as Romeo to Mrs Patrick Campbell's Juliet in 1894, and three years later he gave what was generally acclaimed as a definitive Hamlet for the fin-de-siècle generation, causing Irving to forswear acting the part again.
hamlet forbes-robertsonJohnston Forbes-Robertson (1853-1937) in the role of Hamlet—which he first played at the age of forty-four, 1897. Seeing this performance is said to have inspired Shaw to write Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Forbes-Robertson eventually played in 1907. Generally recognized as the inheritor of Irving's mantle, Forbes-Robertson, like Lewis Waller, had a 'fallback' role, in his case that of the Stranger in Jerome's mystical melodramaThe Passing of the Third Floor Back—although, perhaps to the envy of Waller, Forbes-Robertson could count no less on the enduring popularity of his Hamlet According to Hesketh Pearson, biographer of The Last Actor-Managers, Charles Wyndham could similarly rely on reviving David Garrick, Hare on A Pair of Spectacles,Alexander on The Importance of Being Earnest, Tree onTrilby, Martin-Harvey on The Only Way, and Fred Terry on The Scarlet Pimpernel.buckingham wallerLewis Waller (1860-1915) in The Three Musketeers(1898). Waller was embarrassed by his reputation as supposedly the first of the great 'matinee idols': he much preferred Shakespearean or light comedy roles, but found himself (like several other of the great actor-managers of the period) inescapably identified with the romantic leads his fans preferred. ('Will no one', he is said to have pleaded, 'rid me of these turbulent priestesses?') He was also greatly admired in Booth Tarkington's Monsieur Beaucaire(1902), playing the even-tempered Frenchman of the title, whose exquisite debonaire wit gallantly puts down ill-bred English rivals.

Forbes-Robertson's last great success was as the enigmatically beneficient Stranger in Jerome K. Jerome's The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1908), a sort of bourgeoisified Bloomsbury equivalent to the mysterious vagrant in Maxim Gorky's Lower Depths. The self-denial personified by Jerome's Stranger was approved as a vicarious virtue by audiences not much given to its practice: thus, no less popular was the role of the selfless Sidney Carton which John Martin-Harvey had carved for himself at the Lyceum (again while Irving was on tour) in a dramatization of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, retitled The Only Way (1899). Unfortunately the character so overwhelmed Martin-Harvey's reputation that, to borrow Bryan Forbes's apt metaphor, 'his many journeys to the tumbrel led to a guillotining of what might have been a more varied and distinguished career'.Towering above all these, with his usual deceptively indolent air, was Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who managed the Haymarket from 1887, just eight years after his professional debut, until he built the new Her Majesty's Theatre across the road in 1897. Tree produced Shakespeare with a legendary extravagance to which we shall return, while as an actor he preferred larger-than-life characters ranging from Falstaff to Fagin. Even when he found himself bowing to the new taste for romance, he usually managed to tune-in a character to his own temperamental wavelength—as with his Svengali in Paul Potter's adaptation of George du Maurier's Trilby (1895).Tree was also prepared to take occasional risks on less formulaic stuff, with varying degrees of success. When he staged Ibsen's Enemy of the People in 1893 it barely graduated from matinees to evenings, achieving a mere seven performances: but in 1914 it was Tree who gave Shaw his first great commercial success with Pygmalion —in which Mrs. Patrick Campbell playing Eliza, completed an unholy trinity of creatively tensile personalities. However, among the actor-managers it was George Alexander who most consistently preferred new British plays, and who staged at the St. James's Wilde's Lady Winderemere's Fan(1892) and Pinero's The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1893). Both plays raised and, in the end, ducked the issue of the sexual 'double standard'—which brings us to the one serious issue with which West End audiences did (as it were) flirt: the 'woman question'.THE 'WOMAN QUESTION'As pursued in the drama, the debate over the 'woman question' largely reflected a patriarchal concern to give the matter serious attnetion and then to come down solidly in favour of the status quo. Sydney Grundy (a dependable churner-out of overly well-made plays after the manner of the French boulevardist Sardou) thus wrote an eponymous put-down of The New Woman for the Comedy Theatre in 1894, the year in which the phrase enterd popular usage, in clear expectation that his audience would share his own conclusion—that she was really 'as old as Eve, and just as hungry for the fruit she plucked'.Of course, the prevailing sexual hypocrisy touched the theatre no less than the rest of society. In The Case of Rebellious Susan (1894), another of that topical cluster of plays of the early 1890s which deigned to notice the 'woman question', Henry Arthur Jones, while calmly affirming the inevitability of male philandering, set out to show how a wife who tries to pay back her husband in kind comes to grief, repentance, and acceptance of the woman's role—to 'forgive the wretched till they learn constancy'. The manager of the Criterion, Charles Wyndham, refused to allow his leading lady, Mary Moore, to utter the one line which would have confirmed Susan's adultery: but in real life, though very unobtrusively, Wyndham had loong been committing adultery with Mary Moore. Like Wyndham, Tree managed to acquire a knighthood while at the same time breeding children faster with his mistress than his wife, and personifying the ideal of the Edwardian male described by Frank Harris as 'adultery with all home comforts'.Ironically, the profession of actress was meanwhile becoming, if not exactly respectable, at least a good deal more acceptable than it had been—although no less an actress than Ellen Terry had bolstered all the worst Victorian expectations of her caling by strewing an estranged husband, a lover, and ilegitimate children in her wake. (Careless of the respectability vicariously restored by her association with Irving, she took a third husband half her age in her sixtieth year, and was duly made to wait until three years before her death in 1928—thirthy-three years after Irving's knighthood—to be created a Dame.)Successive census returns reveal that whereas in 1851 there had been around half as many actresses as actors, by 1881 women were outnumbering men in the profession, as they have continued to do ever since: precisely, their numbers rose from 891 in 1861 to 3,696 thirty years later. However happily such figures may reflect the improved social standing of the profession as a whole, and a wider acceptance that actresses were not instantly to be identified as whores, it was, none the less, largely the male dramatist's typoloty of womanhood which determined the parts they were permitted to play.When Robertsonian society dramas had begun both to emulate and to educate in polite behaviour, the public tendency to confuse manners displayed on stage and off encouraged the assumption that a socially acceptable role reflected an actresse's 'real' nature. So while the American Adah Isaacs Menken, in achieving a succès de scandale with her notorious breeches role as mazeppa, was behaving as might be expected of a foreigner, English actresses wishing to advance their social standing had followed the lead of Helen Faucit—who had made a 'good' marriage and been able to retire early by specializing in roles which identified her with the Victorian ideal of demure, domesticated womanhood. Even Ellen Terry enjoyed one of her greatest successes, as Imogen in Cymbeline, in part because the role embodied the untainted female virtue deemed desirable by the Victorian patriarchy.
ellen terry

Ellen Terry as Imogen inCymbeline. Playing opposite Irving's Iachimo in the Lyceum production of 1896, she had to embody a Victorian ideal of constancy in the face of doubts and temptations—to become, in Swinburne's words, 'the most adorable woman ever created by God or man'. Terry's genius added some mercurial spirit to the character, but the patriarchal expectations which confined her were as much part of Irving's acting style as of her audience's life style. Shaw warned her of 'an idiotic paragon of virtue produced by Shakespeare's views of what a woman ought to be'

And so when Clement Scott, nearing his dotage in 1898, warned that 'it is nearly impossible for a woman to remain pure who adopts the stage as a profession', the collective outrage of the London managements secured the old man's dismissal from his influential position on the Daily Telegraph. But male playwrights continued to assume that in the serious affairs of their life their sex was, as of right, cast in the decision-making role: thus, in such products of the patriarchy as Jones's later plays The Liars (1897) and Mrs Dane's Defence (1900), young reprobates are saved from the clutches of 'women with a past' in order to fulfil their destinies as the providers and legislators of society.Thoughtful actresses were well aware that the roles they were given to play made them haplessly complicit in the way that their sex was presented on stage. Even the vaguely supportive Pinero deeming it necessary to convert his title-character in The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith (1895) from a 'woman agitator' with 'original independent ideas' (as her creator, Mrs Patrick Campbell, described her) into a creature of 'Bible-reading inertia' in the last act.So a growing number of women began to write their own plays—a task few had successfully attempted since the eighteenth century, despite (or perhaps becaue of) the pre-eminence of women in the less public form of the novel. And, with the predominantly male breed of actor-managers unsypathetic (as much on account of the absence of central roles for themselves as from ingrained prejudice), women had also to involve themselves in management—as did Lena Ashwell, when she took over the Kingsway Theatre in 1907. In the following year was formed the Actresses' Franchise League, which offered active—and activist—support to the campaign for women's sufrage. As in the days of Chartism, sympathetic performers would sugar the propagandist pill at meetings and rallies—at first with solo acts, then with specially written plays. One of the best of these, a collaboration between Cicely Hamilton and 'Christopher' St John, female partner to Ellen Terry's daughter Edith Craig, was a swift-moving farce entitled How the Vote Was Won(1909), which fulfilled the anticipatory promise of its title by showing women taking men an¡t their word—and completely overwhelming them with demands for the 'protection' they claimed as their prerogative.A more conventionally prestigious outcome of the League's activities was its members' reluctantly-conceded participation in the glaa celebrations of 1911 for the Coronation of King George V—in which, ironically but imaginatively, they presented a masque by Ben Jonson, The Vision of Delight. And some women prominent in the movement went on to form permanent companies—most notably Inez Bensusan, who mounted a successful women's season at the Coronet in 1913, and Edith Craig, whose Pioneer Players, formed in the following year, managed to survive beyond the First World War.PROBLEM PLAYS—AND POPULAR PLAYSOther women's plays were more orthodox in structure if not in theme, and probably neither Cicely Hamilton, whose Diana of Dobson's was staged by Ashwell at the Kingsway in 1908, or Gilda Sowerby, whoseRutherford and Son enjoyed a full season's run at the Vaudeville in 1912, would have objected to her work being labelled a 'problem play'—though it was with malice aforethought that Grundy had coined the term in the 1890s to describe the collision between the belated English discovery of naturalism and that discussion or ilustration of a specific social 'issue' which so often distinguisehd its dramatic expression.Of the continental 'slice-of-life' realism of Zola—as more immediately of Gerhard Hauptmann's The Weavers or Gorky's The Lower Depths—there was very little trace in the British theatre: indeed, such rare examples as spring to mind were products either of the women's movement or of the more down-to earth provincial theatre (to which we shall shortly turn). And so it was, for example, that D. H. Lawrence's vivid depictions of a coal-mining community in A Collier's Friday Night, The Daughter-in-Law, and The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd—all of which were written before 1912—remained unperformed for over fifty years.Predictably, the box sets which entrapped the characters of the 'new drama' more often than not represented domestic or business interiors not dissimilar from those in which their audiences passed their lives—or aspired so to do. So while Bernard Shaw wryly acknowledged that the 'problems' identified in his Widowers' Houses or in Mrs Warren's Profession—respectively slum landlordism and prostitution—qualified them as 'Plays Unpleasant', not one of their scenes is set in a slum or a brothel. Rather than in any closer visual (or for that matter verbal) approximation to the 'real' —or, more precisely, much sense that it should be other than bourgeois in its dramaturgic boundaries—it was largely in a changed perception of character that naturalism in the new drama was now manifesting itself.In melodrama (as indeed in society drama) character had been largely a function of plot—the product of changes rung, often arbitrarily, upon a set of immutable traits. The assumptions behind the received rules which governed this socio-dramatic decorum were either duly fulfilled, or simply inverted—as when aristocrats are turned into villains, or labourers are endowed with nobility of spirit. Naturalism, on the other hand, presented character as it presumed it to be formed in life—as a composite effect of heredity and environment. In this it became, however, a mode not much less deterministic than classical tragedy.This, while it is clearly more 'realistic' that past actions rather than plot mechanics should be seen as the driving force behind present events, man's destiny appears no less inescapable when it is governed by birth and social circumstance than when ruled by an implacable fate. And so a sense of inevitability pervades even the choicest products of the new naturalism—whether twisted towards tragedy as by Ibsen in Ghosts,or towards comedy as by Shaw in Man and Superman. Despite the best intentions of the dramatists, this could not but bolster an audience's feelings that, however imperfect the world might be, there was not much that they personally could do about it.It is not surprising, then, that in the works of such writers as Alfred Sutro, St John Hankin, and the emergent Somerset Maugham, native naturalism should have integrated itself so soon and so seamlessly with the old 'society drama'. And even while the freer-spirited among the new dramatists were trying to broaden its horizons—Granville Barker, for example, through the unresolved dilemma of The Voysey Inheritance(1905), or Galsworthy thorugh the egalitarian concerns of Strife (1909) and Justice (1910)—on the Continent the creative energies of the style were already on the wane.Henrik Ibsen had thus written his last play in 1899, by which time Alfred Jarry had strangled individual psychology almost at birth in the proto-absurdist Ubu Roi. August Strindberg was already moving into his expressionistic phase, and Maurice Maeterlinck was sparking symbolism into fitful dramatic life. The closest counterpart the British theatre could muster was Stephen Phillips—whom William Archer, with what proved to be undue optimism, acclaimed as a new Milton for his high poetic dramas such as Herod (1900) Ulysses (1902), and, most notably, Paolo and Francesca (1902). Both Alexander and Tree briefly took him up, but his work soon floundered into high-sounding incoherence.

peter pan

Poster for the first production of J. M. Barrie's perennial Christmas show, Peter Pan,at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1904. Barrie (1860-1937) wrote other, more grown-up whimsies, such as Quality Street (1902) and Mary Rose (1920), but these have weathered less well than his gentle social satires, notably The Admirable Crichton(1902), What Every Woman Knows (1908), and Dear Brutus (1917), where his chronic sentimentality is redressed by imagination and an insistent, insidious charm.

The theatrically enduring plays of the period often tell us truths in their authors' despite. Thus, Brandon Thomas skilfully energized that most perennial of farces, Charles's Aunt (1892), by blending mild sexual titillation into his even milder satire upon social and mercenary ambitions: while this was sufficient to ensure the play's contemporary success, today we can relish, too, its understated, perhaps sublimated uncertainties about gender role and the ageing process.Other uncertainties, social rather than sexual, lie beneath the mannered surface of James Barries's The Admirable Crichton (1902), whose titular paragon of a butler, his household marooned on a desert island, assumes the master's role only to withdraw into his 'proper place' with the return to normalcy. Even so, Squire Bancroft. as recorded by A. E. W. Mason, was surely not alone in feeling that such a juxtaposition of the drawing room and the servants' hall was 'a very painful subject'. And the even more enduringly successful Peter Pan (1904) is, for all its whimsical pleasures, no less painful in the truths it tells, whether about Barrie's own psyche—or about a patriarchal society which was already gearing up to fight a world war according to the ethics of the preparatory school.The relative popularity of writers we might today consider of greater importance is instructive. Futures collated by the critic Ian Clarke indicate that although plays by Shaw enjoyed 2,568 performances between 1890 and 1919, Jones notched up a total of 3,690, and Pinero no fewer than 4.834—while Galsworthy and Barker managed a mere 290 and 231 respectively. Shaw, who actually overtook his rivals in the final decade, was thus alone among the 'new' dramatists in breaking into the commercial sector, and so making an impact upon an audience beyond the intellectual elite: but it took him well over a decade after his first play reached the stage, and a good deal of conscious self-publicizing—not to mention the staking out of acceptable boundaries—to establish a platform from which to do so.THE SELF-FASHIONING OF BERNARD SHAWAll through the 1890s Shaw had thus remained more influential as a critic than as a dramatist, while meanwhile calculatedly fashioning himself as a socialist enfant terrible (albeit in early middle age) and a prototype of what we would today call a media celebrity. In 1898, when only two of his seven Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant had been performed, he also took the then unusual step of publishing them in a nicely-presented reading edition, apparently as the only way of guaranteeing them a reasonable circulation. For his fortunes as a performed playwright were at first inseparable from the activities of the little play-producing societies which, since the creation of the Independent Theatre by J. T. Grein in 1891, had been attempting to emulate the work of the 'free theatres' of continental Europe—and which played (in borrowed theatres) to audiences which, however critically receptive, were usally very small indeed.For most of its six-year existence the main concern of the Independent Theatre was with the work of little-known foreign dramatists (ibsen of course among them) but it had also launched Shaw's belated dramatic career in 1892 with a production of Widowers' Houses. Its mantle was inherited by the New Century Theatre, formed in 1897 by Elizabeth Robins, a pioneer of the Ibsenite as of the women's movement, and then, more enduringly, indeed, until the very eve of the First World War—by the Stage Society, which gave Shaw renewed exposure with its opening production of You Never Can Tell in 1899. In the following year came the premier of Candida—in which the role of Marchbanks as played by the then rising actor and aspirant playwright Harley Granville Barker.


From the first production of Shaw's Man and Superman, staged in 1905 during the Vedrenne-Barker management of the Court: Ann Whitefield and Jack Tanner, the couple drawn irreisistibly together by the 'life force', were played by Lillah McCarthy (also seen as Viola [below] and her future husband, Granville Barker—here in distinctively Shavian guise. Barker only adopted the more familiar hyphenated form following his second marriage, when, at his new wife's instigation, he abandoned the stage—but produced the valuable series of Prefaces to Shakespeare.

It was when Granville Barker entered into mangerial partnership with J. E. Vedrenne at the Court Theatre from 1904 to 1907 that Shaw's work began to reach a wider public. No fewer than eleven of his plays were produced, firmly establishing his reputation as a 'new' but entertaining comic dramatist, while the Vedrenne-Barker seasons also presented work by Barker himself, Galsworthy, and Hankin—not to mention Euripides, three of whose tragedies (in new translations by Gilbert Murray) were restore to the live theatre after centuries of confinement to the study. Somerset Maugham followed in Shaw's footsteps, though not his politics, making his name with productions first by the Stage Society and then at the Court—whence Lady Frederick transferred to the West End in 1907, to be joined within a year by three more of Maugham's finely-honed yet hollow-centred society dramas.Shaw himself had by now entered heartily into what was to prove his lifelong role as licensed jester to a social system which, as a self-proclaimed communist, he supposedly despised. Since he also believed that the sex drive was controlled by 'creative evolution' (which he theatricalized as the 'life force') any love interest in his comedies tends towards coyness and the encouragement of good breeding—understood as a matter not of armorial bearings but of eugenic engineering. In this as in other matters the Shavian 'tone of voice' is inimitable: but so far from filling his plays with spokespeople for himself, as popular legend asserts, Shaw gives the devil considerably more than his due in the dramatized debates which flesh out his plots serious issues all too frequently being reduced to rhetorical diversions in the process.Shaw's topical satire upon the Irish question, John Bull's Other Island (1904), was thus greatly enjoyed by most of its supposed targets—the Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour, actually paying a return visit. And although in Major Barbara (1905) Shaw dared to delve so far into the sanitized lower depths of London as a Salvation Army hostel, his delight in dialectical paradox ensures that he ends up apparently in favour of armament production as a species of social service. Only in Heartbreak House, written during the First World War when armament production was no longer a laughing matter, does a raw nerve of honesty seem touched within himself, creating a more contemplative, bittersweet mood which the English later came to insist on regarding at Chekhovian. Thus far, however, few had so much as heard of Anton Chekhov.The little play-producing societies were believed, by virtue of of their club status, to enjoy immunity from the Lord Chamberlain's continuing powers of censorship. It is not simply that Ghosts would not have been produced in the commercial theatre: it could not have been, since the Examiner of Plays in the Lord Chamberlain's Office had made it clear that he would refuse a licence—as he later refused one for Mrs. Warren's Profession in 1902 and for Barker's Waste in 1907. An intensive and widely-supported campaign against the censorship resulted in a parliamentary Committee of Enquity in 1909, which took voluminous evidence from the great, the good, and the opinionated before deciding to leave things more or less as they were—to the relief of the commercial managers, who had no wish to second-guess an audience's tastes, and who valued the protection a licence seemed to afford.THE REPERTORY MOVEMENTIn other respects, attempts to 'organize the theatre', if not quite as irresistible as the late-Victorian critic Matthew Arnold had proposed, met with mixed success. The opening in 1904 of what was to become the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art owed much to the energy and generosity of Beerbohm Tree—incongruously, since he had always claimed that acting could not be taught. RADA was only the first of many such schools of acting, and the improved standards of training which resulted were to affect entry into the profession as profoundly as the formation in 1903 of the Actors' Union—whose efforts to secure better pay and conditions remained largely unrealized until, ironically, it ceased to be a union in name and, as Actors' Equity, became one in practice in 1929.In 1904, William Archer and Granville Barker had published an elaborate Scheme and Estimates for a National Theare which, despite some premature laying of foundation stones, was to take even longer to reach fruition Their advocacy of performances playing in 'true repertoire' on the continentl model went beyond the limited-run system which was then being employed at the Court: but when it was put into practice following the move of Vedrenne and Barker to the Savoy in 1907, its expense led to the dissolution of their partnership. In 1910, Charles Frohman also tried to run a repertory season of ten plays at the Duke of York's: and while it was surely significant that so wily a commercial manager should make the attempt, even more so was its failure, which bore Darwinian witness to the way in which the long-run system, the survival of the threatrically fittest, had reshaped the habits of West End audiences.Outside London, however, a typically British compromise between the limited run and 'true' repertoire, whereby single productions were played (often twice nightly) for a single week, began to be adopted as preferable, locally-based alternative to the touring system. The earliest theatre to be run on such lines was set up in Manchester in 1907 by Miss Annie Horniman, heiress to a tea fortune, and between 1908 and 1913 further 'rep' theatres were established in Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Bristol. From 1908 at the Gaiety, Miss Horniman's Manchester company worked with particular success to reflect local attitudes and concerns—which, though arguably just as class-ridden as those of the West End, now seem less exclusively and claustrophobically so.The most notable exponents of the 'Manchester School' of playwriting were Allan Monkhouse, with Reaping the Wind (1908) and Mary Broome (1911); Stanley Houghton, with The Younger Generation (1910) and Hindle Wakes (1912); and Harold Brighouse—a writer of more than neibhourhood naturalism, whose The Northerners (1914) is almost as expressionistic in its exploration of a Luddite theme as is Hobson's Choice (1916) in its more recognizable workaday mould. Unsurprisingly, Hobson—its plot hinging upon a strong woman who stands up for 'her' man—was alone in finding favour in London, where 'provincial' had long been favoured as an appropriate epithet of abuse for Henrik Ibsen.Earlier, in 1904, the munificent Miss Horniman had taken a lease on the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, where the poet W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, George Moore, and Edward Martyn had been sustaining the Irish Literary Theatre since 1890. While Yeats was able to tap into the mythic roots of the Irish consciousness in plays which, further afield, have remained a rather specialist taste, Lady Gregory was more at home with an enecdotal, almost domesticated approach to her resurgent nation's folklore: then, in J. M. Synge, the new Abbey company found a voice of naturalistic genius, as readily expressed through the tragic dimension in Riders to the Sea (1904) as in the peasant comedy of The Playboy of the Western World (1907).Owing to his premature death in 1909, Synge's plays were sadly few in number, and some met with hostility from audiences over-sensitive to supposed affronts to their national dignity—most famously during the 'Playboy riots' which marred both the Dublin and New York premieres, but also on account of the wry anti-clericalism of The Tinker's Wedding, which opened in London in 1909 since it was considered 'too dangerous' for the Abbey. In truth, Synge gave a vital, poetic expression to the Irish national character and new cause for its reviving cultural pride no less than had Shakespeare for his own countrymen three centuries earlier.APPROACHES TO SHAKESPEAREShakespearean productions during this period ranged across an ever-widening stylistic spectrum. After 1897 the showcase for the established (indeed, expected) spectacular approach shifted from the Lyceum to the new Her Majesty's, where Tree follwoed Irving in cutting his texts and rearranging his scenes in the case of decorative convenience. Long waits during all the complicated scene changes were none the less common, though Tree did eliminate two intervals by reducing the conventional five act divisions to the three which were becoming the norm in new plays.
lillah mccarthy

Lillah McCarthy as Viola in Granville Barker's production of Twelfth Night at the Savoy (1912). Norman Wilkinson's formal and stylized permanent set contrasted with the lavish embellishments (and real grass) employed by Tree. While best remembered for her roles in Barker's productions (which included many of Shaw's female leads), Lillah McCarthy (1875-1960) also went into management on her own account, at the Little Theatre in 1912 and at the Kingsway in 1919—a year after the divorce from Barker which was effectively to bring both their careers in the live theatre to an end.

Tree's elaborate and top-heavy style was to attract ridicule soon enough_ but if he took both his naturalism and his symbolism a touch too literally, the aim was often similar to that of his revered near-contemporary, Stanislavsky, in his legendary productions of Chekhov for the Moscow Arts Theatre during the same period—even down to the twittering of attendant birds, arguably no les superflous in Konstantin Stanislavsky's The Cherry Orchard  than in Tree's Much Ado About Nothing. Again, Tree's live rabbits on stage for A Midsummer Night's Dream and his terraces of real grass in Twelfth Night have passed into theatrical folklore as examples of misconceived straining after verisimilitude: yet they suggest an instinct not that different from Stanislavsky's when he commended the filling of hollow oars with water for realistic splashing along Venetian canals in Othello.
The forum scene from the production of Julius Caesar  (1911) by Herbert Beerbohm Tree, showing his characteristic concern for  the scenic and actorly detail of the stage picture. Here, Tree, playing Antony, is standing with his back to the rostrum. While taking risks on productions of Ibsen and Shaw, Tree (1853-1917) was also ruthless in establishing his own stage presence, whether as Svengali in Trilby (1895), Falstaff in Henry IVPart I (1896)—or (against a no-less-determined Mrs. Patrick Campbell) in Shaw's Pygmalion (1914). Tree managed the Haymarket from 1887, then personally oversaw the building of Her Majesty's, which became his base from 1897 to 1915.

julius caesar tree

From 1905 Tree invited fellow Shakespareans to participate in annual festivals to commemorate the bardic birthday: and so diretors—as we can now unreservedly begin to call those who saw it as their function to give artistic cohesion to a production—as different as F. R. Benson and and Wiliam Poel both found themselves working at His Majesty's (as the theatre had duly become). Benson had for some thirty years been touring Shakespeare round the provinces with one of the last stock companies worthy of the name—and from 1886 had also been responsible for mounting the annual festivals at the new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (opened in 1879), where bardolatry was just beginning its acceleration from the light fantatic to the light industrial.As a director, Benson's approach seems to have varied between the highly athletic, jogging Henry V along at a welcome pace, and the sonorously funereal, stretching out his Hamlet to six hours excluding an interval for dinner. William Poel was more consistent in seeking to recover the 'swiftness and ease' which he believed to have characterized Elizabethan acting, in the wider interests of replicating the manner in which he believed the plays had first been staged. No less pioneering than his Hamlet of 1881, based on the First Quarto in a seminal conjunction of scholarly and theatrical disciplines, was his restoration to the living repertoire of the works of Shakespeare's contemporaries. His revival for the Independent Theatre of Webster's The Duchess of Malfi in 1892 coincided, moreover, with the popularization of the 'minor' Elizabethans and Jacobeans through Havelock Ellis's launching of the influential, bravely unexpurgated, Mermaid Series of 'The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists'.A year later, again for Grein, Poel staged Measure for Measure in a would-be facsimile of the original Fortune. Then, in 1895. he formed his own Elizabethan Stage Society, which for the next ten years mounted what Poel proclaimed to be 'authentic' Elizabethan productions—with Johnson's plays, among others, happily featuring alongside Shakespeare's. Although subsequent scholarship has cast doubt on some of his beliefs—and he himself often vitiated the intimacy he sought by pitching his Elizabethan platform behind a host proscenium arch—Poel's was a leading influence in the clearing away of centuries of accumulated clutter, both physical and metaphysical, from Shakespearean production.Rhetorically Poel revealed, in Lillah McCarthy's words, that it was possible 'to keep the exquisite rhythm and cadence of the verse even whilst the drama was hurtling along its swift tempestuous course' Lillah McCarthy is herself best remembered as the creator of the earliest of Shaw's female leads—in which she was directed by Granville Barker, who became not only her husband but her collaborator on a series of Shakespearean productions mounted at the Savoy Theatre between 1912 and 1914. In these the lessons of Poel's work were assimilated, but its niceties adapted to the conditions of contemporary staging and the expectations of a contemporary audience.Barker thus built an apron stage out over the front stalls of his theatre, and replaced its footlights with a batten mounted across the front of the dress circle. His eclectic approach even extended to incorporating some of the revolutionary design ideas then being propunded by Ellen Terry's son, Gordon Craig—a curious, lonely figure, whose monumental columns and sweeping swathes of teps had little to do with Elizabethan staging, but did begin to meet the need for single settings conducive to a play's atmosphere and properly uninterrupted pace.Spending his long life largely in self-imposed exile, Craig enjoyed more influence as a theorist than a practitioner, his view of actors as super-marionettes tending to attract frustrated directors but to deter the profession at large. Yet he remained devoted to the memory of Irving—not only as a surrogate father, but for the kind of mesmeric power with which as an actor he had, in The Bells, transcended melodrama. However, as a theatrical force melodrama had virtually died along with its last traditional exponent, William Terriss—struck down in 1897 at the stage door of the thatre with whose very name it had become synonymous, the Adelphi.DEVELOPMENTS IN MUSIC HALLWhile the increasingly diverse nature of the music-hall bill now made it 'variety' indeed, many of the stars of the pre-war years remained true to the proletarian traition of the older 'halls'—not least Marie Lloyd, prohibited from appearing before royalty as much on account of her risky double meanings on stage as her unconventional private life. The period saw many other such legendary acts at peak form and peak popularity—varieties of comic experience ranging from the 'character' acts of George Robey and Harry Tate to the 'eccentric' Dan Leno and Little Tich, from the 'grotesque' comedy of Nellie Wallace o the 'coster' comedy of Albert Chevalier and Gus Ellen, from the stylized Scots of Harry Lauder to the stylish males of Vesta Tilley—glimpsed in characteristic military mode on the songs-sheet cover [below].Honourably, most such bill-topping acts showed solidarity with their humbler brothers and sisters in the music-hall strike which followed the formation of the 'Variety Artists' Federation in 1906, and which secured a slight improvement in conditions. Then, in 1912, a long-standing dispute over the inclusion of 'dramatic' material was resolved with the legalization of sketches up to thirty minutes in length. However, an earlier advance was by then proving double-edged—the music-hall managers having at first welcomed the arrival in the 1890s of the first short moving pictures, which they hired for 'ciné-variety' bills on the grounds of novelty and relative cheapness. But within a decade feature-length movies had arrived along with purpose-built cinemas to exhibit them, and film had become a dangerous competitor—not only for audiences, but also for performers. Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, both graduates of Fred Karno's slapstick company, were just two of those who deserted the halls as also their native land for the lure of boom-town Hollywood.A leading music-hall singer of a slightly earlier period, 'the Great Macdermott', otherwise G. H. Farrell, had achieved a hit at the time of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 with 'We don't want to fight, but by Jingo! if we do', a patriotic ditty which added the word 'jingoism' to the language—and continued, 'We've got the ships, we've got the men and got the money, too.' By the time that the jingoism which fuelled the First World War had been purged, nearly a million men from Britain alone lay dead, some in the still-disciplined ranks of the war cemeteries, some scattered disorderly and dismembered across the poppy fields of Flanders—one million of the ten milion who died in a war which left wounded twice as many more, to devastate a generation and sow only the seeds of renewed conflict.
vesta tilley

[Note: the illustration in Trussler's book is from The Bold Militiaman, another song sheet]

Vesta Tilley (1864-1952), most famous of music-hall male impersonators, pictured on a song-sheet cover in typically jingoistic mood. Even before the First Wrold War, Tilley's strutting soldierly personae were no less popular and only a little less plentiful than her gallery of would-be dandies and elegant young men about town. Unambiguously female in her personal life, on stage Tilley created gamine males who combined the centuries-old appeal of 'breeches parts' for the men in her audience with an unthreatening image of an asexual Adonis for her many female admirers. During the First World War, Vesta Tilley made forceful appeals for recruitment in numbers such as 'The Army of To-day's Alright' and 'Jolly Good Luck to the Girl who Loves a Soldier'. Her act, in the words of Elaine Aston, thus 'moved away from satirical comment on social behaviour towards prescribing or instruvting people on how to behave'—men, in whort, being urged to volunteer for the trenches., and women to permit them the sexual licence their heroism merited. She made her farewell appearance at the London Coliseum in 1920.


Burlesque had been kept artificially alive through the dedication of John Hollingshead and the genius of his leading players, Fred Leslie and Nellie Warren: but its dual attractions of sexual display and gentle satire now began to find distinct outlets in the rapidly developing forms of musical comedy and revue.

'Musical variety farce', as Hollingshead's partner and successor at the Gaiety, George Edwardes, dubbed it, was at first quite decorous, hinting at rather than disclosing the femininity of the Gaiety Girl—a species that bred generically from the show so-titled in 1893 to spawn the Shop Girls and other girls decoratively packaged for decades to come. Of course, impresarios soon saw the potential for exploiting the fleshlier reaches of the 'chorus girl', who thus found herself supplanting the 'legit' actress as a lady-in-waiting for the 'stage door Johnny'—in whose company she entered many a smart restaurant, just occasionally the peerage, and the reach-me-down demonology of the censorious.

The more intimate style of revue began hesitantly to find itslf in Under the Clock at the Court in 1893, and was fully formed by 1899 when Potpourri opened at the little Coronet in Notting Hill. Its genealogy having been interrupted along with Henry Fielding's theatrical career, this now blended topical skits, songs, and parodies of fashionable plays into political satire rather less barbed than Fielding's—although one title appearing to claim direct descent from his Historical Register for 1736 did open at the Crystal Palace just two days before Potpourri: called, intriguingly, A Dream of Whitaker's Almanack, it appears, alas, to have sunk without a trace.

Revues on a more lavish scale became increasingly popular after the turn of the century. At the Empire in Leicester Square the shows ranged from Venus 1906, which vaguely celebrated womanhood, to By George! in 1911, which even more vaguely celebrated the new King. And at the Coliseum in St Martin's Lane, purpose-built as a variety theatre in 1904, Oswald Stoll celebrated his own large debt to the French style—a debt which later extended to his titles, as Stoll nudged customers into the refurbished Middlesex Music Hall with C'est Bon!  and Cachez Ça! and C'est chic!

In 1912 Everybody's Doing It at the Empire duly acknowledged the arrival of ragtime, fresh from the USA. in the same year Albert de Courville set out to become the Londoner's Ziegfeld with the first full-scale spectacle after the American manner, Hullo, Rag-time! at the Hippodrome—while at the Alhambra André Charlot arrived from Paris to present Kill That Fly! Then, in 1914, C. B. Cochran began his management of the new and intimately proportioned Ambassadors, and two years later also took on the adjoining St Martin's (where his opening Houp la! exploited the more relaxed wartime attitude towards female flesh on display). By this time Charlot had moved to the Vaudeville, along with such coming names as Binnie Hele, Beatrice Lillie, and Gertrude Lawrence.

Thanks to longer holidays and cheap railway excursions, the seaside resorts had entered upon their boom years with the new century, and troupes of pierrots from many a beach and pier-head drew from and fed into revue, and music hall besides—Pelissier's Follies most successfully venturing inland to appear in variety, as also by royal command at Sandringham. King Edward's tastes had lowered a little the class barriers that once separated music-hall audiences from their 'betters', and the inauguration in 1912 under his successor of an annual Royal Variety Performance (aptly enough at the Palace Theatre) accelerated this legitimation. But Marie Lloyd, more on account of her doubtul morals than her double meanings, was not invited.

[Illustrations]: The presumed naughtiness of all things French was exploited by Oswald Stoll with a sequence of French-titled revues at the Middlesex. On the left, the spelling-out in the cause of modesty of one such offering, Cachez-Ça (1913), is an oblique refernce to the banning of a poster for the earlier C'est Chic—on account of its excess of pink flesh. As the illustration on the right attests, American influence was no less strong: here, the chorus dances down the 'joy plank' used in Hullo, Rag-time! at the Hippodrome (1912).

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On the Car Blue


On the Car Blue

On the Car Blue by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
On the Car Blue, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 28 de Enero de 2013 20:12. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Feliz tránsito


Feliz tránsito

—al 2013, y martes, a los asiduos lectores de este blog. Suponiendo que exista alguno, cosa que no me consta.  Cada día que pasa, y cada año, veo de modo más claro la vanidad de todos nuestros esfuerzos, en blogs y bibliografías y redes sociales. No es necesario que me imiten en eso, ni en nada más tampoco.

A photo on Flickr


Lunes, 28 de Enero de 2013 20:13. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Personales

Un Onliyú


Un Onliyú

Un Onliyú by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Un Onliyú, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 28 de Enero de 2013 20:14. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Husband to Mrs Milton


Husband to Mrs Milton

—artículo mío sobre Robert Graves y sobre Milton, que apareció, según veo, en noviembre de 2007 en el English and Commonwealth Literature eJournal.
También está aquí en la UZaguán:

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Captain Nemo

de Ace of Base:


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Martes, 29 de Enero de 2013 09:55. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

Mi despacho cuando yo no estoy


Mi despacho cuando yo no estoy

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Martes, 29 de Enero de 2013 09:56. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Dos artículos sobre William Gibson


Dos artículos sobre William Gibson

Dos artículos sobre William Gibson tengo, al parecer, en la misma página del American Literature eJournal (2007) del SSRN. En español, aunque allí aparecen con títulos en inglés como "William Gibson's Pattern Recognition: Jet-Lagged Intimations of the Present", y "Cyberspace Everting: William Gibson's Spook Country / 'Cyberspace Everting': Spook Country, de William Gibson."

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Sujetos, virtuosos y felices


Sujetos, virtuosos y felices

Me doy de alta en el blog de Pío Moa y le pongo este comentario a su artículo sobre el sujeto y el deseo, en el que defiende las religiones y rituales sociales como maneras de regular el caótico deseo individual:

"Costumbres culturales, ritos, instituciones y religiones son en efecto maneras de regular el deseo y construir un yo socialmente eficaz y aceptable. De ahí se derivan beneficios para el individuo, como sugiere el artículo. Pero no hay que olvidar la cruz de toda cara, o sea, la cruz que suponen a veces esas instituciones, rituales y religiones, que también se prestan a ser maneras de sofocar disensión, crear frustración, y también (con su uso inteligente por parte de estamentos privilegiados) manipular y pastorear a los sujetos y tenerlos bien sujetos, bajo la excusa de hacerlos más virtuosos y felices."

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Martes, 29 de Enero de 2013 10:03. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cómo somos

Paseando por el paseo 4


Paseando por el paseo 4

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Tomo y Obligo


Tomo y Obligo

Tomo y obligo from Jose Angel García Landa on Vimeo.

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Reading Messages in the Contortions of Trees


Reading Messages in the Contortions of Trees

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From Philology to General Hermeneutics: Schleiermacher


From Philology to General Hermeneutics: Schleiermacher

The rise of historicism in the early modern period is associated with philology and the historical study of modern languages. The philological approach to the classics had developed during the Renaissance (e.g. Lorenzo Valla’s historical stylistics). The 18th century had witnessed the rise of rigorous historical studies and of classical philology (Bentley, Wolff). The methods of philology and hermeneutics were introduced to the study of the modern literatures by August Böck (Enzyklopädie und Methodologie der Philologischen Wissenschaften). The rise of comparative grammar in the late 18th century is accompanied by a similar interest in comparative literature. Grimm's law and the Grimms' collection of folk tales are manifestations of the same spirit of historical enquiry: a search for the common Indo-Germanistic roots of European literature.

This historical investigation led in the long run to structural offshoots: Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale still has this end (historical investigation) in view; anthropological research such as Frazer's monumental The Golden Bough (1890-1922) also derives from the Romantic historical view. Nineteenth-century linguistics is primarily historical linguistics, and the approach to the modern literatures is above all a philological and historical one.

The sense of the term philology is sometimes restricted to historical linguistics, but originally it had a wider sense which can still be seen in the Spanish usage, or in this definition from the Diccionario de Autoridades: 

PHILOLOGIA. s.f. Ciencia compuesta y adornada de la Gramática, Rhetórica, Historia, Poesía, Antigüedades, Interpretación de Autores, y generalmente de la Crítica, con especulación general de todas las demás Ciencias.

Issues of textual philology: discovery, edition and textual study of a medieval or an early modern work. Establishment of text, study of diverse manuscripts, variants, preferred readings. (Basic limitation in approach: the assumption that there is one text which is supposed to be better; modern textual criticism more attentive to different contexts and uses). . The scholarly edition of some forgotten work of the past becomes and remains for a long time the standard occupation of university scholars; a parallel work is being done in historical linguistics (e.g. The Oxford English Dictionary, 1884-1928; Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 1926; Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary; Bradley, The Making of English (1904).

The scholarly essays as we know them now, the philological reference works, the handbooks of literature, are a product of the nineteenth century scholarship; they did not exist before that except in rudimentary forms in the field of classical philology.

The nineteenth century saw the development of standard methods of textual criticism: the comparison (collation) and evaluation of the available texts of a work (manuscripts, editions); the drawing of a stemma of textual history; the establishment of text and of supplementary variants to be published; the intepretation of variants (either as authoritative or non-authoritative), the classification and interpretation of errors (author’s, copist’s, editorial transmission, typesetters’, etc.). We often find one prejudice among textual philologists: the notion that there is one text to be preferred on the basis of the writer’s authority (e.g. the assumption that the last text revised by the author is to be preferred to all others, etc.). In the late twentieth century textual critics are more relativistic, and pay more attention to the cultural role of variant texts. Textual philology is combined with historical research, paleography, bibliography and book history.

Hermeneutics is the theory or science of interpretation. The word derives from Greek hermeneuein: to interpret or traslate into one’s own idiom; to make clear and understandable, to give expression. In mythology, Hermes interprets the often cryptic messages of the gods to mortals. As a discipline, hermeneutics began as scriptural exegesis, closely associated to philology (cf. R. E. Palmer, Hermeneutics). Christian theologians developed the theory of plurisignification, according to which a Biblical text could have several senses:

- The literal or historical sense

- The allegorical sense (an Old Testament event or person prefigures a New Testament one)

- The moral sense (a passage is read as a lesson on right or wrong behaviour)

- The anagogic sense (a passage is read as a revelation of the other world)

A line of thought deriving from the Pseudo-Dionysius was especially aware of the figural nature of religious language, requiring interpretation, and insisted on the need to avoid excessively literal readings of religious language (danger of idolatry, of mistaking the sign for the thing signified).

Modern theories of hermeneutics arise from the Protestant reaction to medieval hermeneutics. The Catholic church had claimed sole authority in the interpretation of the Bible. The Protestants insist that the holy text is self-sufficient, that it does not need to be mediated by the Church; it is intelligible. Protestants exegetes wrote many practical guides to Biblical interpretation. The Protestant tradition, in confluence with with the philological methodology of humanistic studies, evolved towards a systematic methodology of textual interpretation in the work of F. D. E. Schleiermacher.

In the late 19th century this became a broader philosophical theory stressing the crucial importance of interpretation to most if not all aspects of human endeavor and culture. Through the impetus of the early work of Martin Heidegger, hermeneutics developed into a general philosophy of human understanding, with implications for any discipline concerned with the intepretation of human language, action or artefacts.

Friedrich Schleiermacher, a German theologian, expands the hermeneutic theories developed during the Enlightenment period.  Schleiermacher seeks a general theory of interpretation which is applicable to all texts, not only to religious ones. He conceives hermeneutics as the basic framework where all linguistic understanding takes place.  This means that in his work hermeneutics is no longer an abstruse discipline having to do with special interpretive techniques to be applied to obscure texts: all hermeneutical processes are shown to originate from the common ground of linguistic understanding. Enlightenment theories are divided into a number of specific fields (law, religion, etc.).  Schleiermacher will speak of a general hermeneutics. 

The hermeneutics of previous authors are also partial in that they take understanding as a matter of course.  Schleiermacher, on the other hand, constantly takes into account the possibility that misunderstanding is equally possible. 

Linguistic understanding, whether it is used in the exegesis of a work or in following an ordinary everyday conversation, rests on the same principles.  It involves a negotiation, or a mediation (let us keep in mind here our conception of interpretation as translation) between a realm of generality, the linguistic system, and a realm of particularity, the personal message the speaker wants to convey.  Speaking involves articulating this particularity out of the generality of language, and understanding involves a similar shift between two sets of criteria, those of the system and those of the message.  Both speaking and understanding can be said to be hermeneutical activities in this sense.  The ground of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics is the concrete experience of how we come to understand somebody else's meaning.

A complete hermeneutical understanding consists of a play of two different operations, one more objectivistic, the other more subjectively oriented.  Schleiermacher calls these "grammatical" and "technical" (or "psychological") interpretation, respectiely.  "Grammatical" interpretation interprets a word or sentence as an instance of general language; "technical" interpretation as an instance of "style", as the expression of an individual mind and communicative intention. 

Just as every speech has a twofold relationship, both to the whole of language and to the collected thinking of the speaker, so also there exists in all understanding of the speech two moments: understanding it as something drawn out of language and as a 'fact' in the thinking of the speaker.

These different techniques and aims coexist in all interpretive enterprises; in fact, they work towards each other, and "In this interaction the results of the one method must approximate more and more those of the other" (Hermeneutics: The Handwritten manuscripts 190).  However, one or the other aspect can become dominant, and then we find different "schools" or kinds of interpretation--the second kind less subject to polemical discussion, in Schleiermacher's opinion (185). For Schleiermacher, "technical" (i.e. psychological) interpretation relies more on divination, on the imaginative projection of the interpreter to the mind of the author; he came to give more and more emphasis to this side of interpretation.

There are also two methods to grasp new meaning: the comparative, by which an author or text is compared with similar authors or texts, and the divinatory, which involves the interpreter's intuitive contact with the spirit of language and his insight into the individuality of the author.  Therefore, understanding is a complex process consisting in a mediation between system and message, and involving an interplay of linguistic versus psychological understanding on one hand, and comparison and divination on the other.  The scope of hermeneutics broadens gradually as emphasis comes to fall on the last term of the opposition.  Understanding a word is an operation closer to the realm of linguistics than to that of psychology.  But the intuitive, subjective and psychological side of interpretation becomes more significant as the object of our understanding expands into a text, a work, a set of works, and the whole personality of an author.

Besides, there is no understanding so simple as not to require this interpretive negotiation.  The whole of the sentence must be known before we know the precise meaning of the word; but in order to know the sentence we must know the individual words.  The same circular relationship is established between the sentences in a text and the complete text.  This leads Schleirmacher to formulate a crucial hermeneutic principle: understanding takes place through a hermeneutic circle. a part of something is always understood in terms of the whole, and vice versa. 

When we consider the task of interpretation with this principle in mind, we have to say that our increasing understanding of each sentence and of each section, an understanding which we achieve by starting at the beginning and moving forward slowly, is always provisional. It becomes more complete as we are able to see each larger section as a coherent unity. But as soon as we turn to a new part we encounter new uncertainties and begin again, as it were, in the dim morning light. It is like starting all over, except that as we push ahead the new material illumines everything we have already treated, until suddenly at the end every part is clear and the whole work is visible in sharp and definite contours. (Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics: the Handwritten Manuscripts)

The hermeneutic circle defined by Schleiermacher could be described as this constant movement from part to whole as we try to intepret something, which also involves a constant shift from one aspect of interpretation (grammatical and technical) to the other, from one interpretive strategy to another.  This conception is very suggestive and it would be interesting to compare it to present-day theories of discourse processing, such as the opposition between "top-down" and "bottom-up" strategies.  Schleiermacher's hermeneutics has the additional merit of being oriented towards much larger prospects.  It deals even with children's acquisition of language, which according to Schleiermacher is also a hermeneutic process. 

We see then that the image of the hermeneutic circle is not wholly appropriate.   We move from part to whole through the help of analogies and divination; and then from whole to part.  But now that part is no longer the same: it is transformed by our better understanding, and it will provide a firmer grasp for another assault on the whole.  We see, then, that the famous hermeneutic circle is really a spiral.  Only those interpretations which do not produce new meaning are circular.

Given this spiralling definition, it is not surprising if perfect understanding can never be attained.  Indeed, from the moment a work is considered as  a part of a larger whole, the interpretive movement starts again; it is easy to see that trying to read the text of culture embarks us into an ever-expanding interpretive process. 

Heinz Kimmerle's thesis is that Schleiermacher shifted from a language-oriented hermeneutics towards a more subjectivist and intentionalist one.  Schleiermacher's definition of understanding is, in fact psychologistic: it is "the re-experiencing of the mental processes of the text's author." Even though this assertion is borne by the amount of attention given to each side of interpretation in Schleiermacher's early and later work, respectively, the conclusion is not so easily drawn.  We have already observed within the very structure of hermeneutical development as conceived by Schleiermacher a movement from the objective to the subjective side: it is not far-fetched to suggest that as his hermeneutical outlook broadened, the later emphasis on technical interpretation was only natural. 

A tendency of Schleiermacher's hermeneutics is pointed out by Kimmerle.  His emphasis on understanding as such, understanding as a universal process, led him to play down the element of historicity in both the object and the subject of interpretation.  This is not to say that he does not take into account the existence of such a difference; far from it, "For Schleiermacher, the historical text is not addressed directly to the present interpreter, but to an original audience.  The present interpreter is to understand that original communication in terms of its historical context."   Indeed, the emphasis is so great that it is placed completely on the retrieval of that meaning, leaving aside the question of its application to present-day circumstances.  The latter falls outside hermeneutics for Schleiermacher: in his view, hermeneutics is not the art of applying but the art of interpreting.  And it is precisely this conception of a pure and disinterested retrieval of meaning which is objected to when Gadamer opposes the tradition opened by Schleiermacher. 

In this tradition, understanding is pure and uncontaminated by the aims of the interpreter.  Pure comprehension must precede application of the universal principles it reveals, of the moment of judgment.  His attitude to historicity is utopian: he assumes that the interpreter can leap over historical distance and acquire the perspective of the contemporary audience, be absorbed in the view of past people.  However, we must take into account that Schleiermacher is presupposing an initial community of shared experience or interests at the root of his theory (Hermeneutics  180).

A problem that is left unsolved by Schleiermacher is whether attention to the process of composition affords a better grasp of the finished text.  His hermeneutics seem to endorse this conception, which is challenged by twentieth-century interpretation.  Certainly, for him one of the aims of hermeneutics is to understand the "intimate operations of poets and other artists of language by means of grasping their entire process of composition, form its conception up to the final execution"  (Hermeneutics  191).  

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