Twentieth Century Literature was a whirlwind tour of 100 years, from war to modernism, to languages. With appearances from Joseph Conrad, Wilfred Owen, Eric Remarque, Virginia Wolfe, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Becket, George Orwell and so many more. With so much covered my summative entry is just going to address the highlights of the unit.
The first half of the 20th Century was marked with tensions and conflict, which is reflected in the writings of the time. The literature that emerged was hugely varied but always seems to have that dark undertone that reminds us of the horrors people lived through. We compared The Solider and Anthem for Doomed Youth both written by British soldiers but from different mindsets. We also read All’s Quiet on the Western Front, a novel from the German perspective with a remarkably similar tone to the British soldiers. Remarque kills his protagonist at the end of the novel, but you do not get a sense that it is a sad ending, just Remarque’s idea of he best ending possible for a man who had lost everything. It was a somber revelation for me,
Virgina wolf’s ‘stream of consciousness’ style of writing is fascinating for it’s apparent simplicity. My blog post on the flow of my mind was inexplicably the most popular one I had by far. It was the one I found easiest to write but hardest to upload. Writing whatever comes into my head was a simple as transcribing thoughts, but it also felt like a very personal thing to make public. I wonder if Virgina Wolf had the same experience. The fact that it was my most reviewed piece highlights the interest we have at getting a glimpse inside the minds of others to remind us we are not alone.
Ah, Waiting for Godot. My old friend. If there was ever a piece of literature to use in discussion on the human experience, this is it. The play were ‘nothing happens’ but two men existing in the most oddly optimistic way possible. They just wait in the hope of an unknown future. It’s the ultimate simplification of human existence; all that keeps us going is the people around us and hope.
Apparently I have a great love of George Orwell. I did not know this until this course. I loved Shooting an Elephant for the storytelling and the way it mirrored my own experiences, but also for how to portrayed the universal experience of taking actions you felt you had to and regretting them, or the reason behind them, later. I also found Politics and the English Language interesting as I have a great fascination with languages and how they evolve and are used. Language shapes us in so many ways, from the ones we are born that form how we think, to the ones we come in to contact with that challenge what we know. Words can be used as weapons, or for peace. How we use them dictates how we are seen by the world. Most importantly, language is how we communicate and connect with others and what experience could be more important than that.