Ecoliterature and the Global Economy
by Professor Julia Evergreen Keefer

Y206201 01 Major Twentieth Century Writers, New York University
Saturdays 2:00pm to 4:30pm
Fall 2009

Why are science and nature in constant combat, as evidenced by human conditions and diseases, sexual transfigurations, the biological effects of lab research on animals, to the devastation of bulldozing nature, fueled by the greed and power of politically vested interests? How do human versus natural disasters impact the dramatic structure and narrative sequencing of a novel or film? How can the study of the form and function of global literature help us understand and perhaps solve the pressing financial, environmental, and health problems related to the relationship between humans and nature?

Ecoliterature and the Global Economy is a multidisciplinary course that is designed to introduce the students to, and help them explore, the geological, ecological, literary, and cultural ramifications of mass industrialization. Through close readings of literature, we will become familiar with and question the many cultural and environmental consequences of industrialization. Could appreciation for the beauty of language and the grandeur of nature make us think twice about contaminating our only home with industrial pollution and greed? Do we realize the full implications of some of the business projects on environmental and human health? How do great authors help us understand how people and communities are affected by economic growth and development?

Course Objectives: To analyze the work of major literary writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the context of contemporary events in business, health care, and the humanities in global affairs. Close attention will be given to analyzing the language of the books in terms of figures of speech, tone color, personification, rhythm, and word choice, characterization, dramatic structure, narrative voice, style, and sequencing, type of story and global audience. Each book is chosen because it delves deeply into an element of nature like water, sand, forests, and jungles, so that we understand how the story is embedded in a particular geography, climate, and community. See how great writers like Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Albert Camus, Marguerite Duras, Chinua Achebe, Nawal el Saadawi, Naguib Mahfouz, Gao Xi Jiang, Tahar ben Jalloun, Upton Sinclair, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, Orhan Pamuk, have described different cultures by the sea, the desert, in the wilderness, and cities.

Course Requirements: Students choose a thread related to their need for self-expression, their major, career objectives, or current job. For example, students can do creative writing inspired by the literature, business majors can research the projects and accidents of oil, chemical, nuclear, ore mining, or coal multinational companies; health science majors can investigate the effects of the environment and the community on a particular disease; and humanities majors can do in-depth analysis of all the books, focusing on an aesthetic element of their choice, such as the personification of nature, the relationship of linguistic rhythm to natural rhythm, or how characters are created and transformed by certain environments. Bring two copies to class and be prepared to present your work orally. In addition, 6 sets of complete close textual analyses are due for the final paper.Write down and triple-space a page or a few paragraphs of a chosen text, and analyze it in detail in terms of linguistic form, as well as its function in the entire text. Material is gathered for the midterm, which includes an outline of the final paper. Oral presentations on the projects are due near the end of the semester, and the final paper should be 10-15 pages long, including the individual projects as well as close textual analyses.

Weekly Requirements: Each week, students must bring in at least one sample of close textual analysis, or a personal essay, or piece of creative writing, inspired by the literature. In the beginning, these will be graded pass/fail, but many corrections will be given, so that by the midterm, students should have three perfected analyses for grading. Write down the passage again yourself, as well as a short essay analyzing the prosody, and how the passages make you feel, in other words, objective and subjective analyses. The extrinsic research should be more opinion essays, as all the energy for the course must go into reading and analyzing the books, rather than writing a WW2 research paper.

Study Buddies: The first day we will break into small groups of two or three people. You will contact study buddies at least once a week through Blackboard or personal email, calls, visits, to discuss books, your personal syllabus, your projects, and your assignments. If you must be absent, get notes from study buddies.

Grading Policy:
Attendance and Participation. Points will be deducted for lateness, absences, or missed assignments. Do not email me personally, but submit assignments ahead of time, contact study buddies for notes, keep up with reading, post in Blackboard, and follow your personal syllabus as well as the general syllabus.
Weekly Writing (either a close textual analysis, a report for your project, or an outline or brainstorming) Pass/Fail
Midterm 8-10 paper of work so far
Oral Presentations of final paper for feedback and discussion. Panel style with your study buddies.
Final Paper 10-15 pages 50% form analysis and your writing style, including MLA format; 50% content analysis and synthesis of literature and your chosen field.

Midterm: Bring five copies of your 3 CTs, and personal essay or creative writing. In order to clearly assess your work through peer review and cross-editing, we will follow this system of evaluation:
20% for YOUR style. Points are deducted for grammatical and proofreading errors, awkward sentences, and incorrect MLA format.
20% for the analysis of the words, denotative and connotative, in the passages you chose. What are the literal or figurative (simile, metaphor, personification etc) meanings? How do the sentence structure and paragraph progression change the words? Follow the notes for CTs on the syllabus.
20% for personal or creative writing. How does the literature make you feel? This section also reflects the originality of YOUR work.
20% for cross-cultural understanding. What do you learn about the differences and similarities between other cultures, not only in different countries, but different time periods? This can include compare/contrast insights from weekly papers or lectures, role-playing, and analysis for form and content.
20% for application of literature to the ecodisciplinary theme, situating the work in its distinctive geography, as well the influence literature has on other disciplines, including your major, be it business, writing, psychology, or whatever.

Papers should be evaluated based on each individual student's major and interests. However, creativity, commitment, critical analysis, and the improvement of reading and writing skills are crucial for everyone.

As we move through the reading list, I will address these five points in lectures on every cluster.

While the 20th century sought creativity and improvisation, the 21st generation wants organization and clarity above all. I have changed the way I teach to comply with some of these desires, without sacrificing the objectives of a humanities course with a large reading list. There is a fine balance between organization and clarity, and the kind of improvisational, provocative style that irritates the psyche to stimulate creativity and deeper thought. Yes, the individualism and wild creativity of the twentieth century are over, but I do want to preserve some of this flavor as we become more organized. For years, Major Twentieth Century Writers has been a fun, stimulating class where the students "travel" through books to exotic places, develop empathy for people who are different from themselves through role-playing, and taste the sensuous beauty of great literature. However, in order to develop more clarity, organization, and workable standards of evaluation, I stress reading skills as well as the appreciation of the cross-cultural content.

Cross-Cultural Study
Through the books we will be studying French, British, Industrial American, Native American, Indian, Turkish, Egyptian, Moroccan, South American, Central African and Asian culture.

Reading List
Use my e-book Carving Your Story to help you write your close textual analysis, as well as this link.
Norton's Anthology of Nature Writing and Best American Science and Nature essays are reference books to be used to help you write your individual research papers.

1) Comparison/contrast pairs: American naturalistic style. Industrial development versus nature and indigenous Native American culture. Oil versus Gardens in the Dune
2) Akhenaten and The Plague.
Northern Africa. Social collapse.
3) The Sand Child and God Dies by the Nile and The Desert
: Egyptian and Moroccan feminism and desert culture.
4) Snow, Hiroshima, mon Amour, and How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Wrestling: Turkish versus American approaches to terrorism, relationship of nature to political violence
5) The Waves and Black Water: Early and late twentieth century. modernist versus post-modernist styles. Clean versus polluted water. Distortion of time.
6) Soul Mountain, Heart of Darkness, and Things Fall Apart: Climb every mountain, ford every stream. Chinese cultural revolution. White European early twentieth century imperialism versus African nationalism. Back to man conquers nature--or not.

One of the most controversial and pertinent topics of the 21st century is environmentalism. We argue about global warming, water supply, clean air, fossil fuels, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, green buildings, waste removal and other issues crucial to our survival. It is only appropriate to revisit major writers of twentieth and twenty-first literature from the ecoliterary perspective. Naturally, what is most important about literary art is the exact arrangement of the words and what they connote, an artistic creation in a specific time and space that transcends its symbols to express the author’s story, vision, talent, soul, if you will, and speak to people in different times and places emotionally, intellectually, and aesthetically. Great literature resonates through many themes, so when we look at a piece of writing from one point of view, we are not negating all the other possibilities of interpretation. Nevertheless, a cross-disciplinary approach may provide depth, research, and realism to the construction and understanding of literature, while reading these stories can give us renewed appreciation for nature and insights into more practical problem-solving.

In this course, Major Twentieth Century Writers, we arrange the books in clusters according to elements of nature and geographical locations. Under American Southwest Desert we have Gardens in the Dune by Leslie Marmon Silko and Oil by Upton Sinclair, also about early twentieth century America when the frontier was being exploited for oil and other natural resources, and the indigenous peoples used and abused to serve the European settlers’ greed. Only the natives seek the beauty of the flowers in the desert. Under Northwest African desert we have Jean Marie Gustave Le Clezio’s The Desert, Tahar Ben Jelloun’s The Sand Child, and Albert Camus’ The Plague, all of which take place in the second half of the twentieth century. In the Northeast African desert of the Nile Valley, a warm, fertile, earthly paradise, that has since become polluted and impoverished with “globalization,” we have God Dies by the Nile by Nawal el Saadawi, in the 1970s contrasted with the opulent, powerful world of the Pharaohs as in Naguib Mahfouz’ Akhenaten. What do the constant presence of a blinding sun and a cold star-filled night do to words and stories? What is the difference between a group of people who stay in their gorgeous oasis by the Nile to the traveling nomads who brave dust storms as they move across the Sahara, or that population in Oran who became quarantined with the plague? How does el Saadawi orchestrate the position of the sun in the sky with the horrific events that happen to her characters?

Then we examine at water in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and Joyce Carol Oates Black Water.  Woolf’s fluid style of long, complex/compound sentences ebbing and flowing through similes, metaphors, and personification that compare the passage of the sun through one day and the patterns it makes on the sea to the finest jewels and furnishings of human civilization, as if nature were not beautiful enough by herself. By contrast, Silko usually describes her nature literally, the way the indigenous people experienced it.  She frames her story, a prose poem of six dramatic monologues that compress the entire lives of her six characters, with these descriptions of nature, with a haunting foreshadowing of her eventual surrender to water when she, at 59 years of age, walked into the Thames with stones in her pockets. In Black Water the protagonist is drowning in every chapter in a recursive, flashback narrative style, but here the water is black from the fuel of the car that Senator Kennedy drove at Chappaquidick, and the heroine is caught in a vicious spiral of rapidly-filling lungs, Oedipal transfers, her own impotence, her “date’s” selfish, successful survival, physically and politically, and surreal flashbacks of her brief life, as she takes forever, the whole book, to drown. Oates’ word choice, her fragmented phrases, and her lack of conventional paragraph structure reflect the treacherous action of these poisonous waters.  

Water freezes into snow in Nobel-Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk’s Snow, where snow’s purity, fun, and deceptive blanket cover the atrocious acts of terrorism, the brutality of local police, the cruelty and obsession of the Islamists, and even the petty jealousies and affairs of some of the characters. The themes of the book are literally pictured as a snowflake and the protagonist’s poems fall out of his subconscious like exquisite flakes of snow. Without the snow, a different story and style would emerge.

A mountain is the symbol of traditional dramatic structure—the Myth of Sisyphus—the climb to the climax, followed by the denouement. It’s a struggle to get there, but at the top we are rewarded with a greater vision, even if compromised or exhilarated by thinner air. When hiking alone, we enter a world of animals, leaves, rocks, sky, that is beyond linguistic description, and the various components of self dissolve into the wilderness. Nobel-Prize winner Gao Xi Jiang documents his personal soul-searching journey through the mountains of China after a cancer scare, by deconstructing the narrative into four personae—he, she, you, and I—to not only show how self merges with wilderness and ancient civilizations, but how self is recovered and renewed after suppression by the communist Maoist regime.

In the African jungle we pit Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness against Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Here is a scary wilderness, more heated and unpredictable than the other environments, filled with deadly snakes, and insects that give you malaria and other diseases. It was the undoing of the British Empire, and even scared the Nigerian natives into sacrificing their children to appease the Oracles of the “Evil Forests.” These books are usually interpreted in terms of racism, but if we delve deeper, we see that race is simply a result of geography, an evolution of skin color based on Darwinian adaptation to sun and heat. The native people created a culture that could survive in this challenging environment, but, to this day, “multinationals” have tried to exploit it in such a way that things are still falling apart.

As we continue to build high tech cities over these precious elements of nature, let’s return to the wilderness, not only to hike literally and enjoy the fresh air and exercise, but to savor the words of great writers who put their stories in these places and let their styles be molded by their movements. I left out rock. I am currently working on a Rock Trilogy, the first tome is called Huguenot St, which is the oldest street in American in New Paltz. The books are narrated by rock, and the style will shift depending on whether I am talking about the crust, crunching along present time, the fiery mantle that causes plate tectonics and vitriolic arguments, the gooey mantle that holds things together with social customs, habits, rituals, and long, complex, compound sentences, the liquid center that flows out of the subconscious uncensored, or the solid core that has a rhyme or an answer to everything, no matter how crazy. To write this book, I study geology, and go on field trips all over New York State.

These clusters pertain only to this thematic syllabus, but Professor Keefer will occasionally lecture on other major writers such as Joyce, Proust, Sartre, Hemingway, Fitzgerald et al to help you understand the movements of the century. You can also consult other syllabi on this area such as Forbidden Fruits, Self versus State, Literature and Terrorism.

Although close textual analysis requires that you copy down the text, make sure that your observations and analyses are your own, and that your individual projects grow from your own experience and interests.

”Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work as though it were one's own. More
specifically, plagiarism is to present as one's own a sequence of words quoted
without quotation marks from another writer; a paraphrased passage from
another writer's work; creative images, artwork, or design; or facts or ideas
gathered, organized, and reported by someone else, orally and/or in writing and
not providing proper attribution. Since plagiarism is a matter of fact, not of the
student's intention, it is crucial that acknowledgement of the sources be accurate
and complete. Even where there is no conscious intention to deceive, the failure
to make appropriate acknowledgment constitutes plagiarism. Penalties for
plagiarism range from failure for a paper or course to dismissal from the

The Internet has changed pedagogy because, with the click of a mouse, you can find out all the facts on anything. We have the author bios, plot summaries, and major criticism, so you don't need to repeat this. Therefore, the two most important objectives of this class are to have students write down and analyze passages of the text formally with regard to connotative meaning, and informally in terms of what the writing means to them personally. This intimate relationship with the text cannot be plagiarized for it is simply you and the text. The personal projects require you to look at at least 6 books in depth in terms of a global issue that plagues you, that relates to your major and/or your job, and requires you to think about the relationship of literature to society, or how the literature inspires you with your own creative writing in any genre. Reports-in-progress are due for every cluster as a way to insure that your topic develops from your perspective.

Contact info, Office Hours, and Cyberspace: You can contact me at, or 212-734-1083, but we will be maintaining a weekly listserv or forum, to which you should add comments online at least once a week. I will also be available before and after class for questions. However, because of the depth and volume of book reading required for this class, cyberdiscussion requirements are limited to once a week in the listserv.

Summaries of lectures follow this weekly breakdown.

Fall 2009 Breakdown

September 12: Introduction to Major Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Writers. Story, Structure, Characterization, Narrative Voice, Style, and Sequencing, Word Choice, Figures of Speech, Tone Color from Professor Keefer's Carving Your Story. Lecture on different cultures' styles and stories and the arrangement of the clusters. Discussion of individual projects. Lecture on different views of Africa--Conrad versus Achebe. Discussion of the Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart, colonial versus post-colonial, nineteenth century British prose versus African storytelling and American best-seller, recursive flashback in a framed narrative versus Shakespearean tragedy of Okwonko with the dramatic flaw of anger.

September 12: Introduction to Major Twentieth Century Writers, course theme, review of requirements. Cluster One: Oil and Gardens in the Dune as comparison/contrast pairs.

September 19: Gardens in the Dune and Oil. Maybe view and analyze Oil. Discussion of environmentalism versus industrialism and savage capitalism. Bring a short personal essay on this subject.

September 26: Gardens in the Dune and Oil. CTs due on these two books. Drafts of projects due. Lecture on mid-century existentialism, Sartre and Camus, and contrasting narrative styles--Jelloun versus Camus.

October 3: Compare/contrast CTs of The Plague and The Sand Child due. Lecture on Mahfouz and Egyptian literature. Act out narrators as a play, then improvise. Read Akhenaten and God Dies by the Nile and The Desert.

October 10: Akhenaten and God Dies by the Nile. Read Snow, Hiroshima, and How to Survive.

October 17: See Hiroshima, mon Amour. Lecture on Pamuk and Turkey. Read Snow, Hiroshima, and How to Survive.

October 24: Midterm. 3 CTs and draft of project. CTs due on Snow, Hiroshima, How to Survive. Read The Waves and Black Water.

October 31: The Waves. Drafts of projects due. Lecture on Woolf, Proust, and early modernism. Act out six characters.

November 7: CTs due on The Waves and Black Water. Read Soul Mountain.

November 14: Lecture on China and the Cultural Revolution, and Gao Xi Jiang's postmodern style. Read Things Fall Apart, and Heart of Darkness.

November 28: CTs on China.

December 5: CTs due on Africa.

December 12: Rough drafts of final projects.

December 19: Final papers due. Global literature party. Final papers will be uploaded to EvergreenEnergy.






Links online at Professor Keefer's site: Enter the Hell of New York with selections from Camus, Morrison and Lili Tomlin.

Go Red with the Peking Revolutionary Opera. Visit Red Azalea and Brave New World in Self versus State.

Explore Feminism and the Body.

Expand your timespace in Einstein's Dreams.

Camus, Albert. "The Myth of Sisyphus. "The Rains of New York."

Morrison, Toni. Selections from Jazz.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Lethal. LETHAL by Joyce Carol Oates

I want to touch you a little. That delicate little blue vein at your temple, the soft down of your neck. I just want to caress you a little.I just want to kiss you a little--your lips, your throat, your breasts. I just want to embrace you a little. I just want to comfort you a little. I just want to hold you tight!--like this. I just want to measure you skeleton with my arms. These are strong, healthy arms, aren't they. I just want to poke my tongue in your ear. Don't giggle! Don't squirm! This is serious! This is the real thing! I just want to suck a little. I just want to press into you a little. I just want to penetrate you a little. I just want to ejaculate into you a little. It won't hurt if you don't scream but you'll be hurt if you keep straining away like that, if you exaggerate. Thank you, I just want to squeeze you a little. I just want a taste of it. Your saliva, your blood. Just a taste. A little. You've got plenty to spare. You're being selfish. You're being ridiculous. You're being cruel. You're being unfair. You're hysterical. You're hyperventilating. You're provoking me. You're laughing at me. You want to humiliate me. You want to make a fool of me. You want to gut me like a chicken. You want to castrate me. You want to make me fight for my life, is that it? You want to make ME fight for my life, is that it?

With Black Water, she captures again, what it feels like to be a victim and a perpetrator, as well as how water, normally a cleansing and purifying element, transforms into a putrid hell of suffocating liquid, made black by the oil from the crashing car, as it slowly drowns the heroine, and gives the Senator the ride of his life.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. "No Exit. "

Wagner Jane. (performed by Lili Tomlin) "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe."

Screenwriting versus Personal Writing

Screenwriting Structures

Conventional Dramaturgy

Experiments in TimeSpace

The Biological Rhythms of Drama

Keefer's Advanced Sequencing

Myth and the Movies

Lectures and Notes

Close Textual Analysis

Write out a passage from the book, approximately one page, triple spaced, numbering every line. Then analyse for intrinsic and extrinsic meaning, relationship to the rest of the text, rhetorical devices, structure and aesthetics. Even though you are concentrating on a single passage, it is important that you read the entire work to understand its relationship to the whole. First of all you must understand the denotative and connotative meanings of every word in the text. Use your thesaurus and dictionary frequently so that you understand every possible meaning even when you think you know what is being said. Then analyze sentence structure (simple, complex, compound, compound-complex) and paragraph structure and progression in a novel or short story, dialogue and action in a play, prosody if a poem. Most of your works are novels.

Does the passage describe a natural or artificial scene and what is the degree of plausibility, suspension of disbelief? How vivid and explicit is the descriptive language? Does it describe character as monologue or dialogue, explicit or unconscious? Does it describe an action, develop an argument or an idea connected with the larger world of the fiction? How is the passage sequenced, in other words, what comes before and after, and why? How does this relate to the overall dramatic structure? Is this a passage devoted to exposition, complication, turning point, crisis, climax or resolution? What are the levels of empathy or emotional involvement? Comedic techniques or devices to increase suspense and drama? In what person is the novel told? In a drama, how successfully are the characters orchestrated? How is language used aesthetically to develop theme and how his theme related to the central dramatic question and the protagonist's objectives? In this global literature course, how do style and structure reflect the taste of the indigenous culture? How does this passage compare with another one on the same content, but from a different culture? For whom is the story written? How does the narrative voice relate to audience?

When you analyze language, place close attention to both diction, or choice of words, (formal, informal, colloquial, concrete, abstract) and rhetorical devices. Meter is analyzed in terms of metric feet--iamb,u_ trochee,_u anapest, uu_dactyllic, _uu, spondee, __pyrrhic,uu. Even prose passages can be scanned to determine rhythm. It is not enough to identify these devices-- you must relate them to the whole, and evaluate their impact on dramatic structure, aesthetics, meaning, and objective.

Put all your passages in one document and feel free to compare and contrast three passages with a similar theme, style or objective. Discuss any socio-political or philosophical knowledge necessary to enhance meaning of these passages. Look at the learning objectives of each of the six clusters and see that you are relating to genre, dramatic structure, timespace constraints, setting, sets and sequencing, levels of realism and plausibility, narrative styles and techniques, didacticism, themes and premises, character transformation and orchestration, descriptive language, concreteness of imagery, relationship of imagery to plot, character and structure, and finally stylistic techniques.:

What is the THEME of the book?
The theme can be implicit or explicit as it relates to the author's attitude towards the subject matter. It can also color the sequencing and the subliminal messages. In God Dies by the Nile, the theme is related to the sun, to the invisible god who sees and does not see the atrocities committed by the humans. Each chapter focuses on a different position of the sun. The stoning occurs in the dark. At the end, Zakeya says she killed god, implying that she killed the Mayor. Just as Mahfouz' Gebelaawi is not the real Muslim God, the god who dies in el Saadawi's book is not the real God either.

Analyzing the theme of a book leads to discussion of POINT OF VIEW
Long, complex novels may have a number of themes but if you analyze carefully you may find only one or two prevailing themes.
First person: I (some limitation. You may not have balanced character orchestration, as in a memoir like Red Azalea or Soul Mountain.)
Second person: You (rare, usually secondary) In Soul Moutain, some chapters are written in the second person as a way to deconstruct the self. I use it to connect with the Reader.
Third person: She, He, They; limited, (Hemingway), omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent (Tolstoi).
Narrators as characters or narrators as invisible seams. Pamuk uses 18 narrators, some non-human. I use 18 non-human narrators in a linear pass-the-ball narrative. Distinguish between omnipresent paychological narrators who move in for interior monologues like Molly Bloom's soliloquy and a real first person narrator.
Degrees of psychological penetration. Is the narrator reporting action like a camera or delving into the thoughts or even unconscious fantasies (Joyce) of the characters?
Multiple or single narrators: Pamuk and Mahfouz versus Nabakov (Arabic versus Russian and some Western)
Is the point of view consistent?

SEQUENCING: Evemts arramged in time and space
Linear (Ironically Ulysses is linear--one day in the life of three Dubliners but when it goes into stream-of-consciousness monologues if appears to be Linear with flashbacks)
Jumbled traditional dramatic structure, like Pulp Fiction
Recursive--(spokes of a wheel like psychoanalysis) Oedipus Rex is caught in the static present, investigating the horrors of his past where he killed his father and married his mother. The past then forces desperate action in the static present.

Description, Setting, Locales
What senses are evoked? Olfactory, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory For example, Pamuk is more visual than Mahfouz. Many Arab writers are auditory. Tahar ben Jalloun is very kinesthetic. Proust is very gustatory. You can also have synesthesia as in surreal poetry or Satanic Verses or a kind of psychic sense.
Detailed, Distracting, Spare, Symbolic, Suggestive, Minimal, Insufficient
My Name is Red has such detailed imagery that it does slow the pace, but so what? Is the description artistically integrated, linguistically and thematically? How does this description enhance the theme?

Analyze language in terms of denotative and connotative meanings, syntax or sentence structure, paragraph length and progression, rhythm, meter, rhyme, tone color, figures of speech (simile, metaphor, personification etc)

How does the THEME differ from the CENTRAL DRAMATIC QUESTION?
The Central Dramatic Questions classically is stated at the Inciting Incident in a traditional dramatic structure and is not answered until after the Crisis/Climax. Novels may have more thna one question for different plot lines. In My Name is Red, the CDQ is "Who committed this murder?"

Dramatic Structure is the orchestration of conflict, first based on Aristotle's Poetics, developed by Shakespeare and eventually Hollywood plot points.
Inciting Incident: Catalyst
Plot Point One: Commitment
Midpoint: Confrontation
Plot Point Two: Chaos, (all is lost)
CDQ is refined and developed and re-asked at every plot point which involves protagonist-antagonist conflict. In some non-EuroAmerican literature, multiple protagonists can confuse the dramatic structure but there is still usually one or two throughlines.
Throughline: Harry wants so badly to get Sally that he is willing to go through a sex change to pretend to be her guardian. John wants so badly to unclash civilizations that he is willing to go to Iraq and hang out in the streets, thereby risking his life. Throughline includes major objective through work as well as the potentially greatest sacrifice. Warren wants so badly to get his degree he is willing to wake up early every Saturday morning. But this throughline must last throughout the entire work. Every scene usually has minor conflicting objectives.

Campbell myth of Ordinary versus Special World
In God Dies by the Nile you have the Ordinary World of the town versus the Special World outside the town where the stoning, necrophilia, wild dances and exorcism occur. The threshold is seen with Zakeya's supposed madness.
Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Crossing the Threshold, Allies and Enemies, Approach the Inmost Cave or Belly of the Whale, Ordeal, Reward, Cross the Return Threshold, Resurrection, Elixr
This paradigm is similar to the Aristotelian mountain but it is a paradigm of space and resembles a circle while the former is a paradigm of time resembling a mountain.

Analyze characters in terms of archetypes: Hero or Heroine, Herald who announces the Call to Adventure, Threshold Guardians, Tricksters, Shapeshifters to complicate plot, The Shadow or antagonist who can also be aspects of the darker self, Allies and Enemies, Love interests
Archetypes differ from other ways of analyzing character because they relate to the Journey.
Are characters 3-dimensional, stereotypes, or what?
Balanced character orchestration
Character transformation---how, why and when do they change
Analyze dialogue: Is it naturalistic? Is it authentic to the actual character? Slang and expletives, informal and formal, jokes, plays on words,
Interaction: give-and-take, degree of listening and misunderstanding, coded conversation, interrupted or codependent conversation.
Evaluate empathy for characters, vulnerability and jeopardy
Character's layers of imperfections, secrets, lies, epiphanies, transformations, character development and choices
Dreams, nightmares, fantasies

Researching the World
Analyze degrees of reality: Documentary. Naturalism. Realism. Romanticism. Fantasy. Sci Fi.
Analyze subject matter: its accuracy, its relevance, levels of didacticism
For example, the subject matter in God Dies by the Nile ranges from ancient religious rituals, Islam, village politics, female mutilation, abuse of Sharia laws, necrophilia, bestiality, incest, adultery, family values, farming
How well did the author do the research?
Americans often reject didactic digressions as seen in Victor Hugo, Orhan Pamuk, preferring to show rather than tell. Many Americans and Europeans want all exposition to be ammunition.

Rhetorical Devices

Using selections from All Quiet on the Western Front as examples, please review the following to help you with close textual analysis:

Humor, with metaphor: "My arms have grown wings and I'm almost afraid of going up into the sky, as though I held a couple of captive balloons in my fists."

Personification: "The wind plays with our hair; it plays with our words and thoughts."
"Over us Chance hovers."

Euphemism: "At the same time he ventilates his backside." "All at once he remembers his school days and finishes hastily:'he wants to leave the room sister.'"

Imagery: "To no man does the earth mean so much as to the soldier. When he presses himself down upon her long and powerfully, when he buries his face and his limbs deep in her from the fear of death by shell-fire, then she is his only friend, his brother, his mother; he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and her security; she shelters him and releases him for ten seconds to live, to run, ten seconds of life; receives him again and often forever." (and personification) "The front is a cage in which we must await fearfully whatever may happen."

Repetition: "Earth!-Earth!-Earth!"

Antithesis: "A man dreams of a miracle and wakes up to loaves of bread."

Parallel Construction: "My feet begin to move forward in my boots, I go quicker, I run."

Simile: "He had collapsed like a rotten tree."

Metaphor: "Immediately a second [searchlight] is behind him, a black insect is caught between them and tries to escape--the airman.]

Liturgical prose: "Our being, almost utterly carried away by the fury of the storm, streams back through our hands from thee, and we, thy redeemed ones, bury ourselves in thee, and through the long minutes in a mute agony of hope bite into thee with our lips!"

Apostrophe: "Ah! Mother, Mother! You still think I am a child--why can I not put my head in your lap and weep?"

Allusion: "The guns and the wagons float past the dim background of the moonlit landscape, the riders in the steel helmets resemble knights of a forgotten time; it is strangely beautiful and arresting."

Hyperbole: "They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear; they are the strongest, most comforting things there are anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades."

Rhetorical question: "If one wants to appraise it, it is at once heroic and banal--but who wants to do that?"

Aphorism: "...terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks--but it kills, if a man thinks about it."

Symbolism: "I pass over the bridge, I look right and left; the water is as full of weeds as ever."

Foreshadowing: "On the landing I stumble over my pack, which lies there already made up because I have to leave early in the morning."

Doggerel: "Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay."

Short Utterances: "Life is short." (Analyse for rhythm and effect.)

Cause and Effect: "They have taken us farther back than usual to a field depot so that we can be re-organized."

Irony: "...a high double wall of yellow, unpolished, brand-new coffins. They still smell of resin, and piine, and the forest."

Appositive: "Thus momentarily we have the two things a soldier needs for contentment: good food and rest."

Caesura: "It is all a matter of habit--even the front-line."

Onomatopoeia: "The man gurgles."

Alliteration: "The satisfaction of months shines in his dull pig's eyes as he spits out: 'Dirty hound'"

Euphony: "Now red points glow in every face. They comfort me: it looks as though there were little windows in dark village cottages saying that behind them are rooms full of peace."

Cacophony: "The storm lashes us, out of the confusion of grey and yellow the hail of splinters whips forth the child-like cries of the wounded, and in the night shattered life groans painfully into silence."

Slang: "And now get on with it, you old blubber-sticker, and don't you miscount either." "That cooked his goose."

Rhetorical devices also include the syllogisms, logical fallacies etc explained at

Critics analyze in reverse of how many writers create, except poets, who often start with language and word games::


Meter in poetry or grammar, sentence length, paragraph progression in prose

Rhythm in stressed and unstressed syllables

Rhyme where applicable

Tone Color including alliteration, assonance, consonance and onomatopoeia

Figures of Speech including metaphors, similes, personification, analogy


Word choice: complex, simple, synonyms, denotative and connotative as they relate to meaning

Description: the density, detail, and degree of sensuality--olfactory, gustatory, kinesthetic, auditory, visual, synesthesia

Narrative sequence: the connection between events in time and space, whether linear, recursive, tandem-competitive, superimposed

Narrative voice:first, second, third, singular or plural, limited, omniscient, personified, multiple or single, point of view

Theme is the way the author relates to the material, combining the form and content for aesthetic or didactic purposes. It is not the same as the Central Dramatic Question.

Characters can be multi-dimensional, stereotypes, archetypes, secrets, lies, flaws, objectives, needs, desires, conflicts, fantasies, nightmares, dreams, what is the worst or the best that could happen?

Dramatic Structures: the orchestration and the organization of conflict. Paradigms: the mountain, the circle, egg shaped ( Campbell monomyth) or wheel stuck in mud (recursive). Classic Aristotelian structure asks a Central Dramatic Question at the Inciting Incident that is resolved by the Climax and Resolution.

Research the World: level of reality, documentary, naturalism, realism, fantasy-enhanced memoir, sci fi, fantasy, use of imagination. Suspending disbelief. Science. Technology.

Story: what happens to specific people at a certain time in a certain space, before it is orchestrated into dramatic conflict.

Content Notes on Authors

Naguib Mahfouz
Akhenaten is a short historical novel, describing Egypt's first monotheistic pharaoah through the eyes of multiple narrators, a common Arabic storytelling technique. One of the greatest and most long-lasting cultures was born in the fertile Nile River valley, surrounded by deserts. Although this area is tremendously polluted now, it used to be a beautiful oasis in the ancient world, where a very sophisticated culture flourished.

Naguib Nahfouz is the best-known and most studied Arab novelist in the Anglophone world. Mafouz was born in a warren of ancient alleys in the heart of Islamic Cairo, behind the al-Hussein Mosque, in the neighborhood of Gamaliya, in December 1911. His father, a minor civil cervant, was highly traditional, and his mother was doting, his childhood lonely but unremarkable. After attending Islamic elementary schools and a secular high school, he entered Cairo University (then King Faud 1) University and in 1934 graduated with a degree in philosophy. He rememberes that period, which coincided with the anticolonial movement against the British, as the happiest of his life--as "the golden age of patriotism....when the times themselves were listening to you," he wrote in his 1961 novel The Thief and the Dogs.

Until 1971, all his works were written late at night, for he spent his days as a government bureaucrat: as an official film censor, an adviser on the arts, and a minor functionary in various ministries, including the Ministry of Religious Affairs. A private, timid man who married late in life, Mahfouz is a strong believer, a bit of a mystic, and a Fabian socialist of the most passionate sort. Mahfouz married a Christian woman at age 43 and had two daughters and no grandchildren. He has never liked to travel, leaving Egypt some three times in his life. By the late 1950s, social realism had become the defining characteristic of his work. His well-ordered, punctilious, conservative daily life was the antithesis of the world he created in his books. Note what he says in this book we are studying: "We live in a repugnant age of slogans. And between the slogans and the truth is an abyss, into which we have all fallen and lost ourselves."

He published his first novel in 1939 and since then has written thirty-two novels and thirteen collections of short stories. This prolific writer's work appears to have gone through four stages. The first (1939-44) consisted of three novels based on the history of ancient Egypt, focusing on a cherished theme, the heroic struggle of the Egyptians and their patriotic Pharaohs to expel the Hysos, as foreign ruling invaders, from their country. Like Camus' THE PLAGUE, THE STRUGGLE OF THEBES bore a relevance to Egyptian sociopolitcal reality, the British occupation. In 1945, Mahfouz left the history of Phaoronic Egypt to write A NEW CAIRO. This led to the publication of THE CAIRO TRILOGY, in 1956-57, a realistic study of Egyptian urban society between the two World Wars. In THE MIRAGE, published in 1948, Mahfouz experimented with a psychoanalytic novel, inspired by Freud. In 1959 another stage began with OUR QUARTER, an allegory of human history. In the mid seventies he returned to the fourth stage where he asserts the unique voice of Arabic narrative forms in THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS and THE DAY THE LEADER WAS KILLED.

Mahfouz' world view is similar to Sartre's social commitment and responsibility, a far cry from the nihilism of Islamic extremists. His work reveals the irony of a European intellectual woven through the ancient Arabic storytelling. In 1988 the Swedish Academy gave him the Nobel Prize and wrote that "through works rich in nuance-- now clearsightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous, Mahfouz has formed an Arabic narrative art that applies to all mankind." His characters are warm and human, in spite of and because of their grotesque flaws from the tyrannical merchant of the Cairo Trilogy, to his debauched and fanatical sons, to the weak and wayward women who tempt and distract them. Yet there is a robust sensuality, a deep reverence for Islam, a generous tolerance and the creation of world so ripe and vivid that you want to savor it forever. CHILDREN OF THE ALLEY with its autocratic rulers and echoes of prophets found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, proved most controversial and prompted a religious fatwa calling for his death in 1989.

In 1994 there was a near-fatal assault on Mahfouz by Islamic terrorists, wonderfully described by Mary Anne Weaver in her book, A Portrait of Egypt (1999) when he was stabbed while sitting in his car. since then he has only been able to write for 30 minutes at a time because of injuried nerves. He must keep armed guards around his apartment even now, in 2002.90 year old Mahfouz was recently interviewed (2002) for the New York Times. He says that even now he struggles to write every day: "A writer must sit down to write every day, pick up his pen and try to write something-- anything-- on a piece of paper. Perhaps they will succeed, or maybe come up with a new idea that will blossom eventually. Perhaps they will complete a short story, and perhaps nothing will happen at all."

Like many of the writers we are studying, Mahfouz is intensely involved in political, social and philosophical debate. At 90 his eyes and ears are so impaired that a friend arrives every morning to read the headlines for an hour. He gave his first interest payments from his Nobel Prize to Palestinian charities and now defends suicide bombers, a common position among Arab intellectuals:
"They are people defending a cause by sacrificing with their souls, and this is the highest level of noble resistance, although the death of civilians is regrettable. We have to remember that this is not a regular fight, a regular war where you can choose your target and fight only soldiers. This is a desperate situation where you blow yourself up and whoever happens to be on the site."
At the same time he shows little patience for those who want to destroy Israel or censor freedom of expression or intercultural exchanges between Jews and Arabs. At the end of the interview, after discussing death, he said:
"That is the way of life. You give up your pleasures one by one until there is nothing left, and then you know it is time to go."

Again, some of these notes are from Wikipedia, which shows teachers go there too, which means that once we gather all the facts about a piece of literature, all our energy should go into reading the author's exact words, and forming our own interpretation, based on our feelings, knowledge, taste, and experience.

Tahar Ben Jelloun (Arabic: طاهر بنجلون) (born in Fes, Morocco, December 1, 1944) is a Moroccan poet and writer. Professor at Tetouan and then in Casablanca. He has lived and worked in France since 1971.

I like Tahar Ben Jelloun because he combines traditional Berber and Bedouin storytelling, with modernist post-colonial activism, with French postmodernism, and a strong, lyrical style that is rooted in his desert climate. When I climbed the Atlas Mountains and hiked through the Sahara, I could imagine these storytellers entertaining wanderers at night, and then watching as their words seemed to vanish into the night, blown away by the sandstorms. Ben Jelloun is also a psychologist who understand the various illusions and delusions of Islamic feminism and machismo, and how traditional religions clash with modern societies.

He attends to lectures in social psychology and works as psychotherapist. He writes in French although his first language is Arabic. He writes for diverse reviews and in particular for Le Monde. His novel La Nuit Sacrée won the Prix Goncourt in 1987. In 2004 he was awarded the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for This Blinding Absence of Light (translated from the French by Linda Coverdale).

In September 2006, Tahar Ben Jelloun was awarded a special prize for "peace and friendship between peoples" at Lazio between Europe and the Mediterranean Festival. [1]

List of works

Joyce Carol Oates (born in 1938) had a working-class upbringing in upstate New York, attended Syracuse and the University of Wisconsin, taught in Canada where she began a prolific and highly successful writing career, culminating in her appointment at Princeton University as the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities. The ballad-like BLACK WATER (1992) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It reimagines the events of Chappaquiddick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne through the victim's eyes. Inspired by the interior monologues in Joyce's ULYSSES and other stream-of-consciousness techniques, Oates draws us into 26 year old Kelly Kelleher's distorted and damaged consciousness as she is caught in the slow, repetitious, haunting labyrinth of death. We are inundated with water at every turn and on every level, giving us a unique understanding of the process of dying with all its associated memories, fears and sensuality.

Albert Camus and Existentialism
I received a Master's degree in French Literature from the Sorbonne in Paris at a time when Sartre, Camus and the influence of existentialism on the theatre of the absurd was most in vogue, before the post-structuralists and postmodernists like Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva and Barthes had taken over Parisian intellectual life. In fact my specialty was theatre of the absurd and the title of my thesis was "La Chute de la Tradition Theatrale," which involved an analysis of the aesthetic as well as philosophical distinctions between classical dramaturgy and theatre of the absurd such as Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett and others, and how the media of television and film had forced an anti-naturalist trend on the theatre. I also performed in French theatre as I was completing my degree there. NO EXIT has a classical structure with existentialist themes, so it is different from works by Ionesco and Becket.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was born in Algeria to a poor, working class family but because of his talent and brilliance, received distinction in philosophy at the University and moved to Paris. He published THE STRANGER in 1942, about an existential, alienated protagonist Meursault who murders a man, for no apparent reason, and who is subsequently condemned to death. It is as much an indictment of capital punishment and society's social norms as it is an existentialist narrative, written in sparse, pristine prose. In 1947 he published THE PLAGUE, charting the inception, process and resolution of this disease in a fictional North African town. It is a metaphor of the German occupation during World War II but could apply to any event. During the anthrax lockdowns after 9/11 last semester, students identified strongly with this novel, with the different responses to the epidemic, and with the personification of the disease and its devastation. After 9/11, we New Yorkers know how it feels to be in a lockdown. Like Sartre, Camus was aware of the social/cultural/psychological constraints of existentialism, but he was more religious or spiritual. My professors at the Sorbonne thought that he would have become more and more Catholic had he not been killed in a car accident at 46. In fact, Sartre and Camus did split and dissociate from each other after the war.

Both were prolific writers, spreading their energies across novels, short stories, essays, plays and expository books, which is one reason why Existentialism became a popular movement. However, I feel that Sartre was more gifted as a dramatic and argumentative writer, and Camus as a novelist and lyrical essayist.

Read NO EXIT and THE PLAGUE together for comparison and contrast. Note that they both adhere to unities of time, space and action, although THE PLAGUE takes a little longer to unwind. NO EXIT conforms to Aristotelian dramaturgy on most levels. It is simply the conversations of three newly deceased characters, coward Garcin, lesbian Inez, and baby-killer Estelle in hell, which is a Louis XIV drawing room. They are waiting to see when hell will begin until they finally realize that "Hell is other people." There are no mirrors: they must look into each other's eyes for all self-affirmation and approval. And here is the rub because each character wants and needs something from the others that they cannot give him or her. NO EXIT is an excellent example of how interpersonal conflict is combusted into intense, riveting dramatic action. Every stage is carefully orchestrated until the door opens-- and no one can escape. There are unable to exercise their human freedom to choose. But the hell is in essence, of their own choosing, because they lack the strength of the existentialist hero who can become the sum of his actions.

Working only with dialogue, the bourgeois drawing room and a few limited props, Sartre is able to create a play that continues to be performed all over the world as a great work of theatre, as well as a mouthpiece for the chief tenets of Existentialism. The play was originally commissioned as something short and easy to take on tour, with no changes in scenery and only three actors. Sartre was also asked to ensure that none of the three actors felt jealous of the other two by being forced to leave the stage or getting the best lines; consequently, he began to think in terms of a situation where three characters would be locked up together--first, in a cell during an air raid, and then in hell. In this inferno, "hell is other people," because Estelle sees no truth, Joseph hears no truth, and Inez speaks no good, according to former student Jerry Harman. In contrast, THE PLAGUE uses methodical description and precise narration to suck us into another hell, that of a population avoiding and finally facing the ravages of the plague. This is a brilliant sociological study, of how characters work with and against each other to fight a common evil. Dr. Rieux is like Giuiliani after 9/11, making himself stronger by administering to the needs of the population, working night and day with that indefatigable Hizzoner energy.

Note how important descritive writing is to the art of the novel. Sartre often lacks the patience to describe as thoroughly as Camus, preferring to whip and hack and demolish his world with dramatic and philosophical conflict. Camus documents, describes and patiently recreates a world palatable to all our senses, a world that is often a metaphor for some philosophical injusitice or condition he would rather not attack directly through expository writing. Yet he focuses on the community more than the unconscious exploration of the characters.

Since you need to pick a character to play for the semester, you might enjoy playing any one of the characters in these two great works. For the close textual analysis assignment, pick passages from the two books to analyze to show the difference between dialogue and description aesthetically, the main difference between a play and a novel.

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. Ferit Orhan Pamuk (born on June 7, 1952 in Istanbul) generally known simply as Orhan Pamuk, is a Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist and professor of comparative literature at Columbia University.[1] Pamuk is one of Turkey's most prominent novelists,[2] and his work has been translated into more than fifty languages. He is the recipient of numerous national and international literary awards. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 12, 2006,[3] becoming the first Turkish person to receive a Nobel Prize.


Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952 and grew up in a wealthy yet declining bourgeois family, an experience he describes in passing in his novels The Black Book and Cevdet Bey and His Sons, as well as more thoroughly in his personal memoir Istanbul. He was educated at Robert College prep school in Istanbul and went on to study architecture at the Istanbul Technical University. He left the architecture school after three years, however, to become a full-time writer, and graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1976. From ages 22 to 30, Pamuk lived with his mother, writing his first novel and attempting to find a publisher.

On March 1, 1982, Pamuk married Aylin Turegen, a historian.[4] From 1985 to 1988, while his wife was a graduate student at Columbia University, Pamuk assumed the position of visiting scholar there, using the time to conduct research and write his novel The Black Book in the university's Butler Library. This period also included a visiting fellowship at the University of Iowa.

Pamuk returned to Istanbul. He and his wife had a daughter named Rüya born in 1991, whose name means "dream" in Turkish. In 2001, he and Aylin were divorced.

In 2006, after a period in which criminal charges had been pressed against him for his outspoken comments on the Armenian Genocide, Pamuk returned to the US to take up a position as a visiting professor at Columbia. Pamuk is currently a Fellow with Columbia's Committee on Global Thought and holds an appointment in Columbia's Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department and at its School of the Arts.

In May 2007 Pamuk was among the jury members at the Cannes Film Festival headed by British director Stephen Frears. In the 2007-8 academic year Pamuk returned to Columbia once again to jointly teach comparative literature classes with Andreas Huyssen and David Damrosch.

Pamuk is also currently a writer in residence at Bard College. He is at work on his next novel, The Museum of Innocence.

His older brother Şevket Pamuk - who sometimes appears as a fictional character in Orhan Pamuk's work - is a professor of history, internationally recognized for his work in history of economics of the Ottoman Empire, working at Bogazici University in Istanbul.



Orhan Pamuk starteDreamweaverd writing regularly in 1974.[5] His first novel, Karanlık ve Işık (Darkness and Light) was a co-winner of the 1979 Milliyet Press Novel Contest (Mehmet Eroğlu (* tr) was the other winner). This novel was published with the title Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları (Mr. Cevdet and His Sons) in 1982, and won the Orhan Kemal Novel Prize in 1983. It tells the story of three generations of a wealthy Istanbul family living in Nişantaşı, the district of Istanbul where Pamuk grew up.

Pamuk won a number of critical prizes for his early work, including the 1984 Madarali Novel Prize for his second novel Sessiz Ev (The Silent House) and the 1991 Prix de la Découverte Européenne for the French translation of this novel. His historical novel Beyaz Kale (The White Castle), published in Turkish in 1985, won the 1990 Independent Award for Foreign Fiction and extended his reputation abroad. The New York Times Book Review stated, "A new star has risen in the east--Orhan Pamuk." He started experimenting with postmodern techniques in his novels, a change from the strict naturalism of his early works.

Popular success took a bit longer to come to Pamuk, but his 1990 novel Kara Kitap (The Black Book) became one of the most controversial and popular readings in Turkish literature, due to its complexity and richness. In 1992, he wrote the screenplay for the movie Gizli Yüz (Secret Face), based on Kara Kitap and directed by a prominent Turkish director, Ömer Kavur. Pamuk's fourth novel Yeni Hayat (New Life), caused a sensation in Turkey upon its 1995 publication and became the fastest-selling book in Turkish history. By this time, Pamuk had also become a high-profile figure in Turkey, due to his support for Kurdish political rights. In 1995, Pamuk was among a group of authors tried for writing essays that criticized Turkey's treatment of the Kurds. In 1999, Pamuk published his story book Öteki Renkler (The Other Colors).

Pamuk's international reputation continued to increase when he published Benim Adım Kırmızı (My Name is Red) in 2000. The novel blends mystery, romance, and philosophical puzzles in a setting of 16th century Istanbul. It opens a window into the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III in nine snowy winter days of 1591, inviting the reader to experience the tension between East and West from a breathlessly urgent perspective. My Name Is Red has been translated into 24 languages and won international literature's most lucrative prize (excluding the Nobel, which he later received), the IMPAC Dublin Award in 2003.

Asked the question “What impact did winning the IMPAC award (currently $127,000) have on your life and your work?“, Pamuk replied “Nothing changed in my life since I work all the time. I've spent 30 years writing fiction. For the first 10 years, I worried about money and no one asked how much money I made. The second decade I spent money and no one was asking about that. And I've spent the last 10 years with everyone expecting to hear how I spend the money, which I will not do.”
Pamuk's most recent novel is Kar in 2002 (English translation, Snow, 2004), which explores the conflict between Islamism and Westernism in modern Turkey. The New York Times listed Snow as one of its Ten Best Books of 2004. He also published a memoir/travelogue İstanbul — Hatıralar ve Şehir in 2003 (English version, Istanbul — Memories and the City, 2005). Pamuk's 'Other Colours' - a collection of non-fiction and a story - was published in the UK in September 2007. His next novel is titled 'The Museum of Innocence'.

Asked how personal his book Istanbul: Memories and the City was, Pamuk replied “I thought I would write Memories and the City in six months, but it took me one year to complete. And I was working twelve hours a day, just reading and working. My life, because of so many things, was in a crisis; I don’t want to go into those details: divorce, father dying, professional problems, problems with this, problems with that, everything was bad. I thought if I were to be weak I would have a depression. But every day I would wake up and have a cold shower and sit down and remember and write, always paying attention to the beauty of the book. Honestly, I may have hurt my mother, my family. My father was dead, but my mother is still alive. But I can’t care about that; I must care about the beauty of the book.” [6]

In 2005 Orhan Pamuk received the 25,000 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for his literary work, in which "Europe and Islamic Turkey find a place for one another." The award presentation was hel at Paul's Church, Frankfurt.

Pamuk's books are characterized by a confusion or loss of identity brought on in part by the conflict between European and Islamic, or more generally Western and Eastern values. They are often disturbing or unsettling, but include complex, intriguing plots and characters of great depth. His works are also redolent with discussion of and fascination with the creative arts, such as literature and painting. Pamuk's work often touches on the deep-rooted tensions between East and West and tradition and modernism/secularism.

On October 12, 2006, the Swedish Academy announced that Orhan Pamuk had been awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature for Istanbul, confounding pundits and oddsmakers who had made Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said, known as Adunis, a favorite.[7] In its citation, the Academy said: "In the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, [Pamuk] has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."[3] Orhan Pamuk held his Nobel Lecture December 7, 2006, at the Swedish Academy, Stockholm. The lecture was entitled "Babamın Bavulu" (My Father's Suitcase)[8] and was given in Turkish. In the lecture he viewed the relations between Eastern and Western Civilizations in an allegorical upper text which covers his relationship with his father.

What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity's basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kind ... Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world – and I can identify with them easily – succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West – a world with which I can identify with the same ease – nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.

Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely)


In 2005, lawyers of two Turkish professional associations brought criminal charges against Pamuk after the author made a statement regarding the mass killings of Armenians and Kurds in Anatolia.[9] The charges were dropped on 22 January 2006. He has subsequently stated his intent was to draw attention to freedom of expression issues.

Pamuk's statements

The criminal charges against Pamuk resulted from remarks he made during an interview in February 2005 with the Swiss publication Das Magazin, a weekly supplement to a number of Swiss daily newspapers: the Tages-Anzeiger, the Basler Zeitung, the Berner Zeitung and the Solothurner Tagblatt. In the interview, Pamuk stated, "Thirty thousand Kurds, and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody dares to talk about it."

Pamuk has said that after the Swiss interview was published, he was subjected to a hate campaign that forced him to flee the country.[10] He returned later in 2005, however, to face the charges against him. In an interview with CNN TURK, he said that in his speech he used passive voice, and he did not give numbers like 30000 or 1000000. In an interview with BBC News, he said that he wanted to defend freedom of speech, which was Turkey's only hope for coming to terms with its history: "What happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 was a major thing that was hidden from the Turkish nation; it was a taboo. But we have to be able to talk about the past."[11]


In June 2005, Turkey introduced a new penal code including Article 301, which states: "A person who, being a Turk, explicitly insults the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months to three years." Pamuk was retroactively charged with violating this law in the interview he had given four months earlier. In October, after the prosecution had begun, Pamuk reiterated his views in a speech given during an award ceremony in Germany: "I repeat, I said loud and clear that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey."[12]

Because Pamuk was charged under an ex post facto law, Turkish law required that his prosecution be approved by the Ministry of Justice. A few minutes after Pamuk's trial started on 16 December, the judge found that this approval had not yet been received and suspended the proceedings. In an interview published in the Akşam newspaper the same day, Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek said he had not yet received Pamuk's file but would study it thoroughly once it came.[13]

On December 29, 2005, Turkish state prosecutors dropped the charge that Pamuk insulted Turkey's armed forces, although the charge of "insulting Turkishness" remained.[14]

International reaction

The charges against Pamuk caused an international outcry and led to questions in some circles about Turkey's proposed entry into the European Union. On 30 November, the European Parliament announced that it would send a delegation of five MEPs, led by Camiel Eurlings, to observe the trial.[15] EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn subsequently stated that the Pamuk case would be a "litmus test" of Turkey's commitment to the EU's membership criteria.

On 1 December, Amnesty International released a statement calling for Article 301 to be repealed and for Pamuk and six other people awaiting trial under the act to be freed.[16] PEN American Center also denounced the charges against Pamuk, stating: "PEN finds it extraordinary that a state that has ratified both the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which see freedom of expression as central, should have a Penal Code that includes a clause that is so clearly contrary to these very same principles."[17]

On 13 December, eight world-renowned authors — José Saramago, Gabriel García Márquez, Günter Grass, Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, John Updike and Mario Vargas Llosa — issued a joint statement supporting Pamuk and decrying the charges against him as a violation of human rights.[18]

Western reviewers

In a review of Snow in The Atlantic, Christopher Hitchens complained that "from reading Snow one might easily conclude that all the Armenians of Anatolia had decided for some reason to pick up and depart en masse, leaving their ancestral properties for tourists to gawk at."[19]

However, John Updike, reviewing the same book in The New Yorker, wrote: "To produce a major work so frankly troubled and provocatively bemused and, against the grain of the author’s usual antiquarian bent, entirely contemporary in its setting and subjects, took the courage that art sometimes visits upon even its most detached practitioners."[20]

Charges dropped

On January 22, 2006, the Justice Ministry refused to issue an approval of the prosecution, saying that they had no authority to open a case against Pamuk under the new penal code.[21] With the trial in the local court, it was ruled the next day that the case could not continue without Justice Ministry approval.[22] Pamuk's lawyer, Haluk İnanıcı, subsequently confirmed that charges had been dropped.

The announcement occurred in a week when the EU was scheduled to begin a review of the Turkish justice system.[23]


EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the dropping of charges, saying 'This is obviously good news for Mr. Pamuk, but it's also good news for freedom of expression in Turkey.' However, some EU representatives expressed disappointment that the justice ministry had rejected the prosecution on a technicality rather than on principle. Reuters quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying, "It is good the case has apparently been dropped, but the justice ministry never took a clear position or gave any sign of trying to defend Pamuk."[24]

Meanwhile, the lawyer who had led the effort to try Pamuk, Kemal Kerinçsiz, said he would appeal the decision, saying, "Orhan Pamuk must be punished for insulting Turkey and Turkishness, it is a grave crime and it should not be left unpunished."[25]

On April 25, 2006, (in print in the May 8, 2006 issue) the magazine Time listed Orhan Pamuk in the cover article "TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World", in the category "Heroes & Pioneers", for speaking up.[26]

In April 2006, on the BBC's Hardtalk program, Pamuk stated that his remarks regarding the Armenian massacres were meant to draw attention to freedom of expression issues in Turkey rather than to the massacres themselves.[27]

In Turkey, the award of the Nobel Prize has given a new slant to discussion of his allegedly "anti-Turkish" comments, and some people[weasel words] in Turkey believe that he was given the Nobel Prize for being anti-Turkish and not for his writing.[citation needed]

On December 19-20, 2006 a symposium on Orhan Pamuk and His Work was held at Sabanci University, Istanbul. Pamuk himself gave the closing address.

In January 2007 Pamuk was assigned guards along with other Turks who had been put on trial in relation to Article 301. This was in response to the murder of editor Hrant Dink who had been tried under the same law and to the threats by Yasin Hayal. Since, he may have left Turkey for the US.

Bibliography in English


Orhan signed my copy of Snow at Bard College, north of Poughkeepsie, where he gave a workshop in the fall of 2006. Since I don't drive a car, I had to hitchhike from Poughkeepsie to Bard, over thirty miles, and was picked up by a man with Alzheimer's who has lost his way. We both enjoyed a long evening with Orhan. Orhan's discipline impressed me most: when he was writing My Name is Red, he spent 14 hours a day in the museum libraries researching the Ottoman painters and the early Ottoman empire. As a former painter, he has an extraordinary sense of visual detail. I love his multi-narrator, pass-the-ball style, which I used in Part II of my trilogy Un-Clashing Civilizations, although I wrote my trilogy before I read his book. This technique is as ancient as Bedouin storytelling.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), English author, feminist, essayist, publisher, and critic wrote A Room of One’s Own (1929);

All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point—a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.-Ch. 1

Now regarded as a classic feminist work, Woolf based her extended essay A Room of One's Own on lectures she had given at women’s colleges at Cambridge University. Using such female authors as Jane Austen and Emily and Charlotte Bronte, she examines women and their struggles as artists, their position in literary history and need for independence. She also invents a female counterpart of William Shakespeare, a sister named Judith to at times sarcastically get her point across. Woolf proved to be an innovative and influential 20th Century author. In some of her novels she moves away from the use of plot and structure to employ stream-of-consciousness to emphasise the psychological aspects of her characters. Themes in her works include gender relations, class hierarchy and the consequences of war. Woolf was among the founders of the Modernist movement which also includes T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.

The effects of bi-polar disorder at times caused Woolf protracted periods of convalescence, withdrawing from her busy social life, distressed that she could not focus long enough to read or write. She spent times in nursing homes for ‘rest cures’; frankly referred to herself as ‘mad’; said she heard voices and had visions. “My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery—always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?” (from a letter dated 28 Dec. 1932). The subject of suicide enters her stories and essays at times and she disagreed with the perception that it is an act of cowardice and sin. When Virginia was not depressed she worked intensely for long hours at a time. She was vivacious, witty and ebullient company and a member of the Bloomsbury Group or ‘Bloomsbury’ which had been started by her brother Thoby and his friends from Cambridge. It quickly grew to encompass many of London’s literary circle, who gathered to discuss art, literature, and politics. During her life and since her death she has been the subject of much debate and discussion surrounding the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her half-brother, her mental health issues and sexual orientation. Also, her pacifist political views in line with Bloomsbury caused controversy. From Three Guineas (1931);

Therefore if you insist upon fighting to protect me, or “our” country, let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share; but not to gratify my instincts, or to protect either myself or my country. “For,” the outsider will say, “in fact, as a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”-Ch. 3

Adeline Virginia Stephen was born in London, England on 25 January 1882, daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), literary critic and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. His first wife, daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, Harriet Marion (b.1840) died in 1875. Virginia’s mother was his second wife, Julia Prinsep Jackson Duckworth (1846-1895) who inspired the character Mrs. Ramsay in To The Lighthouse (1927).

In 1906 Virginia, Vanessa and their brothers traveled to Europe, where Thoby contracted typhoid fever and died from in 1906. Back in England the Bloomsbury Group was flourishing, their home a meeting place for writers, scholars and artists including Clive Bell, artist and art critic, who Vanessa married 1907. They would not stay together for long. After his third proposal, Virginia finally married left-wing political journalist, author and editor Leonard Woolf (1880-1969) on 10 August 1912. They would have no children. In 1914 when World War I broke out they were living in Richmond and Woolf was working on her first novel The Voyage Out (1915) a satirical coming-of-age story;

As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist, lawyers’ clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand.-Ch. 1

Leonard and Virginia would themselves get into the publishing business, together founding the Hogarth Press in 1917. Works by T. S. Eliot and Katherine Mansfield would be among their many publications including Virginia’s. Night and Day (1919) was followed by her short story collection Monday or Tuesday (1921) and essays in The Common Reader (1925). Jacob’s Room (1922) was followed by Mrs. Dalloway (1925) which inspired a film “The Hours” in 2002. To The Lighthouse (1927) was followed by Orlando: A Biography (1928);

Different though the sexes are, they inter-mix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is very opposite of what it is above…..Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.-Ch. 4

One of her more popular novels, it was adapted to the screen in 1993. A roman à clef, Orlando’s character is modeled after Vita Sackville West (1892-1962), friend and possible lover of Woolf; Princess Sasha based on her friend Violet Trefusis. Vita’s husband Harold Nicolson also plays a part as Marmaduke. Their son Nigel referred to it as “the longest and most charming love letter in literature.” “I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again—as I always am when I write.” (The Diary of Virginia Woolf, 31 May 1929.) The Waves (1931) is said to be Woolf’s most experimental work. Flush: A Biography (1933) is told through the eyes of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel. The Second Common Reader (1933) her next collection of critical essays, was followed by The Years (1937) and Roger Fry: A Biography (1940).

With the outbreak of WWII the Woolfs were living at their country retreat, ‘Monk’s House’ near the village of Rodmell in Lewes, Sussex, which is now preserved by the National Trust. In 1940 they received word that their London home had been destroyed. Fear of a German invasion loomed and Leonard’s Jewish heritage provoked the couple to make a suicide pact if the possibility of falling into German hands arose. Leonard as usual was ever vigilant to the onset of the next major depressive episode in his wife; she would get migraine headaches and lay sleepless at night. However, he and her doctor, who had seen her the day before, would never intuit that her next one was to be her last. Her letters to friends had been written in shaky handwriting and though she was actively working on her manuscript for what was to be the last publication before her death, Between the Acts (1941) she did express much disdain for its worth and wanted to ‘scrap’ it.

The scullery maid....was cooling her cheeks by the lily pond. There had always been lilies there, self-sown from wind-dropped seed, floating red and white on the green plates of their leaves. Water, for hundreds of years, had silted down into the hollow, and lay there four or five feet deep over a black cushion of swam—gold, splashed with white....poised in the blue patch made by the sky....It was in that deep centre, in that black heart, that the lady had drowned herself.

Virginia Woolf died on 28 March 1941 when she drowned herself in the River Ouse near their home in Sussex, by putting rocks in her coat pockets. Her body was found later in April and she was then cremated, her ashes spread under two elms at Monks’ House. She had left two similar suicide notes, one possibly written a few days earlier before an unsuccessful attempt. The one addressed to Leonard read in part;

Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again....And I shan’t recover this time.....I am doing what seems the best thing to do....I can’t fight any longer....Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer....I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.

After her death, Leonard set to the task of editing her vast collection of correspondence, journals, and unpublished works and also wrote an autobiography. He died in 1960. Posthumous publications include; The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942), A Haunted House and Other Short Stories (1944), and The Moment and Other Essays (1948). Virginia’s nephew, the late Professor Quentin Bell (1910-1996) wrote the award winning Virginia Woolf: A biography (2 vols, London: Hogarth Press, 1972).

Every season is likeable, and wet days and fine, red wine and white, company and solitude. Even sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life, can be full of dreams; and the most common actions—a walk, a talk, solitude in one’s own orchard—can be enhanced and lit up by the association of the mind. Beauty is everywhere, and beauty is only two finger’s-breadth from goodness. So, in the name of health and sanity, let us not dwell on the end of the journey. The Common Reader “Montaigne”-Ch. 6

The Waves, first published in 1931, is Virginia Woolf's most experimental novel. It consists of soliloquies spoken by the book's six characters: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis. Also important is Percival, the seventh character, though readers never hear him speak through his own voice. The monologues that span the characters' lives are broken up by nine brief third-person interludes detailing a coastal scene at varying stages in a day from sunrise to sunset.

As the six characters or "voices" alternately speak, Woolf explores concepts of individuality, self, and community. Each character is distinct, yet together they compose a gestalt about a silent central consciousness. Bernard is a story-teller, always seeking some elusive and apt phrase; Louis is an outsider, who seeks acceptance and success (some critics see aspects of T. S. Eliot, whom Woolf knew well, in Louis); Neville (who may be partially based on another of Woolf's friends, Lytton Strachey) desires love, seeking out a series of men, each of whom become the present object of his transcendent love; Jinny is a socialite, whose Weltanschauung corresponds to her physical, corporeal beauty; Susan flees the city, in preference for the countryside, where she grapples with the thrills and doubts of motherhood; and Rhoda is riddled with self-doubt and anxiety, always rejecting and indicting human compromise, always seeking out solitude (as such, Rhoda echoes Shelley's poem "The Question"; paraphrased: I shall gather my flowers and present them--O! to whom?). Percival is the god-like but morally flawed hero of the other six, who dies midway through the novel on an imperialist quest in British-dominated colonial India. Although Percival never speaks through a monologue of his own in The Waves, readers learn about him in detail as the other six characters repeatedly describe and reflect on him throughout the book.

Similar in vein to another modernist work, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the novel follows its six narrators from childhood through adulthood, a Bildungsroman. The Waves obliterates traditional distinctions between prose and poetry, allowing the novel to flow between six not dissimilar interior monologues. The book similarly breaks down traditional boundaries between people, and Woolf herself wrote in her Diary that the six were not meant to be separate "characters" at all, but rather facets of consciousness illuminating a sense of continuity. Even the name "novel" may not accurately describe the complex form of The Waves. Woolf herself called it not a novel but a "playpoem."

I. The sun rises.

Childhood. Bernard, Rhoda, Neville, Susan, Louis and Jinny awake and reveal, in a stream of conscience perceptive mode, what they see and hear. Susan sees Jinny kiss Louis from behind the bush, begins to cry and is comforted by Bernard.

II. Midmorning.

Early adolescence. Bernard leaves for school, as do Louis and Neville. Susan, Rhoda and Jinny do the same. Louis and Neville reveal character traits; in the chapel, Louis is willingly submissive to the minister’s authority, while Neville is cynical and suspicious of authority. Percival appears for the first time (35). To Louis, Percival inspires poetry (40). Louis wishes for night to come, while Jinny reveals her aversion to darkness, sleep and night (52; 54).

III. Late morning.

Adulthood. Bernard and Neville are at Cambridge. Louis is a London office clerk. Susan has returned to her beloved countryside. Jinny lives in her plastic world and never sees darkness. Rhoda is fearful of life.

IV. The sun approaches midday position.

The group reunites at Hampton Court to send Pecival of to India. Each appears alone. Neville arrives first and awaits Percival’s arrival with "morbid pleasure" (118). Louis enters. Susan enters with "stealthy, yet assured movements . . . of a wild beast" (119). Rhoda appears hesitant and timid. Jinny enters. To Susan, Jinny seems to "center everything" while bringing in new tides of sensation" (120-21). Susan compares her course hands to Jinny’s manicured ones and hides them under the tablecloth. Bernard, who is now engaged, enters. Percival finally enters. Bernard refers to Percival as a hero. Percival sits down next to Susan, whom he loves. The atmosphere, previously tense and discordant, is now harmonized by Percival’s presence; he is the silent force around which the group gravitates and rotates. At last they can issue from the "darkness of solitude" (123). At end of the episode Percival departs: "He is gone" (147).

V. Noon: The sun lies straight above casting no shadows.

Percival is dead. Neville expresses his grief through physical suffering: "Come pain feed on me. Bury your fangs in my flesh. Tear me asunder" (152). The now married Bernard is torn between the joy of his son’s birth and the death of Percival: " . . . but which is sorrow, which is joy?" (153). Percival’s death has liberated Rhoda, who soon becomes Louis’ lover.

VI. The sun’s rays are slanted.

Life is monotonous and begins to have no meaning. Louis begins the section: "I have signed my name twenty times . . . I, and again I, and again I" (171). Susan finds her days mechanical: "Summer comes and winter, the seasons pass" (171). Neville observes the clock ticking on the mantelpiece (177).

VII. Late afternoon.

Bernard reveals he must submit to solitude in order to realize his creative art and that this submission is an "altogether unidentified and terrifying act" (189). Susan is not altogether sated with her farm life. Jinny has aged and realizes that she is "no longer part of the procession" (193). She does, however, continue to live on ever powdered and groomed. Neville decides that life can be lived with the pleasures of poetry instead of needing a firelit room and intimacy. However, he still yearns for the company of a male companion. Louis keeps a cockney mistress since Rhoda left him. Though successful, he feels empty. Louis wonders if death will provide the stability he longs for, but fears: "perhaps I shall never die, shall never attain even that continuity and permanence . . ."(203). Rhoda is in Spain and increasingly parts with the real world since Percival’s death: "There is only a thin sheet between me now and the infinite depths" (205). Rhoda approaches her death.

VIII. Evening.

Group reunites for the second and final time. Neville, a famed poet, realizes fame is not a panacea. Susan is unfulfilled. Bernard thinks solitude is his undoing (217). Louis is still unsure; he is ambivalent. Like his childhood days, Louis prefers to cloister himself in his attic in order to protect himself from ridicule. He is "marmoreal" on the outside, but intrinsically weak (219). Jinny is the courageous one. Though she suffers the same as the others, she finds affirmation in the smallest encounters: "Sometimes only by the touch of a finger under the tablecloth as we sit dining" (221). Rhoda comments on the wave-like motion of life, how it breaks down only to build back up again (232). Bernard concludes by affirming the continuity of life, the "happy concatenation of one event following another" (334).

IX. Night.

Bernard is last to speak. Spends the remainder the text summing up his life and those of the others. Bernard takes on Death and the waves crash on the shore.

Originally, Woolf intended to call the novel The Moths:

1. 139 Saturday 18 June, 1927 Slowly ideas begin trickling in; & then suddenly I rhapsodised (the night L. dined with the apostles) & told over the story of the Moths, which I think I will write very quickly, perhaps in between chapters of that long impending book on fiction. Now the moths will I think fill out the skeleton which I dashed in here: the play-poem idea: the idea of some continuous stream, not solely of human thought, but of the ship, the night&c, all flowingtogether:intersected by the arrival of the bright moths. A man & a woman are to be sitting at a table talking. Or shall they remain silent? It is to be a love story: she is to finally let the last great moth in. The contrasts might be something of this sort: she might talk, or think, about the age of the earth: the death of humanity: then moths keep on coming. Perhaps the man could be left absolutely dim. France: near the sea; at night; a garden under the window. But it needs ripening. I do a little work on it in the evening when the gramophone is playing late sonatas. (The windows fidget at their fastenings as if we were at sea.)

2. 203 Wednesday 7 November, 1928 Yes, but the Moths? That was to be an abstract playpoem. That was to be an abstract mystical eyeless book….

3. 229 Tuesday 28 May, 1929 I am not trying to tell a story. Yet perhaps it might be done in that way. A mind thinking. They might be islands of light–islands in the stream that I am trying to convey: life itself going on. The current of the moths flying strongly this way. A lamp & a flower pot in the centre. The flower can always be changing. But there must be more unity between each scene than I can find at present. Autobiography it might be called. How am I to make one lap, or act, between the coming of the moths, more intense than another; if there are only scenes? One must get the sense that this is the beginning; this the middle; that the climax–when she opens the window & the moth comes in. I shall have the two different currents–the moths flying along; the flower upright in the centre; a perpetual crumbling & renewing of the plant. In its leaves she might see things happen.

4. 254 Monday 16 September, 1929 Six weeks in bed now would make a masterpiece of Moths. But that wont be the name. Moths, I suddenly remember, dont fly by day. And there cant be a lighted candle. Altogether, the shape of the book wants considering--& with time I could do it.

Now Woolf refers to the novel as The Waves:

5. 285 Sunday 26 January, 1930 The Waves wont sell more than 2000 copies. I am stuck fast in that book–I mean, glued to it, like a fly on gummed paper. Sometimes I am out of touch; but go on; then again feel that I have at last, by violent measures–like breaking through gorse–set my hands on something central. Perhaps I can now say something quite straight out; & at length; & need not be casting a line to make my book the right shape. But how to pull it all together, how to compost it – press it into one – I do not know; nor can I guess the end–it might be a gigantic conversation. The interludes are very difficult, yet I think essential; so as to bridge & also give a background–the sea; insensitive nature--I dont know. But I think, when I feel this sudden directness, that it must be right: anyhow no other form of fiction suggests itself except as a repetition at the moment.

6. 300 Wednesday 9 April, 1930 What I now think (about the Waves) is that I can give it in a very few strokes the essentials of a person’s character. It should be done boldly, almost as caricature…. The abandonment of Orlando & Lighthouse is much checked by the extreme difficulty of form—as it was in Jacob’s Room. I think this is the furtherest development so far; but of course it may miss fire somewhere…. It is bound to be imperfect. But I think it possible that I have got my statues against the sky.

7. 312 Wednesday 20 August, 1930 The Waves is I think resolving itself (I am at page 100) into a series of dramatic soliloquies. The thing is to keep them running homogeneously in & out, in the rhythm of the waves. Can they be read consecutively? I know nothing about that. I think this is the greatest opportunity I have yet been able to give myself; therefore I suppose the most complete failure. Yet I respect myself for writing this book. Yes—even though it exhibits my congenital faults.

8. 339 Saturday 20 December, 1930 It occurred to me last night while listening to a Beethoven quartet that I would merge all the interjected passages into Bernard’s final speech, & end with the words O solitude: thus making him absorb all those scenes, & having no further break. This is also to show that the theme effort, effort, dominates: not the waves: & personality: & defiance: but I am not sure of the effect artistically; because the proportions may need the intervention of the waves finally so as to make a conclusion.

9. 343 Tuesday 30 December, 1930 What it wants is presumably unity; but it is I think rather good (I am talking to myself over the fire about The Waves). Suppose I could run all the scenes together more?--by rhythm, chiefly. So as to avoid those cuts; so as to make the blood run like a torrent from end to end—I dont want the waste that the breaks give; I want to avoid chapters; that indeed is my achievement, if any here: a saturated, unchopped, completeness; changes of scene, of mood, of person, done without spilling a drop. Mow if it cd. Be worked over with heat and currency thats all it wants. And I am getting my blood up. (temp. 99)

From Vol. 4 of The Diary of Virginia Woolf

10. 34 Tuesday 7 July, 1931 O to seek relief from this incessant correction ( Im doing the interludes) & write a few words carelessly. Still better, to write nothing; to tramp over the downs, blown like thistle. As irresponsible. And to get away from this hard knot in which my brain has been so tight spun—I mean The Waves.

11. 35 Tuesday 14 July, 1931 I had meant to say that I have just finished correcting the Hampton Court scene (This is the final correction, please God.)

12. 35-6 Friday 17 July, 1931 Yes. This morning I think I may say I have finished. That is to say I have once more, for the 18th time, copied out the opening sentences. L. will read it tomorrow; & I shall open this book to record his verdict. My own opinion,--oh dear--, its a difficult book. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so strained. And I’m nervous, … And it may be a failure. And I can’t do anymore. And I m inclined to think it good but incoherent, inspissate; one jerk succeeding another. Anyhow it is laboured, compact. Anyhow I had a shot at my vision & if its not a catch, its a cast in the right direction. But I’m nervous.

13. 36 Sunday 19 July, 1931 "It is a masterpiece" said L. coming out to my lodge this morning. "And the best of your books". This note I make; adding that he also thinks the first 100 pages extremely difficult, & is doubtful how far any common reader will follow. But Lord! What a relief! I stumped off in the new rain to make a little round to Rat Farm in jubilation, & am almost resigned to the fact that a Goat farm, with a house to be built, is now in process on the slope near Northease.

The End First by Bernard

1. 241 "And being in love for the first time, I made a phrase, for a hole had been knocked in my mind, one of those sudden transparences through which one sees everything."


2. 241 "The wax --- the virginal wax that coats the spine melted in different patches for each of us. . . . Louis was disgusted by the nature of human flesh; Rhoda by our cruelty; Susan could not share; Neville wanted order; Jinny love; and so on. We suffered terribly as we became separate bodies."


3. 245 "Nothing, nothing, nothing broke with its fin that leaden waste of waters. Nothing would happen to lift that weight of intolerable boredom. . . . We grew; we changed; for, of course, we are animals. . . . We exist not only separately but in undifferentiated blobs of matter."


4. 251 "Let us again pretend that life is a solid substance, shaped like a globe, which we turn about in our fingers. Let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story, so that when one matter is despatched --- love for instance --- we go on, in an orderly manner, to the next."


5. 252 "Rhoda come wandering vaguely. . . . The willow as she saw it grew on the verge of a grey desert where no bird sang. The leaves shriveled as she looked at them, tossed in agony as she passed them."


6. 252 "Then Jinny came. . . . She was like a crinkled poppy, febrile, thirsty with the desire to drink dry dust. . . . So little flames zigzag over the cracks in the dry earth. She made the willows dance, but not with illusion; for she saw nothing that was not there."


7. 253 "Louis, when he let himself down on the grass, cautiously spreading (I do not exaggerate) a mackintosh square, made one acknowledge his presence. It was formidable. . . . His grim and caustic tongue reproved my indolence. He fascinated me with his sordid imagination."


8. 256 "The crystal, the globe of life as one calls it, far from being hard and cold to the touch, has walls of thinnest air. If I press them all will burst."


9. 257 "Nevertheless, life is pleasant, life is tolerable. Tuesday follows Monday; then comes Wednesday. The mind grows rings; the identity becomes robust; pain is absorbed in growth. Opening and shutting, shutting and opening, with an increasing hum and sturdiness, the haste and fever of youth are drawn into service until the whole being seems to expand in and out like the mainspring of a clock. How fast the stream flows from January to December! We are swept on by the torrent of things grown so familiar that they cast no shadow. We float, we float. . . ."


10. 260 "There are many rooms --- many Bernards. There was the charming, but weak; the strong, but supercilious; the brilliant, but remorseless; the very good fellow, but, I make no doubt, the awful bore; the sympathetic, but cold; the shabby, but --- go into the next room --- the foppish, worldly, and too well dressed. What I was to myself was different; was none of these."


11. 261 "Life is pleasant. Life is good. The mere process of life is satisfactory. . . . Something always has to be done next. Tuesday follows Monday; Wednesday Tuesday. Each spreads the same ripple of well-being, repeats the same curve of rhythm; covers fresh sand with a chill or ebbs a little slackly without. So the being grows rings; identity becomes robust."


12. 265 ". . . we compared Percival to a lily --- Percival whom I wanted to lose his hair, to shock the authorities, to grow old with me; he was already covered over with the lilies."


13. 266 "Was there no sword, nothing with which to batter down these walls, this protection, this begetting of children and living behind curtains, and becoming daily more involved and committed, with books and pictures? Better burn one’s life out like Louis, desiring perfection; or like Rhoda leave us, flying past us, to the desert; or choose one out of millions and one only like Neville; better be like Susan and love and hate the heat of the sun or the frost-bitten grass; or be like Jinny, honest, an animal. All had their rapture; their common feeling with death; something that stood them in stead."


14. 269 "I jumped up, I said, ‘Fight.’ ‘Fight.,’ I repeated. It is the effort and the struggle, it is the perpetual warfare, it is the shattering and piecing together --- this is the daily battle, defeat or victory, the absorbing pursuit."


15. 275 "Our friends --- how distant, how mute, how seldom visited and little known. And I, too, am dim to my friends and unknown; a phantom, sometimes seen, often not. Life is a dream surely. Our flame, the will-o’-the-wisp that dances in a few eyes is soon to be blown out and all will fade."


16. 276 ". . . what I call ‘my life,’ it is not one life that I look back upon; I am not one person; I am many people; I do not altogether know who I am --- Jinny, Susan, Neville, Rhoda, or Louis: or how to distinguish my life from theirs."


17. 284 "This self . . . made no answer. He threw up no opposition. He attempted no phrase. His fist did not form. I waited. I listened. Nothing came, nothing. I cried then with a sudden conviction of complete desertion, Now there is nothing. No fin breaks the waste of this immeasurable sea. Life has destroyed me. No echo comes when I speak, no varied words. This is more truly death than the death of friends, than the death of youth."


18. 288 "And now I ask, ‘Who am I?’ I have been talking of Bernard, Neville, Jinny, Susan, Rhoda and Louis. Am I all of them? Am I one and distinct? I do not know. We sat here together. But now Percival is dead, and Rhoda is dead; we are divided; we are not here. Yet I cannot find any obstacle separating us. There is no division between me and them. As I talked I felt, ‘I am you.’ This difference we make so much of, this identity we so feverishly cherish, was overcome."


19. 295 "I have done with phrases. How much better is silence . . . . Let me sit here for ever with bare things . . . myself being myself. . . . . let me sit on and on, silent, alone."


20. 297 "Yes, this is the eternal renewal, the incessant rise and fall and fall and rise again. And in me too the wave rises. It swells; it arches its back. . . . What enemy do we now perceive advancing against us? . . . . Death is the enemy. It is death against whom I ride with my spear couched and my hair flying back like a young man’s, like Percival’s, when he galloped into India. . . . Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!"

Susan: 1. 10 "Birds are singing up and down and in an out of all around us," said Susan.


2. 13 "Through the chink in the hedge," said Susan, "I saw her kiss him. I raised my head from my flower- pot and looked through a chink in the hedge. I saw her kiss him. I saw them, Jinny and Louis, kissing. Now I will wrap my agony inside my pocket-handkerchief. It shall be screwed tight into a ball. I will go to the beech wood alone, before lessons. I will not sit at a table, doing sums. I will not sit next Jinny and next Louis. I will take my anguish and lay it upon the roots under the beech trees. I will examine it and take it between my fingers. They will not find me. I shall eat nuts and peer for eggs through the brambles and my hair will be matted and I shall sleep under hedges and drink water from ditches and die there."


3. 15 "I love," said Susan, ‘and I hate. I desire one thing only. My eyes are hard. Jinny’s eyes break into a thousand sand lights. Rhoda’s are like those pale flowers to which moths come in evening. Yours grow full and brim and never break. But I am already set on my pursuit. I see insects in the grass. Though my mother still knits white socks for me and hems pinafores and I am a child, I love and I hate."


4. 61 "I will not send my children to school nor spend a night all my life in London. Here in this vast station everything echoes and booms hollowly. The light is like the yellow light under an awning. Jinny lives here."


5. 98 "But who am I, who lean on this gate and watch my setter nose in a circle? I think sometimes (I am not twenty yet) I am not a woman, but the light that falls on this gate, on this ground. I am the seasons, I think sometimes, January, May, November; the mud, the mist, the dawn. I cannot be tossed about, or float gently, or mix with other people . . . I shall have children; I shall have maids in aprons; men with pitchforks; a kitchen where they bring the ailing lamb to warm in baskets, where the hams hang and the onions glisten. I shall be like my mother, silent in a blue apron locking up the cupboards."


6. 131 "When I came into the room tonight," said Susan, "I stopped, I peered about like an animal with its eyes near to the ground. The smell of carpets and furniture and scent disgusts me. I like to walk through wet fields alone, or to stop at a gate and watch my setter nose in a circle, and to ask, Where is the hare? . . . The only sayings I understand are cries of love, hate, rage and pain. . . I shall never have anything but natural happiness. It will almost content me. I shall go to bed tired. I shall lie like a field bearing crops in rotation; in the summer heat will dance over me; in the winter I shall be cracked with the cold. . . My children will carry me on; their crying, their going to school and coming back will be like the waves of the sea under me. . . I love with such ferocity that it kills me when the object of my love shows by a phrase that he can escape. He escapes, and I am left clutching at a string that slips in and out among the leaves on the tree-tops. I do not understand phrases."


7. 171 "Summer comes, and winter," said Susan. "The seasons pass. The pear fills itself and drops from the tree. The dead leaf rests on its edge. But steam has obscured the window. I sit by the fire watching the kettle boil. I see the pear tree through the streaked steam on the window-pane. . . I have lost my indifference, my blank eyes, my pear-shaped eyes that saw to the root. I am no longer January, May or any other season, but am all spun to s fine thread round the cradle, wrapping in a cocoon made of my own blood the delicate limbs of my baby."


8. 190 "I am fenced in, planted here like one of my own trees."


9. 215 "But I have seen life in blocks, substantial, huge; its battlements and towers, factories and gasometers; a dwelling place made from time immemorial after an hereditary pattern. These things remain square, prominent, undissolved in my mind. I am not sinuous or suave; I sit among you abrading your softness with my hardness, quenching the silver-grey flickering moth-wing quiver of words with the green spurt of my clear eyes."


10. 228 "I grasp, I hold fast," said Susan. ‘I hold firmly to this hand, any one’s, with love, with hatred; it does not matter which."

Rhoda: 1. 10 "The birds sang in chorus first," said Rhoda. "Now the scullery door is unbarred. Off they fly. Off they fly like a fling of seed. But one sings by the bedroom window alone."


2. 18-19 "All my ships are white," said Rhoda. "I do not want red petals of hollyhocks or geranium. I want white petals that float when I tip the basin up. I have a fleet now swimming from shore to shore. . . . And I will rock the brown basin from side to side so that my ships may ride the waves. Some will founder. Some will dash themselves against the cliffs. One sails alone. That is my ship. . . . They have scattered, they have foundered, all except my ship which mounts the wave and sweeps before the gale and reaches the islands where the parrots chatter and the creepers . . ."


3. 21-22 ". . . Now the terror is beginning. . . . What is the answer? . . . I see only figures. The others are handing in their answers, one by one. Now it is my turn. But I have no answer. . . . I am left alone to find an answer. The figures mean nothing to me. Meaning has gone. . . . Look, the loop of the figure is beginning to fill with time; it holds the world in it. I begin to draw a figure and the world is looped in it, and I myself am outside the loop; which I now join – so – and seal up, and make entire. The world is entire, and I am outside of it, crying, ‘Oh, save me, from being blown for ever outside the loop of time!’"


4. 27 "so I put off my hopeless desire to be Susan, to be Jinny. But I will stretch my toes so that they touch the rail at the end of the bed; I will assure myself, touching the rail, of something hard. Now I cannot sink; cannot altogether fall through the thin sheet now. . . ."


5. 33 ". . . But here I am nobody. I have no face. This great company, all dressed in brown serge, has robbed me of my identity. We are callous, unfriended. I will seek out a face, a monumental face, and will endow it, with omniscience, and wear it under my dress like a talisman and then (I promise this) I will find some dingle in a wood where I can display my assortment of curious treasures. I promise myself this. So I will not cry."


6. 43 "That is my face," said Rhoda, "in the looking-glass behind Susan’s shoulder—that face is my face. But I will duck behind her to hide it, for I am not here. I have no face. Other people have faces; . . ."


7. 105 ". . . I am thrust back to stand burning in this clumsy, this ill-fitting body, to receive the shafts of his indifference, and his scorn, I who long for marble columns and pools on the other side of the world where the swallow dips her wings."


8. 105-106 ". . . An immense pressure is on me. I cannot move without dislodging the weight of the centuries. A million arrows pierce me. Scorn and ridicule pierce me. I, who could beat my breast against the storm and let the hail choke me joyfully, am pinned down here; am exposed. . . ."


9. 106 "Alone I rock my basins; I am mistress of my fleet of ships. But here, . . . I am broken into separate pieces; I am no longer one. What then is the knowledge that Jinny has as she dances; the assurance that Susan has as, stooping quietly beneath the lamplight, she draws the white cotton through the eye of her needle? They say Yes; the say, No; they bring their fists down with a bang on the table. But I doubt; I tremble; I see the wild thorn tree shake its shadow in the desert."


10. 107 ". . . The wave breaks. I am the foam that sweeps and fills the uttermost rims of the rocks with whiteness; I am also a girl, here in this room."


11. 117 ". . . Rhoda the nymph of the fountain always wet. . . ."


12. 122 ". . . We cannot sink down, we cannot forget our faces. Even I who have no face, who make no difference when I come in (Susan and Jinny change bodies and faces), flutter unattached, without anchorage anywhere, unconsolidated, incapable of composing any blankness or continuity or wall against which their bodies move. . . ."


13. 130 ". . . I am afraid of you all. I am afraid of the shock of sensation that leaps upon me, because I cannot deal with it as you do—I cannot make one moment merge in the next. To me they are all violent, all separate; if I fall under the shock of the moment you will be on me, tearing me to pieces. . . ."


14. 141 ". . . We who are conspirators, withdrawn together to lean over some cold urn, note how the purple flame flows downwards."


15. 158-159 "There is a puddle," said Rhoda, "and I cannot cross it. I hear the rush of the great grindstone within an inch of my head. Its wind roars in my face. All palpable forms of life have failed me Unless I can stretch and touch something hard, I shall be blown down the eternal corridors forever. What then can I touch? What brick, what stone? and so draw myself across the enormous gulf into my body safely."


16. 159 ". . . On the bare ground I will pick violets and bind them together and offer them to Percival, something given him by me. Look now at what Percival has given me. Look at the street now that Percival is dead. . . . The human face is hideous. This is to my liking. I want publicity and violence and to be dashed like a stone on the rocks. . . ."


17. 164 ". . . Into the wave that dashes upon the shore, into the wave that flings its white foam to the uttermost corners of the earth I throw my violets, my offering to Percival."


18. 203 "Life, how I have dreaded you," said Rhoda, "oh, human beings, how I have hated you! How you have nudged, how you have interrupted, how hideous you have looked in Oxford Street, how squalid sitting opposite each other staring in the Tube!"


19. 205 ". . . The wave has broken; the bunch is withered. I seldom think of Percival now."


20. 205-206 ". . . I have sliced the waters of beauty in the evening when the hills close themselves like birds' wings folded. I have picked sometimes a red carnation, and wisps of hay. I have sunk alone on the turf and fingered some old bone and thought: When the wind stoops to brush this height, may there be nothing found but a pinch of dust."


21. 206 "I see nothing. We may sink and settle on the waves. The sea will drum in my ears. The white petals will be darkened with sea water. They will float for a moment and then sink. Rolling over the waves will shoulder me under. Everything falls in a tremendous shower, dissolving me."


22. 222 ". . . Inwardly I am not taught; I fear, I hate, I love, I envy and despise you, but I never join you happily."


23. 224 ". . . But I am not included. After all these callings hither and tither, these pluckings and searchings, I shall fall alone through this thin sheet into gulfs of fire. And you will not help me. More cruel than the old torturers you will let me fall, and will tear me to pieces when I am fallen. Yet there are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now."

Neville: 1. 10 "Stones are cold to my feet," said Neville. "I feel each one, round or pointed, separately."


2. 24 "The apple-tree leaves became fixed in the sky; the moon glared; I was unable to lift my foot up the stair. He was found in the gutter. His blood gurgled down the gutter. His jowl was white as a dead codfish. I shall call this stricture, this rigidity, ‘death among the apple trees’ for ever. There were the floating pale-grey clouds; and the immitigable tree; the implacable tree with its greaved silver bark. The ripple of my life was unavailing. I was unable to pass by."


3. 31 "Those are laboratories perhaps; and that the library, where I shall explore the exactitude of the Latin language, and step firmly upon the well-laid sentences, and pronounce the explicit, the sonorous hexameters of Virgil; of Lucretius; and chant with a passion that is never obscure or formless the loves of Catullus, reading from a big book, a quarto with margins."


4. 70 "Let me at least be honest. Let me denounce this piffling, trifling, self-satisfied world; these horse-hair seats; these coloured photographs of piers and parades. I could shriek aloud at the smug self-satisfaction, at the mediocrity of this world, which breeds horse-dealers with coral ornaments hanging from their watch-chains. There is that in me which will consume them entirely."


5. 86 "When there are buildings like these," said Neville, "I cannot endure that there should be shop girls. Their titter, their gossip, offends me; breaks into my stillness, and nudges me, in moments of purest exultation, to remember our degradation."


6. 120 "The door opens, the door goes on opening," said Neville, "yet he does not come."


7. 152 "I will not lift my foot to climb the stair. I will stand for one moment beneath the immitigable tree, alone with the man whose throat is cut, while downstairs the cook shoves in and out the dampers. I will not climb the stair. We are doomed, all of us. Women shuffle past with shopping-bags. People keep on passing. Yet you shall not destroy me. For this moment, this one moment, we are together. I press you to me. Come, pain, feed on me. Bury your fangs in my flesh. tear me asunder. I sob, I sob."


8. 177 "Why, look," said Neville, "at the clock ticking on the mantelpiece? Time passes, yes. And we grow old. But to sit with you, alone with you, here, in London in this firelit room, you there, I here, is all."


9. 196-99 "I no longer need a room now," said Neville, "or walls and firelight. I am no longer young . . . Then I hear the one sound I wait for. Up and up it comes, approaches, hesitates, stops at my door. I cry, ‘Come in. Sit by me. Sit on the edge of the chair.’ Swept away by the old hallucination, I cry, ‘Come closer, closer.’"


10. 233 "We are in that passive and exhausted frame of mind when we only wish to rejoin the body of our mother from whom we have been severed. all else is distasteful, forced and fatiguing."

Louis:1. 9 "I hear something stamping," said Louis. "A great beast’s foot is chained. It stamps, and stamps, and stamps."


2. 11-12 ". . . I hold a stalk in my hand. I am the stalk. My roots go down to the depths of the world, through earth dry with brick, and damp earth, through veins of lead and silver. I am all fibre. All tremors shake me, and the weight of the earth is pressed to my ribs. Up here my eyes are green leaves, unseeing. I am a boy in grey flannels with a belt fastened by a brass snake up here. Down there my eyes are lidless eyes of a stone figure in a desert by the Nile. I see women passing with red pitchers to the river; I see camels swaying and men in turbans. I hear tramplings, tremblings, stirrings round me.


3. 19-20 "I will not conjugate the verb," said Louis, "until Bernard has said it. My father is a banker in Brisbane and I speak with an Australian accent. I will wait and copy Bernard. He is English. They are all English. . . . But I am pale; I am neat, and my knickerbockers are drawn together by a belt with a brass snake. I know the lesson by heart. I know more than they will ever know. I know my cases and my genders; I could know everything in the world if I wished. But I do not wish to come to the top and say my lesson. . . ."


4. 35 ". . . I become a figure in the procession, a spoke in the huge wheel that turning, at last erects me, here and now. I have been in the dark; I have been hidden; but when the wheel turns (as he reads) I rise into this dim light where I just perceive, but scarcely, kneeling boys, pillars and memorial brasses. There is no crudity here, no sudden kisses."


5. 37 ". . . His [Percival’s] magnificence is that of some medieval commander. A wake of light to lie on the grass behind him. Look at us trooping after him, his faithful servants, to be shot like sheep, for he will certainly attempt some forlorn enterprise and die in battle. My heart turns rough; it abrades my side like a file with two edges; one, that I adore his magnificence; the other I despise his slovenly accents—I who am so much his superior—and am jealous."


6. 39 ". . . This will endure. From discord, from hatred (I despise dabblers in imagery—I resent the power of Percival intensely) my shattered mind is pieced together by some sudden perception. I take the trees, the clouds, to be witnesses of my complete integration. I, Louis, I, who shall walk the earth these seventy years, am born entire, out of hatred, out of discord. . . ."


7. 53 ". . . I will achieve in my life—Heaven grant that it be not long—some gigantic amalgamation between the two discrepancies so hideously apparent to me. Out of my suffering I will do it. I will knock. I will enter."


8. 91-92 "I [Bernard] think of Louis now. What malevolent yet searching light would Louis throw upon this dwindling autumn evening . . . His thin lips are pursed, his cheeks are pale; he pores in an office over some obscure commercial document. ‘My father, a banker at Brisbane’—being ashamed of him he always talks of him—failed. So he sits in an office, Louis the best scholar in the school. But I seeking contrasts often feel his eye on us, his laughing eye, his wild eye, adding us up like insignificant items in some grand total which he is forever pursuing, in his office. And one day, taking a fine pen and dipping it in red ink, the addition will be complete; our total would be known; but it will not be enough."


9. 93 ". . . I repeat, ‘I am an average Englishman; I am an average clerk,’ yet I look at the little men at the next table to be sure that I do what they do. . . ."


10. 120 ". . . To be loved by Susan would be to be impaled by a bird’s sharp beak, to be nailed to a barnyard door. Yet there are moments when I could wish to be speared by a beak, to be nailed to a barnyard door, positively, once and for all."


11. 125 "We changed, we became unrecognisable," said Louis. "Exposed to all these different lights, what we had in us (for we are all so different) came intermittently, in violent patches, spaced by blank voids, to the surface as if some acid had dropped unequally on the plate. I was this, Neville that, Rhoda different again, and Bernard too."


12. 127 ". . . I smoothed my hair when I came in, hoping to look like the rest of you. But I cannot, for I am not single and entire as you are. I have lived a thousand lives already. Every day I unbury—I dig up. I find relics of myself in the sand that women made thousands of years ago, when I heard songs by the Nile and the chained beast stamping. . . ."


13. 128 ". . . I am the little ape who chatters over a nut, and you are the dowdy women with shiny bags of stale buns; I am also the caged tiger, and you are the keepers of the red-hot bars. That is, I am fiercer and stronger than you are . . ."


14. 169 ". . . The weight of the world is on our shoulders; its vision is through our eyes; if we blink or look aside, or turn back to finger what Plato said or remember Napoleon and his conquests, we inflict on the world the injury of some obliquity. This is life; Mr. Prentice at four; Mr. Eyres at four-thirty."


15. 170 "Percival has died; (he died in Egypt; he died in Greece; all deaths are one death). Susan has children; Neville mounts rapidly to the conspicuous heights. Life passes. The clouds change perpetually over our houses."


16. 201 "My task, my burden, has always been greater than other people's. A pyramid has been set on my shoulders. I have tried to do a colossal labour. I have driven a violent, an unruly, a vicious team."


17. 202 ". . . I am not a single and passing being. My life is not a moment's bright spark like that on the surface of a diamond. I go beneath the ground tortuously, as if a warder carried a lamp from cell to cell. My destiny has been that I remember and must weave together, must plait into one cable the many threads, the thin, the thick, the broken, the enduring of our long history, of our tumultuous and varied day."


18. 218 "It breaks," said Louis, "the thread I try to spin; your laughter breaks it, your indifference, also your beauty. Jinny broke the thread when she kissed me in the garden years ago. The boasting boys mocked me at school for my Australian accent and broke it. 'This is the meaning,' I say; and then start with a pang--vanity."


19. 219 ". . . For I am always the youngest; the most naively surprised; the one who runs in advance in apprehension and sympathy with discomfort or ridicule--should there be a smut on a nose, or a button undone. I suffer for all humiliations. Yet I am also ruthless, marmoreal."


20. 230 "A bird flies homeward," said Louis. "Evening opens her eyes and gives one quick glance among the bushes before she sleeps. How shall we put it together, the confused and composite message, that they send back to us, and not they only, but many dead, boys and girls, grown men and women, who have wandered here, under one king or another?"


Jinny: 1. 41 "I hate the small looking-glass on the stairs," said Jinny. "It shows our heads only; it cuts off our heads. And my lips are too wide, and my eyes are too close together; I show my gums too much when I laugh."


2. 42 "When I read, a purple rim runs round the black edge of the textbook. Yet I cannot follow any word through its changes. I cannot follow any thought from present to past. . . . I do not dream."


3. 63 "Now we roar and swing into a tunnel. The gentleman pulls up the window. I see reflections on the shining glass which lines the tunnel. I see him lower his paper. He smiles at my reflection in the tunnel. My body instantly of its own accord puts forth a frill under his gaze. My body lives a life of its own."


4. 101 "This is the prelude, this is the beginning. I glance, I peep, I powder. All is exact, prepared. My hair is swept in one curve. My lips are precisely red. I am ready now to join men and women on the stairs, my peers. I pass them, exposed to their gaze, as they are to mine. Like lightning we look but do not soften or show signs of recognition. Our bodies communicate. This is my calling. This is my world. All is decided and ready; the servants, standing here, and again here, take my name, my fresh, my unknown name, and toss it before me. I enter."


5. 102 "I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me. I am arch, gay, languid, melancholy by turns. I am rooted, but I flow. . . . One breaks off from his station under the glass cabinet. He approaches. He makes towards me. This is the most exciting moment I have ever known. I flutter. I ripple. I stream like a plant in the river, flowing this way, flowing that way, but rooted, so that he may come to me."


6. 103 "I do not care for anything in this world. I do not care for anybody save this man whose name I do not know. . . . My peers may look at me now. I look straight back at you, men and women. I am one of you. This is my world."


7. 104 "It does not matter what I say. Crowding, like a fluttering bird, one sentence crosses the empty space between us. It settles on his lips. . . . The veils drop between us. I am admitted to the warmth and privacy of another soul."


8. 128 "But I hide nothing. I am prepared. Every time the door opens I cry ‘More!’ But my imagination is the bodies. I can imagine nothing beyond the circle cast by my body. My body goes before me, like a lantern down a dark lane, bringing one thing after another out of darkness into a ring of light. I dazzle you; I make you believe that this is all."


9. 141 "Emerged from the tentative ways, the obscurities and dazzle of youth, we look straight in front of us, ready for what may come (the door opens, the door keeps on opening). All is real; all is firm without shadow or illusion. . . . Days and days are to come; winter days, summer days; we have scarcely broken into our hoard."


10. 145 "Let us hold it for one moment," said Jinny; "love, hatred, by whatever name we call it, this globe whose walls are made of Percival, of youth and beauty, and something so deep sunk within us that we shall perhaps never make this moment out of one man again."


11. 174 "(I have lived my life I must tell you all these years and I am now past thirty, perilously, like a mountain goat leaping from crag to crag; I do not settle long anywhere; I do not attach myself to one person in particular; but you will find that if I raise my arm, some figure at once breaks off and will come.)"


12. 175 "Thus, in a few seconds, deftly, adroitly, we decipher the hieroglyphs written on other people’s faces. Here, in this room, are the abraded and battered shells cast on the shore. The door goes on opening. The room fills and fills with knowledge, anguish, many kinds of ambition, much indifference, some despair."


13. 176 "But we who live in the body see with the body’s imagination things in outline. I see rocks in bright sunshine. I cannot take these facts into some cave and, shading my eyes, grade their yellows, blues, umbers into one substance. I cannot remain seated for long. I must jump up and go. . . . I cannot tell you if life is this or that. I am going to push out into the heterogeneous crowd. I am going to be buffeted; to be flung up, and flung down, among men, like a ship on the sea."


14. 193 "But look --- there is my body in that looking glass. How solitary, how shrunk, how aged! I am no longer young. I am no longer part of the procession. Millions descend those stairs in a terrible descent. Great wheels churn inexorably urging them downwards. Millions have died. Percival died. I still move. I still live. But who will come if I signal?"


15. 193 "Little animal that I am, sucking my flanks in and out with fear, I stand here, palpitating, trembling. But I will not be afraid. I will bring the whip down on my flanks. I am not a whimpering little animal making for the shadow. It was only for a moment, catching sight of myself before I had time to prepare myself as I always prepare myself for the sight of myself, that I quailed."


16. 194 "But now I swear, making deliberately in front of the glass those slight preparations that equip me, I will not be afraid."


17. 195 - 196 "Lifts rise and fall; trains stop, trains start as regularly as the waves of the sea. This is what has my adhesion. I am a native of this world, I follow its banners. How could I run for shelter when they are so magnificently adventurous, daring curious, too, and strong enough in the midst of effort to pause and scrawl with a free hand a joke upon the wall? Therefore I will powder my face and redden my lips. . . . For I still excite eagerness. I still feel the bowing of men in the street like the silent stoop of the corn when the light wind blows, ruffling it red. . . . Let the silent army of the dead descend. I march forward."


18. 220 "I like what one touches, what one tastes. . . . My imagination is the body’s. Its visions are not fine spun and white with purity. . . .(I note clothes always). . . ."


19. 221 - 222 "I have sat before a looking-glass as you sit writing, adding up figures at desks. So, before the looking-glass in the temple of my bedroom, I have judged my nose, and my chin; my lips that open too wide and show too much gum. I have looked. I have noted. . . . Now I turn grey; sitting in front of the looking-glass in broad daylight, and note precisely my nose, my chin, my lips that open woo wide and show too much gum. But I am not afraid."


20. 228 "The iron gates have rolled back," said Jinny. "Time’s fangs have ceased their devouring. We have triumphed over the abysses of space, with rouge, with powder, with flimsy pocket-handkerchiefs."

Bernard: 1. 26 "Water pours down the runnel of my spine. Bright arrows of sensation shoot on either side. I am covered with warm flesh. My dry crannies are wetted; my cold body is warmed; it is sluiced and gleaming. Water descends and sheets me like an eel. . . . Rich and heavy sensations form on the roof of my mind; down showers the day --- the woods; and Elvedon; Susan and the pigeon. Pouring down the walls of my mind, running together, the day falls copious, resplendent."


2. 239 - 240 ". . . out shot, right, left, all down the spine, arrows of sensation. And so, as long as we draw breath, for the rest of time, if we knock against a chair, a table, or a woman, we are pierced with arrows of sensation --- if we walk in a garden, if we drink this wine. . . . Then, there was the garden and the canopy of the currant leaves which seemed to enclose everything; flowers, burning like sparks upon the depths of green; a rat wreathing with maggots under a rhubarb leaf; the fly going buzz, buzz, buzz upon the nursery ceiling, and plates upon plates of innocent bread and butter. All these things happen in one second and last forever."


3. 36 "When I am grown up I shall carry a notebook --- a fat book with many pages, methodically lettered. I shall enter my phrases."


4. 67 "Louis and Nevell," said Bernard, "both sit silent. . . . Both feel the presence of other people as a separating wall. But if I find myself in company with other people, words at once make smoke rings . . . . I do not believe in separation. We are not single."


5. 68 "The human voice has a disarming quality --- (we are not single, we are one)."


6. 68 "I have little aptitude for reflection. I require the concrete in everything. It is so only that I lay hands upon the world. A good phrase, however, seems to me to have an independent existence. Yet I think it is likely that the best are made in solitude."


7. 69 "I look in all my pockets. These are the things that for ever interrupt the process upon which I am eternally engaged of finding some perfect phrase that fits this very moment exactly."


8. 76 ". . . it becomes clear that I am not one and simple, but complex and many. Bernard in public, bubbles; in private, is secretive. . . . They do not understand that I have to effect different transitions; have to cover the entrances and exits of several different men who alternately act their parts of Bernard."


9. 80 "The truth is that I need the stimulus of other people."


10. 84 "I am astonished, as I draw the veil off things with words, how much, how infinitely more than I can say I have observed. More and more bubbles into my mind as I talk, images and images."


11. 112 - 113 ". . . I am at liberty now to sink down, deep, into what passes, this omnipresent, general life. . . . I have no ambition. I will let myself be carried on by the general impulse. The surface of my mind slips along like a pale-grey stream reflecting what passes. . . . We insist, it seems on living. Then again, indifference descends. . . . And, what is this moment of time, this particular day in which I have found my self caught? The growl of traffic might be any uproar --- forest trees or the roar of wild beasts. . . . beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence."


12. 114 "But I am aware of our ephemeral passage."


13. 116 "To be myself (I note) I need the illumination of other people’s eyes, and therefore cannot be entirely sure what is myself."


14. 116 "I think of people to whom I cold say things; Louis; Neville; Susan; Jinny and Rhoda. With them I am many-sided. They retrieve me from darkness."


15. 122 - 123 "Here is Percival . . . . He is a hero. . . . We who yelped like jackals biting at each other’s heels now assume the sober and confident air of soldiers in the presence of their captain."


16. 132 "Had I been born," said Bernard, ‘not knowing that one word follows another I might have been, who knows, perhaps anything. As it is, finding sequences everywhere, I cannot bear the pressure of solitude. When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darkness --- I am nothing."


17. 133 ". . . my character is in part made of the stimulus which other people provide, and is not mine, as yours are."


18. 134 "But I shall have contributed more to the passing moment than any of you; I shall go into more rooms, more different rooms, than any of you. But because there is something that comes form outside and not from within I shall be forgotten; when my voice is silent you will not remember me, save as the echo of a voice that once wreathed the fruit into phrases."


19. 152 - 153 "Such is the incomprehensible combination," said Bernard, "such is the complexity of things, that as I descend the staircase I do not know which is sorrow, which joy. My son is born; Percival is dead. I am upheld by pillars, shored up on either side by stark emotions; but which is sorrow, which is joy? I ask, and do not know, only that I need silence, and to be alone and to go out, and to save one hour to consider what has happened to my world, what death has done to my world."


20. 156 "Now, through my own infirmity I recover what he was to me: my opposite. Being naturally truthful, he did not see the point of these exaggerations, and was borne on by a natural sense of the fitting, was indeed a great master of the art of living so that he seems to have lived long, and to have spread calm round him, indifference one might almost say, certainly to his own advancement, save that he had also great compassion. . . . My own infirmities oppress me. There is no longer him to oppose them."


21. 184 "And time," said Bernard, "lets fall its drop. the drop that has formed on the roof of the soul falls. On the roof of my mind time, forming, lets fall its drop. Last week, as I stood shaving, the drop fell. . . . Shave, shave, shave, I said. Go on shaving. The drop fell. All through the day’s work, at intervals, my mind went to an empty place, saying, ‘What is lost? What is over?’ . . . . I said . . . ‘I have lost my youth.’"


22. 184 "This drop falling has nothing to do with losing my youth. This drop falling is time tapering to a point. Time, which is a sunny pasture covered with a dancing light, time, which is widespread as a field at midday, becomes pendent. Time tapers to a point. As a drop falls from a glass heavy with some sediment, time falls. These are the true cycles, these are the true events. Then as if all the luminosity of the atmosphere were withdrawn I see to the bare bottom."


23. 185 "The truth is that I am not one of those who find their satisfaction in one person, or in infinity. . . . My being only glitters when all its facets are exposed to many people."


24. 187 "I have filled innumerable notebooks with phrases to be used when I have found the true story, the one story to which all these phrases refer. But I have never yet found that story. And I begin to ask, Are there stories?"


25. 189 "Leaning over his parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns. This bare visual impression is unattached to any line of reason, it springs up as one might see the fin of a porpoise on the horizon. Visual impressions often communicate thus briefly statements that we shall in time to come uncover and coax into words."


26. 216 "I have sons and daughters. I am wedged into my place in the puzzle."


27. 218 ". . . I do not cling to life. I shall be brushed like a bee from a sunflower."


28. 224 "Drop upon drop," said Bernard, "silence falls. It forms on the roof of the mind and falls into pools beneath. For ever alone, alone, alone, --- hear silence fall and sweep its rings to the farthest edges. Gorged and replete, solid with middle-aged content, I, whom loneliness destroys, let silence fall, drop by drop. . . . As silence falls I am dissolved utterly and become featureless and scarcely to be distinguished from another. It does not matter. What matters?"


29. 225 "I reflect now that the earth is only a pebble flicked off accidentally from the face of the sun and that there is no life anywhere in the abysses of space."


30. 227 "And we ourselves, walking six abreast, what do we oppose, with this random flicker of light in us that we call brain and feeling, how can we do battle against this flood; what has permanence? Or lives too stream away, down the unlighted avenues, past the strip of time, unidentified."


31. 229 "The flower," said Bernard, "the red carnation that stood in the vase on the table of the restaurant when we dined together with Percival is become a six-sided flower; made of six lives."


32. 234 "Listen. There is a sound like the knocking of railway trucks in a siding. That is the happy concatenation of one event following another in our lives. Knock, knock, knock. Must, must, must. Must go, must sleep, must wake, must get up --- sober, merciful word which we pretend to revile, which we press tight to our hearts, without which we should be undone. How we worship that sound like the knocking together of trucks in a siding!"

Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 18573 August 1924) was a Polish novelist. Many critics regard him as one of the greatest novelists in the English language—a fact that is remakable as he did not learn to speak English fluently until he was in his twenties (albeit always with a Polish accent).

Conrad is recognized as a master prose stylist. Some of his works have a strain of romanticism, but more importantly he is recognized as an important forerunner of modernist literature. His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many writers, including Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, V.S. Naipaul and John Maxwell Coetzee.[1]

Conrad's novels and stories have also inspired such films as Sabotage (1936, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, adapted from Conrad's The Secret Agent); Apocalypse Now (1979, adapted from Conrad's Heart of Darkness); The Duellists (a 1977 Ridley Scott adaptation of Conrad's The Duel, from A Set of Six); and a 1996 film inspired by The Secret Agent, starring Bob Hoskins, Patricia Arquette and Gérard Depardieu.

Writing during the apex of the British Empire, Conrad drew upon his experiences serving in the French and later the British Merchant Navy to create novels and short stories that reflected aspects of a world-wide empire while also plumbing the depths of the human soul.

Conrad lived an adventurous life, becoming involved in gunrunning and political conspiracy, which he later fictionalized in his novel The Arrow of Gold, and apparently had a disastrous love affair, which plunged him into despair. His voyage down the coast of Venezuela would provide material for Nostromo. The first mate of Conrad's vessel became the model for Nostromo's hero.

In 1878, after a failed suicide attempt in Marseilles by shooting himself in the chest,[2] Conrad took service on his first British ship bound for Constantinople, before its return to Lowestoft, his first landing in Britain. He did not become fluent in English until the age of 21, and in 1886 gained both his Master Mariner's certificate and British citizenship, officially changing his name to "Joseph Conrad." In March 1896 Conrad married an Englishwoman, Jessie George,[3] and together they moved into a small semi-detached villa in Victoria Road, Stanford le Hope and later to a medieval lath-and-plaster farmhouse, "Ivy Walls," in Billet Lane. He subsequently lived in London and near Canterbury, Kent. The couple had two sons, John and Borys.

Prior to his retirement from the sea in 1894, Conrad served a total of sixteen years in the merchant navy, with passages to the Far East, where his ship caught fire off Sumatra and he spent more than twelve hours in a lifeboat. The experience provided material for his short story, Youth. In 1883 he joined the Narcissus in Bombay, a voyage that inspired his 1897 novel The Nigger of the Narcissus. Sailing the southeast Asian archipelago would also furnish memories recast in Lord Jim and An Outcast of the Islands.

A childhood ambition to visit central Africa was realised in 1889, when Conrad contrived to reach the Congo Free State. He became captain of a Congo steamboat, and the atrocities he witnessed and his experiences there not only informed his most acclaimed and ambiguous work, Heart of Darkness, but served to crystalise his vision of human nature — and his beliefs about himself. These were in some measure affected by the emotional trauma and lifelong illness he contracted there. During his stay, he became acquainted with Roger Casement, whose 1904 Congo Report detailed the abuses suffered by the indigenous population.

The description of Conrad's protagonist Marlow's journey upriver closely follows Conrad's own, and he appears to have experienced a disturbing insight into the nature of evil. Conrad's experience of loneliness at sea, of corruption and of the pitilessness of nature converged to form a coherent, if bleak, vision of the world. Isolation, self-deception, and the remorseless working out of the consequences of character flaws are threads to be found running through much of his work. Conrad's own sense of loneliness throughout his exile's life would find memorable expression in the 1901 short story, "Amy Foster."

Notwithstanding the undoubted sufferings that Conrad endured on many of his voyages, he contrived to put up at the best lodgings at many of his destinations. Hotels across the Far East still lay claim to him as an honoured guest, often naming the rooms he stayed in after him: in the case of Singapore's Raffles Hotel, the wrong suite has been named in his honour, apparently for marketing reasons. His visits to Bangkok are also lodged in that city's collective memory, and are recorded in the official history of the Oriental Hotel, along with that of a less well-behaved guest, Somerset Maugham, who pilloried the hotel in a short story in revenge for attempts to eject him.

Conrad is also reported to have stayed at Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel. Later literary admirers, notably Graham Greene, followed closely in his footsteps, sometimes requesting the same room. No Caribbean resort is yet known to have claimed Conrad's patronage, although he is believed to have stayed at a Fort-de-France pension upon arrival in Martinique on his first voyage, in 1875, when he travelled as a passenger on the Mont Blanc.

As the quality of his work declined, he grew increasingly comfortable in his wealth and status. Conrad had a true genius for companionship, and his circle of friends included talented authors such as Stephen Crane and Henry James.

A further insight into Conrad's emotional life is provided by an episode which inspired one of his strangest and least known stories, "A Smile of Fortune." In September 1888 he put into Mauritius, as captain of the sailing barque Otago. His story likewise recounts the arrival of an unnamed English sea captain in a sailing vessel, come for sugar. He encounters “the old French families, descendants of the old colonists; all noble, all impoverished, and living a narrow domestic life in dull, dignified decay. . . . The girls are almost always pretty, ignorant of the world, kind and agreeable and generally bilingual. The emptiness of their existence passes belief.”

The tale describes Jacobus, an affable gentleman chandler beset by hidden shame. Extramarital passion for the bareback rider of a visiting circus had resulted in a child and scandal. For eighteen years this daughter, Alice, has been confined to Jacobus’s house, seeing no one but a governess. When Conrad’s captain is invited to the house of Jacobus, he is irresistibly drawn to the wild, beautiful Alice. "For quite a time she did not stir, staring straight before her as if watching the vision of some pageant passing through the garden in the deep, rich glow of light and the splendour of flowers."

The suffering of Alice Jacobus was true enough. A copy of the Dictionary of Mauritian Biography unearthed by the scholar Zdzisław Najder reveals that her character was a fictionalised version of seventeen-year-old Alice Shaw, whose father was a shipping agent and owned the only rose garden in the town. While it is evident that Conrad too fell in love while in Mauritius, it was not with Alice. His proposal to young Eugénie Renouf was declined, the lady being already engaged. Conrad left broken-hearted, vowing never to return.

Something of his feelings is considered to permeate the recollections of the captain. "I was seduced by the moody expression of her face, by her obstinate silences, her rare, scornful words; by the perpetual pout of her closed lips, the black depths of her fixed gaze turned slowly upon me as if in contemptuous provocation.

In 1894, aged 36, Conrad reluctantly gave up the sea, partly because of poor health and partly because he had become so fascinated with writing that he decided on a literary career. His first novel, Almayer's Folly, set on the east coast of Borneo, was published in 1895. Together with its successor, An Outcast of the Islands (1896), it laid the foundation for its author's reputation as a romantic teller of exotic tales, a misunderstanding of his purpose that was to frustrate Conrad for the rest of his career.

Except for several vacations in France and Italy, a 1914 journey to Poland, and a 1923 visit to the United States, he lived in England.

Financial success evaded Conrad, though a Civil List pension of £100 per annum stabilised his affairs, and collectors began to purchase his manuscripts. Though his talent was recognized by the English intellectual elite, popular success eluded him until the 1913 publication of Chance — paradoxically so, as it is not now regarded as one of his better novels. Thereafter, for the remaining years of his life, Conrad was the subject of more discussion and praise than any other English writer of the time.

In 1923, the year before his death, Conrad, who possessed a hereditary Polish coat-of-arms, declined the offer of a (non-hereditary) British knighthood.

Joseph Conrad died 3 August 1924, of a heart attack, and was interred at Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury, England, under the name of Korzeniowski. [4]


Of Conrad's novels, Lord Jim and Nostromo continue to be widely read, as set texts and for pleasure. The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes are also considered to be among his finest books. He also, over a period of a few years, composed a short series of novels in collaboration with Ford Madox Ford, writing on these at the same time that he was working independently on other publications.[5]

Chapter 2 of The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' opens with a description of a ship as "a detached fragment," a small planet traveling the void.

Lord Jim is a subtle book about character flaws, the nature of existence, and the search for meaning.

Chapter 8 of The Secret Agent speaks of the pathos of poverty, giving the reader a look through Stevie's eyes at a repugnant cabbie and his horse.

The main character of the conspiracy novel Under Western Eyes is Razumov, which not oddly, perhaps, echoes the future books/movie by another author about trying to manipulate thinking robots into crime and murder.

Arguably Conrad's most influential work remains Heart of Darkness, to which many have been introduced by Francis Ford Coppola's film, Apocalypse Now, inspired by Conrad's novella and set during the Vietnam War. The themes of Heart of Darkness, and the depiction of a journey into the darkness of the human psyche, still resonate with modern readers.


Conrad, an emotional man subject to fits of depression, self-doubt and pessimism, disciplined his romantic temperament with an unsparing moral judgment.

As an artist, he famously aspired, in his preface to The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' (1897), "by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel... before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm — all you demand — and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask."[6]

Writing in what to the visual arts was the age of Impressionism, Conrad showed himself in many of his works a prose poet of the highest order: thus, for instance, in the evocative Patna and courtroom scenes of Lord Jim; in the "melancholy-mad elephant" and gunboat scenes of Heart of Darkness; in the doubled protagonists of The Secret Sharer; and in the verbal and conceptual resonances of Nostromo and The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'.

The singularity of the universe depicted in Conrad's novels, especially compared to those of near-contemporaries like John Galsworthy, is such as to open him to criticism similar to that later applied to Graham Greene.[7] But where "Greeneland" has been characterised as a recurring and recognisable atmosphere independent of setting, Conrad is at pains to create a sense of place, be it aboard ship or in a remote village. Often he chose to have his characters play out their destinies in isolated or confined circumstances.

In the view of Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis, it was not until the first volumes of Anthony Powell's sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time, were published in the 1950s, that an English novelist achieved the same command of atmosphere and precision of language with consistency, a view supported by present-day critics like A. N. Wilson. This is the more remarkable, given that English was Conrad's third language. Powell acknowledged his debt to Conrad.

Conrad's third language remained inescapably under the influence of his first two — Polish and French. This makes his English seem unusual. It was perhaps from Polish and French prose styles that he adopted a fondness for triple parallelism, especially in his early works ("all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men"), as well as for rhetorical abstraction ("It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention").

T.E. Lawrence, one of many writers whom Conrad befriended, offered some perceptive observations about Conrad's writing:

He's absolutely the most haunting thing in prose that ever was: I wish I knew how every paragraph he writes (... they are all paragraphs: he seldom writes a single sentence...) goes on sounding in waves, like the note of a tenor bell, after it stops. It's not built in the rhythm of ordinary prose, but on something existing only in his head, and as he can never say what it is he wants to say, all his things end in a kind of hunger, a suggestion of something he can't say or do or think. So his books always look bigger than they are. He's as much a giant of the subjective as Kipling is of the objective. Do they hate one another?[8]

In Conrad's time, literary critics, while usually commenting favourably on his works, often remarked that his exotic style, complex narration, profound themes and pessimistic ideas put many readers off. Yet as Conrad's ideas were borne out by 20th-century events, in due course he came to be admired for beliefs that seemed to accord with subsequent times more closely than with his own.

Conrad's was, indeed, a starkly lucid view of the human condition — a vision similar to that which had been offered in two micro-stories by his ten-years-older Polish compatriot, Bolesław Prus (whose work Conrad admired): "Mold of the Earth" (1884) and "Shades" (1885). Conrad wrote:

Faith is a myth and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of to-morrow....
In this world — as I have known it — we are made to suffer without the shadow of a reason, of a cause or of guilt....
There is no morality, no knowledge and no hope; there is only the consciousness of ourselves which drives us about a world that... is always but a vain and floating appearance....
A moment, a twinkling of an eye and nothing remains — but a clot of mud, of cold mud, of dead mud cast into black space, rolling around an extinguished sun. Nothing. Neither thought, nor sound, nor soul. Nothing.[9]


In 1975, Chinua Achebe published an essay, 'An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness",' wherein he labeled Joseph Conrad a "thoroughgoing racist." This essay has since sparked a storm of controversy regarding Conrad's legacy. Achebe's point of view, now the single most famous piece of criticism on Joseph Conrad, is that Heart of Darkness cannot be considered "a great work of art" because it is "a novel which celebrates... dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race."[1]

Referring to Conrad as a "talented, tormented man", Achebe drew on several instances of racism in the writings of Conrad, in which the author derided "niggers" as variously "unreasoning", "savage", and "inscrutable".[2] Conrad, for his part, has had many passionate defenders since the publication of Achebe's criticism; often, Achebe has been criticized for disregarding the "historical context" of Conrad's work, in defense of Conrad's reputation, or in defending the extant value of his work.[3][4]

Novels and novellas

1895   Almayer's Folly
1896 An Outcast of the Islands
1897 The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'
1899 Heart of Darkness
1900 Lord Jim
1901 The Inheritors (with Ford Madox Ford)
1902 Typhoon (begun 1899)
1903 Romance (with Ford Madox Ford)
1904 Nostromo
1907 The Secret Agent
1909 The Secret Sharer (written December 1909; published in Harper's in 1910 and collected in Twixt Land and Sea 1912)
1911 Under Western Eyes
1912 Freya of the Seven Isles
1913 Chance
1915 Victory
1917 The Shadow Line
1919 The Arrow of Gold
1920 The Rescue
1923 The Nature of a Crime (with Ford Madox Ford)
The Rover
1925 Suspense: a Napoleonic Novel (unfinished, published posthumously)

Short stories

Memoirs and essays

Nostromo is one of Conrad’s finest works and is also one of the few which is set upon land. It was published in 1904 and concerns primarily the corrupting influence of money or in this case silver. The novel is set in the fictional South American country of Costaguana. We learn of a local legend in the province of Sulaco about the disappearance of two thieving ‘gringos’ who haunt the mountains due to their greed. We meet Charles Gould, who controls a silver mine and is trying to save it from the corrupt government. It is a time of political unrest and the dictator Ribiera flees. In this atmosphere, Gould becomes obsessed with saving the silver from the mine and emplys Decoud and Dr Monygham to aid him. They turn to Nostromo, a popular hero of sorts, who sails with the Decoud to hide the treasure but disaster strikes and they collide with an enemy boat. They arrive on an island and Decoud remains to protect it. However, he goes insane alone on the island and shoots himself before drowning, tied to a great quantity of silver. As the novel progresses we focus on Nostromo’s unwise romance with his friend Viola’s daughters. It contains very perceptive portraits of both heroes and anti-heroes and of the guilt that punishes the selfish, the greedy and the foolish. Many consider it to be Conrad’s most important novel.

Upton Sinclair
Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Upton Beall Sinclair and Priscilla Harden. His father was a liquor salesman whose alcoholism shadowed his son's childhood. From an early age, Upton had a keen interest in religion and literature. His two great heroes were Jesus Christ and Percy Bysshe Shelley. In 1888, the Sinclair family moved to The Bronx.

Sinclair married his first wife, Meta Fuller, in 1900.

An early success was the Civil War novel Manassas, written in 1903 and published a year later. Originally projected as the opening book of a trilogy, the success of The Jungle caused him to drop his plans, although he did revise Manassas decades later by "moderating some of the exuberance of the earlier version".[citation needed] The Jungle brought to light many major issues in America, such as poverty.

Sinclair created a socialist commune, named Helicon Hall Colony, in 1906 with proceeds from his novel The Jungle. One of those who joined was the novelist and playwright Sinclair Lewis, who worked there as a janitor.

Sinclair made several bids for office. His first was in 1906. The Socialist Party of America sponsored his candidacy for the United States Congress in New Jersey. He lost with just 3% of the vote.[2][3]

The colony burned down in 1907, apparently from arson. After the famed fire of Helicon Hall, he moved to Arden, Delaware, where many Georgist, Socialist, and Communist "Free Thinkers" lived, including Mother Bloor's son Hamilton "Buzz" Ware. Some say that he worked in a tree house behind his home during these years.

Around 1911, Sinclair's wife ran off with the poet Harry Kemp (later known as the Dunes Poet of Provincetown, Massachusetts). Within a few years, Sinclair moved to Pasadena, California, where he founded the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1920s. Sinclair went on to run unsuccessfully for Congress twice on the Socialist ticket: in 1920, for the United States House of Representatives, and in 1922, for the Senate.[4]

Sinclair's 1928 book, Boston, created controversy by proclaiming the innocence of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, anarchists who were accused of a murder/robbery in that city. Sinclair faced what he would later call "the most difficult ethical problem of my life," when he was told in confidence by Sacco and Vanzetti's former attorney, Fred Moore, that they were guilty and how their alibis were supposedly arranged.[5] However, in the letter revealing that discussion with Moore, Sinclair also wrote, "I had heard that Moore was using drugs. I knew that he had parted from the defense committee after the bitterest of quarrels... Moore admitted to me that the men themselves, had never admitted their guilt to him."[citation needed] Although the two men were ultimately executed, this episode has been used by some to claim that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty and that Sinclair knew that when he wrote his novel. However, this account has been disputed by Sinclair biographer Greg Mitchell.[citation needed]

In 1934, Sinclair made his most successful run for office, this time as a Democrat. Sinclair's platform for the California gubernatorial race of 1934, known as EPIC (End Poverty in California), galvanized the support of the Democratic Party, and Sinclair gained its nomination. Conservatives in California were themselves galvanized by this, as they saw it as an attempted communist takeover of their state. They used massive political propaganda portraying Sinclair as a Communist, even as he was being portrayed by American and Soviet communists as a capitalist. Robert A. Heinlein, the science fiction author, was deeply involved in Sinclair's campaign, a point which Heinlein tried to obscure from later biographies, as Heinlein tried to keep his personal politics separate from his public image as an author.[citation needed]

Sinclair was defeated by Frank F. Merriam in the election, and largely abandoned EPIC and politics to return to writing. However, the race of 1934 would become known as the first race to use modern campaign techniques like motion pictures.

Of his gubernatorial bids, Sinclair remarked in 1951: "The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to 'End Poverty in California' I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them."[6]

Aside from his political and social writings, Sinclair took an interest in psychic phenomena and experimented with telepathy, writing a book titled "Mental Radio", published in 1930. According to Sinclair, a 34-pound table was once levitated eight feet over his head by a young psychic in a seance.[7][8]

After Sinclair's first wife left, he married Mary Craig Kimbrough (1883 - 1961), a woman who was later tested for psychic abilities. After her death, Sinclair married a third time, to Mary Elizabeth Willis (1882 - 1967). Late in life, he moved from California to Buckeye, Arizona, and then to Bound Brook, New Jersey. Sinclair died in 1968, and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC, next to his third wife, who died a year before him.

The Upton Sinclair House in Monrovia, California, is now a National Historic Landmark. The papers, photographs, and first editions of most of his books are found Political and social activism

Sinclair believed that the main point of The Jungle was lost on the public, overshadowed by his descriptions of the unhealthy conditions in packing plants. The public health concerns dealt with in The Jungle were not as significant to Sinclair as the human tragedy lived by his main character and other workers in the plants. His main goal for the book was to demonstrate the inhumane conditions of the wage earner under capitalism, not to inspire public health reforms in how the packing was done. Indeed, Sinclair lamented the effect of his book and the public uproar that resulted: "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach." Still, the fame and fortune he gained from publishing The Jungle enabled him to write books on almost every issue of social injustice in the Twentieth Century. [1]

Sinclair is well-known for his principle: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." This quotation by Sinclair has appeared in many political books, essays, articles, and other forms of media.[citation needed]

Upton Sinclair's style of writing is often described as muckraking due to his propensity to focus on the grittier aspects of contemporary American socioeconomics.[citation needed]

The Lanny Budd series

Between 1940 and 1953, Sinclair wrote the World's End series of 11 novels about Lanny Budd, the "red" son of an American arms manufacturer who was a socialite, an art expert and an acquaintance of Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler.

They cover in sequence much of the political history of the Western world (particularly Europe and America), in the first half of the twentieth century. Almost totally forgotten today, they were all bestsellers upon publication and were published in 21 countries. The third book in the series, Dragon's Teeth, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943.

Sinclair in culture

In Sinclair Lewis' novel, It Can't Happen Here, Upton Sinclair is depicted as an eccentric and a supporter of fascism out of opportunistic motives, who is rewarded for his support of an American fascist government by being made ambassador to Great Britain.

Sinclair is extensively featured in Harry Turtledove's American Empire trilogy, in which the American Socialist Party succeeds in becoming a major force in US politics. He wins the 1920 and 1924 presidential elections and becomes the first Socialist President of the United States, his inauguration attended by crowds of jubilant militants waving Red Flags. However, the actual policies which Turtledove attributes to him, once in power, are not particularly radical.[citation needed]

Sinclair is featured as one of the main characters in Chris Bachelder's satirical fictional book, U.S.!: a Novel. Repeatedly, Sinclair is resurrected as a personification of the contemporary failings of the American-left and portrayed as a Quixotic reformer attempting to stir an apathetic American public to implement Socialism in America.


Upton Sinclair was the writer or producer of several films, including his involvement, in 1930-32, with Sergei Eisenstein, for Que Viva Mexico!, Charlie Chaplin got him involved in the project.[2]

Sinclair's 1931 novel The Wet Parade was filmed the following year by Victor Fleming, starring Robert Young, Myrna Loy, Walter Huston and Jimmy Durante.

His 1937 novel, The Gnomobile, was the basis of a 1967 Disney musical motion picture, The Gnome-Mobile. [3].

His 1927 novel Oil! was the basis of There Will Be Blood (2007), starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano. It was written, produced, and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film received eight nominations for an Oscar, and won two.[4]


Chinua Achebe born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on November 16, 1930, is a Nigerian[2] novelist, poet and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely-read book in modern African literature.[3]

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo village of Ogidi in south Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and has defended the use of English, a language of colonizers, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" became the focus of controversy, for its criticism of Joseph Conrad as "a thoroughgoing racist".

When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a devoted supporter of Biafran independence and served as ambassador for the people of the new nation. The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.

Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He has also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections. He is currently the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.


Achebe's parents, Isaiah Okafo Achebe and Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam, were converts to the Protestant Church Mission Society (CMS) in Nigeria.[4] The elder Achebe stopped practising the religion of his ancestors, but he respected its traditions and sometimes incorporated elements of its rituals into his Christian practice. Chinua's unabbreviated name, Chinualumogu ("May God fight on my behalf"[5]), was a prayer for divine protection and stability.[5] The Achebe family had five other surviving children, named in a similar fusion of traditional words relating to their new religion: Frank Okwuofu, John Chukwuemeka Ifeanyichukwu, Zinobia Uzoma, Augustine Nduka, and Grace Nwanneka.[5]

Chinua was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe in the Igbo village of Nneobi, on November 16, 1930.[5] His parents stood at a crossroads of traditional culture and Christian influence; this made a significant impact on the children, especially Chinualumogu. After the youngest daughter was born, the family moved to Isaiah Achebe's ancestral village of Ogidi, in what is now the Nigerian state of Anambra.[2]

Storytelling was a mainstay of the Igbo tradition and an integral part of the community. Chinua's mother and sister Zinobia Uzoma told him many stories as a child, which he repeatedly requested. His education was furthered by the collages his father hung on the walls of their home, as well as almanacs and numerous books – including a prose adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream (c. 1590) and an Igbo version of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678).[6][7] Chinua also eagerly anticipated traditional village events, like the frequent masquerade ceremonies, which he recreated later in his novels and stories.[8]


In 1936 Achebe entered St Philips' Central School. Despite his protests, he spent a week in the religious class for young children, but was quickly moved to a higher class when the school's chaplain took note of his intelligence.[9] One teacher described him as the student with the best handwriting in class, and the best reading skills.[10] He also attended Sunday school every week and the special evangelical services held monthly, often carrying his father's bag. A controversy erupted at one such session, when apostates from the new church challenged the catechist about the tenets of Christianity. Achebe later included a scene from this incident in Things Fall Apart.[11][12]

At the age of twelve, Achebe moved away from his family to the village of Nekede, four kilometres from Owerri. He enrolled as a student at the Central School, where his older brother John taught.[13] In Nekede, Achebe gained an appreciation for Mbari, a traditional art form which seeks to invoke the gods' protection through symbolic sacrifices in the form of sculpture and collage.[14] When the time came to change to secondary school, in 1944, Achebe sat entrance examinations for and was accepted at both the prestigious Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha and the even more prestigious Government College in Umuahia.[15]

Modelled on the British public school, and funded by the colonial administration, Government College had been established in 1929 to educate Nigeria's future elite.[15] It had rigorous academic standards and was vigorously egalitarian, accepting boys purely on the basis of ability.[15] The language of the school was English, not only to develop proficiency but also to provide a common tongue for pupils from different Nigerian language groups.[16] Achebe described this later as being ordered to "put away their different mother tongues and communicate in the language of their colonisers".[17] The rule was strictly enforced and Achebe recalls that his first punishment was for asking another boy to pass the soap in Igbo.[16]

Once there, Achebe was double-promoted in his first year, completing the first two years' studies in one, and spending only four years in secondary school, instead of the standard five.[18] Achebe was unsuited to the school's sports regimen and belonged instead to a group of six exceedingly studious pupils. So intense were their study habits that the headmaster banned the reading of textbooks from five to six o'clock in the afternoon (though other activities and other books were allowed).[19]

Achebe started to explore the school's "wonderful library".[20] There he discovered Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery (1901), the autobiography of an American former slave; Achebe "found it sad, but it showed him another dimension of reality".[19] He also read classic novels, such as Gulliver's Travels (1726), David Copperfield (1850), and Treasure Island (1883) together with tales of colonial derring-do such as H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain (1887) and John Buchan's Prester John (1910). Achebe later recalled that, as a reader, he "took sides with the white characters against the savages"[20]and even developed a dislike for Africans. "The white man was good and reasonable and intelligent and courageous. The savages arrayed against him were sinister and stupid or, at the most, cunning. I hated their guts."[20]

In 1948, in preparation for independence, Nigeria's first university opened.[21] Known as University College, (now the University of Ibadan), it was an associate college of the University of London. Achebe obtained such high marks in the entrance examination that he was admitted as a Major Scholar in the university's first intake and given a bursary to study medicine.[21] After a year of gruelling work, however, he decided science was not for him and he changed to English, history, and theology.[22] Because he switched his field, however, he lost his scholarship and had to pay tuition fees. He received a government bursary, and his family also donated money – his older brother Augustine even gave up money for a trip home from his job as a civil servant so Chinua could continue his studies.[23] From its inception, the university had a strong English faculty and it includes many famous writers amongst its alumni. These include Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, novelist Elechi Amadi, poet and playwright John Pepper Clark, and poet Christopher Okigbo.[24] In 1950 Achebe wrote a piece for the University Herald entitled "Polar Undergraduate", his debut as an author. It used irony and humour to celebrate the intellectual vigour of his classmates.[25] He followed this with other essays and letters about philosophy and freedom in academia, some of which were published in another campus magazine, The Bug.[26] He served as the Herald's editor during the 1951–2 school year.[27]

While at the university, Achebe wrote his first short story, "In a Village Church", which combines details of life in rural Nigeria with Christian institutions and icons, a style which appears in many of his later works.[28] Other short stories he wrote during his time at Ibadan (including "The Old Order in Conflict with the New" and "Dead Men's Path") examine conflicts between tradition and modernity, with an eye toward dialogue and understanding on both sides.[29] When a professor named Geoffrey Parrinder arrived at the university to teach comparative religion, Achebe began to explore the fields of Christian history and African traditional religions.[30]

It was during his studies at Ibadan that Achebe began to become critical of European literature about Africa. He read Irish novelist Joyce Cary's 1939 book Mister Johnson, about a cheerful Nigerian man who (among other things) works for an abusive British store owner. Achebe recognised his dislike for the African protagonist as a sign of the author's cultural ignorance. One of his classmates announced to the professor that the only enjoyable moment in the book is when Johnson is shot.[31]

After the final examinations at Ibadan in 1953, Achebe was awarded a second-class degree. Rattled by not receiving the highest result possible, he was uncertain how to proceed after graduation. He returned to his hometown of Ogidi to sort through his options.[32]

Teaching and producing

While he meditated on his possible career paths, Achebe was visited by a friend from the university, who convinced him to apply for an English teaching position at the Merchants of Light school at Oba. It was a ramshackle institution with a crumbling infrastructure and a meagre library; the school was built on what the residents called "bad bush" – a section of land thought to be tainted by unfriendly spirits.[33] Later, in Things Fall Apart, Achebe describes a similar area called the "evil forest", where the Christian missionaries are given a place to build their church.[34]

As a teacher he urged his students to read extensively and be original in their work.[35] The students did not have access to the newspapers he had read as a student, so Achebe made his own available in the classroom. He taught in Oba for four months, but when an opportunity arose in 1954 to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS), he left the school and moved to Lagos.[36]

The NBS, a radio network started in 1933 by the colonial government,[37] assigned Achebe to the Talks Department, preparing scripts for oral delivery. This helped him master the subtle nuances between written and spoken language, a skill that helped him later to write realistic dialogue.[38]

The city of Lagos also made a significant impression on him. A huge conurbation, the city teemed with recent migrants from the rural villages. Achebe revelled in the social and political activity around him and later drew upon his experiences when describing the city in his 1960 novel No Longer At Ease.[39]

While in Lagos, Achebe started work on a novel. This was challenging, since very little African fiction had been written in English, although Amos Tutuola's Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952) and Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City (1954) were notable exceptions. While appreciating Ekwensi's work, Achebe worked hard to develop his own style, even as he pioneered the creation of the Nigerian novel itself.[40] A visit to Nigeria by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956 brought issues of colonialism and politics to the surface, and was a significant moment for Achebe.[41]

Also in 1956, Achebe was selected for training in London at the Staff School run by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). His first trip outside Nigeria was an opportunity to advance his technical production skills, and to solicit feedback on his novel (which was later split into two books). In London he met a novelist named Gilbert Phelps, to whom he offered the manuscript. Phelps responded with great enthusiasm, asking Achebe if he could show it to his editor and publishers. Achebe declined, insisting that it needed more work.[42]

Back in Nigeria, Achebe set to work revising and editing his novel (now titled Things Fall Apart, after a line in the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats). He cut away the second and third sections of the book, leaving only the story of a yam farmer named Okonkwo. He added sections, improved various chapters, and restructured the prose. By 1957 he had sculpted it to his liking, and took advantage of an advertisement offering a typing service. He sent his only copy of his handwritten manuscript (along with the ₤22 fee) to the London company. After he waited several months without receiving any communication from the typing service, Achebe began to worry. His boss at the NBS, Angela Beattie, was going to London for her annual leave; he asked her to visit the company. She did, and angrily demanded to know why it was lying ignored in the corner of the office. The company quickly sent a typed copy to Achebe. Beattie's intervention was crucial for his ability to continue as a writer. Had the novel been lost, he later said, "I would have been so discouraged that I would probably have given up altogether."[43]

In 1958 Achebe sent his novel to the agent recommended by Gilbert Phelps in London. It was sent to several publishing houses; some rejected it immediately, claiming that fiction from African writers had no market potential.[44] Finally it reached the office of Heinemann, where executives hesitated until an educational adviser, Donald MacRae – just back in England after a trip through west Africa – read the book and forced the company's hand with his succinct report: "This is the best novel I have read since the war".[45]

Heinemann published 2,000 hardcover copies of Things Fall Apart on 17 June 1958. According to Alan Hill, employed by the publisher at the time, the company did not "touch a word of it" in preparation for release.[46] The book was received well by the British press, and received positive reviews from critic Walter Allen and novelist Angus Wilson. Three days after publication, the Times Literary Supplement wrote that the book "genuinely succeeds in presenting tribal life from the inside". The Observer called it "an excellent novel", and the literary magazine Time and Tide said that "Mr. Achebe's style is a model for aspirants".[47]

Initial reception in Nigeria was mixed. When Hill tried to promote the book in West Africa, he was met with scepticism and ridicule. The faculty at the University of Ibadan was amused at the thought of a worthwhile novel being written by an alumnus.[48] Others were more supportive; one review in the magazine Black Orpheus said: "The book as a whole creates for the reader such a vivid picture of Ibo life that the plot and characters are little more than symbols representing a way of life lost irrevocably within living memory."[49]

In the book Okonkwo struggles with the legacy of his father – a shiftless debtor fond of playing the flute – as well as the complications and contradictions that arise when white missionaries arrive in his village of Umuofia.[50] Exploring the terrain of cultural conflict, particularly the encounter between Igbo tradition and Christian doctrine, Achebe returns to the themes of his earlier stories, which grew from his own background.

Things Fall Apart has become one of the most important books in African literature.[51] Selling over 8 million copies around the world, it has been translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.[52][53]

Marriage and family

In the same year Things Fall Apart was published, Achebe was promoted at the NBS and put in charge of the network's eastern region coverage. He moved to Enugu and began to work on his administrative duties. There he met a woman named Christie Okoli, who had grown up in the area and joined the NBS staff when he arrived. They first conversed when she brought to his attention a pay discrepancy; a friend of hers found that, although they had been hired simultaneously, Christie had been rated lower and offered a lower wage. Sent to the hospital for an appendectomy soon afterwards, she was pleasantly surprised when Achebe visited her with gifts and magazines.[54]

Achebe and Okoli grew closer in the following years, and on September 10, 1961 were married in the Chapel of Resurrection on the campus of the University of Ibadan.[55] Christie Achebe has described their marriage as one of trust and mutual understanding; some tension arose early in their union, due to conflicts about attention and communication. However, as their relationship matured, husband and wife made efforts to adapt to one another.[56]

Their first child, a daughter named Chinelo, was born on July 11, 1962. They had a son, Ikechukwu, on December 3, 1964, and another boy named Chidi on May 24, 1967. When the children began attending school in Lagos, their parents became worried about the world view – especially with regard to race – expressed at the school, especially through the mostly white teachers and books that presented a prejudiced view of African life.[57] In 1966, Achebe published his first children's book, Chike and the River, to address some of these concerns.[58] After the Biafran War, the Achebes had another daughter on March 7, 1970, named Nwando.[59]

No Longer at Ease and fellowship travels

In 1960, while they were still dating, Achebe dedicated to Christie Okoli his second novel, No Longer at Ease, about a civil servant who is embroiled in the corruption of Lagos. The protagonist is Obi, grandson of Things Fall Apart's main character, Okonkwo.[60] Drawing on his time in the city, Achebe writes about Obi's experiences in Lagos to reflect the challenges facing a new generation on the threshold of Nigerian independence. Obi is trapped between the expectations of his family, its clan, his home village, and larger society. He is crushed by these forces (like his grandfather before him) and finds himself imprisoned for bribery. Having shown his acumen for portraying traditional Igbo culture, Achebe demonstrated in his second novel an ability to depict modern Nigerian life.[61]

Later that year, Achebe was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for six months of travel, which he called "the first important perk of my writing career";[62] Achebe set out for a tour of East Africa. One month after Nigeria achieved its independence, he travelled to Kenya, where he was required to complete an immigration form by checking a box indicating his ethnicity: European, Asiatic, Arab, or Other. Shocked and dismayed at being forced into an "Other" identity, he found the situation "almost funny" and took an extra form as a souvenir.[63] Continuing to Tanganyika and Zanzibar (now united in Tanzania), he was frustrated by the paternalistic attitude he observed among non-African hotel clerks and social elites.[64]

Achebe also found in his travels that Swahili was gaining prominence as a major African language. Radio programs were broadcast in Swahili, and its use was widespread in the countries he visited. Nevertheless, he also found an "apathy" among the people toward literature written in Swahili.[65] He met the poet Sheikh Shaaban Robert, who complained of the difficulty he had faced in trying to publish his Swahili-language work.[66]

In Northern Rhodesia (now called Zambia), Achebe found himself sitting in a whites-only section of a bus to Victoria Falls. Interrogated by the ticket taker as to why he was sitting in the front, he replied, "if you must know I come from Nigeria, and there we sit where we like in the bus."[67] Upon reaching the waterfall he was cheered by the black travellers from the bus, but he was saddened by the irony that they felt unable to stand up to the policy of segregation.[68]

Two years later, Achebe again left Nigeria, this time as part of a Fellowship for Creative Artists awarded by UNESCO. He travelled to the United States and Brazil. He met with a number of writers from the US, including novelists Ralph Ellison and Arthur Miller.[69] In Brazil, he met with several other authors, with whom he discussed the complications of writing in Portuguese. Achebe worried that the vibrant literature of the nation would be lost if left untranslated into a more widely-spoken language.[70]

Voice of Nigeria and African Writers Series

Once he returned to Nigeria, Achebe was promoted at the NBS to the position of Director of External Broadcasting. One of his first duties was to help create the Voice of Nigeria network. The station broadcast its first transmission on New Year's Day 1962, and worked to maintain an objective perspective during the turbulent era immediately following independence.[71] This objectivity was put to the test when Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa declared a state of emergency in the Western Region, responding to a series of conflicts between officials of varying parties. Achebe became saddened by the evidence of corruption and silencing of political opposition.[72]

In 1962 he attended a conference of African writers in English at the Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda. He met with important literary figures from around the continent and the world, including Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor, Nigerian playwright and poet Wole Soyinka, and US poet-author Langston Hughes. Among the topics of discussion was an attempt to determine whether the term African literature ought to include work from the diaspora, or solely that writing composed by people living within the continent itself. Achebe indicated that it was not "a very significant question",[73] and that scholars would do well to wait until a body of work were large enough to judge. Writing about the conference in several journals, Achebe hailed it as a milestone for the literature of Africa, and highlighted the importance of community among isolated voices on the continent and beyond.[74]

While at Makerere, Achebe was asked to read a novel written by a student (James Ngugi, later known as Ngugi wa Thiong'o) called Weep Not, Child. Impressed, he sent it to Alan Hill at Heinemann, which published it two years later to coincide with its paperback line of books from African writers. Hill indicated this was to remedy a situation where British publishers "regarded West Africa only as a place where you sold books." Achebe was chosen to be General Editor of the African Writers Series, which became a significant force in bringing postcolonial literature from Africa to the rest of the world.[75]

As these works became more widely available, reviews and essays about African literature – especially from Europe – began to flourish. Bristling against the commentary flooding his home country, Achebe published an essay titled "Where Angels Fear to Tread" in the December 1962 issue of Nigeria Magazine. In it, he distinguished between the hostile critic (entirely negative), the amazed critic (entirely positive), and the conscious critic (who seeks a balance). He lashed out at those who critiqued African writers from the outside, saying: "no man can understand another whose language he does not speak (and 'language' here does not mean simply words, but a man's entire world view)."[76]

The style of Achebe's fiction draws heavily on the oral tradition of the Igbo people.[132] He weaves folk tales into the fabric of his stories, illuminating community values in both the content and the form of the storytelling. The tale about the Earth and Sky in Things Fall Apart, for example, emphasises the interdependency of the masculine and the feminine. Although Nwoye enjoys hearing his mother tell the tale, Okonkwo's dislike for it is evidence of his imbalance.[133] Later, Nwoye avoids beatings from his father by pretending to dislike such "women's stories".[134]

Another hallmark of Achebe's style is the use of proverbs, which often illustrate the values of the rural Igbo tradition. He sprinkles them throughout the narratives, repeating points made in conversation. Critic Anjali Gera notes that the use of proverbs in Arrow of God "serves to create through an echo effect the judgement of a community upon an individual violation."[135] The use of such repetition in Achebe's urban novels, No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People, is less pronounced.[135]

For Achebe, however, proverbs and folk stories are not the sum total of the oral Igbo tradition. In combining philosophical thought and public performance into the use of oratory ("Okwu Oka" – "speech artistry" – in the Igbo phrase), his characters exhibit what he called "a matter of individual excellence ... part of Igbo culture."[136] In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo's friend Obierika voices the most impassioned oratory, crystallising the events and their significance for the village. Nwaka in Arrow of God also exhibits a mastery of oratory, albeit for malicious ends.[137]

Achebe frequently includes folk songs and descriptions of dancing in his work. Obi, the protagonist of No Longer At Ease, is at one point met by women singing a "Song of the Heart", which Achebe gives in both Igbo and English: "Is everyone here? / (Hele ee he ee he)"[138] In Things Fall Apart, ceremonial dancing and the singing of folk songs reflect the realities of Igbo tradition. The elderly Uchendu, attempting to shake Okonkwo out of his self-pity, refers to a song sung after the death of a woman: "For whom is it well, for whom is it well? There is no one for whom it is well."[139] This song contrasts with the "gay and rollicking tunes of evangelism" sung later by the white missionaries.[140]

Achebe's short stories are not as widely studied as his novels, and Achebe himself does not consider them a major part of his work. In the preface for Girls at War and Other Stories, he writes: "A dozen pieces in twenty years must be accounted a pretty lean harvest by any reckoning."[141] Like his novels, the short stories are heavily influenced by the oral tradition. And like the folktales they follow, the stories often have morals emphasising the importance of cultural traditions.[142]

Use of English

As the decolonization process unfolded in the 1950s, a debate about choice of language erupted and pursued authors around the world; Achebe was no exception. Indeed, because of his subject matter and insistence on a non-colonial narrative, he found his novels and decisions interrogated with extreme scrutiny – particularly with regard to his use of English. One school of thought, championed by Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o, urged the use of indigenous African languages. English and other European languages, he said in 1986, were "part of the neo-colonial structures that repress progressive ideas".[143]

Achebe chose to write in English. In his essay "The African Writer and the English Language", he discusses how the process of colonialism – for all its ills – provided colonised people from varying linguistic backgrounds "a language with which to talk to one another". As his purpose is to communicate with readers across Nigeria, he uses "the one central language enjoying nationwide currency".[144] Using English also allowed his books to be read in the colonial ruling nations.[145]

Still, Achebe recognises the shortcomings of what Audre Lorde called "the master's tools". In another essay he notes:

For an African writing in English is not without its serious setbacks. He often finds himself describing situations or modes of thought which have no direct equivalent in the English way of life. Caught in that situation he can do one of two things. He can try and contain what he wants to say within the limits of conventional English or he can try to push back those limits to accommodate his ideas ... I submit that those who can do the work of extending the frontiers of English so as to accommodate African thought-patterns must do it through their mastery of English and not out of innocence.[146]

In another essay, he refers to James Baldwin's struggle to use the English language to accurately represent his experience, and his realization that he needed to take control of the language and expand it.[147] Nigerian poet and novelist Gabriel Okara likens the process of language-expansion to the evolution of jazz music in the United States.[148]

Achebe's novels laid a formidable groundwork for this process. By altering syntax, usage, and idiom, he transforms the language into a distinctly African style.[149] In some spots this takes the form of repetition of an Igbo idea in standard English parlance; elsewhere it appears as narrative asides integrated into descriptive sentences.[150]


Achebe's novels approach a variety of themes. In his early writing, a depiction of the Igbo culture itself is paramount. Critic Nahem Yousaf highlights the importance of these depictions: "Around the tragic stories of Okonkwo and Ezeulu, Achebe sets about textualising Igbo cultural identity".[151] The portrayal of indigenous life is not simply a matter of literary background, he adds: "Achebe seeks to produce the effect of a precolonial reality as an Igbo-centric response to a Eurocentrically constructed imperial 'reality' ".[152] Certain elements of Achebe's depiction of Igbo life in Things Fall Apart match those in Oloudah Equiano's autobiographical Narrative. Responding to charges that Equiano was not actually born in Africa, Achebe wrote in 1975: "Equiano was an Ibo, I believe, from the village of Iseke in the Orlu division of Nigeria".[153]

A prevalent theme in Achebe's novels is the intersection of African tradition (particularly Igbo varieties) and modernity, especially as embodied by European colonialism. The village of Umuofia in Things Fall Apart, for example, is violently shaken with internal divisions when the white Christian missionaries arrive. Nigerian English professor Ernest N. Emenyonu describes the colonial experience in the novel as "the systematic emasculation of the entire culture".[154] Achebe later embodied this tension between African tradition and Western influence in the figure of Sam Okoli, the president of Kangan in Anthills of the Savannah. Distanced from the myths and tales of the community by his Westernised education, he does not have the capacity for reconnection shown by the character Beatrice.[155]

The colonial impact on the Igbo in Achebe's novels is often effected by individuals from Europe, but institutions and urban offices frequently serve a similar purpose. The character of Obi in No Longer at Ease succumbs to colonial-era corruption in the city; the temptations of his position overwhelm his identity and fortitude.[156] The courts and the position of District Commissioner in Things Fall Apart likewise clash with the traditions of the Igbo, and remove their ability to participate in structures of decision-making.[157]

The standard Achebean ending results in the destruction of an individual and, by synecdoche, the downfall of the community. Odili's descent into the luxury of corruption and hedonism in A Man of the People, for example, is symbolic of the post-colonial crisis in Nigeria and elsewhere.[158] Even with the emphasis on colonialism, however, Achebe's tragic endings embody the traditional confluence of fate, individual and society, as represented by Sophocles and Shakespeare.[159]

Still, Achebe seeks to portray neither moral absolutes nor a fatalistic inevitability. In 1972, he said: "I never will take the stand that the Old must win or that the New must win. The point is that no single truth satisfied me—and this is well founded in the Ibo world view. No single man can be correct all the time, no single idea can be totally correct."[160] His perspective is reflected in the words of Ikem, a character in Anthills of the Savannah: "whatever you are is never enough; you must find a way to accept something, however small, from the other to make you whole and to save you from the mortal sin of righteousness and extremism."[161] And in a 1996 interview, Achebe said: "Belief in either radicalism or orthodoxy is too simplified a way of viewing things ... Evil is never all evil; goodness on the other hand is often tainted with selfishness."[162]

Masculinity and femininity

The gender roles of men and women, as well as societies' conceptions of the associated concepts, are frequent themes in Achebe's writing. He has been criticised as a sexist author, in response to what many call the uncritical depiction of traditionally patriarchal Igbo society, where the most masculine men take numerous wives, and women are beaten regularly.[163] Others suggest that Achebe is merely representing the limited gendered vision of the characters, and they note that in his later works, he tries to demonstrate the inherent dangers of excluding women from society.[164]

In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo's furious manhood overpowers everything feminine in his life, including his own conscience. For example, when he feels bad after killing his adopted son, he asks himself: "When did you become a shivering old woman?"[165] He views all things feminine as distasteful, in part because they remind him of his father's laziness and cowardice.[166] The women in the novel, meanwhile, are obedient, quiet, and absent from positions of authority – despite the fact that Igbo women were traditionally involved in village leadership.[167] Nevertheless, the need for feminine balance is highlighted by Ani, the earth goddess, and the extended discussion of "Nneka" ("Mother is supreme") in chapter fourteen.[168] Okonkwo's defeat is seen by some as a vindication of the need for a balancing feminine ethos.[169][170] Achebe has expressed frustration at frequently being misunderstood on this point, saying that "I want to sort of scream that Things Fall Apart is on the side of women...And that Okonkwo is paying the penalty for his treatment of women; that all his problems, all the things he did wrong, can be seen as offenses against the feminine."[171]

Achebe's first central female character in a novel is Beatrice Nwanyibuife in Anthills of the Savannah. As an independent woman in the city, Beatrice strives for the balance which Okonkwo lacked so severely. She refutes the notion that she needs a man, and slowly learns about Idemili, a goddess balancing the aggression of male power.[172] Although the final stages of the novel show her functioning in a nurturing mother-type role, Beatrice remains firm in her conviction that women should not be limited to such capacities.[173]


Achebe has been called "the father of modern African writing",[131] and many books and essays have been written about his work over the past fifty years. In 1992 he became the only living author represented in the Everyman's Library collection published by Alfred A. Knopf.[174] His 60th birthday was celebrated at the University of Nigeria by "an international Who's Who in African Literature". One observer noted: "Nothing like it had ever happened before in African literature anywhere on the continent."[175]

Many writers of succeeding generations view his work as having paved the way for their efforts.[176] In 1982 he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Kent. At the ceremony, professor Robert Gibson said that the Nigerian author "is now revered as Master by the younger generation of African writers and it is to him they regularly turn for counsel and inspiration."[177] Even outside of Africa, his impact resonates strongly in literary circles. Novelist Margaret Atwood called him "a magical writer – one of the greatest of the twentieth century". Poet Maya Angelou lauded Things Fall Apart as a book wherein "all readers meet their brothers, sisters, parents and friends and themselves along Nigerian roads".[178] Nelson Mandela, recalling his time as a political prisoner, once referred to Achebe as a writer "in whose company the prison walls fell down."[179]

Achebe is the recipient of over 30 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States, including Dartmouth College, Harvard, and Brown University.[180] He has been awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Nigerian National Order of Merit (Nigeria's highest honour for academic work), and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.[181]

Some scholars have suggested that Achebe has been shunned by intellectual society for criticising Conrad and traditions of racism in the West.[182] Despite his scholarly achievements and the global importance of his work, Achebe has never received a Nobel Prize, which some observers view as unjust.[183] The Nobel Committee has been criticised in the past for overlooking other important writers, such as Marcel Proust, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov and Leo Tolstoy.

When Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize in 1986, Achebe joined the rest of Nigeria in celebrating the first African ever to win the prize. He lauded Soyinka's "stupendous display of energy and vitality", and said he was "most eminently deserving of any prize".[184] In 1988 Achebe was asked by a reporter for Quality Weekly how he felt about never winning a Nobel prize; he replied: "My position is that the Nobel Prize is important. But it is a European prize. It's not an African prize ... Literature is not a heavyweight championship. Nigerians may think, you know, this man has been knocked out. It's nothing to do with that."[185]



Short Stories


Essays, Criticism and Political Commentary

Children's Books

Julia Keefer, published short stories in three Doubleday anthologies, Lovers and Other Monsters, Angels of Darkness, Don't Open This Book in the nineties, wrote a 700 page fantasy memoir, How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Wrestling, and is currently working on a novel/screenplay, Huguenot Street. She is also a kinesiologist, massage therapist, personal trainer, former wrestler and professional dancer, and has created her own mixed martial arts forms. She has been teaching in universities for over twenty years.

Leslie Marmon Silko

Silko is Laguna Pueblo Native American (a Keres speaking tribe), the rest of her ancestry being European American and Mexican American. Her father is Lee Marmon, a notable photographer. As such, she grew up on the edge of pueblo society both literally – her family’s house was at the edge of the reservation – and figuratively, not being allowed to participate in various rituals or join many of the pueblo societies. However, she was educated by her grandmother and aunts in the traditional stories of the Laguna people, and as a result always identified most strongly with the native part of her ancestry, saying in an interview with Alan Velie that "I am of mixed-breed ancestry, but what I know is Laguna".

She was educated at Catholic school in Albuquerque, and went on to receive a BA from the University of New Mexico in 1969. She briefly attended law school before leaving to pursue her literary career.

In 1966, she married Richard C. Chapman, and together, they had a son, Robert Chapman. However the marriage was unsuccessful and they divorced in 1969. A subsequent marriage to John Silko in 1971 also ended in divorce. she attended the university of the New Mexico.

A short story written by Silko while still at school, "The Man To Send Rain Clouds", was published and quickly garnered a great deal of praise, winning its author a National Endowment for the Humanities Discovery Grant. The story is still frequently anthologised today. During the period 1968-1974, Silko wrote and published more short stories and many poems, most of which were later collected in her book Laguna Woman

Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony was first published in 1977 to rave reviews, and it is difficult even to this day to find a critical appreciation of the book that is not positive. It remains the Native American novel most often set on college and university syllabi, and one of the few individual works by any Native author to have received book-length critical assessments.

The novel tells the story of Tayo, a mixed-blood veteran returning from fighting against Japan in World War II. Returning to the poverty-stricken reservation at Laguna, Tayo is recovering from shell-shock and is haunted with memories of his cousin, who died in the conflict. Seeking an escape from his pain, Tayo initially takes refuge in alcoholism. Gradually, helped by the mixed-blood shaman Betonie, he comes to a greater understanding of the world and his own place within it.

Ceremony has been called a Grail fiction, in that the hero overcomes a series of challenges to reach a specified goal, but this point of view has been criticized as Eurocentric. The skill of the writer is evident in the way that it is also a book deeply rooted in traditional stories (for instance, there are several retellings of old stories). Fellow Pueblo poet Paula Gunn Allen criticised the book on this account, saying that Silko was divulging tribal secrets that she did not have the right to reveal (See Allen, Paula Gunn. "Special Problems in Teaching Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony." American Indian Quarterly (Fall 1990): 379-86.)

In an America full of damaged Vietnam veterans, the book's message of healing and reconciliation between races and people made it both an immediate and a long-term success. It was largely on the strength of this work that critic Alan Velie named Silko one of his Four Native American Literary Masters, along with N. Scott Momaday, Gerald Vizenor and James Welch.

Silko was not to publish another full-length novel for over a decade. In 1981, she brought out Storyteller, an interlinked collection of poems and short stories, and in 1986 she published Delicacy and Strength of Lace, a collected volume of her correspondence with her friend James Wright.

Almanac of the Dead, a massive volume published in 1991, was an ambitious work that received mixed reviews. The vision of the book stretched over both American continents and included Chiapas revolutionaries the Zapatista Army of National Liberation as just a small part of a mammoth cast of characters. Again taking the theme of conflict between white and Native as her theme, Silko substitutes what comes close to advocacy of violent revolution for her earlier works' stories of healing and forgiveness. Critiqued for its attitude towards homosexuality (several of the major villains are gay)[1], and for a clumsy rendering of the Popol Vuh, Almanac of the Dead has not achieved the same mainstream success as its predecessor. A subsequent novel, Gardens in the Dunes (1999), weaves themes of women’s history, slavery, conquest and gardening.

Long a commentator on Native American affairs, Silko has published many non-fictional articles on Native American affairs and literature.

Her two most famous essays are outspoken attacks on fellow writers. In "An Old-Fashioned Indian Attack in Two Parts", first published in Geary Hobson’s collection The Remembered Earth (1978), Silko accused Gary Snyder of profiting from Indian culture, particularly in his collection "Turtle Island", the name and theme of which was taken from Pueblo mythology. In 1986, in a review of Anishinaabe writer Louise Erdrich's novel The Beet Queen entitled "Here’s an Odd Artifact for the Fairy-Tale Shelf", Silko claimed that the novelist had abandoned writing about the Native struggle for sovereignty in exchange for writing "self-referential", postmodern fiction.



Poetry & Short Story Collections


Literal gardens figure prominently in this book, and there are also metaphorical gardens--instances where characters reap what they sow. Silko integrates this biblical notion with others drawn from Gnostic theology and Celtic magic. The result is a fascinating novel of ideas, myth, and allegory.

The novel is set in the late nineteenth century. The last members of the Salt Lizard clan--Indigo, Sister Salt, their mother, and their grandmother--live in the desert near the border of California and Arizona. They survive by gardening sandy soil. In this garden, they welcome snakes and revere them as the providers of life-sustaining water. The women live peacefully here until they travel to Needles, Arizona, to perform the dance to the Messiah.

But Silko's Messiah is not the Christ of Anglo lore. He is the leader of the Lakotas who were murdered at Wounded Knee. And he appears in the dance.

"The others saw him now, but they all kept dancing, as they knew they must, until Christ reached the middle of their circle. Wovoka the Prophet came too. He walked beside the Messiah's mother; behind them came the Messiah's eleven children."

In passages such as this, Silko forces us to put aside the image of the chaste and crying Christ. Silko's Christ is a family man, a part of a community. He is not a mystery to be understood only by clergy. He comes when the people dance for him. Even those who are not knowledgeable about the fate of the Lakota, who dared perform what American historians call the "Ghost Dance," know that the people will be punished for practicing such liberating beliefs.

The dance is raided, and many people are captured and never seen again. The younger sister, Indigo, is sent to one of the infamous Indian boarding schools. Since Sister Salt is nearly thirteen, she is deemed too old to be educable. She is placed in the authority of the Indian Agency, where she is forced to perform menial tasks at slave wages.

Here, the story could have easily disintegrated into a tale of woe. But Silko adopts a Dickensian sensibility and allows Indigo to escape the clutches of the villainous superintendent by cunning and serendipity. She is rescued by Hattie, a privileged white woman trapped in a passionless marriage to a capitalist eco-menace. Hattie has suffered a breakdown after her thesis on "Female Principle in the Early Church" was not approved by her Ivy League professors. (The pages and pages dedicated to Hattie's studies do little to further the plot of the novel.) She welcomes the company of Indigo and travels across Europe with the child under the pretense of training her to be a maid.

Meanwhile, Sister Salt is freed from the Indian Agency by Big Candy, her African American lover. She still washes clothes for a living, but she now works for a decent wage. She also dabbles in a sort of benign prostitution to earn more money, which she plans to use to get back to the gardens in the dunes, where she will be reunited with Indigo.

As in Almanac of the Dead, Silko puts forth a world in which Native Americans are not isolated. The Salt Lizard women make alliances with African Americans, Africans, Anglo Americans, Italians, Mexicans, and American Mormons. Silko's diverse characters travel across the United States, through Western Europe, and even to Brazil.

Silko manages to juggle these travels, characters, and themes to create a powerful novel that may frustrate readers accustomed to plots revolving around the inner conflict of a single protagonist. Silko's novel is more in the folk tale tradition.

Each section is a story with its own meaning and lesson. Many of the chapters can be enjoyed independently of the rest of the novel.

Sister Salt says, "Money! You couldn't eat it or drink it, but people went crazy over it!" Gardens in the Dunes is a project which is not motivated by market interests. Instead, it is pushed by revolutionary ideas and thoughts. These are what grow in Leslie Marmon Silko's garden.

Robert Frost (1874-1963), four-time Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, teacher and lecturer wrote many popular and oft-quoted poems including “After Apple-Picking”, “The Road Not Taken”, “Home Burial” and “Mending Wall”;

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

At times bittersweet, sometimes ironic, or simply marveling at his surroundings, one can also see autobiographical details in Frost’s works; he suffered devastating losses in his life including the untimely deaths of his sister, two of his children and his wife. He knew the soul’s depths of psychic despair but was also capable of delighting in birch trees ‘loaded with ice a sunny winter morning.’

Robert Lee Frost (named after Southern General Robert E. Lee) was born on 26 March 1874 in San Francisco, California to Isabelle Moodie (1844-1900) teacher, and William Prescott Frost Jr. (1850-1885), teacher and journalist. San Francisco was a lively city full of citizens of Pioneering spirit, including Will who had ventured there from New Hampshire to seek his fortune as a journalist. He also started gambling and drinking, habits which left his family in dire financial straits when he died in 1885 after contracting tuberculosis. Honoring his last wishes to be buried in Lawrence, Massachusetts where he was born, Isabelle, Robert and his sister Jeanie Florence (1876-1929) made the long train journey across the country to the New England town. Isabelle took up teaching again to support her children.

With both parents as teachers, young Robert was early on exposed to the world of books and reading, studying such works as those by William Shakespeare and poets Robert Burns and William Wordsworth. He also formed a life-long love of nature, the great outdoors and rural countryside. After enrolling in Lawrence High School he was soon writing his own poems including “La Noche Triste” (1890) which was published in the school’s paper. He excelled in many subjects including history, botany, Latin and Greek, and played football, graduating at the head of his class. In 1892 he entered Dartmouth, the Ivy League College in Hanover, New Hampshire, but soon became disenchanted with the atmosphere of campus life. He then took on a series of jobs including teaching and working in a mill, all the while continuing to write poetry.

Frost got his first break as a poet in 1894 when the New York magazine Independent published “My Butterfly: An Elegy” for a stipend of $15. A year later a wish he had had for some time came true; on 19 December 1895 he married Elinor Miriam White (1872-1938), his co-valedictorian and sweetheart from school. They had gone separate ways upon graduation to attend college, and while Frost had left early, Elinor wanted to wait until she was finished before getting married. They would have six children together; sons Elliott (b.1896-1900) and Carol (1902-1940) and daughters Lesley (b.1899), Irma (b.1903), Marjorie (b.1905-1934), and Elinor Bettina (1907-1907).

The newlyweds continued to teach, which Frost always enjoyed, but the demanding schedule interfered with his writing. In 1897 he entered Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, though illness caused him to leave in 1899 before finishing his degree. Despite that, it was one of many institutions that would award him an honorary degree later on. The next ten years, the ‘Derry years’, were trying times for Frost with a growing family to support. In 1900 they moved to a farm bought by his paternal grandfather in Derry, New Hampshire to try poultry farming. The same year his son Elliot died of cholera. Frost suffered greatly from grief and guilt, and compounding this was the loss of his mother to cancer the same year. In 1907 Elinor Bettina died just one day after birth. But the farm was a peaceful and secluded setting and Frost enjoyed farming, tending to his orchard trees, chickens and various other chores. This period inspired such poems as “The Mending Wall” (written in England in 1913) and “Hyla Brook” (1906). The house built in the typical New England clapboard style is now a restored State Historical Landmark.

In 1911 he sold the farm and the Frosts set sail for England. Frost’s first collection of poetry A Boy’s Will was published in England in 1913 by a small London printer, David Nutt. American publisher Henry Holt printed it in 1915. Frost’s work was well-received and fellow poets Edward Thomas and Ezra Pound became friends, supporters, and helped promote his work. North of Boston (1914) followed. When World War I started the Frosts were back in New Hampshire, settling at their newly bought farm in Franconia in 1915. A year later Robert began teaching English at Amherst College. Mountain Interval was published in 1916 which contained many poems written at Franconia. He was also starting lecture tours for his ever-growing audience of avid readers.

In 1920, Frost bought ‘Stone House’ (now a museum) in South Shaftsbury, Vermont. There he wrote many of the poems contained in his fourth collection of poetry New Hampshire (1923) which won him the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. It includes “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening”;

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

While he also farmed on the idyllic property with its breathtaking views of mountains and valleys, another project Frost undertook was the founding of the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont. After his son Carol married Lillian LaBatt (1905-1995) and his grandson Prescott arrived, he gave them Stone House to live in where Carol planted his thousand apple trees. Frost bought a second farm in Shaftsbury, “The Gulley.”At the height of his career, his next collection of poems West-running Brook (1928) was published just one year before another great loss of a loved one hit him; his sister Jeanie died.

By now Frost was a popular speaker and had a demanding schedule of which Elinor, acting as his secretary, organised for him, so he spent a fair bit of time traveling, though still maintaining an impressive output of poetry. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry a second time in 1931 for his Collected Poems (1930), and also in 1937 for A Further Range (1936), and yet again in 1943 for his collection A Witness Tree (1942). All his children were married and he spent much time with them and his grandchildren, though it was not long before the heavy blows of loss struck again; his beloved daughter Marjorie died in 1934 after the birth of her first child, and in 1938 Elinor died of a heart attack. In 1940 Carol committed suicide.

Leaving the Stone House and The Gulley behind, in 1939 Frost bought the Homer Noble Farm in Ripton, Vermont for his summer residence, located near the Bread Loaf School. He occupied the cabin on the property ‘Than smoke and mist who better could appraise, The kindred spirit of an inner haze?’ (“A Cabin in the Clearing”) while his friends and colleagues the Morrisons stayed in the main house. Collected Poems (1939) was followed by A Masque of Reason (play, 1945), Steeple Bush (1947), A Masque of Mercy (play, 1947), Complete Poems (1949), and In the Clearing (1962). At the Inauguration of American President John F. Kennedy on 20 January 1961, Frost recited his poem “The Gift Outright” (1942).

Robert Frost died on the 29th of January 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts. ‘Safe!, Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night be too dark for me to see, Into the future. Let what will be, be.’ (“Acceptance”) He lies buried in the family plot in the Old Bennington Cemetery behind the Old First Congregational Church near Shaftsbury, Vermont. His gravestone reads ‘I Had A Lover’s Quarrel With The World’.


Fresh from school and in his early twenties now, I was full of thought, often very abstract thought, longing all the while to be full of images, because I had gone to the art school instead of a university.”—from his memoir Four Years (1887-1891) (1921). The Yeats were now living in London in Bedford Park where Yeats’ aesthetic sensibility was oftentimes offended by the ubiquitous red brick, however their home was the lively gathering place for their many writer and artist friends to discuss politics, religion, literature, and art. Around this time Yeats met George Bernard Shaw and William Ernest Henley, editor of London’s The National Observer who became a friend and mentor. He also met many of the other up-and-coming authors and poets of his generation and writes of one in his memoir “My first meeting with Oscar Wilde was an astonishment. I never before heard a man talking with perfect sentences, as if he had written them all over night with labour and yet all spontaneous.” (ibid). In the year 1890 he and Ernest Rhys founded the London-based Rhymers Club. Yeats’ pre-Raphaelite inspired The Wanderings of Usheen [Oisin] and other Poems was published in 1889, which included “The Ballad of Moll Magee”, the traditional Irish song “Down By The Salley Gardens” and “The Stolen Child”.

Yeats was often homesick for Ireland, of which his poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” was one of the results,

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Though he visited Sligo almost every summer, he also kept a busy schedule in London: when he was not attending lectures or meetings with the Club, he spent time in the British Museum of Natural History doing research for such collaborations as Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888), Irish Fairy Tales (1892), and A Book of Irish Verse (1895). He was often shy around women but made the acquaintance of many who became friends including poet Katharine Tynan (1861-1931) and Madame Blavatsky (1831-1891), founder of the Theosophical Society of which Yeats joined in 1888. A year later he met his muse and source of unrequited love; poet, feminist, actress, and revolutionary Maud Gonne (1865-1953).

The Abbey Theatre and Beyond

In 1894 Yeats met friend and patron Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) of Coole Park and thus began their involvement with The Irish Literary Theatre which was founded in 1899 in Dublin. (It would become the Abbey Theatre in 1904). As its chief playwright, one of the first plays to be performed there was Yeats’ Cathleen ni Houlihan, with Gonne in the title role. The Abbey Theatre, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, opened in December of 1904 and became the flagship for leading Irish playwrights and actors. Yeats’ On Baile’s Strand was one of its first productions. Of his many dramatic and successful works to follow, The Countess Cathleen (1892), The Land of Heart’s Desire (1894) and The King’s Threshold (1904) are among his best known. When Synge died in 1909 Yeats helped to finish his manuscript for Deirdre of the Sorrows. In 1911 the Abbey Theatre embarked on a tour of the United States.

As a successful poet and playwright now, in 1903 Yeats went on his first lecture tour of the United States, and again in 1914, 1920, and 1932. Yeats and his sisters started the Cuala Press in 1904, which would print over seventy titles by such authors as Ezra Pound, Rabindranath Tagore, Elizabeth Bowen, Jack and John Yeats, and Patrick Kavanagh, before it closed in 1946. At the age of forty-six, in 1911, Yeats met Georgie (George) Hyde Lees (1892-1968) and they married on 20 October, 1917. They had two children; Anne (born 1919) and for whom he wrote “A Prayer for My Daughter”;

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Michael was born on 22 August 1921, for whom Yeats wrote “A Prayer for My Son”;

Bid a strong ghost stand at the head
That my Michael may sleep sound,
Nor cry, nor turn in the bed
Till his morning meal come round;
And may departing twilight keep
All dread afar till morning's back.

George shared Yeats’ interest in mystical and esoteric subjects and introduced him to automatic writing. With her assistance he wrote A Vision (1925), Yeats’ attempt at explanation for his elaborate philosophy and use of symbolism in his poetry.

Later Years and on to Under bare Ben Bulben's head

The same year that the Easter Rising occurred, of which some of his friends had participated and which prompted his poem “Easter” (Sept. 1916)” the first volume of Yeats’ autobiography Reveries over Childhood and Youth (1916) was published, the second following in 1922 titled The Trembling of the Veil. In 1917 Yeats bought the Norman tower ‘Thoor Ballylee’ near Coole Park in Galway for his summer home; “The Wild Swans at Coole” was published in 1919. The same year civil war broke out in Ireland, Yeats received an Honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin (1922). He was elected to the Irish senate the same year, where he served for six years before resigning to due to failing health. In December of 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and continued to work on his essays, poetry and the poetry anthology Oxford Book of Modern Verse 1892-1935 (1936). In 1933, Yeats participated in his first of many BBC radio broadcasts. He was also living in his home ‘Riversdale’ at Rathfarnham, near Dublin when not spending winters in warmer climes.

At the age of seventy-three William Butler Yeats died, on 28 January 1939, in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France. He was first buried there then as were his wishes, in 1948 re-interred “under bare Ben Bulben’s head” in Drumcliff churchyard, County Sligo, Ireland. His gravestone is inscribed with the epitaph Cast a cold Eye, On Life, On Death. Horseman.pass by! A bronze sculpture of Yeats by Rowan Gillespie stands on Stephen Street overlooking Sligo town and features snippets from his poetry. His last poem written was “The Black Tower” in 1939.

Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a little.—from “This Book”, The Celtic Twilight (1893)

Other Works include;

Poems (1895),
The Secret Rose (1897),
The Wind Among the Reeds (1899),
Diarmuid and Grania (1901),
The Pot of Broth (1902),
In The Seven Woods (1903),
Where There Is Nothing (1904),
Collected Works in Prose and Verse (1906),
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910),
Responsibilities: Poems and A Play (1914),
At the Hawks Well (1917),
Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1920),
Four Plays for Dancers (1921),
The Tower and Other Poems (1928),
Words for Music, Perhaps (1932),
The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933),
A Full Moon in March (1935),
Dramatis Personae (1935),
Essays 1931-1936 (1937),
New Poems (1938), and
Last Poems (1939).


EXTENDED BIBLIOGRAPHY of Major Twentieth Century Writers

Abe, Kobo. Fiction.

Achebe, Chinua. Arrow of God. Anthills of the Savannah. Things Fall Apart.

Albee, Edward. Plays.

Allen, Woody. Collected Screenplays. Memoirs, essays, stories.

Alvarez, Julia. Stories and novels.

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. The Robber Bride. Lady Oracle. Alias Grace.

Beckett, Samuel. "Waiting for Godot."

Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones.

Braverman, Kate. Lithium for Medea.. Collected stories.

Bulgakov, Mikhail. The Master and Margarita.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. The Plague. Essays.

Carver, Raymond. Short story collections.

cummings, e.e. collected poems.

DeLillo, Don. Underworld. White Noise. Libra. Mao II.

Duras, Marguerite. Moderato Cantabile. The Lover.

Eliot, T.S. Poems and Plays.

Ellison, Ralph. The Invisible Man.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.

Genet, Jean. Plays. The Thief's Journal. Funeral Rites.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer.

Gordimer, Nadine. Fiction.

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Beautiful and the Damned. The Great Gatsby.

Frost, Robert. Collected Poetry

Hemingway, Ernest. Farewell to Arms. The Old Man and the Sea. To Have or Have Not. The Sun Also Rises.

Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund, Steppenwolf, Magister Ludi, etc.

Huxley, Aldous. Point Counter Point. Brave New World. Island. After Many a Summer Dies the Swan.

Ionesco, Eugene. Exit the King , The Lesson, The Bald Soprano, and other plays.

Jalloun, Ben. The Sand Child.

Joyce, James. Ulysses. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.

Jung, Carl. Psychology books.

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. The Penal Colony.

Kundera, Milan. Immortality. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Kushner, Tony. "Angels in America."

Lawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterly's Lover. Women in Love.

Mamet, David. Screenplays and Plays. "Wag the Dog." "The Spanish Prisoner.""The Verdict."

Mann, Thomas. The Magic Mountain. Death in Venice.

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Love in the Time of Cholera. News of a Kidnapping.

Min, Anchee. Red Azalea.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Jazz. Paradise. Beloved. Sula.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita.

O'Neill, Eugene. Collected Plays.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Where is Here? Black Water. American Appetites. My Heart Laid Bare, etc.

Paz, Octavio. Fiction and poetry.

Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past .

Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity's Rainbow. Mason and Dixon.

Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism. The Wall. Being and Nothingness. No Exit.

Shaw, George Bernard. Complete Plays.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Grapes of Wrath.

Suskind, Patrick. Perfume.

Updike, John. In the Beauty of the Lilies. Toward the End of Time.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Timequake.

Williams, Tennessee. Collected Plays.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Mrs. Dalloway. Orlando. A Room of One's Own. Critical essays.

The following are famous quotes by twentieth century writers. Guess who wrote each one!

The future belongs to crowds.

When the old God goes, they pray to flies and bottletops.

Hell is other people.

Writing and reading...require being alert and ready for unaccountable beauty, for the intricateness or simple elegance of the writer's imagination, for the world that imagination evokes. Both require being mindful of the places where imagination sabotages itself, locks its own gates, pollutes its vision. Writing and reading mean being aware of the writer's notions of risk and safety, the serene achievement of, or sweaty fight for, meaning and response-ability.

Whatever may be their use in civilised societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.

Poets are men who refuse to utilize language.

Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but it is noble to live life, and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.

"Success prompts to exertion; and habit facilitates success." That is a man's sentence; was a sentence that was unsuited for a woman's use....Moreover a book is not made of sentences laid end to end, but of sentences built, if an image helps, into arcades or domes. And this shape too has been made by men out of their own needs for their own uses. There is no reason to think that the form of the epic or the poetic play suits a woman any more than the sentence suits her. The novel alone was young enough to be soft in her hands-- another reason, perhaps, why she wrote novels.

The "engaged" writer knows that words are actions.

Writers are among the most sensitive, the most intellectually anarchic, most representative, most probing of artists. The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power. The languages they use and the social and historical context in which these languages signify are indirect and direct revelations of that power and its limitations.

Why write? Each one has his reasons: for one, art is a flight; for another, a means of conquering.

One of the chief motives of artistic creation is certainly the need of feeling that we are essential in relation to the world.

All our literature and art are for the masses of the people, and in the first place for the workers, peasants and soldiers; they are created for the workers, peasants and soldiers and are for their use.

...a great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilised and uses all its faculties.

Like a domestic animal, time doesn't move without human beings' strict supervision.

When the words form under his pen, the author doubtless sees them, but he does not see them as the reader does, since he knows them before writing them down. The function of his gaze is not to reveal, by stroking them, the sleeping words which are waiting to be read, but to control the sketching of the signs.

What does death matter? Communism is the truth. Because they appear almost always in conjunction with representations of black or Africanist people who are dead, impotent, or under complete control, these images of blinding whiteness seem to function as both antidote for and meditation on the shadow that is companion to this whiteness-- a dark and abiding presence that moves the hearts and texts of American literature with fear and longing.

Imagine a world in which there is no time. Only images.

Race has become metaphorical-- a way of referring to and disguising forces, events, classes, and expressions of social decay and economic division far more threatening to the body politic than biological "race" ever was.

It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. It is fatal for a woman to lay the least stress on any grievance; to plead even with justice any cause; in any way to speak consciously as a woman. And fatal is no figure of speech for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilised. ...Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the act of creation can be accomplished.

Reading seems, in fact, to be the synthesis of perception and creation.

In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time. The first is as rigid and metallic as a massive pendulum of iron that swings back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The second squirms and wriggles like a bluefish at bay. The first is unyielding, predetermined. The second makes up its mind as it goes along.... Where the two times meet, desperation. Where the two times go their separate ways, contentment. ... Each time is true but the truths are not the same.

There is no romance free of what Herman Melville called "the power of blackness," especially not in a country in which there was a resident population, already black, upon which the imagination could play; through which historical, moral, metaphysical, and social fears, problems, and dichotomies could be articulated. The slave population, it could be and was assumed, offered itself up as surrogate selves for meditation on problems of human freedom, its lure and its elusiveness. This black population was available for meditations on terror-- the terror of European outcasts, their dread of failure, powerlessness, Nature without limits, natal loneliness, internal aggression, evil, sin, greed.

In order to know himself, each person carries his own Book of Life, which is filled with the history of his life. ...With time, each person's Book of Life thickens until it cannot be read in its entirety....Some have stopped reading altogether. ... Such people walk with the limber stride of their youth. Such people have learned how to live in a world without memory.

I fear for you young people because you do not understand how strong is the bond of kinship. You do not know what it is to speak with one voice. And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you. A man can now leave his father and his brotheres. He can curse the gods of his fatheres and his ancestors, like a hunter's dog that suddenly goes mad and turns on his master.

Dear Students: Now that you have all the facts, it is your turn to read closely and carefully, to apply prosody to your analysis, and to give us your personal, subjective impressions of the literature, how it changes your life, relates to your major, and helps understand, and perhaps solve, some of the global problems we face.