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VIRGINIA WOOLF (london 1882, daughter of the Victorian literary Leslie Stephen)
Important step in development of the novel.
She consciously rejected some of main conventions of the reslistic fiction of the victorian age and developed a new way of expressing a different perception of reality.
She was influenced:
- by her childhood and her family background. →she lived in a highly intellectual atmosphere at home.
- And by the aesthetism of the 1890s which valued form over content.
Her mother died when she was 13 and the loss affected her profoundly. Soon after she had the first of a series of nervous breakdowns which affected her all life.
When her father died in 1904 she moved to a new area of London, Bloomsbury, where she founded aclose circle of ontellectuals → Bloomsbuty Group, oncluding her brother’s friend from Cambridge.
As a group they saw themselves as sharing commmon values which emphasised the importance of subjectivity, aesthetic enjoyment, personal ties of affection, and intellectual honesty.
They are intollerant to the dominant social values of the period, and also challenged convenctional literary and artistic tastes; the became highly influential in the E. intellectual over 40 years.
1913 after completing her fisrt novel she attempted suicide.
1917 she and her husband (Leonard Woolf) founded the Hogarth Press which published the best experimental works of the period besides her own works.
Mrs Dolloway (1925) was her first succesful Modernist (a label for the predominant features of the 20th-century art, which tend to be experimental and formally complex, to underline the notion of artist’s freedom from traditional genre and form, to associate elements of deconstruction as well as creation) novel.
→the event take place in a single day in june 1923, the plot is very flimsy and develops around mrs Dolloway’s preparation for a party she is going to have that evening. Set in London. Develops around mrs D. feelings. The emphasis of the novel is on the subjective internal lives of the characters and not on external events.
Narrative techique: for her event were not important for themselves → what was important was the impression they made on the characters who experienced them. The shift in this choice involved a revolution in narrative tecnique → subjectivity of experience, more important then the objectivity of events → no omniscent narrator.
- shift the point of view inside the characters minds, revealing them by their own sensation and impression
- no chronological narration → in followinf the processes of the characters’ mind, her novels involve costant shifting backwards and forwards in time according to the sensations and recollections aroused in the characters by the events they are experiencing.
- Often: 2 level of narration 1 external events in chronological order, the 2nd of flux of thoughts arranged according to the association of ideas.
Language and themes: her main aim is to convey throught words the nature of human consciousness.
- prose characterised by few subordinate sentence.
- Very flimsy plots
- Focus on internal feelings → evovative and figurative language
- Objects and events are often counterparts of internal feelings or emotions and as such they often take a simbolical meaning
Like in “To the Lighthouse” where the external events of the jouney to the lighthouse is the counterpart of an internal jouney of self-awarness of the main characters. LIGHTHOUSE is the central simbol(something concrete that stands for else, an idea..)of the novel. Its alternation of darkness and light simbolises the contradictory aspects of life. Also the SEA has a deep simbolical meaning: in the 1st part is portrayed in its positive aspectrs for representive the posituve situation of the characters . in the 2nd part its destructive aspect becomes symbolic both of the decay of environment and of the sorrow which has struck the family.
The focus of fiction is on how the events and characters are experienced by the events.
Characters are built through the way they are perceived by other characters. Mrs Ramsay, comes out as different person, acording to the various people who come into contact to her: to some of the guest→she is loveble, to others→tyrannical

The novel is highly autobiographical. It is based on her childhood recollections of holidays in Cornwall, which becomes an isle in the Hebrides in the novel. There are close link between virginia’s childhood and the Lighthouse.
- mr & mrs Ramsay abd their relationship, are based on V’s own father amnd mother
- like the premature death of mrs Ramsay → deaht of her mom
- death of one of Ramsay children in war → death of V’s own brother
She write this novel prompted by a deep psychological urge to distance herself from the obsession of her childhood memories. The memories element in the novel, however, are trasformed in a symbolical and unuiversal values.
The novel is set in a summer house on one of the islands in the Hebrides.
1st part: the Window, introduced the main characters and their relationship to one another:
- mr Ramsay, an eminent London professor of philosophy
- mrs Ramsay, his wife, a beautiful, but no longer young women
- their child
- and the guest, where one of them, Lily Briscoe, was a particular and significant character in the novel’s structure
2nd part: Time Passes, covers ten years. Description and the decay of the house. Mrs Ramsay was premturely died, one of their sons has also die died war and one of thei daughters has died in chilbirth.
3rd part: The Lighthouse. The Ramsay return to the house. Lily, one of the guest complete a picture she had started ten years ago.
The novel end with a delayed fulfiment of the initial project.

In 1897 he went to King’s College, in his years there he developed his interest for human relationship, as well as his agnosticism and moderate scepticism. Here he also made friends with some of the inttectual who were later to form the Bloomsury Group, of which he was to be a leading member. He travelled in Greece and Italy and when he come back he began to write, in 1905 he published hid first novel: Where Angels Fear to Tread, in 1910, Howards End, which estblished him as an important writer.
In these early novels F. describes with irony and wit the world of the upper-middle class, and the obstacle that conventions presented to individual freedom.
1921 he visited India, and back to England he wrote, A Passage to India (1924) that was his last novel. Passage to india critices the convention that the british society impose to people and it focus on the misunderstanding between the different sections of the English middle classes, to religious, ratial and cultural contrst of wider significance, in particulare to the clash between Western and Eastern cultures, in India and between thw british rulers and the Indians. …….
Novel his basically about human relationship and in its conclution seems rather pessimistic. Human friendship in the end fail to overcome cultural and social barriers.
MAURICE: in this novel that he pulished posthmously because of the theme; deals with a young man that understand he was homosexual, continues with the problems and the struggle that he had to face the deep prejudices the society impose.
A traditional aspect of his novel is the use of an omiscent narrator. And the choice of his theme, very often about human relationship and conflict between the world of sentiment, feeling and the world of social conventions. He belong to the tradiztion that reaches back to Jane Austen.

JAMES JOICE (1882, Dublin-)
Educated at Jesuit schools. The themes of betrayal (because of the scandal of Parnell, supporter of Home Rule for Ireland) di cui his father was a great supporter) and the temporary nature of fame influenced the young Joice deeply.
They are reflected in his choice of anti-heroes as protagonist and his rejection of the stifling atmosphere of Dublin.
He did not symphatise with the nationalist movement which gathered strengh after Parnell. He loved Ireland but he saw the patriottism as a backward movement that paralysed the development of a free spirit in Ireand.he did not share the enthusiasm for the Gaelic movement founded by Yeats, because of he thought that could not take pride in a nation which had developed a sclavish mentality.
Religious sceptic, but never ostile to the Church.
J’s first 10 years abroad were very difficult. → Trieste and Rome (private lessons and in a bank, to
support his family).
1905-1910: he wrote Dubliners, a collection of short stories, not published until the 1914.
J. was an enthusiastic admrer of Walter Pater theoretician of aesthetism. From this derived his interest in form which is central in his approach to novel writing. He did not shre the aeshtetic belief in “Art for art’s sake” because for him art was a means to promote awarness.
For J. artist had lost his commanding role in art.
His task→ to make people aware of reality through their own subjective perception. →so make a literay woek as impersonal as possible. ………………………………..

Form was very important for him. Prticulary the problem of the point of view.
To ensure that his works carried no message from himself he used different point of view and different narrative techniques, different linguistic style. In this way he hoped to solve the problem of how to present the multifaced nature of reality and how to convey the subjective dimension of experience.
J’s most remarkeble talent was his linguistic resourcefulness.
Is a mixture of linguistic fragments and borrowings from other languages.
The central themes are: youth, adolescence, adulthood and maturity, and how identity is affected by these different stages in life. All his ook have an autobiographical dimension.
Eveline exemplifies well both J’s use of form and theme.
T.S.Eliot fisrt praised J’s device of imposing an ancient myth upon contemporary experience. …………………………….

CONRAD (1857-1924)
Joseph Conrad is one of the most famous writers who dealed with the agressiveness, seen as a man’s natural instinct, and the racism.
His real name is Jòref Teodor Konrad Naclez Korzeniowski. He was born in 1857 in the Ukraine, the son of Polish noble parents, both of whom died when he was twelve. He lived for some years with a maternal uncle in France. In 1874, because of his dream to travel on the sea, he went to Marseilles and joined a French merchant ship. After four years he joined the British Merchant Navy. He learned the British language and sailed all over the world, especially to the Far East. In 1886 he took the Master Mariner’s Certificate and in 1890 he went up the River Congo, an experience that disturbed him deeply. In 1895 he retired from the sea and married Jesse George. In the same year he published his first novel: “Almayer’s Folly”. He settled in the south-east of England where he devoted himself to writing until his death in 1924.
He wrote three great novels, that are “Nostromo”, “The Secret Agent”, “Under Western Eyes”, and short stories (or novellas) like “Heart of Darkness”. However, his works didn’t bring financial success.

Because of his life at sea, most of his works deal with adventures and exotic countries but he’s not a romantic writer. In fact he doesn’t have a positive opinion about man’s life: his characters have to fight both with hostile external forces and their unstable inner nature. The result is a suffering and uncertain existence. So, pessimism pervades much of Conrad’s fiction together with a careful study of the human soul and its psychological individualism. For these reasons, we can say that Conrad is one of the modern novelist, even if his style is still traditional. In his works he tries to underline the little importance and the little validity of social values and conventions in a different situation from our society like in exotic foreign places, where man puts in evidence his more brutal and instinctive aspects. Conrad mostly uses the first-person narrator to represent human consciousness convincingly and vividly. Besides, he wants to show how each person interprets the reality in a different way and that everybody has an own mentality behind an external facade. So, the person who tells the story generally lives in the novel and doesn’t express Conrad’s point of view. Conrad often uses a “double character”: he creates two characters who are different but at the same time similar. In fact one could represent the dark and unconsious side of the other (for example Kurtz is what Marlow can have become in different situations). Conrad gives a great importance also to details and exactness, influenced by Flaubert’s style.

“Heart of Darkness” is considered one of Conrad’s masterpieces, based on his personal experience. He sailed up the River Congo in 1890 and this travel helped him to know his own personality in a better way and after that he became pessimistic about the nature of the “civilised” man.

The story is set at the end of the 19th century and it’s told by Marlow, a mariner who is waiting, with other men, to left London on a boat called “Nellie”. He talks about his travel in the Congo with a Belgian company for the ivory trade. Once in Africa, at the Company station near the coast, he’s horrified by the cynicism and the cruelty of the colonists and disappointed by their inefficiency.
Company’s best agent, Kurtz, who stays in the heart of the continent, seems to be seriously ill and so Marlow has to bring him back to civilization.
Around this man there’s a sort of legend: every person talks about him in a positive way. For example, they say that he’s “a very remarkable person”, “an emissary of pity, and science and progress”. He has also become an idol for the natives through strange savage rites. Finally, Marlow, fascinated by this figure, meets him and they go back to the coast. However, Kurtz dies before arriving. The last words he says are: “The horror! the horror!”. When Marlow returned to Belgium, he talks with Kurtz’s fiancée about what had happened but he lies to her, saying that Kurt’s last words were her name.

In his story, Conrad underlines the hypocrisy of the colonists who are with Marlow. While, at the biginning, they adore Kurtz like a perfect and wise man, now that he has realized what the colonisation really is, they want to get rid of him. Western society have created the idea of the civilising mission of the white man only because it’s useful for its own wealth and prosperity.
When Conrad went to Congo with a Belgian Company, King Leopold II of Belgium pursued his economic interests in the Congo in the hypocritical name of philanthropy and anti-slavery, “to reduce the primitive barbarism”.
The title “Heart of Darkness” is refered to the dark and unknown continent that is Africa but also to the mistery and profundity of man’s soul and personality. So, Conrad wants to analyse and discover the phenomenon of colonialism but at the same time he wants to put in evidence the true self of the white man, that is savage and instinctive. We have a “journey into the self”.
Kurtz, who lives far from our society, destroys all the values and conventions commonly accepted and satisfies his basic instincts, subjecting the black population. He loses self-possession and abandons himself to the “darkness”: this is an example of moral nihilism.
So, we have the colonist’s duplicity: they’re divided between the humanitarian ideology and the economic exploitation, but also between the power’s fascination and the savage life’s one.
Most of the story is narrated in the first person by Marlow but it’s begun and ended by another mariner who is listening to him on the “Nellie”. Besides, some events are narrated by some colonists or by Krutz. So, we have a complex structure, with continuous changes of point of view. It permits to have a psychological realism. There are a lot of symbols, in parallels (between Marlow and Kurtz) or in oppositions (black and white, light and darkness).
For Marlow, black has positive connotations: it’s refered to a primitive environment and its people. White is associated with the colonialism and its violence and hypocrisy.
Language is characterized by idiomatic speech, by irony and also by Marlow’s difficulty in explaining his experiences, that is underlined by the use of vague and disturbing adjectives like “unspeakable”, “unimaginable”, “inscrutable” and so on. These words create a sense of mistery and horror: it seems impossible to discover the meaning of the evil Marlow sees. We can also interpret Marlow’s voyage as “the quest of the mythic hero” (Kurtz) who faces obstacles and acquires knowledge for himself and his people.
This penetration into man’s most primitive self, which connects the civilized and the primitive, is an anthropological element that anticipates psychoanalysis and the Modernism.