Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What we're doing with those Beat Poets...

Next week, yes, the first full week of June, the week of graduation for the zombified bucketheads we call seniors, we are going to have our first of two poetry slams. Those of you who don't know what that is, strap in, turn on, listen up, don your berets, groom your goatees, have your bongos at the ready, and step into the groove... Also, you might want to check Wikipedia's bit on Poetry Slams. It's actually pretty good.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week are dedicated to Slamming the Beats. (100 points)

This is why you have chosen Beat Poets and are looking into their works.
For the slam, you must learn and PERFORM one poem by your Beat Poet.
Performances should be from memory (depending on the length of the poem)
Performances may include musical accompaniment.
Performances may include dance or other movement.
Performances may include others.
Performances may include props.
Performances will NOT be censored, so those of you who aren't into the dark underbelly of American Counterculture of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s or don't have parental consent will be somewhere else, doing something else during this time.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the following week (the last week of school) are dedicated to Slamming the Originals.

For the slam, you must learn and PERFORM one poem by you! (200 points)
Poems should reflect on the evolution (or the de-evolution, if you'd rather) of American culture in some way.
Performances should be from memory (depending on the length of the poem)
Performances may include musical accompaniment.
Performances may include dance or other movement.
Performances may include others.
Performances may include props.
Performances will NOT be censored, so those of you who aren't into the dark underbelly of the NOW or don't have parental consent will be somewhere else, doing something else during this time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Modernist Assignment Options

Here is an outline of your options for your upcoming assignment on the modern poetry. We will talk about these options at some length on Thursday, at which point we will discuss some dos and don'ts, deadlines, expectation, etc.

Option 1: Close Reading of ONE Poem: Writen Response (900-1000 words)

Option 2: Close Reading of ONE Poem: Spoken Response (20 minute lecture)

Option 3: Comparative Analysis Between TWO POEMS BY THE SAME POET: Written Response (900-1000 words)

Option 4: Comparative Analysis Between TWO POEMS BY THE SAME POET: Spoken Response (20 minute lecture)

Option 5: Comparative Analysis Between TWO POEMS BY DIFFERENT POETS: Written Response (900-1000 words)

Option 6: Comparative Analysis Between TWO POEMS BY DIFFERENT POETS: Spoken Response (20 minute lecture)

Option 7: Comparative Analysis Between ONE POEM AND ONE PIECE OF MODERN ART: Written Response (900-1000 words)

Option 8: Comparative Analysis Between ONE POEM AND ONE PIECE OF MODERN ART: Spoken Response (20 minute lecture)

Option 9: Emulative Analysis of ONE POEM: Written Response (400-500 words, not including emulation)

Option 10: Emulative Analysis of ONE POEM: Spoken Response (Recital and 10 minute lecture)

Monday, April 16, 2007


Hello again!

Hopefully you have already chosen a poet from the list below that strikes you in some meaningful way, as that was ASSIGNMENT 1.

ASSIGNMENT 2: Consider which of the "leanings and tendencies" of Modernism your poet's work is most representative of. You can focus on as many or as few of these as you see fit. This is why we started with "The Wasteland"... so that you would have some exposure to all of them before now.

ASSIGNMENT 3: Choose either one longer work or two shorter works that you feel are emblamatic of your poet's style and are ideal exemplars of your poet's use of those "leanings and tendencies" you've already chosen to explore.

ASSIGNMENT 4: Decide how you intend to expose the rest of us to your findings and ideas. There are lots of options here, the details of which will be forthcoming shortly.

ASSIGNMENT 5: Develop a thoughtful, sophisticated, ORIGINAL thesis from your findings that you intend to prove and support in ASSIGNMENT 7, DUE NEXT WEEK!!!

ASSIGNMENT 6: Be prepared to respond to the questions you've been given about your book (either SAR or GG).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Questions for Hemingway


PROMPT 1: Discuss the cultural, religious, and ethnic distinctions that pervade the conversations between Jake, Cohn, and Bill. How might these impact their relationships with one another?


1. The cultural, religious and ethinic differences between Jake, Cohn, and Bill do effect how they Interact with eachother.

PROMPT 2: Discuss how men and women see, value, and use one another in the text. How does this impact your understanding of these characters and the cultures from which they come?


1. The characters use one another for casual pleasure and nothing lasting. In the novel, there is an abundance of casual sex and frivoluse flirtin, like a giant game they are all playing with eachother. Brett, who is the permiscuase love maker in the book, is constantly seducing her friends, and the results are somewhat devastating to their group.
2. Men and women use, value, and see one another in The Sun Also Rises in many different ways. Jake and Brett have a weird relationship due to her slutty ways, and his loss of manhood.
3. Well I assume most men and women’s values are to honesty, trust, love, and happyness. Clearly the values of these men in this Novel are brutal and unclear.
4. In the novel The Sun Also Rises men and women use echother as objects to get what they want.
5. The men an women in The Sun Also Rises see eachother completely differently. There is onle one woman developed in the story and she is valued by men as a prized jewel, yet the way she treats men displays their value at slim to none. This implies that men from this Modernist artist culture idolize women, and the women use men to keep their self-esteem above the water line.

PROMPT 3: Discuss the differences in how our characters view the material world and the emotional world. How do they blur these distinctions? How do they keep them separate?


1. The way our characters view these two worlds varies according to curcomstance and Religious/Ethnic background. The more pragmatic and cynical characters cut a very wide distinction Between the two, whereas those characters prone to a more Romantic and/or dreamy nature tend to mix the two together and show a distinct lack of ability when it comes to decerning which is affecting themselves at a particular time.
2. The characters are quite laid back and jobs do not appose me as stressors. It seems fishing is more important.
3. To the chacters in The Sun Also Rises, their material world and emotional world are constantly united. It’s almost impossible for any of them to do one thing regarding one world without the other world being drawn into it.

PROMPT 4: Compare Jake and Cohn. How does the fact that Jake went to war and Cohn did not make them different from each other? What qualities do they share with the rest of their acquaintances? Is it safe to call them both outsiders?


1. Jake and Cohn both have led different lives, but somehow met and are friend now. Jake was a war veteran who lost more out of the war than he gained. Robert Cohn was a boxer, but did not like boxing. Cohn wasn’t treated equally or very nicely at the college he boxed at, Princeton. Along with the people they interact with they both get along with them differently.
2. Jake and Cohn disagree on many things but go about pursuing the same overall goal. However, their methods vary immensely, as their pasts influence how they act.
3. Jake and Cohn are very different characters, they both act differently and share a different view on how thing are and how things shoud be and happen.
4. Jake and Cohn are two very separate people in the novel who join up and become friends. It’s somewhat an obligated friendship, one that they know probably won’t last very long but they are willing to see where the friendship leads them. Their lives are very different, the only thing in which they have in common is that they like to play tennis. That’s where they met and began their friendship,
5. Jake and Cohn I belive are very much outsiders. Both of them seem to not fit in with the rest of the group. And givein the fact that Jake has gone to war and Cohn has not makes the two of them very different.
6. Jake and Cohn are in a very similar situation in society. They both have some odd underlying problem that sets them apart from the rest of their friends.

PROMPT 5: Bill tells Jake that “[s]ex explains it all.” To what extent is Bill’s statement true of the novel The Sun Also Rises?


1. Bills statement though little more than a drunken whimsy at feirst cglance, is I Beilieve, the BackBone of this intire story. It is sex, love, and arder which lead the characters on theire different states of Being thought their gerney. Indeed it is Jacks lack of the nessesary Equipment to Preform this act which Allows him to Become Somwhat of A detached observer through which we may view And Analize how sex Affects the Behavior of his friends.
2. Sex plays a big role in the book, because it is the main factor in all the relationships. Jake cant have sex with Brett so their true love can’t really be anything. Romero is a young, hot boy so Brett is physically attracted to him.
3. Sex is the most prevalent theme in the novel The Sun Also Rises. Sex is what brings the characters together, and in some cases, what tears them apart.
4. Throughout The Sun Also Rises the quote “[s]ex explains it all” is used. One example is how Brett relates to it. Also it mixes with all of the mens emotions.
5. Bill tells jake that sex explains it all. This is very much true for the whole book. Sex is a re-occuring theme in the novel. Some characters in the novel take advantage of people, some manipulate others to get their way.
7. In the novel, The Sun Also Rises Bill is almost right when he tells jake “sex explains it all.” Bill, like many others, possibly is unaware that a certain extent of Jakes manhood was lost during the war.
8. Bill’s statement, “sex explains it all” is quite relevant to the situation that jake finds himself in this novel. Many parts in the novel make reference to the fact that Jake was wounded in the war, and lost both of his testicles. It is possible that this is why Brett has an off-on relationship with him. Perhaps she is only willing to stay committed to him because he is incapable of having sex. So she may like him, but she seems more keen on what she can get out of him. If she truly wasn’t a shallow person, she would probably be marrying Jake rather than Mike.

Discuss the characterization of Lady Brett Ashley. Is she a sympathetic character? Is she a positive female role model? Does she treat her male friends cruelly?


1. Lady Ashly has the least depth of all the characters in The Sun Also Rises, she is as shallow as a wash bin and just about as complex. She characterizes the selfish stooped and flertasheous pleasure driven, responsibility deprived part of our society. Her only life goal is self fulfillment, her lifes meaning is to seek attention frome others. Whenever things seem not to be going her way, our when her actions lead her astray, she behaves like a small spoiled child and seeks solace frome her male friend Jake, she expects him to bow to her evry whim but refuses to except his true love, because true love is beyond her understanding and is thus an unknown quantity, and as such it terrifies her.
2. Lady Brett Ashley symbolizes the undisciplined, spoiled aspects of society. Everything she embodies is for the worse in the novel. She takes advantage of all her counterparts and proves her upbringing was very unsuccessful.
3. Throughout the novel you see two sides of Lady Brett Ashley. The first is that she actually cares about the people around her and want to be a good person. The second side is her using everyone around her to benefit herself. Each of these sides goes along with what other character she is with during a particular moment.
4. Lady Brett Ashley is a tart. She goes after men and has sex with them and then they provide for her. She actually is the most unsympathic character in the whole story. She uses men then discards them once they are of no use to her. She is a spider, trapping men in her web and traps them there. As Cohn says she is Circe, who turns men into swine. By turning them into lower creatures, she uses them and then kills them at the opportune moment.
5. Lady Brett is not a sympathetic character. All of h friends are talking about all the things there going through and she is like “I don’t care, lets drink.” Lady Brett is also not a very good role model for anyone because she acts uncaring to people and she drinks a lot.
6. Lady Brett Ashley has her own ideas and for the most part, does what she desires. She yearns for Jake, while he does the same, but knows that she could never be happy with him. She is a very independent woman that many women strive to be like her, but she also has some problems of her own.
7. Brett is not a very positive female role model. She likes two different guys, sleeps with them and uses bad language. In chapter seven-teen, the reader realizes that Brett is a slut. She was in many relationships at the same time. She slept with Jake, Cohn, and bullfighters. You realize that Brett isn’t an inoscent character.
8. I believe Brett is a tramp and a horrible positive role model. She is a role model for bad behavior and scandalous actions. That is all.
9. Jake, Mike, Cohn, Bill and Romero are all men that lady Brett Ashley plays around with. She does not have very good communication with any of them so it makes things very complicated between all the men. Throughout the book she is with several different men, she gives them all reasons to believe they are important.
10. Lady Brett Ashley is compassionate when things are beyond what she can control. Brett has slept with almost every main character of the book and takes it upon herself to make them feel better, mostly with the consuption of wine. Lady Brett Ashley is to mary Michael at the same point in time she runs off with Pedro Romero and Cohn. Brett drinks as much as the men if not more, and smokes cigars and cigarettes, not typical of women in the 1920’s.
11. Lady Brett Ashley is a beautiful women that men are instently attracted to. Her present are always welcomed.
12. Lady Brett Ashley, a character in The Sun Also Rises, is not a sympathetic character, nor a positive female role model. From what we see of her in the novel, you get the idea that she does what she wants in terms of what would be best for her. When I say “best,” though, that means “what will be most benefitial/fun” for her at the time.
13. There is one woman in the novel The Sun Also Rises that is worth mentioning. The main characters consist of all men, and the woman is formally known as lady Brett Ashley and her treatment of the people (men) around her shows the romanticism and selfishness that make up her character.
15. Lady Brett Ashley is one of the most emotionally confused characters in the whole book. She falls in “love” with Mike then has an affair with Cohn in San Sebastion whil in the mean time is crushing on Jake.
16. Lady Brett Ashley is a very independent woman and she can’t make a commitment. She leads any boy on but only truly loves Jake, whom she can’t love.
17. Lady Ashley, also known as Brett, is a very self-centered, wild, free-living alcoholic. She stoops from one man to the next, when she really love only one man. Jake is the man she is in love with, but as you can very easily tell she’s not ready to settle down. Plus her hormones must still be raging, since she sleeps with a guy like Cohn, to a guy like Rimero. As a role model Brett is not the best.

PROMPT 7: Read closely and analyze one of the longer passages in which Hemingway describes bulls or bullfighting. What sort of language does Hemingway use? Does the passage have symbolic possibilities? If the bullfighting passages do not advance the plot, how do they function to develop themes and motifs?


1. Bull fighting is described as a great passion for jake and his friends. In a sense, this passion often seems to reflect upon the actions of the characters in the story. At one point Robert is compared to a steer. Mike compares Cohn to a steer because he never says a word but is always “hanging about”, like a steer. Since Cohn became involved with Brett, he was unable to leave her alone, and constantly trailed behind her, following her everywhere.

Analyze the novel in the context of World War I. How does the experience of war shape the characters and their behavior? Examine the differences between the veterans, like Jake and Bill, and the nonveterans, like Cohn and Romero.


1. The differences between the veterans and the nonveterans in The Sun Also Rises is quite apparent. Everything about the characters, like their behavior, is shaped based upon whether they fought in World War I or not.
2. In the novel The Sun Also Rises, the characters who went to war seem to be more content than the characters who didn’t go to war.
3. World War I was one of the bloodiest and most devastating wars the world has ever seen. It changed the lives of almost everyone who was involved, and made them look at the world in a different way. Jake and Bill have a much harder time expressing their desires, but people like Cohn sometimes feel guilty, and even a little jealous that they did not experience the war.
4. War changes people. It effects them emotionally to the point where there no longer considered to same person.

PROMPT 9: Why is Cohn verbally abused so often in the novel? Is it because he is Jewish? Why does Mike attack Cohn but not Jake, whom Brett actually loves? Why does Cohn accept so much abuse?


1. Cohns actions irritates most of the people he is around. No one really likes him but puts up with him. When everyone gets drunk however, true feelings come out.
2. Cohn is an abused character, in the book because as it says at the beginning of the book that he felt inferiority and shyness from being treated as a Jew at Princeton. So to let out his anger he learned to box and that gave him comfort, knowing that he could knock out anyone who would tease him.
3. Cohn is often verbally abused in the novel because he is jewish, and because of his involvement with Brett. Jews were looked down upon at the time, and since Cohn was one, he received quite a bit of hostility at certain times.
4. Throughout the novel, Cohn acceps much abuse from Mike. Cohn accepts this verbal abuse because he believes he loves Brett and is willing to take anything for her.
5. In the novel Cohn is verbally abused and I think it is because the other men are so insecure about themselves they feel that ruining someone elses self esteem will help them get out their insecurities. The fact that Cohn is Jewish is a excuse and it gives them a reason to abuse him.
6. Throughout the story lady Ashley (Brett) has been with many men. Some she has went away with, such as Robert Cohn. While some she has been seen with through most of the book, such as the Count and Michael. For some reason though Cohn has been picked on and treated as if he wasn’t wanted on their trip down to Pamplona. To the fiesta and to see the bull-fights. Michael gets very annoyed and jealous with Cohn and things get a little twisted.
7. Throughout the novel Mike repeatedly attacks Robert Cohn on his love of Brett. In the first section of the book, before Mike has been introduced into the novel, Jake talks a lot about his love of Brett. But each time he does it is either to himself or to Brett herself, never openly in public.
8. In the novel The Sun Also Rises, there are many varied characters, not the least of which is Cohn, the slightly pompus Jewish boxing champ who seems to be somewhat slow-witted at times. During the novel Cohn always seems to be at the end of all his friends jokes, and he is constantly after Brett, the girl he had a short relationship with. Brett more than anything is why he is verbally abused so much.
9. The verbal abuse that Cohn receives and endures is because he is Jewish and partly because of his feelings towards Brett.
10. Cohn is not verbally abused throughout the novel because he is Jewish. Rather, it is because he brings the characters, who are in a sort o alternate reality back to reality. Being Jewish is only the excuse to get mad at him for try to achieve real happiness. Mike attacks Cohn and not Jake because he is not threatened by Jake but feels that Cohn could take Brett away from him.

PROMPT 10: Discuss the problem of communication in the novel. Why is it so difficult for the characters to speak frankly and honestly? In what circumstances is it possible for them to speak openly? Are there any characters who say exactly what is on their mind? If so, how are these characters similar to each other?


1. Communication is something people do as a living. The Sun Also Rises is full of communication that dances around the point someone is trying to make. Truth is not always the easiest thing to tell or hear; lying, however, can make a situation easier and complex at the same time.
2. The characters have such a hard time communicating because they are so bent on being miserable and so incase themselves within their own little walls. The only time they do speak what is on their mind is when they are drunk or otherwise intoxicated. This is how Mike yells at Cohn, he is so drunk his walls are lowered and all of his anger and jealousy is aimed squarely at Cohn. Even when Jake is alone with Brett they pretend that they can never be together even though they are in love. They just are so stuck in their persons that they can’t do what should be done. The only other person in the book who does or says exactly what he is thinking is Cohn, who hits Jake that night because Brett loves him.
3. The characters in the novel have a strong lack of communication. The lack of communication is started because of Lady Brett and her fooling around. When her and Cohn have an affair is when the friends start falling apart because they are trying to keep it a secret from Mike. If all of the characters were to speak honestly then their secrets would be exposed.

Questions for Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald weaves many thematic elements together throughout the story. The idea of position, however, ties many of them together. The word encompasses themes like class, wealth, social standing, and others. Discuss how Fitzgerald uses the idea of position and its effect on our impression of the text, its characters, and the culture in which it is rooted.


1. The idea of position as a thematic element in The Great Gatsby is one of the major and most important elements presented in the story.

2. In The Great Gatsby, having a high status is something everyone wants to achieve. Who wouldn’t want to be rich and popular?

3. Fitzgerald uses the idea of position as a key tool in his novel, The Great Gatsby. Position shapes nearly all aspects of the characters, conflicts, and culture of the story.

Nick refers to Jordan, Tom, and Daisy as careless in one form or another. Discuss the theme of carelessness and its effect on our impression of the text, its characters, and the culture in which it is rooted.


1. The root of all carelessness in the text is money. Although we first see Daisy as an innocent breathtaking “nice” girl as events take place and the narrator’s Nick’s opinion of her changes.

2. Carelessness is a root factor in the novel, The Great Gatsby. Friendships turn awry, funerals are forgotten, and affairs arise. The main character, Nick, tells us about his girlfriend, Jordan, and his friends, Tom and Daisy, who are together. Between the four of them, feelings are not only hurt, but simply forgotten.

3. Carelessness in The Great Gatsby is pervasive in all facets of the story. Any tale about the Roaring Twenties must embrace this theme, as it is integral to the entire era. Specifically, in this story, carelessness is pinpointed upon three particular characters: Jordan, Tom, and Daisy. Although they are the focal point of heedless life, other characters also play a role in the theme.

4. Nick describes Daisy and Tom as being careless, stating that they smash things up only to retreat into their wealth. At the end, when Nick meets Tom Buchanan in New York he expresses a feeling that Tom is no more than a child because of his uncaring, selfish ways. Throughout the novel, Daisy and Tom both make decisions that would be in their best interest. Not giving much thought to what extent their lives affect others.

5. Culture during the 1920s was reckless, jubilant, wasteful, and everyone loved it. This story embodies the “roaring twenties” in its entirety from the flagrant affairs to the wild parties. Everyone in the story is portrayed as careless at some point in the story except Nick. The irony of this is that even though he is quiet, reserved, and thoughtful he fits in better than anyone else.

6. Nick feels upset because of how careless Tom and Daisy are. Its like nothing has any consequences to it and they can do whatever they like. I think he is slightly jealous. He is to uptight to just let go and do whatever he wants, even if it would be fun. I don’t think that Tom and daisy are careless in a bad way. if they are really happy then whats the big deal?

7. Carelessness is a key factor in The Great Gatsby, It’s more obvious in the ending of the novel then in the beginning. Many characters in the book show obvious carelessness and traces of egotistical qualities. Nick seems to be the only main character not showing this feature but that could also very well be misleading due to the fact that he is the author and you will only get his point of view. Which is the reason Gatsby is glorified the way he is in the book, Nick in a sense idolizes Gatsby, even though Gatsby is a criminal.

8. This theme of carelessness and failure to comprehend consequence is rife throughout the The Great Gatsby. Each character has his/her own moments where they do not seem to realize what the outcome of the current situation could be, and especially is shown through Tom and Daisy. Almost every major event in this novel has some trace of carelessness buried inside.

9. The reference to the carelessness of Jordan, Tom, and Daisy throughout the Story The Great Gatsby refers and effects our impression of the text, its characters, and the culture in many ways. The theme of superficiality comes up a great deal as a result of this. It’s the idea that even though all the people in this story had money and excitement, it didn’t make them happy or caring. In fact it seemed to do the exact opposite.

10. A the quote above suggests, money allows for decisions of whim, some of which are not discussed. For the wealthy, the 1920’s were a time of lavish extravagence and covered affairs. Fitzgerald uses Daisy, Tom, and Jordan in his portrayal of the carelessness of the time.

Nick is the hardest character to understand in the book because he is the narrator and will therefore only give us an impression of himself that he would like to give. He tells the reader that "I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” Discuss the self-evaluation of our narrator, Nick, and his place and purpose in the text.


1. Nick is possibly the sleaziest, most dishonest, and unlikeable character in the entire book yet dares to call himself honest. Throughout The Great Gatsby, Nick prides himself in being the most honest person in the book. Honestly, by definition Nick is a “great person” and an honest one at that, meaning he doesn’t lie or cheat or steal. He simply has a nack for self applied muteness.

2. For most people when they talk about themselves it is god. Also when a person talks about himself/her it tends to be exadurated in a better since. That makes it very difficult to understand what a character is thinking.

3. In the book The Great Gatsby Nick describes himself as a a person of honesty and high morals. His purpose in this text is to act as an observer and a moral compass, but only informs the reader of his observation, making him not as moral as he thinks he is.

4. Nick’s character in the novel The Great Gatsby plays one of the smallest irrelevant but biggest important roles in the book. Looking at the story itself alone Nick is clearly not important and could basically be cut out of the story without much notice taken. But in all reality Nick is the author and though he plays the bystander who’s not a part of the story but the story is a big part of his life and the story, since he is the author, is written the way he would see it and want you to perceive it.

5. Nick thinks of himself as an honest man. He thinks he is the kind of man slow to judgement and not a very confident person. Nick seems to have an okay self evaluation because he doesn’t lie and he doesn’t really judge people.

6. Nick is an ideal narrator because he mostly observes and listens to people as they’re speaking. His problems aren’t out for everyone to see and so he in turn sees himself as a better, more honest person.

7. Nick, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, sees himself as an insightful man, better than everyone else. His purpose in the story is to show the bad side of the characters, and show the hypocracy of the 1920’s. He just makes fun of various types of people throughout the novel. To understand his pupose in the novel, you first have to understand his character.

8. Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, seems to be a very mistrusting person. In the story he mingles with what he describes as a careless group. He describes their whereabouts throughout the book, not really including himself in the plot much. His purpose in the story seems to be that of storyteller, recounting the dishonesty he sees in his supposedly unbiased way.

In what sense is The Great Gatsby an autobiographical novel? Does Fitzgerald write more of himself into the character of Nick or the character of Gatsby, or are the author’s qualities found in both characters?


1. There are many instances in The Great Gatsby that reference the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In both Gatsby and Nick, Fitzgerald exposes elements of himself in both their personas and actions.

2. In the novel Fitzgerald writes himself into both characters. Gatsby being the portion of Fitzgerald’s personality that was a flashy celebrity who worked hard to become rich to impress and win over the woman he loved for Gatsby this woman was Daisy for Fitzgerald the woman was Zelda. Nick would be the introverted side of Fitzgerald, the westerner caught up in Easts way of life. Although there are similarities in both characters Fitzgerald’s life is much more of a parallel to Gatsby’s.

3. The Great Gatsby is a partial autobiography because Fitzgerald not only wrights himself into Nick, but also Gatsby. Fitzgerald can make the charactores more lifelike and convincing because they are real to him. He can put his actual feelings into his characters, instead of just making a personality up and trying to make them seem believable.

How does Gatsby represent the American dream? What does the novel have to say about the condition of the American dream in the 1920s? In what ways do the themes of dreams, wealth, and time relate to each other in the novel’s exploration of the idea of America?


1. Gatsby is a wealthy man. His quote of life is “rags to riches” for he was once poor but now he’s not. The American dream is to work your way into the high society life, with money to spare. Everyone gets a job and works to get money, money is the American dream. Gatsby represents the American dream because he, by himself, went from nothing to something.

2. The American dream has always involved the idea of a “rags-to-riches” life. It has also paced high value on the idea of serving America. Jay Gatsby, in The Great Gatsby, did both of these things. He was raised poor, went to war, became a decorated military man and returned home to make vast sums of money through sketchy business with his associate Mr. Wolfsheim.

3. Jay Gatsby, the focus of this novel, represents the self-made man and the American dream in a way that was equivocal with the 1920’s. This American Dream of going from essentially nothing to working your way into success was the exact dream that Gatsby pursued and eventually attained. He went from serving his country, coming back with little money, and losing the girl to becoming an extremely wealthy man and able to attain a large estate and home.

4. Gatsby represents the American Dream in that he is a classic rags to riches case. He is, more specifically, an example of the themes of dreams, wealth, and time of America throughout the nineteen twenties. Gatsby became an icon for the American dream by, of course, dreaming of one day becoming such.

5. Mr. Gatsby represented the American dream of the 1920’s. He had everything you could need or want, especially since the book is set right in the middle of the Great Depression, and most had nothing. Another thing he had was popularity.

6. Gatsby represents the American dream because his hard work has led him to a life of relaxation. Gatsby fits right in his place as a wealthy man in the American 1920s. Because he has his wealth, he has time to ponder and get caught up in his concepts of time and dreams.

7. Gatsby represents the American Dream. He is rich. He has nearly everything he could possible ask for. He throws big parties. He has lots of friends. He has everything he wants and that is the American dream.

8. Jay Gatsby, in The Great Gatsby, seems to be the epitome of the American dream in the 1920’s. he became wealthy despite his humble beginnings. He also served his country. The American dream in the 1920’s, however, are not exactly based on the same principles it had been.

9. The American dream in the 1920’s, which is still largely pursued today, was spawned by the idea that a person (white male) could rise above his social and economic situation to one of greater wealth and respect. Gatsby is a perfect example of this “rags to riches” theory, but is tragically cursed by the classic cliché that “money won’t buy you happiness.” Themes of dreams, wealth, and time are all aspects of this American idealism and all have great effect on Gatsby’s dreams and success.

10. Jay Gatsby is the epitome of the American Dream. Through luck, inspiration, motivation, and a liberal splash of corruption he raised himself up from the dregs of society to a respectable position.

11. The image of a self-made man, much the basis for the American dream, is also a good summary for Gatsby’s success. Being from a poor farming family, Gatsby had little else but his ambition for greatness. Not until serving his country did he ever make anything of himself, perhaps some slight pro military service propaganda on Fitzgerald’s part. The American dream in The Great Gatsby seems to come off as being cheap, little effort can produce great wealth without any real accomplishments.

Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom. Given the extremely negative light in which Tom is portrayed throughout the novel, why might Daisy choose to remain with him instead of leaving him for Gatsby?


1. Tom and Gatsby both love Daisy. This is both their greatest similarity and greatest difference. Tom’s affection for Daisy is merely superfluous and becomes more about control than anything else. Gatsby’s infatuation, on the other hand, is so deep that it shaped his entire being. Daisy’s role in the novel is to decide between the two.

2. There are many different types of love. The love Daisy had for Gatsby in her youth vanished when he left for war. The love she had for him then was a love without consequences. Realistic problems did not exist, both of them had yet experienced life on their own terms. Daisy was still a young girl, while Gatsby nothing more than a twitterpated young man, about to leave the relationship during the heat of their passion.

3. The internal conflict that Daisy faces over deciding between Jay and Tom becomes the most controversial issue in the story. Gatsby and Tom represent two very different lives for Daisy, and in that rests her indecision. Gatsby, being from an early time in her life, represents all the hope, romance, and expectations for the future. Tome she met later in life and stands for dependable stability.

4. Gatsby and Tom seem completely different socially and romantically, but they both like Daisy and Daisy likes them. Daisy remains with Tom for reasons of convenience.

5. The characters Tome and Gatsby are alike and different in several ways. One of the ways they are alike is that they are both quite wealthy. Another way they are alike is the way they live their lives. But Tome and Gatsby are different in some ways. Tome is is a strong ex-football star and Gatsby is just a rich guy. Tome is also more of a tough mean guy, but Gatsby is kinder and less tough.

6. Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan had, in The Great Gatsby, a mutual friendship with the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway. In Nick’s perspective these are many similarities as well as differences between Gatsby and Mr. Buchanan. While they have several obvious common traits and goals, Nick seems to prefer and admire Gatsby more than he does Tom.

7. Daisy chooses to stay with Tome as opposed to Gatsby because of her love for Tom, the likeness of character between Daisy and Tom, and the untruthfulness of Tom’s portrayal by Nick in the book. Most persuasive aspect of her decision is in the fact that she still loves Tom.

8. Daisy decides to stay with Tom after all Gatsby has attempted to do for one simple reason~ a sense of security. Although, she loves Gatsby very much, she feels that there is not a concrete future with him. She has an underlying fear that Gatsby will up and leave her like he did previously when he went off to war.

9. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby’s character is presents as vastly superior to Tom Buchanan. This presentation, though, is from Nick, the narrator’s, point of view. He is biased toward Gatsby who was his friend and neighbor.

10. There are many differences between Tome and Gatsby in the story. The main difference is that Tom is richer, more dull, and lies on a different scale than Gatsby. It’s because of most of their differences that Daisy ends up with Tome in the end, even though Tom is cast is a more negative light.

11. Tom and Gatsby are evil twins. Retrospectively they are what the other considers evil so sense is there made. Gatsby got shipped off as a child though so they didn’t live together. Tom was raised wealthy, lived wealthy, acted wealth and had a masterful control over his lifes stability. Gatsby rose out of the mud much like a bog monster to become a criminal/man of wealth.

12. The main difference between Gatsby and Tom, also the reason why Daisy chooses Tom over Gatsby, lies in location of their homes. East Egg and West Egg both have similar attributes and both are homes to the extremely wealthy, but there is a fundamental difference between them. East Egg is the home of the aristocracy of America, the “old money.” West Egg, on the contrary, supports people who have come into their money more recently, the “new money.” West Egg is, as Nick says, “the less fashionable of the two.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Somewhere to go to make a new friend...

Hi again...

There's this website you should visit and make exhaustive use of over the next 10 weeks. Check it out!

Once there, look these folks up. I'll let you know what, precisely, you should be looking for and why later.

Amy Lowell
Robert Frost
Carl Sandburg
Wallace Stevens
William Carlos Williams
Ezra Pound
H. D.
Marianne Moore
T. S. Eliot
Edna St. Vincent Millay
E. E. Cummings
Jean Toomer
Hart Crane
Claude McKay
Langston Hughes
Countee Cullen
Gertrude Stein

Happy meeting!

Fragmentation and Redemption in "The Waste Land"

The recipe for salvation in the wake of the “fall of Man” has served as the stuff of inspiration in epics throughout literature, from Iliad to Paradise Lost. Homer relied on Greek mythology while Milton had the Bible to turn to, with the destiny of the soul always hanging in the balance between good and evil. As life in modern times has become more complex, the significance of cultural symbology convoluted by the sheer magnitude of history, a contemporary exploration of Man's spiritual predicament becomes necessarily more difficult.

The Waste Land, as its title suggests, is set in this rubble of human history and understanding. In form and theme the poem represents a sort of mental pilgrimage through the fragmented artifacts of civilization in pursuit of deliverance from the "unreality" of the modern world and a hope for redemption. In crafting the poem, T.S. Eliot has applied an allusive technique that allows him to cultivate a sense of cohesion among this chaos, a metaphysical awareness through which he recognizes the potential for redemption only to deny its consummation.

In the middle ages and earlier times of faith, spring was the traditional season of pilgrimage and heralded the prospect of spiritual rebirth along with the new growth of the natural world. Perverted into the modern context of spiritual disavowal in The Waste Land, however, this notion rises here as a sort of ‘voice of the Age.’ Spring becomes a cruel reminder that life has been reduced to a series of meaningless past-times and excursions. This state is conveyed through the subtle interplay of dead winter and rejuvenating spring in the opening lines: “April is the cruellest month, breeding/ Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain.” (1-4) This pronouncement is drawn from the opening of Chaucer's Prologue, where seasonal change represents the perpetual life-cycle of creation. By a subtle juxtaposition of winter snow and spring showers and the mixing of memories and desires of childhood, Eliot shows that such reminders are pervasive, outnumbered possibly only by the means through which they are ignored. The inhabitants of The Waste Land encountered by Eliot's pilgrim fear and deny any trace of life that reminds them of this living death or disturbs their neutral and comfortable nothingness. That humankind has chosen to ignore and avoid them through the hollow rituals of drink, sex, politics, and religion suggests a self-perpetuating human tendency to favor the path of least resistance.

The second stanza comes in stark contrast to the disturbing spring showers of the poem's opening, metaphorically illustrating the effects of humanity's disinterest in self-actualization with images of a landscape ravaged and sterilized by drought, one in which “the sun beats/ And the dead tree gives no shelter,.../ And the dry stone no sound of water.” (22-24) Here the very language and imagery are interwoven by yet another voice as echoes of that which the Biblical prophets used to announce the need for faith. The "Son of Man," (20) is not cognizant of the disastrous consequences of his barren existence, for he has obfuscated the whole scene of life and his own spiritual identity with superficialities. That he "know[s] only a heap of broken images" (21) suggests that the proliferation of human knowledge has only confused his vision as the images seen in a shattered mirror are fractured and distorted. The promise of the existence of an alternative to this desolation and "fear in a handful of dust" (30) by this apparently omniscient new speaker follows, cultivating in Eliot's would-be pilgrim a sense of disillusionment with the mundane. This relation, and the one in the poem's epigraph, to the tragic Greek legend of Sibyl (who, for her lack of foresight, wishes herself into an eternity of perpetual decay) sets him upon his quest for spiritual deliverance.

For the purpose of brevity, a summary of the intervening sections of the work must suffice. The remainder of The Waste Land largely consists of the travails of this quest, bearing out the pattern of helpless predicaments followed by the eventual portrayal of potential salvation common to most such tales of self-discovery. In the body of the poem before the final section, the pilgrim gathers sufficient evidence against the legitimacy of civilization and pronounces his judgment: "Falling towers / Jerusalem Athens Alexandria / Vienna London / Unreal." (374) In this final declaration of the unreality of these icons of human accomplishment and progress, the whole citadel of false civilization appears baseless and seems to collapse in a torrent of frantic nightmare images of baby-faced bats and topsy-turvy towers. This horrific scene represents his final trial through which he must retain his resolve and sanity in the absence of an anesthetic social perspective if he is to reach the end of his quest and escape The Waste Land of a world without clear meaning. As the prophetic voice promised in the beginning of the poem, he has indeed been shown fear in the dust of a collapsed world.

This overwhelming sense of loss and displacement appears confluent with several dominant works of the budding Modernist movement. That the moments preceding an apprehension of complete self-knowledge are consistently depicted as horrific in Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Joyce’s Ulysses, among other works, suggests a consonant theme and a pervasive desire to rediscover personal identity at any cost in cultural currency. Lost in the cacophony of cultural dogma, the questors in these modern odysseys, Kurtz and Dedalus respectively, come to this state in much the same way as they likewise struggle toward self-actualization. Kurtz’s final words before his death, which were stricken as the original epigraph for "The Waste Land" upon Ezra Pound’s suggestion that Conrad was too contemporary, “the horror,” testify to the mind-wrenching pain of having the foundation of one’s social identity stripped away as superfluous and unreal. A similar, though more extensively explored, mental anguish nearly overcomes Joyce’s questor, Dedalus, as he grapples for his sanity under the harsh light of complete vision.

The result of this terrifying engagement in all three cases, though few points in literature have been so heatedly debated, is a sense of purgation. Lending historical credence to this claim are the allusions in both works to Dante's Purgatorio and the concept of a refining fire that purifies the soul en route to either salvation or damnation. Eliot makes the most direct use of this idea as he quotes the great text directly, yoking it to a popularly misunderstood image of cultural collapse: "London Bridge is falling down.../ Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina." (427-428) The context of this section of Purgatorio is of instrumental significance, for it marks Dante's ascent out of Purgatory, suggesting that "The Waste Land" can likewise be escaped, metaphorically, by Eliot's pilgrim.

The survival of this final trial precipitates the appearance of the "empty chapel," (389) alluding to the legend of the Holy Grail in which the quest's end comes with admission to the Chapel Perilous and the granting of wisdom and healing by the Grail's keeper. Heralded by the crowing of the cock outside the chapel, healing rain comes from above in the form of a storm and wisdom is presented by a voice in the thunder. The significance of “What the Thunder Said” in the thrice repeated "Da," (401) lies not in a pronouncement of any Truth, however, but in its evocation of three questions that the questor must answer for himself. Taken from the ancient Hindu manuscripts, Upanishads, this dialogue is also paralleled in the Grail legend as an exchange with the Grail’s keeper that begets wisdom and draws the scope of The Waste Land together as a personal pursuit for metaphysical identity.

The first "Da" elicits the question, "what have we given?" (402) This draws out the pilgrim's conclusion that, in surrendering to the objects and falsehoods of civilization, one is left with naught, our souls as "empty rooms" (410) The pilgrim's response to the second "Da:" "We think of the key, each in our prison / Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison," (415-416) suggests that in forsaking the prison of the material world, one only becomes equally tethered to a singular concept of the self. The final "Da" pushes the pilgrim to accept the need for faith in some higher power, something greater than the world or Man, a doctrine by which to live. Further, the inclusion of the incensed artist, Hieronymo, suggests that the pilgrim may be identified with Eliot himself as an artist.

The final lines of The Waste Land signify an attempt to cultivate a personal doctrine from the wreckage of cultural bankruptcy that may rekindle in him a sense of faith. Eliot's selection of a few powerful images that, bound together by their context and apparent personal significance, form this doctrine and ironically also represent his failed attempt to quell his doubts:

These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih (431-434)

That Eliot can only refer to this new synthesis as a sort of distilled amalgamation of “fragments,” however, draws him back into the folds of superficial faith and suggests that what lies beyond them is the fear of spiritual ruin. In the end, Eliot's succumbs again, as “mad Heironymo” to the feeling of safety in these cultural trappings, demonstrating his reluctance to traverse the crossroads that would cast the destiny of his soul in stone, a point that is defined in Hindu ideology as Brahma, an undoing of the self through immersion in the whole. The closest correlative to this sort of spiritual ascension in Western mythology comes only after death. That Eliot's pilgrim ultimately shies away from the consummation of this endeavor in favor of the solace of human artifice, however carefully selected, suggests that salvation comes at a higher cost than he is willing to pay.

Modernism: A List of Major Tendencies and Leanings

Below are some of the major formal tendencies and thematic leanings of the Modernist movement. Keep them in mind as we attempt to slog our way through the next couple of weeks.

Open Form
Free Verse
Discontinuous narrative
Classical allusions
Borrowings from other cultures and languages
Unconventional use of metaphor
Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties
Dislocation of meaning and sense from its normal context
Valorization of the despairing individual in the face of an unmanageable future
Rejection of history and the substitution of a mythical past, borrowed without chronology
Product of the metropolis, of cities and urbanscapes
Stream of Consciousness
Overwhelming technological changes of the 20th Century

Monday, April 02, 2007

Modernism Introduction

Modernism is a cultural movement that generally includes progressive art and architecture, music and literature which emerged in the decades before 1914, as artists rebelled against late 19th century academic and historicist traditions.
Some divide the 20th century into modern and postmodern periods, whereas others see them as two parts of the same larger period. This article will focus on the movement that grew out of the late 19th and early 20th century, while Postmodernism has its own article.

Historical outline
The Modernist Movement emerged in the mid-19th century in France and was rooted in the idea that "traditional" forms of art, literature, social organization and daily life had become outdated, and that it was therefore essential to sweep them aside and reinvent culture. Modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence, from commerce to philosophy, with the goal of finding that which was "holding back" progress, and replacing it with new, and therefore better, ways of reaching the same end. In essence, the Modern Movement argued that the new realities of the 20th century were permanent and imminent, and that people should adapt their world view to accept that what was new was also good and beautiful.
Precursors to modernism

The first half of the 19th century for Europe was marked by a series of turbulent wars and revolutions, which gradually formed into a series of ideas and doctrines now identified as Romanticism, which focused on individual subjective experience, the supremacy of "Nature" as the standard subject for art, revolutionary or radical extensions of expression, and individual liberty. By mid-century, however, a synthesis of these ideas with stable governing forms had emerged, partly in reaction to the failed Romantic Revolutions of 1848. Called by various names, this stabilizing synthesis was rooted in the idea that what was "real" dominated over what was subjective. It was exemplified by Otto von Bismarck's realpolitik, by "practical" philosophical ideas such as positivism and in general by cultural norms now connoted by the term "Victorian era".

Central to this synthesis, however, was the importance of institutions, common assumptions and frames of reference. These drew their support from religious norms found in Christianity, scientific norms found in classical physics and doctrines that asserted that depiction of the basic external reality from an objective standpoint was in fact possible. Cultural critics and historians label this set of doctrines Realism, though this term is not universal. In philosophy, the rationalist and positivist movements established a primacy of reason and system.
Against the current ran a series of ideas, some of them direct continuations of Romantic schools of thought. Notable were the agrarian and revivalist movements in plastic arts and poetry (e.g. the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the philosopher John Ruskin). Rationalism also drew responses from the anti-rationalists in philosophy. In particular, Hegel's dialectic view of civilization and history drew responses from Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard, who were major influences on Existentialism. All of these separate reactions together, however, began to be seen as offering a challenge to any comfortable ideas of certainty derived by civilization, history, or pure reason.

From the 1870s onward, the views that history and civilization were inherently progressive, and that progress was inherently amicable, were increasingly called into question. Writers like Wagner and Ibsen had been reviled for their own critiques of contemporary civilization, and warned that increasing "progress" would lead to increasing isolation and the creation of individuals detached from social norms and their fellow men. Increasingly, it began to be argued not merely that the values of the artist and those of society were different, but that society was antithetical to progress itself, and could not move forward in its present form. Moreover, there were new views of philosophy that called into question the previous optimism. The work of Schopenhauer was labelled "pessimistic" for its idea of the "negation of the will", an idea that would be both rejected and incorporated by later thinkers such as Nietzsche.

Two of the most disruptive thinkers of the period were, in biology, Charles Darwin and, in political science, Karl Marx. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection undermined religious certainty of the general public, and the sense of human uniqueness of the intelligentsia. The notion that human beings were driven by the same impulses as "lower animals" proved to be difficult to reconcile with the idea of an ennobling spirituality. Karl Marx seemed to present a political version of the same problem: that problems with the economic order were not transient, the result of specific wrong doers or temporary conditions, but were fundamentally contradictions within the "capitalist" system. Both thinkers would spawn defenders and schools of thought that would become decisive in establishing modernism.
Separately, in the arts and letters, two ideas originating in France would have particular impact. The first was Impressionism, a school of painting that initially focused on work done, not in studios, but outdoors (en plein air). They argued that human beings do not see objects, but instead see light itself. The school gathered adherents, and despite deep internal divisions among its leading practitioners, became increasingly influential. Initially rejected from the most important commercial show of the time — the government-sponsored Paris Salon — the art was shown at the Salon des Refusés, created by Emperor Napoleon III to display all of the paintings rejected by the Paris Salon. While most were in standard styles, but by inferior artists, the work of Manet attracted tremendous attention, and opened commercial doors to the movement.

The second school was Symbolism, marked by a belief that language is expressly symbolic in its nature, and that poetry and writing should follow whichever connection the sheer sound and texture of the words create. The poet Stéphane Mallarmé would be of particular importance to what would occur afterwards.
At the same time social, political, and economic forces were at work that would eventually be used as the basis to argue for a radically different kind of art and thinking.

Chief among these was steam-powered industrialization, which produced buildings that combined art and engineering in new industrial materials such as cast iron to produce railroad bridges and glass-and-iron train sheds, or the Eiffel Tower, which broke all previous limitations on how tall man-made objects could be, and at the same time offered a radically different environment in urban life. The miseries of industrial urbanity, and the possibilities created by scientific examination of subjects would be crucial in the series of changes that would shake European civilization, which, at that point, regarded itself as having a continuous and progressive line of development from the Renaissance. With the telegraph's harnessing of a new power, offering instantaneity at a distance, time itself was altered.

The breadth of the changes can be seen in how many disciplines are described, in their pre-20th century form, as being "classical", including physics, economics, and arts such as ballet.

The beginning of modernism 1890–1910

Clement Greenberg wrote 'What can be safely called Modernism emerged in the middle of the last century— and rather locally, in France, with Baudelaire in literature and Manet in painting, and maybe with Flaubert, too, in prose fiction. (It was a while later, and not so locally, that Modernism appeared in music and architecture). The "avant-garde" was what Modernism was called at first, and the term remained to describe movements which identify themselves as attempting to overthrow some aspect of tradition or the status quo.

Beginning in the 1890s and with increasing force afterwards, a strand of thinking began to assert that it was necessary to push aside previous norms entirely, and instead of merely revising past knowledge in light of current techniques, it would be necessary to make more thorough changes. The movement in art paralleled such developments as the Theory of Relativity in physics; the increasing integration of the internal combustion engine and industrialization; and the rise of social sciences in public policy. In the first fifteen years of the twentieth century a series of writers, thinkers, and artists made the break with traditional means of organizing literature, painting, and music - again, in parallel to the change in organizational methods in other fields. The argument was that if the nature of reality itself was in question, and the restrictions which, it was felt, had been in place around human activity were falling, then art too, would have to radically change.

As Sigmund Freud vividly offered a view of subjective states that involved an unconscious mind full of primal impulses and counterbalancing restrictions, and Carl Jung would combine Freud's doctrine of the unconscious with a belief in natural essence to stipulate a collective unconscious that was full of basic typologies that the conscious mind fought or embraced. This attacked the idea that people's impulses towards breaking social norms were the product of being childish or ignorant, and were instead essential to the nature of the human animal, while the ideas of Darwin had introduced the idea of "man, the animal" to the public mind.

At the same time, and in nearly the same place as Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche championed a process philosophy, in which processes and forces, specifically the 'will to power', were more important than facts or things (although, it must be mentioned that Freud was far more influenced by Nietzsche than the latter was by the former). Similarly, the writings of Henri Bergson became increasingly influential, as Bergson also championed the vital 'life force' over static conceptions of reality. What united all these writers was a romantic distrust of the Victorian positivism and certainty. Instead they championed, or, in the case of Freud, attempted to explain, irrational thought processes through the lens of rationality and holism. This was connected with a general search to culminate the century long trend to thinking in terms of holistic ideas, which would include an increased interest in the occult, and "the vital force".

Out of this collision of ideals derived from Romanticism, and an attempt to find a way for knowledge to explain that which was as yet unknown, came the first wave of works, which, while their authors considered them extensions of existing trends in art, broke the implicit contract that artists were the interpreters and representatives of bourgeois culture and ideas. These "modernist" landmarks include Arnold Schoenberg's atonal ending to his Second String Quartet in 1906, the abstract paintings of Wassily Kandinsky starting in 1903 and culminating with the founding of the Blue Rider group in Munich, and the rise of cubism from the work of Picasso and Georges Braque in 1908.

Powerfully influential in this wave of modernity were the theories of Freud, who argued that the mind had a basic and fundamental structure, and that subjective experience was based on the interplay of the parts of the mind. All subjective reality was based, according to Freud's ideas, on the play of basic drives and instincts, through which the outside world was perceived. This represented a break with the past, in that previously it was believed that external and absolute reality could impress itself on an individual, as, for example, in John Locke's tabula rasa doctrine.

However, the modern movement was not merely defined by its avant-garde but also by a reforming trend within previous artistic norms, as well as arguing that to maintain the high standards of previous accomplishments it was necessary to advance technique and theory. This search for simplification of diction was found in the work of Joseph Conrad. The pressures of communication, transportation and more rapid scientific development began placing a premium on architectural styles which were cheaper to build and less ornamented, and on writing which was shorter, clearer, and easier to read. The rise of cinema and "moving pictures" in the first decade of the twentieth century gave the modern movement an art form which was uniquely its own, and again, created a direct connection between the perceived need to extend the "progressive" tradition of the late nineteenth century, even if this conflicted with then established norms.

This wave of the modern movement broke with the past in the first decade of the twentieth century, and tried to redefine various artforms in a radical manner. Leading lights within the literary wing of this movement (or, rather, these movements) include Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Valery, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, William Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, Joseph Conrad, Marcel Proust, Louis Aragon, Tristan Tzara, Jean Cocteau, Paul Eluard, Gertrude Stein, Wyndham Lewis, H.D., Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Basil Bunting, Robert Walser, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Federico Garcia Lorca, Rafael Alberti, and Franz Kafka. Composers such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Poulenc and George Antheil represent modernism in music. Artists such as Gustav Klimt, Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Les Fauves, Cubism and the Surrealists represent various strains of Modernism in the visual arts, while architects and designers such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe brought modernist ideas into everyday urban life. Several figures outside of artistic modernism were influenced by artistic ideas; for example, John Maynard Keynes was friends with Woolf and other writers of the Bloomsbury group.

In architecture and the arts of design, a search for a recognizably "modern" vocabulary of ornament had been under way since the essays of Viollet-le-Duc and Henry Cole in mid-century; Art Nouveau, termed "Modern Style" by many of its adherents, continued in this vein. A handful of designers like Christopher Dresser managed to eliminate ornament from some industrial design. Adolf Loos' manifesto "Ornament and Crime" (1908, in English 1913) repudiated the work of the Austrian form of Art Nouveau, the Vienna Secession, expressing the idea that the progress of culture is associated with the deletion of ornament from everyday objects, and that it was a crime to force craftsmen or builders to waste their time on ornamentation that simply served to hasten obsolescence. Modernist design retained a moral reaction against ornament.

The explosion of modernism 1910–1930
On the eve of World War I, a growing tension and unease with the social order began to break through - seen in the Russian Revolution of 1905, the increasing agitation of "radical" parties, and an increasing number of works which either radically simplified or rejected previous practice. In 1913, famed Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, working for Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, composed Rite of Spring for a ballet, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky that depicted human sacrifice, and young painters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse had only recently begun causing a shock with their rejection of traditional perspective as the means of structuring paintings - a step that none of the Impressionists, not even Cézanne, had taken.

This development began to give a new meaning to what was termed 'Modernism'. At its core was the embracing of disruption, and a rejection of, or movement beyond, simple Realism in literature and art, and the rejection of, or dramatic alteration of, tonality in music. In the 19th century, artists had tended to believe in 'progress', though what that word entailed varied dramatically, and the importance of the artist's contributing positively to the values of society. So, for example, writers like Dickens and Tolstoy, painters like Turner, and musicians like Brahms were not 'radicals' or 'Bohemians', but were instead valued members of society who produced art that added to society, even if it was, at times, critiquing less desirable aspects of it. Modernism, while it was still "progressive" increasingly saw traditional forms and traditional social arrangements as hindering progress, and therefore the artist was recast as a revolutionary, overthrowing rather than enlightening.

An example of this trend was to be found in Futurism. In 1909, F.T. Marinetti's first manifesto was published in the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro, and rapidly a group of painters (Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, and Gino Severini) co-signed The Manifesto of Futurist Painting. Such manifestos were modelled on the famous "Communist Manifesto" of the previous century, and were meant to provoke and gather followers while they put forward principles and ideas. However, Futurism was strongly influenced by Bergson and Nietzsche, and it should be seen as part of the general trend of Modernist rationalization of disruption.
It must be stressed that Modernist philosophy and art were still viewed as being part, and only a part, of the larger social movement. Artists such as Klimt, Paul Cezanne and Mahler and Richard Strauss were "the terrible moderns" - those farther to the avant-garde were more heard of, than heard. Polemics in favour of geometric or purely abstract painting were largely confined to 'little magazines' (like The New Age in the UK) with tiny circulations. Modernist primitivism and pessimism was controversial but was not seen as representative of the Edwardian mainstream, which was more inclined towards a Victorian faith in progress and liberal optimism.
However, World War I and its subsequent events were the cataclysmic disruptions that late 19th century artists such as Brahms had worried about, and avant-gardists had embraced.

First, the fantastic failure of the previous status quo seemed self-evident to a generation that had seen millions die fighting over scraps of earth - prior to the war, it had been argued that no one would fight such a war, since the cost was too high. Second, the introduction of a machine age into life seemed obvious - machine warfare became a touchstone of the ultimate reality. Finally, the immensely traumatic nature of the experience made both critical and subjective strands of the modern movement basic assumptions: Realism seemed to be bankrupt when faced with the fundamentally fantastic nature of trench warfare - as exemplified by books such as Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Moreover, the view that Mankind was making slow and steady moral progress came to seem ridiculous in the face of the senseless slaughter of the Great War. The First World War, at once, fused the harshly mechanical geometric rationality of technology with the nightmarish irrationality of myth.

Thus in the 1920s, and increasingly after, modernism, which had been such a minority taste before the war, came to define the age. There was a subtle, but important, shift from the earlier phase: in the beginning the movement was undertaken by individuals who were part of the establishment, or wished to join the establishment. However, increasingly, the mood began to shift towards a replacement of the older hierarchy with one based on new ideas, norms, and methods. Modernism was seen in Europe in such critical movements as Dada, and then in constructive movements such as Surrealism, as well as in smaller movements such as the Bloomsbury Group. Each of these "modernisms", as some observers labelled them at the time, stressed new methods to produce new results. Again, Impressionism was a precursor: breaking with the idea of national schools, artists and writers adopted ideas of international movements. Surrealism, Cubism, Bauhaus, and Leninism are all examples of movements that rapidly found adopters far beyond their original geographic base.

Exhibitions, theatre, cinema, books and buildings all served to cement in the public view the perception that the world was changing - and this often met with hostile resistance. Paintings were spat upon, riots organized at the opening of works, and some political figures even denounced modernism as being connected with immorality. At the same time, the 1920s were known as the "Jazz Age", and there was a public embrace of the advancements of mechanization: cars, air travel and the telephone. The assertion of Modernists was that these advances required people to change, not merely their habits, but their fundamental aesthetic sense.

By 1930, modernism had won a place in the establishment, including the political and artistic establishment.

Ironically, by the time it was being accepted, Modernism itself had changed. There was a general reaction in the 1920s against the pre-1918 Modernism, which emphasised its continuity with a past even as it rebelled against it, and against the aspects of that period, which seemed excessively mannered, irrational, and emotionalistic. The post-World War period, at first, veered either to systematization or nihilism and had, as perhaps its most paradigmatic movement, Dada.

Since both rationality and irrationality are present to varying degrees in all large movements, some writers attacked the madness of the new Modernism, while, at the same time, others described it as soulless and mechanistic. Modernists, in turn, attacked the madness of hurling millions of young men into the hell of war, and the falseness of artistic norms that could not depict the emotional reality of life in the 20th century.

The rationalistic side of modernism was a move back towards control, self-restraint, and an urge to re-engage with society. Some influences came from Machine Age thought and the idolization of technology. Examples of this approach include Stravinsky's neoclassical style of composition, the "International style" of Bauhaus, Schoenberg's atonality, the New Objectivity in German painting. At the same time, the desire to turn social critique into persuasive counter-order found expression in the beginnings of econometrics, and the rise of societies to reform nations along scientific, and often socialistic, lines. The victories of the Russian Revolution of 1917, with its emphasis, at least in words, on both humane life and rational planning, came to be taken by many as an example of the maxim "I have seen the future, and it works".

However, it must be remembered that these concepts and movements were often in competition with each other, and even in direct conflict. Within modernity there were disputes about the importance of the public, the relationship of art to audience, and the role of art in society. Rather than a lockstep, organized unity, it is better to see modernism as taking a series of responses to the situation as it was understood, and the attempt to wrestle universal principles from it. In the end science and scientific rationality, often taking models from the 18th Century Enlightenment, came to be seen as the source of logic and stability, while the basic primitive sexual and unconscious drives, along with the seemingly counter-intuitive workings of the new machine age, were taken as the basic emotional substance. From these two poles, no matter how seemingly incompatible, modernists began to fashion a complete worldview that could encompass every aspect of life, and express "everything from a scream to a chuckle".

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Modernist Revolution

The English novelist Virginia Woolf declared that human nature underwent a fundamental change "on or about December 1910." The statement testifies to the modern writer's fervent desire to break with the past, rejecting literary traditions that seemed outmoded and diction that seemed too genteel to suit an era of technological breakthroughs and global violence.

"On or about 1910," just as the automobile and airplane were beginning to accelerate the pace of human life, and Einstein's ideas were transforming our perception of the universe, there was an explosion of innovation and creative energy that shook every field of artistic endeavor. Artists from all over the world converged on London, Paris, and other great cities of Europe to join in the ferment of new ideas and movements: Cubism, Constructivism, Futurism, Acmeism, and Imagism were among the most influential banners under which the new artists grouped themselves. It was an era when major artists were fundamentally questioning and reinventing their art forms: Matisse and Picasso in painting, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein in literature, Isadora Duncan in dance, Igor Stravinsky in music, and Frank Lloyd Wright in architecture.

The excitement, however, came to a terrible climax in 1914 with the start of the First World War, which wiped out a generation of young men in Europe, catapulted Russia into a catastrophic revolution, and sowed the seeds for even worse conflagrations in the decades to follow. By the war's end in 1918, the centuries-old European domination of the world had ended and the "American Century" had begun. For artists and many others in Europe, it was a time of profound disillusion with the values on which a whole civilization had been founded. But it was also a time when the avante-garde experiments that had preceded the war would, like the technological wonders of the airplane and the atom, inexorably establish a new dispensation, which we call modernism. Among the most instrumental of all artists in effecting this change were a handful of American poets.

Ezra Pound, the most aggressively modern of these poets, made "Make it new!" his battle cry. In London Pound encountered and encouraged his fellow expatriate T. S. Eliot, who wrote what is arguably the most famous poem of the twentieth century--"The Waste Land"--using revolutionary techniques of composition, such as the collage. Both poets turned to untraditional sources for inspiration, Pound to classical Chinese poetry and Eliot to the ironic poems of the 19th century French symbolist poet Jules Laforgue. H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) followed Pound to Europe and wrote poems which, in their extreme concision and precise visualization, most purely embodied his famous doctrine of Imagism.

Among the American poets who stayed at home, Wallace Stevens--a mild-mannered executive at a major insurance firm in Hartford, Connecticut--had a flair for the flashiest titles that poems have ever had: "Peter Quince at the Clavier," "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle." Stevens, the aesthete par excellence, exalted the imagination for its ability to "press back against the pressure of reality."

What was new in Marianne Moore was her brilliant and utterly original use of quotations in her poetry, and her surpassing attention to the poetic image. What was new in E. E. Cummings was right on the surface, where all the words were in lower-case letters and a parenthesis "(a leaf falls)" may separate the "l" from "oneliness."

William Carlos Williams wrote in "plain American which cats and dogs can read," to use a phrase of Marianne Moore. "No ideas but in things," he proclaimed. In succinct, often witty poems he presents common objects or events--a red wheelbarrow, a woman eating plums--with freshness and immediacy, enlarging our understanding of what a poem's subject matter can be. Unlike Williams, Robert Frost favored traditional devices--blank verse, rhyme, narrative, the sonnet form--but he, too, had a genius for the American vernacular, and his pitiless depiction of a cruel natural universe marks him as a peculiarly modern figure who is sometimes misread as a genial Yankee sage.

Of the many modern poets who acted on the ambition to write a long poem capable of encompassing an entire era, Hart Crane was one of the more notably successful. In his poem "The Bridge," the Brooklyn Bridge is both a symbol of the new world and a metaphor allowing the poet to cross into different time zones, where he may shake hands in the past with Walt Whitman and watch as the train called the Twentieth Century races into the future.

Hart Crane
Born in 1899 in Garrettsville, Ohio, Harold Hart Crane was a highly anxious and volatile child. He began writing verse in his early teenage years, and though he never attended college, read regularly on his own, digesting the works of the Elizabethan dramatists and poets—Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Donne—and the nineteenth-century French poets—Vildrac, Laforgue, and Rimbaud. His father, a candy manufacturer, attempted to dissuade him from a career in poetry, but Crane was determined to follow his passion to write. Living in New York City, he associated with many important figures in literature of the time, including Allen Tate, Katherine Anne Porter, E. E. Cummings, and Jean Toomer, but his heavy drinking and chronic instability frustrated any attempts at lasting friendship. An admirer of T. S. Eliot, Crane combined the influences of European literature and traditional versification with a particularly American sensibility derived from Walt Whitman. His major work, the book-length poem, The Bridge, expresses in ecstatic terms a vision of the historical and spiritual significance of America. Like Eliot, Crane used the landscape of the modern, industrialized city to create a powerful new symbolic literature. Hart Crane committed suicide in 1932, at the age of thirty-three, by jumping from the deck of a steamship sailing back to New York from Mexico.

E. E. Cummings
Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1894. He received his B.A. in 1915 and his M.A. in 1916, both from Harvard. During the First World War, Cummings worked as an ambulance driver in France, but was interned in a prison camp by the French authorities (an experience recounted in his novel, The Enormous Room) for his outspoken anti-war convictions. After the war, he settled into a life divided between houses in rural Connecticut and Greenwich Village, with frequent visits to Paris.

In his work, Cummings experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures to create a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. Later in his career, he was often criticized for settling into his signature style and not pressing his work towards further evolution. Nevertheless, he attained great popularity, especially among young readers, for the simplicity of his language, his playful mode and his attention to subjects such as war and sex. At the time of his death in 1962, he was the second most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost.

H. D.
Hilda Doolittle was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 1886. She attended Bryn Mawr, as a classmate of Marianne Moore, and later the University of Pennsylvania where she befriended Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. She travelled to Europe in 1911, intending to spend only a summer, but remained abroad for the rest of her life. Through Pound, H. D. grew interested in and quickly became a leader of the Imagist movement. Some of her earliest poems gained recognition when they were published by Harriet Monroe in Poetry.

Her work is characterized by the intense strength of her images, economy of language, and use of classical mythology. Her poems did not receive widespread appreciation and acclaim during her lifetime, in part because her name was associated with the Imagist movement even as her voice had outgrown its boundaries, as evidenced by her book-length works, Trilogy and Helen in Egypt. Neglect of H. D. can also be attributed to her times, as many of her poems spoke to an audience which was unready to respond to the strong feminist principles articulated in her work. She died in 1961.

T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in Missouri on September 26, 1888. He lived in St. Louis during the first eighteen years of his life and attended Harvard University. In 1910, he left the United States for the Sorbonne, having earned both undergraduate and masters degrees and having contributed several poems to the Harvard Advocate. After a year in Paris, he returned to Harvard to pursue a doctorate in philosophy, but returned to Europe and settled in England in 1914. The following year, he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood and began working in London, first as a teacher, and later for Lloyd's Bank.

It was in London that Eliot came under the influence of his contemporary Ezra Pound, who recognized his poetic genius at once, and assisted in the publication of his work in a number of magazines, most notably "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in Poetry in 1915. His first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, was published in 1917, and immediately established him as a leading poet of the avant-garde. With the publication of The Waste Land in 1922, now considered by many to be the single most influential poetic work of the twentieth century, Eliot's reputation began to grow to nearly mythic proportions; by 1930, and for the next thirty years, he was the most dominant figure in poetry and literary criticism in the English-speaking world.

As a poet, he transmuted his affinity for the English metaphysical poets of the 17th century (most notably John Donne) and the 19th century French symbolist poets (including Baudelaire and Laforgue) into radical innovations in poetic technique and subject matter. His poems in many respects articulated the disillusionment of a younger post-World-War-I generation with the values and conventions—both literary and social—of the Victorian era. As a critic also, he had an enormous impact on contemporary literary taste, propounding views that, after his conversion to orthodox Christianity in the late thirties, were increasingly based in social and religious conservatism. His major later poems include Ash Wednesday (1930) and Four Quartets (1943); his books of literary and social criticism include The Sacred Wood (1920), The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933), After Strange Gods (1934), and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1940). Eliot was also an important playwright, whose verse dramas include Murder in the Cathedral, The Family Reunion, and The Cocktail Party.

He became a British citizen in 1927; long associated with the publishing house of Faber & Faber, he published many younger poets, and eventually became director of the firm. After a notoriously unhappy first marriage, Eliot separated from his first wife in 1933, and was remarried, to Valerie Fletcher, in 1956. T. S. Eliot received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, and died in London in 1965.

Robert Frost
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. He moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard, but never earned a formal degree. Frost drifted through a string of occupations after leaving school, working as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel. His first professional poem, "My Butterfly," was published on November 8, 1894, in the New York newspaper The Independent.

In 1895, Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who became a major inspiration in his poetry until her death in 1938. The couple moved to England in 1912, after their New Hampshire farm failed, and it was abroad that Frost met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. While in England, Frost also established a friendship with the poet Ezra Pound, who helped to promote and publish his work. By the time Frost returned to the United States in 1915, he had published two full-length collections, A Boy's Will and North of Boston, and his reputation was established. By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America, and with each new book—including New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962)—his fame and honors (including four Pulitzer Prizes) increased.

Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics who remained steadfastly aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet. The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony. Robert Frost lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont, and died on January 29, 1963, in Boston.

Marianne Moore
Born near St. Louis, Missouri, on November 15, 1887, Marianne Moore was raised in the home of her grandfather, a Presbyterian pastor. After her grandfather's death, in 1894, Moore and her family stayed with other relatives, and in 1896 they moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She attended Bryn Mawr College and received her B.A. in 1909. Following graduation, Moore studied typing at Carlisle Commercial College, and from 1911 to 1915 she was employed as a school teacher at the Carlisle Indian School. In 1918, Moore and her mother moved to New York City, and in 1921, she became an assistant at the New York Public Library. She began to meet other poets, such as William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens, and to contribute to the Dial, a prestigious literary magazine. She served as acting editor of the Dial from 1925 to 1929. Along with the work of such other members of the Imagist movement as Ezra Pound, Williams, and H. D., Moore's poems were published in the Egoist, an English magazine, beginning in 1915. In 1921, H.D. published Moore's first book, Poems, without her knowledge.

Moore was widely recognized for her work; among her many honors were the Bollingen prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. She wrote with the freedom characteristic of the other modernist poets, often incorporating quotes from other sources into the text, yet her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise, capable of suggesting a variety of ideas and associations within a single, compact image. In his 1925 essay "Marianne Moore," William Carlos Williams wrote about Moore's signature mode, the vastness of the particular: "So that in looking at some apparently small object, one feels the swirl of great events." She was particularly fond of animals, and much of her imagery is drawn from the natural world. She was also a great fan of professional baseball and an admirer of Muhammed Ali, for whom she wrote the liner notes to his record, I Am the Greatest! Deeply attached to her mother, she lived with her until Mrs. Moore's death in 1947. Marianne Moore died in New York City in 1972.

Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry. In the early teens of the twentieth century, he opened a seminal exchange of work and ideas between British and American writers, and was famous for the generosity with which he advanced the work of such major contemporaries as W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, H. D., James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and especially T. S. Eliot. His own significant contributions to poetry begin with his promulgation of Imagism, a movement in poetry which derived its technique from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry--stressing clarity, precision, and economy of language, and foregoing traditional rhyme and meter in order to, in Pound's words, "compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of the metronome." His later work, for nearly fifty years, focused on the encyclopedic epic poem he entitled The Cantos.
Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho, in 1885. He completed two years of college at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a degree from Hamilton College in 1905. After teaching at Wabash College for two years, he travelled abroad to Spain, Italy and London, where, as the literary executor of the scholar Ernest Fenellosa, he became interested in Japanese and Chinese poetry. He married Dorothy Shakespear in 1914 and became London editor of the Little Review in 1917. In 1924, he moved to Italy; during this period of voluntary exile, Pound became involved in Fascist politics, and did not return to the United States until 1945, when he was arrested on charges of treason for broadcasting Fascist propaganda by radio to the United States during the Second World War. In 1946, he was acquitted, but declared mentally ill and committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. During his confinement, the jury of the Bollingen-Library of Congress Award (which included a number of the most eminent writers of the time) decided to overlook Pound's political career in the interest of recognizing his poetic achievements, and awarded him the prize for the Pisan Cantos (1948). After continuous appeals from writers won his release from the hospital in 1958, Pound returned to Italy and settled in Venice, where he died, a semi-recluse, in 1972.

Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. He attended Harvard as an undergraduate and earned a law degree from New York Law School. Admitted to the U.S. Bar in 1904, Stevens found employment at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. in Connecticut, of which he became vice president in 1934. In November 1914, Harriet Monroe included four of his poems in a special wartime issue of Poetry, and Stevens began to establish an identity for himself outside the world of law and business. His first book of poems, Harmonium, published in 1923, exhibited the influence of both the English Romantics and the French symbolists, an inclination to aesthetic philosophy, and a wholly original style and sensibility: exotic, whimsical, infused with the light and color of an Impressionist painting. More than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life. Though now considered one of the major American poets of the century, he did not receive widespread recognition until the publication of his Collected Poems, just a year before his death. His major works include Ideas of Order (1935), The Man With the Blue Guitar (1937), Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction (1942), and a collection of essays on poetry, The Necessary Angel (1951). Wallace Stevens died in Hartford in 1955.

William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883. He began writing poetry while a student at Horace Mann High School, at which time he made the decision to become both a writer and a doctor. He received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and befriended Ezra Pound. Pound became a great influence in Williams' writing, and in 1913 arranged for the London publication of Williams's second collection, The Tempers. Returning to Rutherford, where he sustained his medical practice throughout his life, Williams began publishing in small magazines and embarked on a prolific career as a poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Following Pound, he was one of the principal poets of the Imagist movement, though as time went on, he began to increasingly disagree with the values put forth in the work of Pound and especially Eliot, who he felt were too attached to European culture and traditions. Continuing to experiment with new techniques of meter and lineation, Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh—and singularly American—poetic, whose subject matter was centered on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people. His influence as a poet spread slowly during the twenties and thirties, overshadowed, he felt, by the immense popularity of Eliot's "The Waste Land"; however, his work received increasing attention in the 1950s and 1960s as younger poets, including Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, were impressed by the accessibility of his language and his openness as a mentor. His major works include Kora in Hell (1920), Spring and All (1923), Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962), the five-volume epic Paterson (1963, 1992), and Imaginations (1970). Williams's health began to decline after a heart attack in 1948 and a series of strokes, but he continued writing up until his death in New Jersey in 1963.