AD's English Literature : January 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You Will Never Believe These Bizarre Truths Behind "Home Sweet Home": Remembering John Howard Paine’s "Home Sweet Home"

Man’s greatest longing is for home. Home is the very essential core of our family: love is its circumference and peace is its centre. These two fulfilled, life has no regret. And they are both fulfilled together, never separately. People have tried to fulfill love without freedom. Then love brings more and more misery, more and more bondage. Then love is not what one has expected it to be, it turns out just the opposite. It shatters all hopes, it destroys all expectations and life becomes a wasteland -- a groping in darkness and never finding the door. Love without freedom naturally tends to be possessive. And the moment possessiveness enters, you start creating bondage for others and bondage for yourself -- because you cannot possess somebody without being possessed by him. You cannot make somebody a slave without becoming a slave yourself. Whatever you do to others is done to you. This is the basic principle to be understood, that love without freedom never brings fulfillment. Herein Paine’s Home Sweet Home we also celebrate love with the greatest possession of Home that makes it really sweet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Literary Criticism: Marxism in details- Althusser’s Ideology

Louis Althusser (1918-1990), French philosopher, is best known for his contributions to the debate over the origins and development of the theories of German philosopher Karl Marx. Althusser viewed Marx’s writings as having two distinct stages: an early humanistic or ideological period and a later scientific phase that culminated in the publication of DasKapital (1867; Capital, 1907-1909). Between these two stages, Althusser postulated the existence of what he called an epistemological break. With this term, he intended to show that developments in science do not emerge from gradual, piecemeal change, but are instead the result of sudden dislocations in knowledge where the entire framework of a theory is replaced.

Literary Criticism: Marxism in details

Karl Marx (1818-1883), German political philosopher and revolutionary, is the most important of all socialist thinkers and the creator of a system of thought called Marxism.

Karl Marx
In literature, however, Marxism is a sociological approach to literature that views works of literature or art as the products of historical forces that can be analyzed by looking at the material conditions in which they were formed. In Marxism, the base of a society, that is, the way in which its economy is organized determines its superstructure, which is everything related to culture, law, religion philosophy, art, literature etc.

Literary Criticism: Marxism- Gramsci’s Hegemony

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), Italian Communist Party leader and Marxist political theorist published as a journalist for the Socialist newspaper Avanti! (Forward!).

Gramsci sought to chart a new course for the Socialists. During this period he worked closely with Palmiro Togliatti, who went on to serve as leader of the Italian Communist Party from 1926 to 1964. Togliatti and Gramsci joined forces with Umberto Terracini, who began publishing the leftist journal L’Ordine Nuovo (The New Order) in 1919. The three men tried to encourage workers to take over the factories in Turin, Italy's industrial capital. They argued that if the workers seized the factories and assumed management responsibilities, the workers could form factory councils that would help them acquire the political and technical sophistication necessary for achieving socialism. Socialist Party leaders condemned this approach as utopian and argued that the chief task for the radical left should be the overthrow of the state.

Literary Criticism: Marxist Literary Studies

Marxists differ on the extent to which the cultural superstructure is determined by the economic base. The so called ‘vulgar Marxists’ of the pre war period saw a direct cause effect relationship between the socio economic base and literature,  and saw the writer directly conditioned by his/her social class. Marxists are of the view that writers can never escape ideology and their social background so that the social reality of the writer will always be a part of the text.

Trends in Modern English Drama

If the twentieth century has been a period of literary revolutions, this is particularly noticeable in the realm of drama. So varied and so conflicting are the changes as and the trends, that if we search for one single epithet to apply to the modern stage, we are forced in the end to select the adjective ‘electric’. During the Elizabethan, the Restoration, and other periods there was, no doubt considerable diversity in influences from without and in the flow of native theatrical currents, but when these are compared with corresponding conditions in the period between 1990 and 1990, they will inevitably appear simple and orderly. The chief trends may however be categorized as the realistic social drama, drama employing the comic and the fantastic, poetic drama, and finally the cluster involving angry plays, absurd plays and menace plays.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Theory and criticism: Aristotle :Characteristics of an Aristotelian Plot

Tragedy: Aristotle’s definition of Tragedy- is an imitation of an action, serious complete and of a certain magnitude, in a language beautified in different parts with different kinds of embellishment, through action and not narration  and through scenes of pity and fear bringing about  the ‘catharsis’ of these emotions.Read More Criticism

Characteristics of an Aristotelian Plot:

1) Tragedy is a representation of action and action consists of incidents and events. Aristotle differentiates between plot and story, and says that it is better for the poet to choose a traditional story taken from history, mythology and legends for such stories are familiar and easy to understand. After selecting the story, the artist must then go on to the process of selection and ordering, when only relevant incidents and situations are to be selected and arranged such that they seem to follow each other logically. This is the plot of the story.

Theory and criticism: Aristotle : His Major Works

Theory and criticism: Aristotle

Aristotle (384-322 bc), Greek philosopher and scientist

When Plato died in 347 bc, Aristotle went to Pella, the Macedonian capital, where he became the tutor of the king's young son Alexander, later known as Alexander the Great.
 In 335, when Alexander became king, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his own school, the Lyceum. Because much of the discussion in his school took place while teachers and students were walking about the Lyceum grounds, Aristotle's school came to be known as the Peripatetic (“walking” or “strolling”) school. 

Theory and criticism: Aristotle :on imitation in poetry

According to Aristotle poetic imitation is not a mere act of servile copying, but it is an act of imaginative creation by which the poet, drawing his material from the phenomenal world, makes something new out of it. Poetry shifts and orders its material, disregards the non essential, the purely accidental, and thus gives us the universal. In this way, it achieves a higher reality, even higher than nature.

 Imitation: The Common Basis of All the Arts

In Aristotle’s view it is the principle of imitation which unites poetry with the other fine arts. While Plato had equated poetry with painting, Aristotle equates it with music. It no longer remains a mere servile representation of the appearance of things, but in his theory it becomes a representation of the passions, and emotions of men, which are also imitated by music. Thus Aristotle by his theory enlarged the scope of imitation. The poet imitates not the surface of things but the higher reality embedded within. As the emotions are also the objects of imitation of music, poetry has close affinities with music. It is a mistake to compare poetry with painting as Plato did, it is more akin to music.

In the very first chapter of the Poetics, Aristotle says, “Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy, also and Dithyrambic poetry, as also the music of the flute and the lyre in most of their forms, are in their general conception modes of imitation. They differ, however, from one another in three respects—their medium, the objects, and the manner or mode of imitation, being in each case distinct.” Thus the medium of the poet and the painter are different. The one imitates through forms and colour, and the other through language, rhythm and harmony. The musician imitates through rhythm and harmony. In this way, poetry is nearer to music than painting. Further, the manner of a poet may be purely narrative as in the Epic, or representation through action, as in drama. Thus different kinds of poetry differ from each other in their manner of imitation. Even dramatic poetry is differentiated into tragedy and comedy, accordingly as it imitates men as better or worse.

As regards the objects of imitation, Aristotle says that the objects of poetic imitation are “men of action,” The poet may imitate “men as they were or are, or as they ought to be.” In other words, he may represent men either as better than in real life or worse or as they are. This means that according to Aristotle’s theory, imitation is not a mere photographic representation of the surface of things, but is a creative process. The poet selects and orders his material and in this way re-creates reality. He can represent men better than in real life. Thus he gives us a truth of an ideal or universal kind; he tells us not what men are but what they can be or what they ought to be. His mind is not tied to reality: “It is not function of the poet to relate what has happened but what may happen—according to the laws of probability or necessity.” History tells us what actually happened, poetry what may happen. Poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. In this way, he demonstrates the superiority of poetry over history. The poet freed from the tyranny of facts, takes a larger or generalized view of things, represents the universal in and through the particular and so shares the philosopher’s quest for ultimate truth. There is a universal element in great poetry, and hence its permanent appeal. He thus equates poetry with philosophy and shows that both are means to a higher truth, both contribute to a better understanding of man and his life.

The object of the poet’s imitation are “men in action”, or the actions of men. The action may be external or may be internal. It may be the action within the soul caused by all that befalls a man. In this way, he brings human experiences, emotions and passions—alt that happens or is likely to happen to man—within the scope of poetic imitation.
Tragedy and epic represent men on a heroic scale, better than they are, and comedy represents men of a lower type, worse than they are. Aristotle does not discuss the third possibility. It means that poetry does not aim at photographic realism.

Theory and criticism: Aristotle :on imitation in poetry: Comparison with Plato’s view

Comparison with Plato’s view

Aristotle by his theory of imitation answers the charge of Plato that poetry is an imitation of “shadow of shadows”, thrice removed from truth and that the poet beguiles us with lies. Plato condemned poetry on the ground that in the very nature of things poets can have no idea of truth. The phenomenal world is not the reality, but a copy of the reality in the mind of the Supreme. The poet imitates this copy, the object and phenomena of the world, which are shadowy and unreal. Hence, Plato concluded that poetry is thrice removed from reality, it being a mere, ‘shadow or shadow of shadows.’ The poets have no knowledge of truth, they are liars, and deceive us with the lies which they tell in their poetry. Poetry, therefore, is “the mother of lies.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

William Blake’s "The Chimney Sweeper" : A comparative Study From "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience"

“Blake’s writings contained an honesty against which the whole world conspires because it is unpleasant.”-- T. S. Eliot

English poet and artist William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience are his best-known works of poetry and have had a lasting influence on children’s literature. If some of his songs explore the innocence of children’s understanding of God and the natural world,  Others, such as “The Chimney Sweeper” reveals the hardships both children and adults must confront in the unsheltered world of “experience.”

How to Define A Poem?

“Its(Poetry) characteristic peculiarity lies in the power with which it subjects to the mind and to its ideas the sensuous element from which music and painting in their degree began to liberate art.” 

G. W. F. Hegel (Lectures on Aesthetics)

Poetry is the form of literature, spoken or written, that emphasizes rhythm, other intricate patterns of sound and imagery, and the many possible ways that words can suggest meaning. Thus, before anything else, read the poem two or three times. Then try to grasp its meaning - what is the theme, what is the tone, what is the poet trying to say here? By studying the structure and language of the poem, you will gain an insight into the poem's meaning. The more times you read the poem, the more you will understand the meaning of the poem.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The characterization of Eustasia Vye, the Heroine of Hardy's "The Return of the Native"

Introduction: The plot of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native is cinematically constructed, without doubt; but the book is one of the most delightful domestic tales ever written. The charm, the humor, the wholesome details, the fidelity to truth, the individuality of the characters and the nature all these give it a cherished place on our library shelves. Most notably the character of Eustasia Vye lives for ever in our heart.  We must be discussing the many side-lights upon the character of Eustasia. There are many choice parts in the novel that carry worth mentioning many times.

Feminist Criticism: A Brief Survey

 Perhaps more than any other mode of criticism, feminist theory has cut across and drawn on multiple and contradictory traditions which by presenting what is arguably one of the most fundamental challenges to previous critical orthodoxies in its revolution of subjectively and the category of experience. Like Marxism, feminism is rooted in the political discourses of modernity. Not only Marxism, but also psycho-analysis of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan and post structuralist views, especially deconstruction of Jacques Derrida are considered crucial in feminism. Read More Criticism Feminist criticism as a self aware and concerted approach to literature was not inaugurated until late in the 1900’s. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), John Stuart Mill’s The subjection of women (1869) and Margaret Fuller’s Women in Nineteenth Century are such texts, which are indubitably the landmark in the history of feminist movement. Read More Criticism

But what is most important to note that Virginia Woolf was an outstanding precursor of feminist criticism. In her fictions and essays, most notably in A Room of one’s Own, she attack the patriarchal bias which prohibited women’s creative possibility. A seminal text is indeed  Simonede Beuvior. The second Sex, which identifies women as cultural construct and reveals the fact that women are regarded as merely negative object or ‘other’, while men are defined as dominating subject. Similarly, Mary Ellaman’s Thinking doubt women – with which feminist criticism began in America shows the derogatory stereotypes of women in literature written by women. Another important text which attacks the sexual bias in Freud’s psycho analytical theory is Kote Millet’s sexual politics.

Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice": Few selected Questions – Answers

Q . what are the admirable qualities of Elizabeth Bennet ?

The second daughter in the Bennet family, and the most intelligent and quick-witted protagonist of Pride and Prejudice,  Elizabeth has many admirable qualities —she is lovely, clever, and, in a novel defined by dialogue, she converses as brilliantly as anyone. Her honesty, virtue, and lively wit enable her to rise above the nonsense and bad behavior that pervade her class-bound and often spiteful society.   
Q. How does the prejudice in Elizabeth Bennet break free?   
Pride and Prejudice is essentially the story of how Elizabeth Bennet overcomes all obstacles—including their own personal failings—to find romantic happiness. Elizabeth  had her own mistaken impressions of Darcy, which initially lead her to reject his proposals of marriage. As she gradually comes to recognize the nobility of Darcy’s character, she realizes the error of her initial prejudice against him.

A Few Short Questions From T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"

 Q. What is the source of the title The Hollow Men?
Ans. For this poem, T.S. Eliot claimed to have combined the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling (of The Jungle Book fame), "The Broken Men," with the title of story by a writer named William Morris, "The Hollow Land." He claimed, "I combined the two”.

Q. What is the source of the sub- title The Hollow Men?
Ans.  An important connection  of Mistah Kurtz—he dead might be Marlow 's description of the character Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness as "hollow at the core” announcing Kurtz's death.

A Short Tabular Analysis of Katherine Mansfield's “The Fly”


  The events of the story surround a boss who is reminded of his son's death during a visit from an old friend. The man then rescues and causes the death of a common housefly. The story's simple action, which is understated but offers a telling description of character and place, is marked by a lack of humor and compassion. The story also makes a fascinating study of a psychological crisis that afflicts a man almost completely lacking in self-awareness. The story also is a critique of war and patriarchy, as well as a metaphysical exploration of humans' place in the world. It is further one of the starkest expressions of post-World War I existential helplessness and despair.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Trends and Movements in the Twentieth Century English Literature: A Brief Sketching

 Literature as a whole grows and changes from generation to generation. It is not static, but dynamic because each age has its own particular point of interest and its own way of feeling and thinking about things.It is the comprehensive essence of the intellectual life of nation.We  may distinguish one age or the other by pointing out certain trends and movements that shape the one age or the other. Read More History of English Literature ( Essay) But what happens when we set to analyses the 20th century?  We are lost into the vagueness of variety and quality of literary works that have been product in this age. The reason for this variety and complexity of English literature is the impact of various foreign influences and  ideologies on it. No other life or literature has been affected so much  by exotic tastes and ideologies as English literature. In the present age science, Psychology, Politics, Philosophy and Anthropology all have invaded over literature and so are responsible for its complexity. The other reason for the upheaval in literature is the complexity of feverish and fretful life of a mechanized  man which is reflected in his thoughts and literature.

The Audio Visual Media or the Electronic Media – a Boon or a Bane?

The audio – visual media or the electronic media, as it is usually known as, has taken the world by storm. It has taken the other two means of mass communication, the radio and the newspaper by the jugular and is rendering them obsolete at a breathless pace. The radio has yielded place since it does not have the visual attraction, and the newspaper can certainly not come up with onslaught of the audio – visual media since it is rendered obsolete in the very hour of its publication, and in addition require the effort of reading. Read More Teaching English The audio – visual medium almost renders the person’s role passive for he has to only sit still with open eyes and be bombarded by a host of information and sights. The increasing material property, the rapid scientific progress, and the spread of the communicative network have resulted in a situation, in which a television is a sine qua non even in the remotest of rural areas, and this is a global phenomenon indeed, India is only catching up or attempting to catch up with the west. The root question now is whether this medium works to man’s detriment, or whether it is a veritable gift of science, sans any banes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Indian English literature: It's Early Development and Later Maturity

No doubt, Indian English has attained its maturity in the hands of Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, and R. K. Narayan, with the international writing circles begin to take notice of Indian writing in English. However, in spite of English being one of the official language of India, a link – language, as well as the language of higher education, it has often been doubted whether Indians can actually write creatively in English. An India writer literature in English was often compound to a woman preaching or a dig walking on its hind legs. But as the noted critic Francis Watson pointed out in 1950s that shot astonishment the bulk and verity of Indian Literary achievement in the English language offers us no warrant. In the 1990s one can hardly take issue with such a statement. Even if ketaki kushari Dyson in the 1991 issue of the “festival” issue of The Statesman, points out the difficulty of writing in the language which usually the vehicle for an alien culture, she herself has gained considerable recognition as an English poet. Similarly Raja Rao who had voiced his trepidation about writing “In the language that is not one’s own “ (“Preface” to Kanthapura) became celebrated in the English speaking world with his The Serpent and the Rope, A novel which has often been compared to an epic. Today, the likes of Amitava Ghosh, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Anita Desai and finally Vikram Seth who has set the Western World agog by receiving the largest ever advanced for a single book, have become household names in U.K. and U.S.A. in the words of Mulk Raj Anand,  Indian English writing has come to stay as part of world literature.

English As A World Language

Key Facts:
  • English is the second most spoken language in the world, next to China.
  •  300 million native speakers and 300 million  second language users ,100 million users as a foreign language.
  • There is extensive use of English in the field of science, aviation, computing, diplomacy, and tourism
  • The official or co-official language of over 45 countries .
English is a West Germanic language related to Dutch, Frisian and German with a significant amount of vocabulary from French, Latin, Greek and many other languages.From the vantage point of history, English had so humble a beginning that at first it would scarcely merit the honor of being the literature language of even an Englishman of some renown. Shakespeare wrote for a speech community of about six million peoples, that it was not thought to be of much account by the rest of Europe, and that its was entirely unknown to the rest of the world. Milton, the English poet of epic fame, was only the Latin secretary of Cromwell, for Latin was then the language of diplomacy. The only other important language was French which was the accepted language of culture. John Locke, the celebrated English philosopher commented that ‘English was the language of the illiterate vulgar’. But today the scenario has been entirely transformed and the English language rules roost over almost any other significant language, be it oriented like Chinese or Hindi, or  Russian and French.Today, English is truly an International language used in more countries as an official language or as the main means of international communication than any other language. The phenomenal gain in importance is neither accidental nor ephemeral, for it is the consequence of a number of factors – numerical superiority, geographical distribution, political and commercial clout and a host of intrinsic merits of the language itself.

Literary Criticism: A Study in details

“Abuse is often of service. There is nothing so dangerous to an author as silence.”
Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

Introduction: Criticism, specifically Literary Criticism, is perhaps one of the most hotly debated and contentious issue of the 20th century, and it would be specially important for student of literature to take a view on the role and nature of criticism.In general it is a discussion of literature, including description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of literary works. T.S. Eliot in his essay The Function of Criticism compares critics to a “Sunday park of contending and contentious who have not been arrived at the articulation of their differences. “Perhaps the same may be said about the diversity of opinion about what criticism itself is. Not only do some people consider it to be a futile “Towers of Babel”, but also questions the very existence of criticism. For a layman criticism means judgments and this sense commonly colours our use of it even when it is most broadly employed. The critic is therefore, regarded as an expert who brings his special faculty to examine the merits and deflects of a work and to pronounce a verdict upon it. As criticism is occupied with the evolution of the creative works, the critics of criticism would only be too glad to call it a parasitic literature. Yes, criticism is nothing more than books about books. There are also criticism commentary upon the theory of criticism itself and thus implies books about books. So, if the first was parasitic, is not the second saprophytic. But this opinion of criticism as merely a false siren which is of no particular benefits to the regarding publics, is not only extreme but positively fallacious. Criticism is in the world of T.S. Eliot the common pursuit of true judgment. Mathew Arnold in his well known essay, Function of Criticism at the Present Time, asserts that criticism is an eminently useful activity for its function is to “know the best that is known and thought in the world and in his turn making his known to create a current true and fresh idea”. Thus criticism seeks to guide the common readers to enhance the judgment and to stimulate appreciation literary works. As Bacon has said, “some books may be read to deputy”, though he qualified his statements by saying that “the distilled books are like conformational judgment criticism can never invalidated the function criticism serves.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


"A filmmaker isn't supposed to say things, he's supposed to show them."
Alfred Hitchcock 
                The most recent of all art forms to develop, cinema has taken the world by storm, captivation the minds of the sophisticated and the gross, the literate and the illiterate alike. It is the most variegated of all artistic forms, an art form in which the hardware is the product of science and the software that of individual and collective sensibilities. The discovery of ‘persistence of vision’, the magic lantern, the film roll of Eastman, the kinetoscope of Edison, the first true cinema projector invented by the Lumiere – brothers in 1895 – are all the products of science, the make – up, the sound tracking the acting and above all the directions requires talent and even artistic genius. This mingled celluloid yarn contains elements of fiction, drama, poetry, music, photography, and a host of other art, major or minor, Satyajit Ray rightly points out:
                "Today, the cinema commands the respect accorded to any other form of creative expression. . . . No matter what goes into the making of it, no matter who uses it and how – a producer for financial profits, a political body for propaganda or an avant-garde intellectual for the satisfaction of an aesthetic urge – the cinema is basically the expression of a concept or concept in aesthetic terms, terms which have crystallized through the incredibly short years of its existence."
                [Our Films Their Films]

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