Major Twentieth Century Writers

 

Come to Narcissism versus Psychological Depth

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.

1903. First flight in heavier-than-air machine by Wright brothers in USA; first silent movie, The Great Train Robbery; Henry James, The Ambassadors; Daily Mirror started; Nobel prize – B. Bjornson (N).

1904. New York subway opens; Russo-Japanese war begins; Henry James, The Golden Bowl; Joseph Conrad, Nostromo; Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard; Death of Chekhov; Nobel prize – F. Mistral (F) and J. Echegary (Sp).

1905. ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre of protesters in St Petersburg; Einstein, Special Theory of Relativity; Freud, Theory of Sexuality; E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread; Nobel prize – H. Sienkiewicz (P).

1906. First Liberal government in UK; death of Ibsen; General strike in Russia – followed by first (limited) democratic parliament; Women’s Suffrage movement active; San Francisco destroyed by earthquake and fire; Labour Party formed. Nobel prize – G. Carducci (I)

1907. Belgium seizes Congo; Austria seizes Bosnia and Herzegovina; Picasso introduces cubism; first electric washing machine; Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent; E.M.Forster, The Longest Journey; Nobel prize – Rudyard Kipling (UK)

1908. Ford introduces Model-T; Elgar’s First Symphony; E.M.Forster, A Room with a View; first Old Age Pensions; Nobel prize – R. Eucken (G)

1909. Ford produces first cheap cars – Model T; Death of George Meredith; Bleriot flies across English Channel; Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto; Vaughn Williams Fantasy on a Theme of Thomas Tallis; Nobel – S. Lagerlöf (S)


1910. Death of Tolstoy, Edward VII, and Florence Nightingale; E.M.Forster, Howards End; Arnold Bennett, Clayhanger; H.G.Wells, The History of Mr Polly; Nobel prize – P. Heyse (G).

1911. Rutherford discovers structure of atom in Manchester; Chinese revolution; Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes; D.H. Lawrence, The White Peacock; Nobel prize – M. Maeterlink (Be).

1912. China becomes a republic following revolution; Sinking of the Titanic; railway, mining, and coal strikes in UK. Daily Herald started; Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire; Nobel prize – G. Hauptmann (G)

1913. New Statesman started; first crossword puzzle; Thomas Mann, Death in Venice; D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers; Stravinsky The Rite of Spring; Nobel prize – R. Tagore (In)

1914. Outbreak of first world war; first traffic lights; Panama Canal opened; James Joyce, Dubliners; Marcel Proust begins to publish A la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past); Nobel prize – not awarded.

1915. First air attacks on London; Germans use poison gas in war; Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis; Einstein, General Theory of Relativity; D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow; Ford Maddox Ford, The Good Soldier; D.W.Griffith, The Birth of a Nation; Nobel prize – R. Roland (F).

1916. First Battle of the Somme; Battle of Verdun; Australians slaughtered in Gallipoli campaign; Easter Rising in Dublin; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Prokofiev Classical Symphony; Nobel prize – V. von Heidenstam (S).

1917. USA enters the war; October Revolution in Russia; battle of Passchendaele; T.S. Eliot Prufrock and Other Observations; Nobel prize – K. Gjellerup (D) and H. Pontoppidan (Da).

1918. Second Battle of the Somme; German offensive collapses; end of war [Nov 11]; Votes for women over 30; influenza pandemic kills millions; Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians; Nobel prize – not awarded.

1919. Peace Treaty ratified at Versailles; Einstein’s Relativity Theory confirmed during solar eclipse; Breakup of former Habsburg Empire; Alcock and Brown make first flight across Atlantic; prohibition in US;
Ronald Firbank, Valmouth; Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony; Nobel prize – K. Spitteler (Sw).
 

1920. League of Nations established; Oxford University admits women;
D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love; Nobel prize – K. Hamsun (N).

1921. Irish Free State proclaimed; extreme inflation in Germany; Fatty Arbuckle scandal in US; Nobel prize – Anatole France (F).

1922. Fascists march on Rome under Mussolini; Kemel Ataturk founds modern Turkey; T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land; James Joyce, Ulysses; Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party; Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; John Galsworthy, The Forsyth Saga; Nobel prize – J. Benavente (Sp).

1923. Charleston craze; BBC begins radio broadcasting in the UK; William Walton Facade; Nobel prize – W.B. Yeats (Ir).

1924. First UK Labour government formed under Ramsey MacDonald (lasts nine months); Deaths of Lenin, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Conrad; Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain; E.M. Forster, A Passage to India; Nobel prize – W. Raymont (P).


1925. John Logie Baird televises an image of a human face; Webern Wozzeck; Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf; Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; Nobel prize – George Bernard Shaw (UK).

1926. UK General Strike; first demonstration of television in UK; Fritz Lang, Metropolis; Nobel prize – G. Deledda (I).

1927. Lindbergh flies solo across Atlantic; first talkie film – Al Jolson in ‘The Jazz Singer’; Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Nobel prize – Henri Bergson (Fr).


1928. Women in UK get same voting rights as men; Death of Thomas Hardy; first Oxford English Dictionary published; penicillin discovered;
D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover;
Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall; Nobel prize – S. Undset (N).

1929. Slump in US, followed by collapse of New York Stock Exchange; Start of world economic depression; Second UK Labour government under MacDonald;
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own; first experimental television broadcast; Kurt Weil The Threepenny Opera; Nobel prize – Thomas Mann (G).

1930. Mass unemployment in UK; Death of D.H. Lawrence.
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying; Nobel prize – Sinclair Lewis (US).

1931. Resignation of UK Labour government, followed by formation of national coalition government; Empire State building completed in New York; Virginia Woolf, The Waves; Nobel prize – R.A. Karfeldt (S).

1932. Hunger marches start in UK; scientists split the atom; air conditioning invented; Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; Nobel prize – John Galsworthy (UK).

1933. Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany; first Nazi concentration camps; prohibition ends in US; Radio Luxembourg begins commercial broadcasts to UK; George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London;Jean Vigo, L’Atalante; Nobel prize – Ivan Bunin (USSR).

1934. Hitler becomes Dictator; Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust; Samuel Beckett, More Pricks than Kicks; Nobel prize – Luigi Pirandello (I).

1935. Germany re-arms; Italians invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia); Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet; Nobel prize – not awarded.

1936. Death of George V in UK, followed by Edward VIII, who is forced to abdicate; Stalinist show trials in USSR; Civil War in Spain begins; Germany re-occupies the Rheinland; BBC begins television transmissions; Aaron Copland El Salon Mexico; Nobel prize – Eugene O’Neil (USA).

1937. Neville Chamberlain UK prime minister; Destruction of Guernica;
George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier; Nobel prize – Roger Martin du Gard (Fr).



1938. Germans occupy Austria; Chamberlain meets Hitler to make infamous Munich ‘agreement’ to prevent war; Samuel Beckett, Murphy; John Dos Passos, USA; Nobel prize – Pearl S. Buck (USA).

1939. Fascists win Civil War in Spain; Stalin makes pact with Hitler; Germany invades Poland; Britain and France declare war on Germany; helicopter invented;
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake; Nobel prize – F.E. Silanpaa (Fi).

1940. Germany invades north-west Europe; Fall of France; British troops evacuated from Dunkirk; Battle of Britain; Start of ‘Blitz’ bombing raids over London; Churchill heads national coalition government; assassination of Trotsky; Nobel prize – not awarded.

1941. Germany invades USSR; Japanese destroy US fleet at Pearl Harbour; USA enters the war; siege of Leningrad; Deaths of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf; Orson Wells, Citizen Kane; Nobel prize – not awarded.

1942. Battle of Stalingrad; Battle of Midway; Beveridge report establishes basis of modern Welfare State; T-shirt invented; Nobel prize – not awarded.

1943. Anglo-American armies invade Italy; Warsaw uprising; Nobel prize – not awarded.

1944. D-Day invasion of France; ball-point pens go on sale; German V1 and V2 rockets fired; R.A. Butler’s Education Act; Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring; Nobel prize – J.V. Jensen (Da).


1945. End of war in Europe; Atomic bombs dropped on Japan; first computer built; microwave oven invented; United Nations founded; huge Labour victory in UK general election; Atlee becomes prime minister, George Orwell, Animal Farm; Nobel prize – G. Mistral (Ch).

1946. Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech; Nuremberg war trials; bikinis introduced; United Nations opens in New York; Nobel prize – Herman Hesse (Sw)

1947. Marshall Plan of aid to Europe; Jewish refugees turned away by UK; Polaroid camera invented; coal and other industries nationalised in UK; transfer of power to independent India, Pakistan, and Burma. Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus; Nobel prize – A. Gide (Fr)

1948. Berlin airlift; state of Israel founded; Railways and electricity nationalised in UK; Bevan launches National Health Service in UK. Nobel prize – T.S. Eliot (UK)

1949. East Germany created; Mao Tse Tung declares Republic of China; NATO founded; Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex; George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four; Nobel prize – W. Faulkner (USA)


1950. India declares itself a republic; UK and USA attack Korea; first credit cards; first organ transplant; Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard; Nobel prize – Bertrand Russell (UK)

1951. Festival of Britain; first colour TV; Conservatives defeat Labour in UK general election; Churchill becomes prime minister; UK troops seize Suez Canal zone; Benjamin Britten Billy Budd; Samuel Beckett, Malloy; Nobel prize – P. Lagerkvist (S)

1952. Death of George V. Accession of Queen Elizabeth II at 25;
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man; Nobel prize – F. Mauriac (Fr)

1953. DNA discovered; conquest of Everest; Death of Stalin – and Prokofiev on same day; Nobel prize – Winston Churchill (UK)

1954. British troops withdrawn from Egypt; Four-minute mile broken; Nobel prize – E. Hemingway (USA)

1955. European Union created; Warsaw Pact founded; V. Nabokov, Lolita; Patrick White, The Tree of Man; Nobel prize – H. Laxness (Ic)

1956. Khruschchev denounces Stalin at Communist Party Conference; Anglo-French invasion of Suez, followed by withdrawal; Hungarian uprising crushed by Soviets; Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies; Nobel prize – J. Ramon Jiminez (Sp)



1957. European Economic Community established; Homosexuality decriminalised in UK; Patrick White, Voss; Nobel prize – A. Camus (Fr)

1958. Orson Wells, Touch of Evil; Nobel prize – B. Pasternak (USSR) [forced to refuse it]

1959. Castro overthrows Batista regime in Cuba; first motorway opened in UK; Nobel prize – S. Quasimodo (I)

1960. Sharpville massacres in S Africa; new republics declared in Africa; Lady Chatterley’s Lover cleared of charges of obscenity in UK; J.F. Kennedy elected US president; Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho; Nobel prize – A. St. Leger (Fr)

1961. Adolf Eichman on trial for role in Holocaust; USSR makes first manned space flight; USA-backed Bay of Pigs attack in Cuba fails; Berlin Wall erected; Patrick White, Riders in the Chariot; Samuel Beckett, Happy Days; Nobel prize – L. Andric (Y)

1962. US sends troops to Vietnam; Cuban missile crisis; Nelson Mandela jailed; Please Please Me first Beatles hit; Nobel prize – J. Steinbeck (USA)

1963. French veto Britain’s application to join European Common Market; Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech; Profumo scandal in UK; Kennedy assassination in USA; Nobel prize – G. Seferis (Gr)

1964. Khruschchev deposed by Breshnev in USSR; Vietnam attacks US destroyer in Gulf of Tonkin; Labour party gains power in UK under Harold Wilson; Saul Bellow, Herzog. Nobel prize – J-P. Sartre (Fr) [prize not accepted]

1965. Malcolm X assassinated; India invades Pakistan; US air raids in Vietnam; anti-war protests in US and Europe; Harold Pinter, The Homecoming; Nobel prize – M. Sholokov (USSR) [authorship subsequently disputed]

1966. Black Panthers established in US; Cultural revolution under Mao in China; Britain wins Wold Cup in football; Nobel prize – Samuel Agnon, Nelly Sachs (Il)

1967. Israel seizes land in 6 day war; first heart transplant; first colour TV transmissions in UK; Stalin’s daughter defects to west; ‘Summer of Love’ hippy demonstrations in San Francisco; decriminalisation of homosexuality in UK; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude; Nobel prize – Miguel Angel Asturias (Gu)

1968. Martin Luther King assassinated; student protests in Paris; USSR invades Czechoslovakia; theatre censorship abolished in UK after 23 years; Tet offensive in Vietnam; Nobel prize – Yasunari Kawabata (Jp)

1969. UK troops sent into N Ireland; US puts first men on the moon; death penalty abolished in UK; precursor of the Internet, ARPANET created; Woodstock music festival; Monty Python’s Flying Circus first broadcast; Nobel prize – Samuel Beckett (Ire)

1970. My Lai massacre; Rubber bullets used in N Ireland; Allende elected socialist president in Chile; anti-government demonstrations in Poland; age of majority lowered to 18 in UK; invention of computer floppy disks; Germaine Greer, The Femail Eunuch; Patrick White, The Vivesector; Nobel prize – Alexander Solzhenitsyn (USSR)

1971. Open University begins in UK; internment without trial in N Ireland; China joins UN; Nixon resumes bombing of Vietnam; video recorders introduced; Britain negotiates entry into EU; Nobel prize – Pablo Neruda (Ch)

1972. Miners strike in UK; Bloody Sunday in N Ireland; Watergate scandal begins in US; Nobel prize – Heinrich Böll (Gr)

1973. Allende government overthrown by Pinochet in Chile; industrial strikes in UK; Arab-Israeli war; abortion legalised in US; US pulls out of Vietnam; Britain enters the European Common Market; Nobel prize – Patrick White (Aus)

1974. Miners strike in UK; Impeachment and resignation of president Nixon in US; Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist; Nobel prize – Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson (Sw)

1975. Margaret Thatcher elected leader of Tories in UK; Vietnam war ends with hasty retreat of US troops; first elections in Portugal for 50 years; Microsoft founded; Nobel prize – Eugenio Montale (It)

1976. Jeremy Thorpe resigns as UK liberal leader following sex scandal; Britain found guilty of torture in N Ireland; Jimmy Carter elected president in US; Patrick White, A Fringe of Leaves; Nobel prize – Saul Bellow (USA)

1977. First democratic elections in Spain since 1936; student activist Steve Biko tortured to death in S Africa; Punk rock fashionable; Nobel prize – Vicente Aleixandre (Sp)

1978. World’s first test tube baby; Nobel prize – Isaac Bashevis Singer (USA)

1979. Shah leaves Iran; Ayatollah Khomeni returns from exile in Paris; Islamic republic declared; Margaret Thatcher elected first woman PM in UK; first heart transplant; Pol Pot convicted of murdering 3 million in Cambodia; Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now; Nobel prize – Odysseus Elytis (Gk)

1980. USSR Nobel peace prizewinner Sakharov sent into internal exile; Mugabe’s establishes one-party ZANU(PF) state in Zimbabwe; outbreak of Iran-Iraq war; Solidarity trade union recognised by Polish government; Ronald Regan elected US president; John Lennon shot in New York; Nobel prize – Czeslaw Milosz (Po)

1981. Greece joins EEC; Social Democrats launched in UK – merges with Liberals; Peter Sutcliffe convicted of Yorkshire Ripper murders; Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer; first reports of AIDS; Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children; Nobel prize – Elias Canetti (UK!)

1982. Argentina invades Malvinas (Falklands); UK re-takes islands; General Galtieri resigns; Polish government abolishes Solidarity; death of Breshnev; Nobel prize – Gabriel García Márquez (Co)

1983. Demonstrations in 20 Polish cities; IRA prisoners escape from Maze prison; US-backed invasion of Grenada; Cruise missiles installed in UK; Nobel prize – William Golding (UK)

1984. UK miners strike against pit closures; USSR boycotts Olympics in LA; Mrs Gandhi assassinated; Nobel prize – Jaroslav Seifert (Cz) (Note how many of the Nobel Prize Winners come from all over the world now, not just the Euro-American sector.

1985. USSR reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika called for by Gorbachev; Greenpeace ship sunk by French agents in NZ; Nobel prize – Claude Simon (Fr)

1986. Westland scandal in UK government; press disputes lead to move from Fleet Street to Wapping in UK; legal independence for Australia; US bomb Benghazi and Tripoli; Chernobyl nuclear disaster; 180-day detention without trial in S Africa; US and Commonwealth impose sanctions on South Africa; Nobel prize – Wole Soyinka (Ni)

1987. Gorbachev begins critique of Breshnev in USSR; white-only elections in S Africa; Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie guilty of crimes against humanity; Iran attacks US tanker in Persian Gulf; DNA first used to convict criminals; Nobel prize – Joseph Brodsky (USA)

1988. IRA members shot by UK in Gibraltar; first Gulf war begins; Gorbachev proposes democratic reforms in USSR; George Bush Snr president in US; Nobel prize – Naguib Mahfouz (Eg)

1989. Khomeini issues fatwa on Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses; Tiananamen Square massacre; elections, protests, and shakeups in Communist block; E Germany closes borders after demonstrations for reform; Iron Curtain begins to be removed; Romanian leader Ceausescu executed; playwright Vaclav Havel becomes Czech president; Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web; Nobel prize – Camilo José Cela (Sp)

1990. Lech Walesa becomes first president of Poland; Nelson Mandela freed after 27 years in jail; John Major replaces Margaret Thatcher as UK prime minister; Derek Walcott, Omeros; Nobel prize – Octavio Paz (Mx)

1991. Collapse of the Soviet Union; Apartheid laws repealed in S Africa; Iraq invades Kuwait; first Gulf war begins with Operation desert Storm; Satellite-based communications become established for TV and Internet; Nobel prize – Nadine Gordimer (SA)

1992. Official end of Cold War; Nobel prize – Derek Walcott (SL)
1993. Bosnian civil war; Use of the Internet grows exponentially; Nobel prize – Toni Morrison (USA)

1994. Channel tunnel opens in UK; Mandela elected president of S Africa; Rawandan genocide; Nobel prize – Kenzaburo Oe (Jp)

1995. Nobel prize – Seamus Heaney (Ire)

1996. Prince Charles divorces Princess Diana in UK; Mad cow disease hits UK; Nobel prize – Wislawa Szymborska (Po)

1997. Hong Kong returns to China; Princess Diana dies in car crash in Paris; Tony Blair wins landslide victory in UK with New Labour Party; Nobel prize – Dario Fo (It)

1998. India and Pakistan test nuclear weapons; US President Clinton in sex scandal; use of mobile phones and Internet becomes commonplace; digital technology widely introduced into broadcast media; Nobel prize – José Saramago (Pt)

1999. New Euro currency introduced; NATO forces in Serbia; hereditary peers abolished in UK House of Lords; Nobel prize – Gunter Grass (Gr)

2000. First elected Mayor of London in UK; Legal age for consensual gay sex reduced to 16;Nobel prize – Gao Xingjian (Fr)

2001. Labour Party re-elected with huge majority; Twin Towers attacked and destroyed in New York; Britain joins US in Afghanistan war; Nobel prize – V.S. Naipaul (UK)

2002. Nobel prize – Imre Kertész (Hu)

2003. Nobel prize – J.M.Coetzee (SA)

2004. Nobel prize – Elfriede Jelinek (Au)

2005. Nobel prize – Harold Pinter (UK)

2006. Nobel prize – Orhan Pamuk (Tk)

2007. Nobel prize – Doris Lessing (UK)

2008. Nobel prize – J.M.G Le Clezio (Fr)

2009. Nobel prize – Herta Mueller (Gr)

2010 Nobel Prize – Mario Vargas Llosa (Pe)

2011 Nobel Prize - Tomas Transtromer

2012 Nobel Prize- Mo Yan (China)

2013 Nobel Prize--Alice Munro (Canada)
In his Poetics, Aristotle distinguished literature/drama/poetry from expository writing because it evokes pity and terror. The protagonist and antagonists fight each other with such intensity that the audience experiences a catharsis, or purging of their emotions. In the twentieth and twenty-first century, terrorist attacks have occurred all over the world. No matter how extensive the strike is, the objective is to instill fear in the general public. So when we create literature about terrorist events, do we minimaze or exaggerate the actual events?
 
Much of twentieth century literature was influenced by Freud, Jung and other psychoanalytic schools. The dreams and unconscious motivations of characters are often more important than their conscious thoughts and actions.
 
The terrorist novel goes back to the Gothic novels of the late eighteenth century and the Victorian novels about the anarchist movement and the Russian novels by writers like Dostoyevsky as well as Conrad's early work.
 
Margaret Scanlan wrote a book about plotting terror and it's true that many of these novels are heavily plotted, just like terrorist attacks.
 
Professor Keefer presented a paper based Part II, Unclashing Civilizations, of her fantasy trilogy, published in 2006 at the Literature and Terrorism conference in London. After the "cultural caesura" of 9/11, the world is returning again to the fictional reconstruction of the kind of terrorist attacks that have been occurring all over the world, mainly inspired by extremist Islamist ideologies that distort the traditional concept of jihad for their own aims which do include undermining the hegemony and power of the U.S. and Europe.
 
Catharsis
In an age of terror, how does literature help us transcend our reality, lend perspective to our confusion by pulling us into the past and other cultures, and give expression to our anguish and fear through catharsis? They survived it; so can we. In this course we will define terrorism the way the Arabs define it, as any organized violence, by an individual, group or state, legitimate or illegitimate, against a civilian population, either intentional or unintentional. Because this is about twentieth and twenty first century literature, we will include the two World Wars with All Quiet on the Western Front, Night, No Exit, The Plague (about Algerian terror) as well as the German occupation and natural scourges, to Islamist militant terrorism in Egypt in The Day The Leader Was Killed, Satanic Verses, God Dies by the Nile and War in the Land of Egypt, to Israeli/Palestinian terror in Martyr's Crossing and Wild Thorns, to the terror of hostage-taking and kidnapping in Mao II, News of a Kidnapping, and The Hostage, to the terror of totalitarian regimes such as China in Red Azalea and Soul Mountain. Black Water is both a personal and stylistic meditation on terror as well as an indirect indictment of the terror a powerful political leader has over an innocent civilian. Because one objective of fiction/drama is to create a combustive drama for the reader's catharsis, literature and terrorism are really competing with each other. Sometimes real life provides so much terror that the reader hides in literature for escape, seeking fantasy, happy endings, funny, harmless stories that eschew the turmoil of an unlivable situation. Often cultures will move through a transformation like New York did after 9/11, moving from the transformation of reality into tragedy with heroic stories, to silly, innocuous escapes, to some social comedy, and finally to stories that deal with fictional terror. No one can take too much of one thing. When New Yorkers were coughing from the smoke and toxins downtown, they did not go to the movies to see sci fi representations of Manhattan blowing up. Enough is enough.
 
What books give you a catharsis? What books make you want to throw up? What books don't move you at all?
Literary Representations of Terror
But literature is different from film because we can choose when and how often to put the book down. Instead of watching a naturalistic representation, we recreate the story in our minds to excite, soothe or incite us. Many of the writers we will study had personal experience of a world war, the holocaust, the Israeli checkpoints, prison for their writings or gender brutality such as clitorectomies. Some could not write for years afterwards; others wrote on toilet paper in prison. It is significant that terrorism demands a certain amount of intelligence in order to achieve its devastating effect. Formalist agenda about character, plot, style/language, theme, setting/geography, descriptive techniques and narrative point of view must be supplemented and developed to deal with how "literature engages with contemporary critical understandings of nationalism, race, gender, sexuality, global multiculturalism..." I would add cyberspace to the list. I also believe that it is stultifying to repress critical reflection on difference to be politically correct. Not only does it make us oblivious to the richness of difference, but we also lose our sense of humor.
 
Note how spare the language is in Night, Holocaust Survival and Hiroshima mon Amour. In my book, I wanted distressed students to think and laugh and so I exaggerated, twisted, fantasized in an effort to have the reader transcend the horrible reality of 9/11.
 
What are the degrees of removal from the documentary event? What is the difference between naturalism and realism, fantasy and sci fi, romantic or surreal interpretations? What increases or mitgates the actual terror for you? In my book I wrote a poem about degrees of separation from 9/11, narrated by Shoes, Watch, and Statue of Liberty.

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Psychoanalytic criticism adopts the methods of "reading" employed by Freud and later theorists to interpret texts. It argues that literary texts, like dreams, express the secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author, that a literary work is a manifestation of the author's own neuroses. One may psychoanalyze a particular character within a literary work, but it is usually assumed that all such characters are projections of the author's psyche. 

One interesting facet of this approach is that it validates the importance of literature, as it is built on a literary key for the decoding. Freud himself wrote, "The dream-thoughts which we first come across as we proceed with our analysis often strike us by the unusual form in which they are expressed; they are not clothed in the prosaic language usually employed by our thoughts, but are on the contrary represented symbolically by means of similes and metaphors, in images resembling those of poetic speech".
Like psychoanalysis itself, this critical endeavor seeks evidence of unresolved emotions, psychological conflicts, guilts, ambivalences, and so forth within what may well be a disunified literary work. The author's own childhood traumas, family life, sexual conflicts, fixations, and such will be traceable within the behavior of the characters in the literary work. But psychological material will be expressed indirectly, disguised, or encoded (as in dreams) through principles such as "symbolism" (the repressed object represented in disguise), "condensation" (several thoughts or persons represented in a single image), and "displacement" (anxiety located onto another image by means of association).
 
Despite the importance of the author here, psychoanalytic criticism is similar to New Criticism in not concerning itself with "what the author intended." But what the author never intended (that is, repressed) is sought. The unconscious material has been distorted by the censoring conscious mind.
 
How can you analyze your passage from this point of view?
Us versus Them: The Political Implications of Terrorism
After 9/11, President Bush stomped through Near and Central Asia shouting out his war decree of "us versus them," a disjunctive syllogism that wanted the world to choose between the "legitimate" power of the American war machine, capable of a nuclear holocaust, and the "illegitimate power" of disparate bands of dedicated Islamist "terrorists," armed with box-cutters, knives, and homemade suicide bombs. Since death is death no matter who inflicts it, why are the Al Qaeda operatives branded as terrorists but the American government isn't? If they could establish world dominion, would "we" be branded as terrorists?
 
Since all war inevitably kills the innocent, what makes terrorist events worse? Is it like the Indians hiding in the bushes while the British colonialists marched forthrightly to battle with their guns and flags? If terrorism is about a "surprise" attack, then what about the surprise the Japanese felt when the nuclear bomb decimated Hiroshima and their lives for years afterwards?
 
If terrorism is a deus ex machina for the victims, what does this do to dramatic structure?
 
If we continue the "us versus them" way of thinking, then how can American novelists like Don DeLillo, Andre Dubus III, and John Updike enter the minds of their Islamist characters? Do they succeed and if not, why not? To enter the mind of my antagonist, Jalal Khalifeh, I became friends with a local Egyptian who used to be in the Muslim brotherhood, and then I traveled all over Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey hanging out with locals, going to mosques, and yes, finding Al Qaeda sympathizers. I learned a lot about the good and bad interpretations of Islam and the lifestyle of devout Muslim men in their twenties but I didn't meet a senior-level Al Qaeda terrorist until I met Ibrahim al-Harbi in my father's nursing home in Ottawa who was a well-respected physician and talented poet. When we went out to dinner, he divulged his radical views, and when I invited him to NYC he implied he was on the watch list. A year later he was apprehended in Syria on his way to Iraq and deported to a Saudi Arabian prison. His limp was from the first Afghan war when he was a teenager. Then he became one of the senior operatives and was planning big things from his oasis in Canada when he was caught. This guy was one of the most brilliant people I have ever met anywhere so although terrorists may use poor people, I am not sure the 21st century terrorism is fueled by that. He hated thepolitical, economic, military, and cultural hegemony of the U.S., what Israel did and does to Palestine, and what European colonialists did to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He was fighting his own "us versus them," and he was prepared to die for his beliefs like all the other Islamists. It took a lot of courage for me to get inside his head but unfortunately I met him after my book was published! Certainly DeLillo, Updike, and Dubus didn't go through what I went through but they are excellent writers who depict the victims' point of view with sensitivity and perception.
 

How do the real-world political conflicts affect the seesaw of dramatic structure in the books you are using? Can an author create the total humanity of a 9/11 hijacker? Are 9/11 novels wrapped in a cocoon of narcissism?

It took great courage to write against the fascist governments of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Communist China. Based on utopias, deluded thinking, and/or distorted applications of Marxist thinking, these totalitarian governments ironically inspired creativity from their constraints, at least in the beginning. Once those writers were censored, imprisoned, and/or exiled, the dry periods began. But each country is different. While Mao's China fostered a kind of women's liberation with the appointment of female military officers, the librettos of the Peking Revolutionary Opera that turned women into heroes, protection against sexual harassment, and equal rights, the Soviet Union maintained women in subservient roles, and there appears to be an absence or idealization of women in much holocaust literature. Nazi Germany spent a lot of time burning books, and people, and Hitler was a frustrated artist who turned his insanity into genocide, but the Soviet Union had its own kind of realist art and film, and Mao and his wife created beautiful, colorful revolutionary operas, combining ballet, acrobatics, classical opera music, and women's liberation with Marxist plots. Because my father and brother spent a lot of time in Mao's China, I have original versions of most of these operas. Even Anchee Min loved them--at first.  
 
In order to provoke deeper thinking and help you contribute to your Wikis, imagine that you not free-thinking Westerners but members of these communities, trying to see the appeal of their rhetoric at first. In this Rogerian way of understanding oppositional counterclaims, we can better analyze how and why these fascist governments were successful.
 
Fascism also occurs all over Latin America and in many countries in Africa and Asia. But as I said before, we have courses devoted exclusively to Latin American and African literature, so I focus on the major writers of North America, the U.K.,  the Maghreb and Middle East, China, India, Russia, and Europe. To really understand the literary movements of each of these places, you would need to concentrate on minor and major writers, history, and literary theory.
Just as it is important to know Chairman Mao's Peking Revolutionary Opera to understand what writers like Gao Xingjian, Anchee Min and Dai Sijie were up against, it is also critical to examine Stalin's program of socialist realism.

The theory of Socialist Realism was adopted by the Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934. Approved by Joseph Stalin, Nickolai Bukharin, Maxim Gorky and Andrey Zhdanov, Socialist Realism demanded that all art must depict some aspect of man's struggle toward socialist progress for a better life. It stressed the need for the creative artist to serve the proletariat by being realistic, optimistic and heroic. The doctrine considered all forms of experimentalism as degenerate and pessimistic. The writings of Tolstoi and Dostoyevsky, that depicted the despair in all of us, were banned. Throughout history, we see that when new leaders create new governments, especially through revolution, they seek to control the intellectual and artistic as well as the socio-economic lives of their people. If they fail to do this, the revolution might not succeed.

Experimental and non-conformist writers such as Yevgeni Zamyatin, Isaac Babel, Boris Pilnyak, Nickolai Tikhonov, Mikhail Slonimski, Vsevolod Ivanov, Victor Serge, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Yesenin, Konstantin Fedin, Victor Shklovsky, Mikhail Zoshchenko and Alexander Solzhenitsyn suffered under this policy. Zamyatin and Serge managed to leave the country, whereas Mayakovsky and Yesenin committed suicide. Writers who refused to change, such as Babel and Pilnyak, were executed or died in labour camps.

 
Compare and Contrast our 4 Writers:
 
Even though most of you will be reading in translation, note the different styles of these four writers. Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize. While Pasternak's style is more poetic, in fact he was a poet, Solzhenitsyn thrives on a naturalistic style that gives a documentary feel to his horrors. If possible, read the 2010 translation of Dr. Zhivago by award-winning translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, noted for their versions of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. I met them at the 92nd St Y and was very impressed with their work. Dr, Zhivago was first published in 1957 in Italy and was banned in the soviet Union until 1988. The 1958 english edition of Zhivago was hastily produced for Pasternak's upcoming Nobel Peace Prize, which he declined due to extreme pressure form the Soviet government. Reviewers have said that the new version shows more of the nuances of the original Russian text and will reveal a better understanding of Pasternak's style and the Soviet Union during the 20th century.Ayn Rand and Bulgakov have opposite styles: contrast her straightforward, minimal style, which she ironically censored in Anthem to conform to American mass market taste, with the magical realism of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, a wild ride that influenced Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
 
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890-1960), born in Moscow, was the son of talented artists: his father a painter and illustrator of Tolstoy's works, his mother a well-known concert pianist. Pasternak's education began in a German Gymnasium in Moscow and was continued at the University of Moscow. Under the influence of the composer Scriabin, Pasternak took up the study of musical composition for six years from 1904 to 1910. By 1912 he had renounced music as his calling in life and went to the University of Marburg, Germany, to study philosophy. After four months there and a trip to Italy, he returned to Russia and decided to dedicate himself to literature.

Pasternak's first books of verse went unnoticed. With Sestra moya zhizn (My Sister Life), 1922, and Temy i variatsii (Themes and Variations), 1923, the latter marked by an extreme, though sober style, Pasternak first gained a place as a leading poet among his Russian contemporaries. In 1924 he published Vysokaya bolezn (Sublime Malady), which portrayed the 1905 revolt as he saw it, and Detstvo Lyuvers (The Childhood of Luvers), a lyrical and psychological depiction of a young girl on the threshold of womanhood. A collection of four short stories was published the following year under the title Vozdushnye puti (Aerial Ways). In 1927 Pasternak again returned to the revolution of 1905 as a subject for two long works: Leytenant Shmidt, a poem expressing threnodic sorrow for the fate of Lieutenant Schmidt, the leader of the mutiny at Sevastopol, and Devyatsot pyaty god (The Year 1905), a powerful but diffuse poem which concentrates on the events related to the revolution of 1905. Pasternak's reticent autobiography, Okhrannaya gramota (Safe Conduct), appeared in 1931, and was followed the next year by a collection of lyrics, Vtoroye rozhdenie (Second Birth), 1932. In 1935 he published translations of some Georgian poets and subsequently translated the major dramas of Shakespeare, several of the works of Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, and Ben Jonson, and poems by Petöfi, Verlaine, Swinburne, Shelley, and others. Na rannikh poyezdakh (In Early Trains), a collection of poems written since 1936, was published in 1943 and enlarged and reissued in 1945 as Zemnye prostory (Wide Spaces of the Earth). In 1957 Doktor Zhivago, Pasternak's only novel - except for the earlier "novel in verse", Spektorsky (1926) - first appeared in an Italian translation and has been acclaimed by some critics as a successful attempt at combining lyrical-descriptive and epic-dramatic styles. An autobiographical sketch, Biografichesky ocherk (An Essay in Autobiography), was published in 1959, first in Italian, and subsequently in English. Pasternak lived in Peredelkino, near Moscow, until his death in 1960.
Boris Pasternak died on May 30, 1960.
 
Although it contains passages written in the 1910s and 1920s, Doctor Zhivago was not completed until 1956. The novel was submitted to the journal "Новый Мир" (Novy Mir, Russian for both New World and New Peace) and rejected because Pasternak's political viewpoint was opposed by the Soviet authorities.[2] The author, like Zhivago, showed more concern with the welfare of individuals than with the welfare of society. Soviet censors construed some passages as anti-Marxist. There are implied criticisms of Stalinism and references to prison camps. In 1957, the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli smuggled the book manuscript out of the Soviet Union thanks to Isaiah Berlin and simultaneously published editions in both Russian and Italian in Milan, Italy. It was published in English (translated from Russian by Manya Harari and Max Hayward) the next year and was eventually published in a total of eighteen different languages. The publication of this novel was partly responsible for Pasternak's being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. The Soviet government asked the committee not to award him the prize. Pasternak was pressured by Soviet authorities to reject the Nobel Prize in order to prevent a scandal in the Soviet Union [3]. Pasternak died on 30 May 1960, of natural causes.

Doctor Zhivago was finally published in the Soviet Union in 1988, in the pages of Novy mir, although earlier samizdat editions existed.

Yuri Zhivago is sensitive and poetic nearly to the point of mysticism. Zhivago's idealism and principles stand in contrast to the brutality and horror of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the subsequent Russian Civil War. A major theme of the novel is how mysticism and idealism are destroyed by both the Bolsheviks and the White Army alike, as both sides commit horrible atrocities. Yuri witnesses dismemberment and other horrors suffered by the innocent civilian population during the turmoil. Even the love of his life, Lara, is taken from him.

Zhivago ponders how war can turn the whole world senseless, and make an otherwise reasonable group of people destroy each other with no regard for life. His journey through Russia has an epic, dreamlike, almost surreal feeling. He travels through a world which is in such striking contrast to himself, relatively uncorrupted by violence. His desire to find a place away from it all drives him across the Arctic Siberia of Russia, and eventually back to Moscow. Pasternak subtly criticizes of Soviet ideology: he disagrees with the idea of "building a new man," which, he suggests, is against nature.

His great love's life is also dealt with in considerable detail. Lara, whose full name is Larissa Feodorovna Guishar (later Antipova), born into the bourgeoisie, is engaged to Pavel "Pasha" Antipov, an idealistic young student who becomes involved in Bolshevism through his father. Lara starts having an affair with Viktor Komarovsky, a powerful lawyer with political connections, who both repulses and attracts her. To gain independence from Komarovsky, Lara spends three years working as a live-in nanny for a wealthy family (the Kologrivovs). Upon returning, Lara's brother begs her to get 700 rubles from Komarovsky to repay money that he has gambled away. Lara gets the money from her generous employer, Kologrivov. However, when her pupil Lipa graduates, she feels like she is on charity instead of working for her keep in the Kologrivov household. She decides that Komarovsky "owes her." She attends a party to demand the money from Komarovsky. But he spends the evening playing cards and pays her no attention. She finally walks in and attempts to shoot him but misses.[4]

Lara and Zhivago have a number of brief encounters before truly meeting. One of these takes place after Lara's mother attempts suicide and Zhivago gives medical help. Zhivago also sees Lara at the Christmas party where she tries to shoot Komarovsky. Lara and Zhivago have their first real conversation after a roadside encounter between First World War troop columns: a miserable troop of retreating Russian Army deserters and new recruits bound for the hopeless conditions at the Front. Lara has been serving as nurse while searching for her assumed-dead husband Antipov. Lara and Zhivago serve together in a makeshift field hospital and fall in love. They do not consummate their relationship until much later, meeting in the town of Yuriatin after the war.

Pasha Antipov and Komarovsky continue to play important roles in the story. Pasha is assumed killed in World War I, but is actually captured by the Germans and escapes. Pasha Antipov joins the Bolsheviks and becomes Strelnikov (the shooter), a fearsome Red Army general who becomes infamous for executing White prisoners (hence his nickname). However, he is never a true Bolshevik and yearns for the fighting to be over so he can return to Lara. (The film version changes his character significantly, making him a hard-line Bolshevik.)

Another major character is Liberius, commander of the "Forest Brotherhood", the Red Partisan band which conscripts Yuri into service. Liberius is a dedicated and heroic revolutionary. But he is also a cocaine addict, loud-mouthed and vain, and bores Yuri with his constant lectures about the justice of their cause and the inevitability of their victory.

Komarovsky reappears towards the end of the story. He has gained some influence in the Bolshevik government and been appointed minister of justice of the Far Eastern Republic, a Bolshevik puppet state in Siberia. He offers Zhivago and Lara transit out of Russia. They initially refuse. But Komarovsky lies about Pasha Antipov's death and persuades Zhivago that it is in Lara's best interests to leave; Zhivago convinces Lara to go with Komarovsky, telling her (falsely) that he will follow her shortly.

Meanwhile, Antipov/Strelnikov falls from grace, loses his position in the Red Army, and returns to Varykino, near Yuriatin, where he hopes to find Lara. She, however, has just left with Komarovsky. After having a lengthy conversation with Zhivago, Pasha Antipov commits suicide and is found the next morning by Zhivago. (In the movie Komarovsky tells Zhivago that he was captured 5 miles outside of Yuriatin and on the way to his execution he grabbed a pistol from a guard and killed himself.)

Zhivago's life and health go downhill after this; he lives with another woman and has two children with her, plans numerous writing projects but does not finish them, and is increasingly absent-minded, erratic, and unwell. Lara eventually returns to Russia on the day of Zhivago's funeral. She gets Yevgraf, his half brother, to try to find her daughter but then disappears.

During World War II Zhivago's old friends Nika Dudorov and Misha Gordon meet up. One of their discussions revolves around a local laundress named Tanya, a bezprizornaya or parentless child, one of many left by the Civil War, and her resemblance to Zhivago. Much later they meet over the first edition of Zhivago's poems.

Other major characters include Tonya Gromeko, Zhivago's wife, and her parents Alexander and Anna, with whom Zhivago lived after he lost his parents as a child. Yevgraf (Evgraf) Zhivago, Yuri's younger illegitimate half-brother (son of his father and a Mongolian princess), is a mysterious figure who gains power and influence with the Bolsheviks and helps his brother evade arrest throughout the course of the story.

The book is packed full of odd coincidences; characters disappear and reappear seemingly at random, encountering each other in the most unlikely places.

The Russian Revolution was at its core an ideological struggle, forcing young and old alike to align themselves or risk extermination. Its uncompromising nature put great strain on the ideals of individual thought and choice, represented in Yuri Zhivago's constant attempts to come to terms with the Revolution. Yuri is the ultimate individual, expressing himself through poetry and recognizing beauty in all aspects of life. He is frequently overcome by emotion, and is deeply introspective. His affair with Lara was primarily fueled by passion and romanticism. However, he gradually realizes that his commitment to own unique philosophy is rapidly becoming untenable in the face of a crystallizing Soviet ideology. His attempts to exert control over his own individual self end in futility: in one pivotal scene, he wounds and possibly kills several White soldiers despite his best efforts avoid doing so. The taking of lives is a betrayal of his personal core beliefs, and Yuri is horrified and demoralized by the incident. Ultimately, the revolution's refusal to acknowledge the fundamental nature of the individual ensured that regardless of which faction Yuri sided with, he would not be able to survive in the new Soviet era as a true individual.

When he was younger, Zhivago enjoyed having political discussions with educated people, like his uncle Nicholai. Zhivago's views were relatively neutral—though not a revolutionary zealot, he recognized that Russia needed serious reform. As the story progresses, however, Zhivago realizes that many political activists simply parrot the ideas they have heard, reciting their memorized lines in order to seem intellectual. Still others actively seek power for themselves, taking advantage of the people's thirst for betterment by promising more than they intended to deliver. Pasternak shows what he thought went wrong in the revolution: that initially, revolutionary leaders had good ideas, but because of human failings these ideas were warped or even forgotten as the revolution progressed. Pasternak's strategy to convey this point is to introduce seemingly obvious villains into the plot, but show that in the context of the entire novel, the results of their bad behavior pales in comparison to the harm caused by the corrupted revolutionary effort. Komarovsky and Strelnikov are both antagonists in the sense that they cause harm to other characters in the book, but Pasternak cleverly uses them to show that their damage was temporary and relatively minor, whereas the trauma and suffering caused by the misled train wreck of the revolution was more permanent, often fatal, and certainly more devastating to Russian society.
 
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 
I was born at Kislovodsk on 11th December, 1918. My father had studied philological subjects at Moscow University, but did not complete his studies, as he enlisted as a volunteer when war broke out in 1914. He became an artillery officer on the German front, fought throughout the war and died in the summer of 1918, six months before I was born. I was brought up by my mother, who worked as a shorthand-typist, in the town of Rostov on the Don, where I spent the whole of my childhood and youth, leaving the grammar school there in 1936. Even as a child, without any prompting from others, I wanted to be a writer and, indeed, I turned out a good deal of the usual juvenilia. In the 1930s, I tried to get my writings published but I could not find anyone willing to accept my manuscripts. I wanted to acquire a literary education, but in Rostov such an education that would suit my wishes was not to be obtained. To move to Moscow was not possible, partly because my mother was alone and in poor health, and partly because of our modest circumstances. I therefore began to study at the Department of Mathematics at Rostov University, where it proved that I had considerable aptitude for mathematics. But although I found it easy to learn this subject, I did not feel that I wished to devote my whole life to it. Nevertheless, it was to play a beneficial role in my destiny later on, and on at least two occasions, it rescued me from death. For I would probably not have survived the eight years in camps if I had not, as a mathematician, been transferred to a so-called sharashia, where I spent four years; and later, during my exile, I was allowed to teach mathematics and physics, which helped to ease my existence and made it possible for me to write. If I had had a literary education it is quite likely that I should not have survived these ordeals but would instead have been subjected to even greater pressures. Later on, it is true, I began to get some literary education as well; this was from 1939 to 1941, during which time, along with university studies in physics and mathematics, I also studied by correspondence at the Institute of History, Philosophy and Literature in Moscow.

In 1941, a few days before the outbreak of the war, I graduated from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Rostov University. At the beginning of the war, owing to weak health, I was detailed to serve as a driver of horsedrawn vehicles during the winter of 1941-1942. Later, because of my mathematical knowledge, I was transferred to an artillery school, from which, after a crash course, I passed out in November 1942. Immediately after this I was put in command of an artillery-position-finding company, and in this capacity, served, without a break, right in the front line until I was arrested in February 1945. This happened in East Prussia, a region which is linked with my destiny in a remarkable way. As early as 1937, as a first-year student, I chose to write a descriptive essay on "The Samsonov Disaster" of 1914 in East Prussia and studied material on this; and in 1945 I myself went to this area (at the time of writing, autumn 1970, the book August 1914 has just been completed).

I was arrested on the grounds of what the censorship had found during the years 1944-45 in my correspondence with a school friend, mainly because of certain disrespectful remarks about Stalin, although we referred to him in disguised terms. As a further basis for the "charge", there were used the drafts of stories and reflections which had been found in my map case. These, however, were not sufficient for a "prosecution", and in July 1945 I was "sentenced" in my absence, in accordance with a procedure then frequently applied, after a resolution by the OSO (the Special Committee of the NKVD), to eight years in a detention camp (at that time this was considered a mild sentence).

I served the first part of my sentence in several correctional work camps of mixed types (this kind of camp is described in the play, The Tenderfoot and the Tramp). In 1946, as a mathematician, I was transferred to the group of scientific research institutes of the MVD-MOB (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of State Security). I spent the middle period of my sentence in such "SPECIAL PRISONS" (The First Circle). In 1950 I was sent to the newly established "Special Camps" which were intended only for political prisoners. In such a camp in the town of Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich), I worked as a miner, a bricklayer, and a foundryman. There I contracted a tumour which was operated on, but the condition was not cured (its character was not established until later on).

One month after I had served the full term of my eight-year sentence, there came, without any new judgement and even without a "resolution from the OSO", an administrative decision to the effect that I was not to be released but EXILED FOR LIFE to Kok-Terek (southern Kazakhstan). This measure was not directed specially against me, but was a very usual procedure at that time. I served this exile from March 1953 (on March 5th, when Stalin's death was made public, I was allowed for the first time to go out without an escort) until June 1956. Here my cancer had developed rapidly, and at the end of 1953, I was very near death. I was unable to eat, I could not sleep and was severely affected by the poisons from the tumour. However, I was able to go to a cancer clinic at Tashkent, where, during 1954, I was cured (The Cancer Ward, Right Hand). During all the years of exile, I taught mathematics and physics in a primary school and during my hard and lonely existence I wrote prose in secret (in the camp I could only write down poetry from memory). I managed, however, to keep what I had written, and to take it with me to the European part of the country, where, in the same way, I continued, as far as the outer world was concerned, to occupy myself with teaching and, in secret, to devote myself to writing, at first in the Vladimir district (Matryona's Farm) and afterwards in Ryazan.

During all the years until 1961, not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared that this would become known. Finally, at the age of 42, this secret authorship began to wear me down. The most difficult thing of all to bear was that I could not get my works judged by people with literary training. In 1961, after the 22nd Congress of the U.S.S.R. Communist Party and Tvardovsky's speech at this, I decided to emerge and to offer One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

Such an emergence seemed, then, to me, and not without reason, to be very risky because it might lead to the loss of my manuscripts, and to my own destruction. But, on that occasion, things turned out successfully, and after protracted efforts, A.T. Tvardovsky was able to print my novel one year later. The printing of my work was, however, stopped almost immediately and the authorities stopped both my plays and (in 1964) the novel, The First Circle, which, in 1965, was seized together with my papers from the past years. During these months it seemed to me that I had committed an unpardonable mistake by revealing my work prematurely and that because of this I should not be able to carry it to a conclusion.

It is almost always impossible to evaluate at the time events which you have already experienced, and to understand their meaning with the guidance of their effects. All the more unpredictable and surprising to us will be the course of future events.
 
Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940)
 
Russian journalist, playwright, novelist, and short story writer, whose major work was the Gogolesque fantasy The Master and Margarita. In the story the Devil visits Stalinist Moscow to see if he can do some good. The book is considered a major Russian novel of the 20th century. It first appeared in a censored form in the Soviet journal Moskva in 1966-67. Bulgakov used satire and fantasy also in his other works, among them the short story collection Diaboliad (1925).
It was hard to say exactly what had made Bezdomny write as he had--whether it was his great talent for graphic description or complete ignorance of the subject he was writing on, but his Jesus had come out, well, completely alive, a Jesus who had really existed, although admittedly a Jesus who had every possible fault."
(from The Master and Margarita)

Mihail Bulgakov was born in Kiev, Ukraine, the eldest son of a theology professor at the Kiev Theological Academy. After attending First Kiev High School (1900-09), Bulgakov studied medicine at the Kiev University (1909-16). From 1916 to 1918 he served as a doctor in front-line and district hospitals. These experiences he described in notes of a young doctor, 'Zapiski yunogo vracha' (1925-26).

In 1918-19 Bulgakov worked as a doctor in Kiev, and witnessed the German occupation and then the occupation by the Red Army. During these war years he used a morphine, but with the helped of his first wife he managed to win the addiction. In 1920 Bulgakov abandoned medicine in favor of a career as a writer. He organized in Vladikavkaz, Caucasus, a 'sub-department of the arts', wrote stories for newspapers

Bulgakov moved in 1921 to Moskow, where he worked for the literary department of the People's Commissariat of Education, and wrote as a journalist for various groups and papers. His largely autobiographical novel BELAYA GVARDIYA (1925, full text 1973, The White Guard) was an account of the turbulent years between 1914 and 1921 as reflected in the lives of a White family in the Ukraine. Two parts of the book was published in the journal Rossiya, which was closed before the third part could appear. Bulgakov abandoned his plans for a trilogy; the proofs of the new ending surfaced in 1987, but the final pages were missing.

From 1925 Bulgakov was associated with the Moscow Arts Theatre. He wrote and staged many plays, which enjoyed great popularity. Bulgakov's criticism of the Soviet system was not swallowed by the authorities. The Heart of the Dog (written in 1925), a satire on Soviet life in the guise of science fiction, was condemned unpublishable. In the story 'Pokhozhdenia Chichikova' the protaginist of Gogol's Dead Souls was dropped in the middle of the Soviet Russia's New Economic Policy period of 1921-27. 'Diaboliad' (1925) portrayed a poor clerk in a gigantic bureaucracy, where he loses his identity and life.

In 1928 Bulgakov had three plays running in three Moscow theatres, Zoya's Apartment, The Crimson Island, and The Days of the Turbins, dramatized from his novel The White Guard. It brought the author overnight success and became 'a new Seagull' for the new generation, although it also received hostile reviews for the sympathetic portrayal of White officers. Paradoxically, The White Guard was one of Stalin's favorite plays. It was banned in 1929, reinstated in 1932 but not published until 1955.

By 1930s Bulgakov's works were published rarely or not at all - Zoya's Apartment (1926), a play set in an atelier-bordello, was banned, as The Crimson Island (1928). Flight (1928), dealing with White fugitives leaving Russia, was banned before its premiere. In 1929 he wrote to Maxim Gorky: "All my plays have been banned; not a line of mine is being printed anywhere; I have no work ready, and not a kopeck of royalties is coming in from any source; not a single institution, not a single individual will reply to my applications..."

After writing a letter to Soviet government, requesting permission to emigrate, Bulgakov received a personal telephone call from Stalin and was employed as an assistant producer with the Moscow Arts Theatre. He adapted classics for the stage. During the late 1930s he was librettist and consultant at Bolshoi Theatre. However, Stalin's favour protected Bulgakov only from arrests and executions, but his writings remained unpublished. In Black Snow, a Theatrical Novel, Bulgakov described his love-hate relationship and took a revenge on Stanislavsky for the failure of his play A Cabal of Hypocrites, produced under the title Molière. In one scene Louis XIV, the Sun King, says: "Then hear this: my author is oppressed. He is frightened. I will show kindness to anyone who forewarns me of whatever danger imperils him... The ban is lifted. You may stage Tartuffe." The Last Days was performed first in 1943 under the title Pushkin. Bulgakov's stage version of Gogol's Dead Souls had a modest success.

Bulgakov's most important work was The Master and Margarita, a fantasy about the Devil, disguised as a professor, who causes havoc in the city. The work was suppressed because Bulgakov refused to make the changes reguired by the authorities. Although Bulgakov worked still on the text on his death bed, the novel was completed. The first Soviet edition was published in 1966-67, a fuller text appeared in 1973 and the revised full text in 1989.

The Master and Margarita (1928-40). Published in installments in 1966 and 1967 in the journal Moskva. The large novel takes place on three levels, each of which provides a commentary on the others. Historical narrative is set in Jerusalem, where Pontius Pilate condemns to death a man, Jeshua, whom he knows to be innocent. Contemporary narrative is set in Moscow, in the 1930s, where the Master and Margarita live and where the Master has written a novel about Pilate. The third, fantastic level introduces the devil, who steps out of Goethe's Faust. He appears in Moscow with a retinue that includes an enormous black cat. The devil, Woland, is unconventionally seen as a relatively sympathetic figure, Righteous Man in Sodom. Moreover, the character of Jesus, called Yeshua, in not very Biblical. The philosophical and religious themes and examination of the freedom of art circulate around the intrusion of the devil into the life of modern Moscow and the crucifixion of Christ. Interacting and competing discourses from the realms of science, religion, literature, history, and politics, complicate further the narrative. Master burns his manuscript and retires to a madhouse. Margarita's love for the master drives her to a pact with Satan. However, "manuscripts don't burn" and Woland defends the existence of Jeshua.
Bulgakov composed two versions of the work. One was written at home and another, when he did not have the original available, was born while he was living with a mistress. Much of the the satire is aimed at greed, vanity, and pettiness, but is possible to read the book as a tribute to Stalin's policy to cut the bourgeois elements of Soviet society. After the publication Bulgakov was seen as a link between such writers as Vasilii Aksenov, Andrei Siniavskii, and the Strugatskii brothers, and the great past tradition of Gogol and Dostoevskii.

Bulgakov was married three times: with Tatiana Nikolaevna Lappa (1913), Liubov Evgenevna Belozerskaia (1924), and Elena Sergeevna Shilovskaya (1932), who gave invaluable support to the author when he wrote The Master and Margarita and had his fits of paranoia. Bulgakov was writing Black Snow, his theatre novel, when he died in Moskow on March 10, 1940. It took until the 1980s before all Bulgakov's works could be printed in his own home country. For decades Bulgakov was considered an outsider and the most "un-Soviet" writer. Supernatural and occult attracted him, and he used sudden cuts into the fantastic and mockery. Although he was subjected to a number of restrictions as a writer, he survived attacks from the officials, when others were imprisoned and perished in the 'Gulag Archipelago'.

Ayn Rand
 
Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision which sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine, she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be.

When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her greatest pleasures were Viennese operettas and Western films and plays. Long an admirer of cinema, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting. It was at this time that she was first published: a booklet on actress Pola Negri (1925) and a booklet titled “Hollywood: American Movie City” (1926), both reprinted in 1999 in Russian Writings on Hollywood.

In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On Ayn Rand’s second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O’Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various nonwriting jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., she sold her first screenplay, “Red Pawn,” to Universal Pictures in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1934 but was rejected by numerous publishers, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels, it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny.

She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935 (taking a short break in 1937 to write the anti-collectivist novelette Anthem). In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as “he could be and ought to be.” The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best-seller through word of mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such individuals possible.

Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy—Objectivism, which she characterized as “a philosophy for living on earth." She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for six books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment.

Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totaling more than 25 million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.

 
This includes Everything is Illuminated, All Quiet on the Western Front, Night, Holocaust Survival, The German Mujahid (revisited) and the Kindly Ones if you are ambitious.
 
Jonathan Safran Foer is currently a professor of creative writing at NYU.

Everything is Illuminated was Foer's first novel published in 2002 when he was in his twenties and so it was considered a work of precocious genius. It chronicles a young, Jewish-American writer's attempt to research his grandfather's life in Ukraine. Jonathan, who has the same name as the book's author, is attempting to find his grandfather's shtetl, Trachimbrod. He has only a few maps and a photograph of a woman named Augustine, who is said to have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Jonathan's guide on his trip is Alex, a young Ukrainian man. They are both twenty-one. Their driver is Alex's grandfather, who claims to be blind. Accompanying the men is Grandfather's seeing-eye dog Sammy Davis Junior, Junior. The novel is comprised by three basic narratives: chapters written by Jonathan, chapters written by Alex, and letters from Alex to Jonathan. Chapters written by Jonathan describe different events in his family's history in Trachimbrod. Chapters written by Alex describe Jonathan's present trip. Letters from Alex to Jonathan reveal the two characters' growing relationship as writers and friends. This book has Safran Foer's unique postmodern style, distorting language to fit narrators even if it means ESL grammar, typographical innovations, and non-linear sequencing.

Although unconfirmed by Foer, it is speculated that the title of the book is an inspiration from a line in the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera: 'In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia.'

Remarque 1898-1970
 
German writer, who became famous with his novel IM WESTEN NICHTS NEUES (tr. All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929), which depicted the horrors of war from the point of view of the ordinary soldiers. In his works Remarque focused largely on the collapse of the old European world and values. Although his later novels also were successful, Remarque lived in the shadow of his "big" first book.
"It is just as much a matter of chance that I am still alive as that I might have been hit. In a bomb-proof dug-out I may be smashed to atoms and in the open may survive ten hour's bombardment unscratched. No soldier outlives a thousand chances. But every soldier believes in Chance and trusts his luck." (from All Quiet on the Western Front)

Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, into modest circumstances. His ancestors were French, the family name was 'Germanized' early in the nineteeth century. Peter Franz Remark, Remarque's father, was a poorly paid bookbinder. Although Franz Remark did not show much interest in intellectual activities, except his interest in the occult, the family had a piano, and at one point in his life Remarque planned a musical career. In 1904, at the age of six, Remarque entered the Domschule (cathedral school), and four years later he moved to the Johannisschle. Remarque was "always the best in class", as one of his closest school friends later recalled.

For a time Remarque studied at the University of Münster, but had to enlist in the German army at the age of 18. Remarque fought on the Western Front and was wounded several times. After his discharge Remarque had taken a teacher's course offered to veterans by the government. He taught for a year in a school, and tried also his hand as a stonecutter and a test-cardriver for a Berlin tire company.

Remarque began his writing career as a sporting journalist, eventually becoming the assistant editor of Sportbild. Among his friends was Leni Riefenstahl, who later made the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will (1935), and the two-part Olympia (1938), about the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Remarque's wife, Jutta Zambona, "tall, slender as a fashion model, and strikingly dressed", as Riefenstahl described Jutta in her book of memoir later inspired heroines in his books. The marriage was stormy, and they both had extra-marital activities. His longest, intercontinental affair Remarque had with Marlene Dietrich; they met first time in Venice in the late 1930s.

Fame came with Remarque's first novel, All Quiet on the Westerns Front, which touched a nerve of the time, and sparkled off a storm of political controversy. The book, which first had been rejected by one publisher, sold 1.2 million copies in its first year. H.L. Mencken called it "unquestionably the best story of the World War." Its sequel, DER WEG ZURÜCK (The Way Back), appeared in 1931. It dealt with the collapse of the German Army after the war, and the fate of the surviving heroes, Ernst and his friends.

All Quiet on the Western Front is the most famous novel dealing with World War I. The book starts in 1917 after a battle, in which half of Paul Bäumer's company has been killed. Bäumer is mostly the narrator and Remarque goes through his life in flashbacks. Paul and his classmates have been encouraged by their teacher, Kantorek, to enlist the German army. Bäumer's group includes some school fellows, and Katczinsky, an older man. The group goes through basic training and go to the front. Bäumer tries to understand what is going on. He realizes that back home "no one had the vaguest idea what we were in for. The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy." Paul visits home on leave, returns to the trenches, is wounded and sent to a military hospital. In the summer of 1918 German front is pushed back, and the soldiers are waiting for the end of the war. In October, when
there is nothing much to report on the western front, Paul is killed, a week or so before the armistice. - The story is narrated in first person in a cool style, a contrast to patriotic rhetoric. Remarque records the daily horrors in the trenches, where machine guns killed millions, in laconic understatement. - "At the next war let all the Kaisers, Presidents and Generals and diplomats go into a big field and fight it out first among themselves. That will satisfy us and keep us home." (Katzinsky) Lewis Milestone's film (1930), based on the novel, is a landmark of American cinema. One of the best scenes is when Paul (Lew Ayres) returns to his school and tells new students the truth. "When it comes to dying for your country, it's better not to die at all." The film was denounced by Goebbels as anti-German, but the Poles banned it for being pro-German. Particularly effective were the tracking shots of soldiers attacking enemy lines. In France it was prohibited until 1962. The close-up of Paul's hand reaching for the butterfly at the end, is actually the hand of the director Milestone. - A sequel, The Road Back, was made in 1937.

With All Quiet on the Western Front Remarque became a spokesman of "a generation that was destroyed by war, even though it might have escaped its shells," as he said himself. The German defeat inspired two major war films of the year 1930 - G.W. Pabst's Westfront 1918, adapted from a novel by Ernest Johannsen and Lewis Milestone's film based on Remarque's novel. Milestone was unhappy with the original script - he saw it changed the point of the book, and he hired his friend Del Andrews and George Abbott, a stage director, the shape the final script. The producer Carl Laemmle Junior and Milestone both hated the original ending of the book, in which Paul Baumer dies heroically. Karl Freund, the cameraman, put forward the idea of the hand stretching out toward the butterfly.

In the 1930s Remarque's books were banned in Germany by the government. All Quiet on the Western Front and The Road Back were among the works consigned to be publicly burnt in 1933 by the Nazis. Stores were ordered to stop selling his books. The film's premiere was disrupted by Nazi gangs; Remarque was accused of pacifism. It was not until the 1950s the film was shown again in West Germany. In 1938 Remarque lost his citizenship. He had moved to Switzerland in 1932 and in 1939 he emigrated to the United States, where in 1947 he became a citizen. In New York he spent much time at the Stork Club and at 21. In Hollywood he made friends with stars, including the actress Paulette Goddard (1911-1990), whom he married in 1958. Remarque had been married twice before, and to the same woman, Jutta Ilse Ingeborg Ellen Zambona, in 1925 and again in 1938. After the war Remarque settled eventually back in Switzerland, where he made his residence at Porto Ronco on the Seiss shore of Lake Maggiore. His play, DIE LETZTE STATION, about the fall of the Third Reich, was produced in Berlin in 1956. Remarque died at the Sant Agnese clinic at Locarno, on September 25, 1970. He had suffered for months from aneurysm.

"If things went according to the death notices, man would be absolutely perfect. There you find only first-class fathers, immaculate husbands, model children, unselfish, self-sacrificing mothers, grandparents mourned by all, businessmen in contrast with whom Francis of Assisi would seem an infinite egoist, generals dripping with kindness, humane prosecuting attorneys, almost holy munitions makers - in short, the earth seems to have been populated by a horde of wingless angels without one's having been aware of it." (from The Black Obelisk, 1956)

Remarque's later works, depicting the political upheavals of Europe from the 1920s to the cold war, did not achieve the critical acclaim of his first novel. However, his skill to create interesting characters, fascinating plots, and balancing between realistic and sentimental scenes made him a highly popular writer. DREI KAMERADEN (1937) received good reviews and was made into a film in 1938, directed by Frank Borzage. The screenplay was written by Edward A. Paramore and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was determined to do a good job. Fitzgerald kept completely sober, for a while. However, his contract with M-G-M was not renewed. The final scene in which the two friends of the story are joined by their ghostly comrade, has still a strong emotional charge. Several of Remarque's later novels dealt with people struggling under Nazi rule. Arch of Triumph (1946) told a story about a German refugee physician and an actress. The work was adapted into screen in 1947, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Remarque himself played the schoolmaster Pohlmann in A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), based on his novel ZEIT ZU LEBEN UND ZEIT ZU STERBEN (1954). In the story a German soldier, Ernst Graeber, on furlough from the Russian front, falls in love with his childhood friend, Elisabeth. But he must return to the trenches. The German edition was censored for its "unnational" passages. Douglas Sirk's film version, beautifully photographed in CinemaScope, ends dramatically in Graeber's death.

Spark of Life (1952) was a fictional documentary about life in Nazi concentration camps. The Black Obelisk (1956) was a tragi-comedy, in which Remarque explored the chaotic Germany of in the 1920s. Remarque's screenplay The Last 10 Days for G.W. Pabst's film from 1956, was based Judge Michael A. Musmanno's book 10 Days to Die, a study of the death of Hitler in a Berlin bunker. DIE NACHT VON LISSABON (1962, The Night in Lisbon), in which two refugees from Nazism flee in Portugal, and SCHATTEN IN PARADIES, depicting refugees in the United Sates, were published posthumously in English in 1971.
 
Primo Levi, 1919-1987

Italian-Jewish writer and chemist, who first gained fame with his autobiographical story SE QUESTO È UN UOMO (1947, If This is a Man) of survival in Nazi concentration camps. For the last forty years of his life Levi devoted himself to attempting to deal with the fact that he was not killed in Auschwitz. "The worst survived, that is, the fittest; the best all died," he said. Levi also published poetry, science fiction, essays, and short stories. In 1987, at the age of 67, he killed himself. Italo Calvino called Levi "one of the most important and gifted writers of our time."

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold

As a frog in winter.
(from 'Shemá' in Collected Poems)

Primo Levi was born in Turin into a Jewish middle-class family, the son of Cesare Levi, an engineer, and Ester "Rina" Luzzati; she had been his secretary. His grandmother Bimba was a baroness. She and her entire family had been made barons by Napoleon, because they had supported him economically. As a youth Levi knew very little about Jewishness, but Mussolini's anti-Semitic policy soon taught Levi that it was not ''a cheerful little anomaly'' in a Catholic country. An underdeveloped, quiet boy, Levi was derided at school for his size. Through cycling and mountain climbing he acquired friends, but according to a biography he did not have any sexual experience before meeting his wife, Lucia, in 1946. Just before the Fascist racial law of 1938 forbade Jews access to academic status, Levi started his chemistry studies at the University of Turin. He graduated first in his class in 1941, the year after Italy had entered World War II as an ally of Germany. During the war Levi wrote for the resistance magazine Giustizia e Libertà.

After the collapse of Mussolini's regime, he tried to contact a partisan group in the north of Italy. Levi was captured in December 1943. "I was twenty-four," Levi wrote in If This Is a Man, "with little wisdom, no experience and a decided tendency ... to live in an unrealistic world of my own, a world inhabited by civilized Cartesian phantoms, by sincere male and bloodless female friendships." He was first interned in a transit camp in Fòssoli, and then, two months later, deported to the camp of Moniwitz-Auschwitz. The number 174517 was tattooed on his left forearm.

From the railroad convoy of 650 people, fifteen men and nine women survived. Levi worked at one of three I.G. Farben laboratories and was spared the gas chambers. The company made synthetic rubber for the Nazi war machine. As a chemist he knew he could safely eat cotton wool and drink paraffin. A non-Jewish guest worker secretly gave him extra helpings of soup. To his friend Jean Samuel he taught Italian by quoting Dante; eating and translating Dante were both keys to survival. Dante remained a constant point of reference throughout Levi's writing. From the Ulysses episode of Inferno he chose a passage, which dealt with the crucial question "What is a man?" Levi's superior in the laboratory, Dr. Ferdinand Mayer, gave him a pair of leather shoes.

Liberated by the Soviets in January 1945, Levi returned to Turin in October. He took up his work as a chemist, living in a stately old building that his family had occupied for three generations. In 1961 Levi became the general manager of a factory producing paints. He retired in 1977 to become a full-time writer. With Hety Schmitt-Maas, whose husband had been a chemist for I.G. Farben, Levi corresponded almost 20 years. She also helped Levi to track down Dr. Meyer and sent him German books and newspaper clippings on Nazism.

His prison recollections Levi wrote in the form of a memoir, Se questo è un uomo, which documented how the camp deprived prisoners of their identity and finally annihilated them. When the major publisher Einaudi rejected the work, it was published by a small house. Ten years later it was reprinted in an enlarged edition. In Italy the book sold over half a million copies, was translated into eight languages and adapted for the theater and radio. Part of the book's impact was based on Levi's sober and precise style. In spite of the brutality to which he was subjected Levi described the terrible events objectively like an observing scientist, but also noted with compassion the heroism in the suffering.

Its sequel, LA TREGUA (1963), portrayed Levi's wanderings in war-torn eastern Europe in Poland, Belorussia, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Romania. During the journey Levi meets a gallery of colorful, rootless companions in misfortune, among them Mordo Nahum, a Greek, from whom Levi learns that in war you must first think of shoes, then the food. Without shoes you can't go after food. Levi returns home on the last pages of his account, but he has a continual nightmare in which his present life turns out to be a mere illusion and he wakes up with Auschwitz's morning call: "Wstawac". But Levi also uses his experiences as a basis for philosophical meditations, which connects the book to Jorge Semprún's L'écriture ou la vie (1994, Literature or Life), dealing with the return to life after the camp.

"It is not at all an idle matter trying to define what a human being is."

LA CHIAVE A STELLA (1978, The Monkey's Wrench) presented vivid stories told by Libertini Faussone, a construction worker and self-educated philosopher. The writer-chemist listens to him, and records his experiences in different parts of the world. "All kids dream of going into the jungle or the desert of Malaya, and I also had those dreams, only I like to have my dreams come true; otherwise they're like some disease you carry around with you all your life, or like the scar of an operation that, whenever the weather turns damp, it starts aching again." Among Levi's other works is IL SISTEMA PERIODICO (The Periodic Table, 1975), which uses the Russian chemist Mendeleyev's periodical table of elements as the basis of autobiographical meditations. Its 21 pieces are each named after a chemical element. "Every element brings a kind of 'click' for me," Levi wrote. "It triggers a memory." 'Argon' is a homage to the author's Jewish ancestors. 'Vanadium' represents Levi's uncanny encounter with a former official in Auschwitz, Dr. Müller, who was the chief of the laboratory, and 'Zinc', a boring metal, explorers the fascist myth of racial purity. SE NON ORA, QUANDO? (1989, If Not Now, When?) combined the emergence of Jewish consciousness and documentation of action taken on the Russian front by partisan Jewish groups against retreating Nazi forces. A group of Jewish partisans moves toward Palestine, blows up trains, and rescues victims of concentration camps.

"Two years before the war began, the bell rope broke. It snapped near the top; the stairs were rotten; the bell ringer was an old man, and he was afraid to climb up there and put in a new rope. So after he announced the time by shooting a hunting rifle into the air; one shot, or two or three or four, That went on till the Germans came. They took his gun away from him, and the village was left without any time." (from If Not Now, When?)

Levi died in Turin on April 11, 1987. His death was apparently a suicide - Levi hurled himself down the central stairwell of his home building. Before and after Auschwitz Levi had suffered from depression, but his death was interpreted as a sign that he had not triumphed over his horrible experiences. In a lecture in 1979 Levi had expressed his deeply pessimistic view of humanity, seeing life as terrible. The last work he completed was the essay collection I SOMMERSI E I SALVATI (1986), where Levi returned to his belief in the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust. He asked how much of the camp is alive and well in our time, and how long it will remain in our memories. Levi points out that anti-Semitism was part of German culture, not merely a Nazi invention, and sees a paradoxical analogy between victim and oppressor. In the camp system also the oppressed unconsciously strove to identify with their oppressor. Useless violence dehumanises both guards and prisoners. "Before dying the victim must be degraded, so that the murderer will be less burdened by guilt," he stated.

 

Elie Wiesel's statement, "...to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all..."stands as a succinct summary of his views on life and serves as the driving force of his work. Wiesel is the author of 36 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust, and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.

Born September 30, 1928, Eliezer Wiesel led a life representative of many Jewish children. Growing up in a small village in Romania, his world revolved around family, religious study, community and God. Yet his family, community and his innocent faith were destroyed upon the deportation of his village in 1944. Arguably the most powerful and renowned passage in Holocaust literature, his first book, Night, records the inclusive experience of the Jews:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
And Wiesel has since dedicated his life to ensuring that none of us forget what happened to the Jews.

Wiesel survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz. After the liberation of the camps in April 1945, Wiesel spent a few years in a French orphanage and in 1948 began to study in Paris at the Sorbonne. He became involved in journalistic work with the French newspaper L'arche. He was acquainted with Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac, who eventually influenced Wiesel to break his vowed silence and write of his experience in the concentration camps, thus beginning a lifetime of service. Wiesel has since published over thirty books, earned the Nobel Peace Prize, been appointed to chair the President's Commission on the Holocaust, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement and more. Due to a fateful car accident in New York in 1956, Wiesel spent a year confined to a wheelchair while recovering. It was during this year that he made the decision to become a U.S. citizen and is still today an active figure within our society, as well as fulfilling his role in Jewish politics around the world.

Wiesel's job as chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust was the planning of an American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The Report to the President on the President's Commission on the Holocaust focuses on memory. Wiesel writes that the reason for creating the museum must include; denying the Nazi's a posthumous victory, honoring the last wish of victims to tell, and protecting the future of humanity from such evil recurring. Always maintaining his dedicated belief that although all the victims of the Holocaust were not Jewish, all Jews were victims of the Holocaust, Wiesel advocated placing the major emphasis of the memorial on the annihilation of the Jews, while still remembering the murder of other groups.

Guided by the unique nature of the Holocaust and the moral obligation to remember, the Commission decided to divide and emphasize the museum into areas of memorial, museum, education, research, commemoration and action to prevent recurrence. In order to come to these decisions, a group of 57 members of the Commission and Advisory Board -- including Senators, Rabbis, Christians, professors, judges, Congressmen, Priests, Jews, men and women -- traveled to Eastern Europe, Denmark and Israel to study Holocaust memorials and cemeteries and to meet with other public officials. The emotional pain and commitment required by such a trip is remarkable, and Wiesel's leadership is undeniably noteworthy.

 
Wiesel with Yitzhak Rabin
Wiesel remained chairman of the Committee until 1986. He has aided in the recognition and remembrance of Soviet Jews, the establishment of Israel and has dedicated the latter part of his life to the witness of the second-generation and the vital requirement that memory and action be carried on after the survivors have all left us. Wiesel's own words are the best explanation:
Let us remember, let us remember the heroes of Warsaw, the martyrs of Treblinka, the children of Auschwitz. They fought alone, they suffered alone, they lived alone, but they did not die alone, for something in all of us died with them.

Elie Wiesel's statement, "...to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all..."stands as a succinct summary of his views on life and serves as the driving force of his work. Wiesel is the author of 36 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust, and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.

Born September 30, 1928, Eliezer Wiesel led a life representative of many Jewish children. Growing up in a small village in Romania, his world revolved around family, religious study, community and God. Yet his family, community and his innocent faith were destroyed upon the deportation of his village in 1944. Arguably the most powerful and renowned passage in Holocaust literature, his first book, Night, records the inclusive experience of the Jews:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
And Wiesel has since dedicated his life to ensuring that none of us forget what happened to the Jews.

Wiesel survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz. After the liberation of the camps in April 1945, Wiesel spent a few years in a French orphanage and in 1948 began to study in Paris at the Sorbonne. He became involved in journalistic work with the French newspaper L'arche. He was acquainted with Nobel laureate Francois Mauriac, who eventually influenced Wiesel to break his vowed silence and write of his experience in the concentration camps, thus beginning a lifetime of service. Wiesel has since published over thirty books, earned the Nobel Peace Prize, been appointed  to chair the President's Commission on the Holocaust, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement and more. Due to a fateful car accident in New York in 1956, Wiesel spent a year confined to a wheelchair while recovering. It as during this year that he made the decision to become a U.S. citizen and is still today an active figure within our society, as well as fulfilling his role in Jewish politics around the world.

Wiesel's job as chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust was the planning of an American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The Report to the President on the President's Commission on the Holocaust focuses on memory. Wiesel writes that the reason for creating the museum must include; denying the Nazi's a posthumous victory, honoring the last wish of victims to tell, and protecting the future of humanity from such evil recurring. Always maintaining his dedicated belief that although all the victims of the Holocaust were not Jewish, all Jews were victims of the Holocaust, Wiesel advocated placing the major emphasis of the memorial on the annihilation of the Jews, while still remembering the murder of other groups.

Guided by the unique nature of the Holocaust and the moral obligation to remember, the Commission decided to divide and emphasize the museum into areas of memorial, museum, education, research, commemoration and action to prevent recurrence. In order to come to these decisions, a group of 57 members of the Commission and Advisory Board -- including Senators, Rabbis, Christians, professors, judges, Congressmen, Priests, Jews, men and women -- traveled to Eastern Europe, Denmark and Israel to study Holocaust memorials and cemeteries and to meet with other public officials. The emotional pain and commitment required by such a trip is remarkable, and Wiesel's leadership is undeniably noteworthy.

Wiesel remained chairman of the Committee until 1986. He has aided in the recognition and remembrance of Soviet Jews, the establishment of Israel and has dedicated the latter part of his life to the witness of the second-generation and the vital requirement that memory and action be carried on after the survivors have all left us. Wiesel's own words are the best explanation:

Let us remember, let us remember the heroes of Warsaw, the martyrs of Treblinka, the children of Auschwitz. They fought alone, they suffered alone, they lived alone, but they did not die alone, for something in all of us died with them.
 

The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal is also part of this cluster as well as the Islamic one. It's common knowledge that, at the end of WWII, many German war criminals fled from justice via "ratlines" to South American countries. Less notorious, though, are the Nazis who, like the title character of Algerian novelist Boualem Sansal's excoriating new novel found permanent refuge in Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria and Algeria. Inspired by a visit to a European-style Algerian village whose mayor was a former SS officer, and by what he views as the Arab world's "erasure" of the Holocaust, Sansal has written a bracingly unsentimental, ingeniously structured story that not only lays bare past collusions between German fascists and Arab governments, but draws explicit parallels between Nazism and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, all the while grappling with the emotive question: "are we responsible for the crimes of our fathers, of our brothers, of our children?"

The German Mujahid is narrated by Malrich, a disaffected, thuggish teenager who lives on a deprived Arab housing project outside of Paris in the mid-1990s. After being expelled from school, he'd been passing the time all too typically for a kid of his background: "I hung around the streets, took a couple of courses and a few part time jobs, did a bit of dealing, went to the mosque, wound up in court." But when Malrich is seventeen, his educated and professional 33-year-old brother Rachel commits suicide and leaves behind his diaries, which turn Malrich's world upside down. He discovers that their parents, who had sent the boys from Algeria to live in Paris as children, were massacred by Islamists in their village, Aïn Deb, two years earlier during Algeria's "dirty war," and that when Rachel returned home to visit their graves, he unearthed a secret even more horrifying than the manner of that brutal death. The contents of a suitcase in the family home—medals, military records, and souvenirs—revealed unequivocally that Rachel and Malrich's German father, Hans Schiller, was a highly-decorated SS officer personally responsible for the extermination of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

Malrich's own diary with its pitch-perfect voice—streetsmart, bemused, loyal and lovable—is interspersed with excerpts from his brother's diary, whose entries are at first measured and reflective, but become increasingly traumatized and desperate as Rachel is eaten up by guilt, rage and an obsessive need to absorb every last detail of the agonies experienced by prisoners in the camps. Retracing the steps of his father's ghastly career, Rachel "travels back through time," to Germany, Austria, Poland, Turkey, and Egypt. It is while at Auschwitz and Birkenau that he decides he will kill himself, "for my father, for his victims, I will pay in full."

As Malrich attempts to somehow come to terms with what has happened to him and learn about the Holocaust—which, he admits, "he didn't know anything about…I'd heard bits and pieces, things the imam said about the Jews and other stuff I'd picked up here and there"—he resolves that "where my father and Rachel had failed, I had to survive." But both brothers' lives are inescapably determined by their father's actions. Rachel literally turns himself into a concentration camp victim, growing more emaciated and haunted until, head shaved and wearing striped pyjamas, he gasses himself on the anniversary of his father's death, "the day Hans Schiller finally eluded the justice of men." Malrich, on the other hand, directs his shame outward to save his beloved "Sensitive Urban Area, Category 1" housing project, which has slowly but surely been taken over by Islamists who are creating "a concentration camp," with an atmosphere of "all conquering Islam." Telling his friends that "we're going to live, we're going to fight," Malrich considers it his legacy and his duty to first declare war on the "Nazi jihadist fuckers," and then to "tell the truth, all over the world."

Sansal's own compulsion to tell the truth all over the world is hampered, sadly, by the reality that although The German Mujahid has won plaudits in France including the RTL-Lire Prize, has been translated into German and Hebrew, and is being published in separate American and British editions, not only are there no plans to translate it into Arabic, but Sansal's work is banned in Algeria. The author, who refers to himself as "secular in every bone in my body," had published several novels that sold well in his home country, having turned to writing after retiring from his job as Director of the Algerian Ministry for Industry. But with the publication in 2006 ofPoste restante: Alger. Lettre de colere et d'espoir a mes compatriots—an open letter to his fellow citizens decrying the Nationalist-Islamist regime, which he says is teaching young Algerians an edited version of history—all of his books were removed from shelves.

Such censorship is particularly ironic given Sansal's mission as an artist. In writing The German Mujahidhe wanted "to ask what it might mean to take responsibility for ensuring that such crimes are never repeated," and the answer the novel gives is clear: it means heeding Primo Levi's insistence to "Remember these words…Repeat them to your children." In its unflinching exploration of the horrors of history and its clear-eyed journey across the entire spectrum of humanity from good to evil,The German Mujahidmesmerizes from the very first sentence and commands you not to evade or recoil. Even the comfort of a hopeful conclusion is resisted; the closest thing to a consolation offered to the reader is the knowledge that Malrich will, as he promises, survive, and some day do what Rachel had wanted to: visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem: "I'll read the names aloud, and, after every one, I'll ask their forgiveness in my father's name." Yet although reaching the end will leave you drained, devastated, and reeling, you'll still want to go back to the first page and start again. Sansal is a novelist at the absolute height of his powers and has, in raking over such ugliness, created a work of extraordinary beauty.
 
Jonathan Littell
Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones begins, “Oh my human brothers.” In so doing, he loses no time in posing the question that the next thousand pages seek to answer: How can men treat their human brothers with calculating and unrelenting cruelty? The speaker is a former SS officer. His direct address is essential to this enterprise, and more than one note of chilling irony can be heard therein. One such is his uncommon cultivation. Littell, a dual citizen of France and the United States, wrote his novel in French, and many of its first readers recognized the famous opening line (“Frères humains qui après nous vivez”) of François Villon’s “Ballade des pendus,” in which the poet, awaiting execution, begs for clemency. Unlike Villon, however, Littell’s narrator, Maximillian Aue, seeks no pardon—and needs none. He has already eluded capture and, more than half a century after the war’s end, leads an outwardly tranquil life manufacturing lace in northern France, married and with two children (who know nothing of his earlier life). He has decided to tell his long, grim tale. As he does, apostrophe will turn to accusation: “Now of course the war is over. And we’ve learned our lesson, it won’t happen again. But are you quite sure we’ve learned our lesson? Are you certain it won’t happen again?”

Aue’s story begins with the entry of the German Army into Ukraine in 1941 and ends with the fall of Berlin in 1945. The intervening stations are among the most horrific the war offered, from the massacre at Babi Yar to Stalingrad to Belzec and Auschwitz. Aue notes early on that what follows is “a bleak story, but an edifying one too, a real morality play.” For it to be edifying, however, Aue must be something other than what’s expected. While he may witness and commit acts few would hesitate to call evil, his evil is far from banal and in no way corresponds to a stereotype. Aue is neither a blinkered lackey nor a bloodthirsty sadist. On the contrary, he is independent-minded, sensitive, and articulate. He does not believe Nazi propaganda concerning Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, or foreigners (he is himself bisexual and half-French). Nevertheless, he is at the tip of the spear—in the SS.

The result for the reader is a thought experiment of a special sort. We are inclined to declare that killers are not my human brothers. It’s much more difficult to see that evil is made up of the same stuff as good. In The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn remarked that “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.” Aue makes a similar case, stressing that not only psychopaths made the Holocaust possible. There were indeed such tortured and torturing souls, but they were a tiny minority, just as they were in Rwanda, Bosnia, Chechnya, and the other places Littell has spent time working for aid organizations. Some surely loved violence and craved blood; some suffered from madnesses we may be unable to understand. But there were also those—the vast majority—whose positions we can all too easily imagine. “There are psychopaths everywhere, all the time,” Aue says. “Our quiet suburbs are crawling with pedophiles and maniacs, our homeless shelters are packed with raving megalomaniacs; and some of them do indeed become a problem, they kill two, three, ten, even fifty people—and then the very same State that would without batting an eye send them to war crushes them like a blood-swollen mosquito. These sick men are nothing. But the ordinary men that make up the State—especially in unstable times—now there’s the real danger. The real danger for mankind is me, is you."

An unknown American writer (even a bilingually educated one) who attempts to write an immense novel in French would usually expect to receive nothing but mockery for his trouble. As if the linguistic effort weren't audacious enough, then there's the subject matter: an epic of World War II gore and phantasmagoria from the point of view of a reflective--but largely unrepentant--German SS officer. It's the sort of literary high-wire act that should have ended in a face plant. Instead, Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones somehow swept France's top literary prizes when it was published in 2006. Qu'est-ce que c'est que cette histoire?

After a brief prologue in which the narrator introduces himself as a war criminal in hiding, the action opens with the Germans' brutal invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and concludes, almost a thousand pages later, with Berlin in ashes in 1945. The protagonist and narrator, Dr. Max Aue, bobs along with the flow and ebb of German fortunes on the Eastern Front like a stormtrooper Candide--except that he inflicts as well as endures enormous suffering.

Aue is not only an enthusiastic Nazi, but a first-class catastrophe of misdirected sexuality. Without giving anything away about his issues, let's just say that he gives anyone in Dr. Freud's files--or Greek tragedy--a run for their money. Yet whatever sympathy the narrator may occasionally earn for his tortured personal backstory, sporadic self-awareness and reliable literary flair is quickly squandered by his willing participation in many of the Nazi regime's atrocities, as well as several that are entirely his own.

Aue's idiosyncratic psyche is a literary creation and not--as some critics have mistakenly assumed--some kind of psychosexual explanation of Nazism of the sort once popular but now largely discarded. Littell has no grand new theories of evil to offer, and to the extent he makes the rather commonplace observation that we are all capable of it, this is actually undercut by Aue's spectacular weirdness. Nor does Littell shed much light on the "whys" of the Holocaust, although the attentive reader will learn plenty about the "how".
 

 

 

 

Ever since Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, the novel has fluctuated between fact and fiction, sometimes digging so deeply into the whys of reality that fiction becomes truer than fact, or rather presents a side to reality that reveals deeper understanding. Raw reality, brutal honesty, and "gruesome" facts can often be too hard to take which is why relationships are coated in lies and social institutions from governments to marriages rely on censorship and suppression for the common good. As the novelist rips open the facade of lies, she reveals a frightening truth or a horror similar to what Conrad, Achebe, and Mario Vargas Llosa found in colonial Africa and South America. By definition novels are works of literary arts in which language, story-telling, structure, sequencing, and style create an aesthetic experience that contains or frames the "truth" they represent and often make the horror easier to stomach for both author and reader.
 
Heart of Darkness is based on his autobiography but like a recursive memoir, he plays with time, frames the narrative, and repeats certain salient conversations, incidents, and images to go deeper into the essential evil he found in every man, an evil that the African jungle exposed in its "darkness." As a master prose stylist, he uses rich figurative language, rhythm, and tone color to give his horror an aesthetic form and the frame to distance the narration because the raw truth devastated him. What techniques do authors use to make the truth palatable? 

As an orphan and exile, Conrad left his homeland to roam the seas during those scary years of rabid colonialism. For twenty years he led the practical life of a sailor, somehow managing to survive the worst misadventures. But his six months in the Congo under Leopold II were horrific. He was on a river boat that made its way to Stanley Falls, he got sick, and his job was to take out an even sicker agent like Kurtz who also died en route. He left disillusioned and disgusted with the entire African misadventure. And so he had to write about it.
 
Achebe lived in Nigeria and his Things Fall Apart is based on the real life of indigenous people and the history of the area. However, he structures this book as a Shakespearean tragedy with Okonkwo playing  the "king" with the dramatic flaw--his machismo, pride, temper, stubbornness--that cause his misfortunes as much as the colonialists. This dramatic balance gives more weight to the novel where Africans are not just victims of greedy white colonialists but flawed persons in their own right who make fatal mistakes. He also sees the flaws of the culture and the inhumanity of their superstitions and beliefs especially regarding the killing of children. Yet Achebe took Conrad's writing literally and analyzed it as if it were of his time, 50 years later, which hardly seems fair. The irony is that Achebe benefited immensely from the British system of education, the British literary canon, and the English language. He became a scholar and professor, published his immensely successful Things Fall Apart in 1958 and spent most of his life in the U.S., in Ivy League schools like Bard on the Hudson for 15 years and his final days at Brown. He died in Boston March 21, 2013. Although he protested against Conrad's "racism" and fought against the Biafran war and other injustices, his life was that of a English language professor and novelist. In other words, he owed his career to his British education and opportunities and so there are many sides to colonialism. Most of his writing is in a realistic mode but he draws from African folk tales as well as the British canon.
 
The bottom line is that every culture has something good to offer and something bad to repudiate, i.e. there is no black and white in the literal sense.
This book is long but brilliant! Quite simply, it's the sheer virtuosity of Littell's writing, which shines through in Charlotte Mandel's English translation, and does not falter even in rendering the most technically difficult and morally uncomfortable tableaus. His inventiveness jolts crackling energy into familiar history--an absolutely startling 87-page dive into the Battle of Stalingrad at the center of the novel being only one outstanding example. The awful grandeur of the subject, the breadth and depth of the author's historical research, the ease with which he shifts from naturalism to surrealism and allegory to farce, his perfect ear for dialogue in what is not only a foreign language but a completely alien way of thinking, the fearlessness with which he portrays the repellent--all of these are marks of a monumental achievement. If literary power is a function of ambition multiplied by ability, this book is simply off the charts.

Many readers will be overwhelmed by the violence of these blood-soaked pages, others by the often-numbing bureaucratic detail of how it was unleashed. Some will find unendurable the Nazi ideology spouted at length by Aue and other characters (though not endorsed, it goes without saying, by the author). Those left unoffended by the foregoing will still have to contend with Littell's exhaustive--and I mean exhaustive--fleshing out of Aue's tormented sexuality. But even this side of the story is told with uncommon skill, and convincingly embedded with the tale of Germany's rampage and destruction.

 

Most of classical Holocaust literature is written in a graceful, realistic, minimal style. What  happens when the language were Gothic, over-the-top, satirical, funny, and exaggerated like Foer's book? What does language do to the tragedy of these events? How do authors like Littell and Sansal capture the voice of the other? What do you think of evil and good?

Communist China

Gao Xingjian, born January 4, 1940 in Ganzhou (Jiangxi province) in eastern China, is today a French citizen. Writer of prose, translator, dramatist, director, critic and artist. Gao Xingjian grew up during the aftermath of the Japanese invasion, his father was a bank official and his mother an amateur actress who stimulated the young Gao's interest in the theatre and writing. He received his basic education in the schools of the People's Republic and took a degree in French in 1962 at the Department of Foreign Languages in Beijing. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) he was sent to a re-education camp and felt it necessary to burn a suitcase full of manuscripts. Not until 1979 could he publish his work and travel abroad, to France and Italy. During the period 1980-87 he published short stories, essays and dramas in literary magazines in China and also four books: Premier essai sur les techniques du roman moderne/A Preliminary Discussion of the Art of Modern Fiction (1981) which gave rise to a violent polemic on "modernism", the narrative A Pigeon Called Red Beak (1985), Collected Plays (1985) and In Search of a Modern Form of Dramatic Representation (1987). Several of his experimental and pioneering plays - inspired in part by Brecht, Artaud and Beckett- were produced at the Theatre of Popular Art in Beijing: his theatrical debut with Signal d'alarme/Signal Alarm (1982) was a tempestuous success, and the absurd drama which established his reputation Arrêt de bus/Bus Stop (1983) was condemned during the campaign against "intellectual pollution" (described by one eminent member of the party as the most pernicious piece of writing since the foundation of the People's Republic); L'Homme sauvage/Wild Man (1985) also gave rise to heated domestic polemic and international attention.

In 1986 L'autre rive/The Other Shore was banned and since then none of his plays have been performed in China. In order to avoid harassment he undertook a ten-month walking-tour of the forest and mountain regions of Sichuan Province, tracing the course of the Yangzi river from its source to the coast. In 1987 he left China and settled down a year later in Paris as a political refugee. After the massacre on the Square of Heavenly Peace in 1989 he left the Chinese Communist Party. After publication of La fuite/Fugitives, which takes place against the background of this massacre, he was declared persona non grata by the regime and his works were banned. In the summer of 1982, Gao Xingjian had already started working on his prodigious novel La Montagne de l'Âme/Soul Mountain, in which - by means of an odyssey in time and space through the Chinese countryside - he enacts an individual's search for roots, inner peace and liberty. This is supplemented by the more autobiographical Le Livre d'un homme seul/One Man's Bible.

A number of his works have been translated into various languages, and today several of his plays are being produced in various parts of the world. In Sweden he has been translated and introduced by Göran Malmqvist, and two of his plays (Summer Rain in Peking, Fugitives) have been performed at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm.

Gao Xingjian paints in ink and has had some thirty international exhibitions and provides the cover illustrations for his own books.

Awards: Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres 1992; Prix Communauté française de Belgique 1994 (for Le somnambule), Prix du Nouvel An chinois 1997 (for Soul Mountain)

A selection of works by Gao Xingjian in English
Wild Man: a Contemporary Chinese Spoken Drama. Transl. and annotated by Bruno Roubicek. Asian Theatre Journal. Vol. 7, Nr 2. Fa1l 1990.
Fugitives. Transl. by Gregory B. Lee. In: Lee, Gregory B., Chinese Writing and Exile. Central Chinese Studies of the Universtity of Chicago, 1993.
The Other Shore : Plays by Gao Xingjian. Transl. by Gilbert C.F. Fong. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1999.
Soul Mountain. Transl. by Mabel Lee. HarperCollins, 1999.
One Man's Bible. Transl. by Mabel Lee. HarperCollins, 2002.
Contemporary Technique and National Character in Fiction. Transl. by Ng Mau-sang.
[Extract from A Preliminary Discussion of the Art of Modern Fiction, 1981.]
"The Voice of the Individual". Stockholm Journal of East Asian Studies 6, 1995.
"Without isms". Transl. by W. Lau, D. Sauviat & M. Williams. Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia. Vols. 27 & 28, 1995-96.

Soul Mountain is my favorite Chinese book because it depicts the ecological and history of China set in the oppressive world on Chinese communism where Buddhism and Confucianism form a spectral backdrop and the style is forged through an innovative postmodern use of the pronouns I, he, she, and you that deconstructs the psyche in a unique Chinese version of psychoanalysis that holds true to the sense of actual place and geography in the Eastern landscape.
While Gao’s thinking may have some kinship with Lockean empiricism, he has taken his thinking and experience further into another area—his spatial deconstruction of self into nature, the past, and Buddhist and Taoist philosophy. The four pronouns experience nature differently even as the narrator travels through the mountains as a single human entity, a bit the way lone hikers “dissolve” after hours of hacking through the Appalachian trail. I think he won the Nobel Prize in part because he offered this new vision of self based on his experiences with the Cultural Revolution, his brush with death, his study of Euro-existentialism, and his ability to dissolve into nature as a hiker. Like much of Chinese culture, the deconstruction is spatial. Although there are dreams in this novel, his perception of self is deliberately fractured into he, you, I, and she.
the linear direction of a purposeful “will.” So his immurement is transcended by dissolving the conventional sense of self, wrapped up in the “we” of conditioning, particularly Maoist thought, to experience the sensuality of all aspects of mind/body/spirit and the fusion of experience in the divine now where he plays with the Zen koan of God as a frog. How does this sense of self differ or enhance previous definitions in Euro-American and Arabic literature or even your perceptions of your self in the entrepreneurial workplace? He won the Nobel in part because of the creative spatial deconstruction of self and courageous journey into nature and the past when such trips were censored and politically blasphemous.
 
Born in China in 1954, Dai Sijie is an award-winning author and filmmaker. Caught up in China’s Cultural Revolution, he was "re-educated" between 1971 and 1974, and spent time working in a camp in a rural part of Sichuan province. After his re-education, he completed high school and university in China before departing for France in 1984 on a scholarship. He directed his first film in 1989. His first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress was published in France in 2000. The translation became a national bestseller in America.

Sijie currently lives and works in Paris, France.
The Chinese Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s was, of course, anything but. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress describes the lives of the narrator and his close friend Luo during those years, as they are sent to a remote region for re-education by the peasants in 1971, when they are in their late teens. Neither is even a high school graduate yet, but as the sons of doctors they are suspicious -- obviously tainted by their bourgeois intellectual backgrounds -- and so, like millions of others of Chinese of the time, forced to participate in this disastrous social experiment.
       They are sent to a truly remote corner of China: the alarm clock they bring along is the only timepiece in town, and it's a considerable journey even just to a place where movies are occasionally shown. Life is dreary and hard there, but the power of storytelling offers some respite: Luo and the narrator are sent to watch the films shown in the distant town and then re-tell them for the locals.
       The power of storytelling becomes even more convincing when they come upon a stash of books that another acquaintance of theirs, being re-educated nearby, has managed to hoard. Books -- except, of course, the writings of Mao and perhaps Enver Hoxha -- are dangerous objects in this time (and nearly everyone they encounter is illiterate). The reactions of Luo and the narrator -- and then those they relate the stories they have read to -- perhaps explain why: Dai does an excellent job of conveying the rapture of losing oneself in the words and stories found in these books, so very different from the oppressive, dreary, and dangerous everyday lives of everyone here. They are all translated works: Balzac, Dumas, Romain Rolland, Tolstoy, Dickens, and more -- a treasure-trove of classical Western literature.
       Four-Eyes, whose books they are, is unwilling to share his treasure, but after Luo and the narrator's appetite has been whetted by a sampling of Balzac they will do almost anything to get their hands on the suitcase containing these works. They are particularly eager also because not only are they invigorated by the marvels contained in the books, but they see what effect the words can have on others -- notably the little Chinese seamstress who lives fairly nearby.
       The power of the books is great, the recounted stories intoxicating to those who the two share them with. And the books are of great value in this world, the only currency the two have to save the lives of one of the characters at one point. The books change several lives in the novel, showing that even in the darkest times imaginations (and ambitions) can not be entirely fettered.
       Beside the books, Dai also offers a good small picture of China during the Cultural Revolution -- the small (and great) outrages, the petty humiliations, the people who managed to get by better than others within the system (notably Four-Eyes and his mother), the incredible poverty in the Chinese countryside. The book moves too quickly over much of this, offering a few episodes to focus on and skipping over long periods of (admittedly probably very dreary) time. Still, it offers a good glimpse of China during the Cultural Revolution, and of the power of literature (and the deep loathing for a system and people who keep literature out of the hands of readers).
 

Anchee Min’s (b 1956) writing has been praised for its raw, sharp language and historical accuracy. Her bestselling memoir, RED AZALEA, the story of her childhood in communist China, has been compared to THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Min credits the English language with giving her a means to express herself, arming her with the voice and vocabulary to write about growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution. “There was no way for me to describe those experiences or talk about thoLike every child of her generation, Min was taught to write “Long Live Chairman Mao!” before she was taught to write her own name. She believed in Mao and Communism. At the age of 17, Min was sent to a labor camp near East China Sea, where she discovered the truth of Mao’s calling. She endured mental and physical hardships, which included a severe spinal cord injury. She worked for three years before talent scouts spotted her toiling in a cotton field. Madame Mao, preparing to take over China, was looking for a leading actress for a propaganda film. Min was selected for having the ideal “proletarian” look. Mao died before the film was complete, and Madame Mao, blamed for the disaster of the revolution, was sentenced to death. Min was labeled a political outcast by association. She was disgraced, punished, and forced to perform menial tasks in order to reform herself. In 1984, with the help of a friend overseas, Min left China for America. She spoke no English when she arrived in Chicago, but within six months had taught herself the language in part by watching “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” on American television.

Since the completion of RED AZALEA, Min has written six subsequent works of historical fiction: KATHERINE, BECOMING MADAME MAO, WILD GINGER, EMPRESS ORCHID, THE LAST EMPRESS, PEARL OF CHINA. The books attempt to re-record histories that have been falsely written. “If my own history is recorded falsely, how about other people?” she asks. Both critics and writers have praised her work, calling it “historical fiction of the first order.” Her most recent book, PEARL OF CHINA (April 2010/Bloomsbury), is a fictional account of the 40 years that writer Pearl S. Buck spent in China..

 
September 29, 2000

TBR: With so much having been written already about Madame Mao, what made you choose her as your subject for your novel, BECOMING MADAM MAO?  

AM: It was the process, the process of how she, a beautiful woman who once possessed tremendous innocence, turned into a monster. I hadn't seen that done before.

TBR: What was your research process like? How much of what you knew of her as a historical figure was correct and what new things did you learn about her that you found fascinating?

AM: The research process was long and hard. It took me five years just to get my notes straight. Most of the crime she was accused of was correct. What's fascinating to learn was that Mao was behind her in her major moves, i.e. the Cultural Revolution. I had the idea most people had at the beginning: that she was simply a power-craver, a White-bone-demon as she is universally known.  I was surprised to discover a lot of human side to her. The Jiang Ching Madame Mao as a lover, a wife, and a mother.

TBR: Ultimately, what will her legacy be, as an icon and as a woman?

AM: To the people of China she would most likely remain her official title as the White-bone-demon for quite a time. To me she would be an icon of a very sad time and a woman who lost her soul to demons as she rebelled against the society, which treats women as grass to be walked on.

TBR: Is the title also a reference to your BECOMING MADAME MAO since you wrote the book in the first person and thus created a voice for Madame Mao --- did you channel her through your own sensibilities?

AM: Not really, although I did channel her through my own sensibilities.  It was not natural for me to think of her in that way.  It was a difficult writing process. On the one hand I had to do her justice, which meant that I shouldn't be judgmental; on the other, I had a hard time comprehending her in many cases. For example, I couldn't bring myself to justify the lives she had taken during the Cultural Revolution in order to revenge and protect her career. She was heartless and purely evil. I hated her.

TBR: How did your writing change after the enormous success of your memoir RED AZALEA?

AM: The main change was the self-confidence. I started to believe that I could write. So I pushed myself to be more original, creative, and to develop the courage to deal with failure when it happens.

TBR: What was the most difficult thing about writing RED AZALEA?
AM: To live the time over again. It was painful.

TBR: How was writing KATHERINE, your first novel, different from your experience writing BECOMING MADAME MAO?

AM: The scale was much larger both in background and characters. There were four major characters in KATHERINE while more than twenty in BECOMING MADAME MAO. Also, I had to follow the record of history tightly in BECOMING MADAME MAO. It was a totally different experience.

TBR: When did you decide to be a writer? As a former actress, what skills did you learn in that art form that affected your writing life?

AM: I didn't decide. The reason I wrote was to learn English so I could graduate from college and get a job to be a small firm secretary. I never dared to dream.  I was a new immigrant and survival was the only thing on my mind at the time. Talking about being a former actress, I was never one to begin with. Madame Mao's people picked me from a cotton field for the way I looked --- a proletarian peasant, not that I had any acting skills. I love writing because I don't have to show my face. I had a chance to be exposed to a lot of classic monologues while studying acting. Maybe that affected my writing.

TBR: How do you see the Internet affecting the future of fiction? Do you read ebooks or books online?

AM: The Internet is affecting everything on the face of the earth. Future fiction has to be created unique enough in a non-replaceable form to survive and thrive. I haven't had the chance to explore ebooks or books online yet.

TBR: Would you ever consider writing a story or book that would only be available online?

AM: I need to give the idea some thought before I know what I am talking about on this issue.

TBR: Do you believe that the sharing of history like this can help to change the contemporary world? By learning from the past?

AM: Definitely.

TBR: What books and authors have influenced you the most throughout your life?

AM: I have to give you a list of Chinese names. Most of these authors are unknown to the western public, i.e. Tang Xian-zu of 1200. I read him when I was 14 in a dark storage where Red Guards placed their rooted goods.

TBR: What are you reading now?

AM: Historical documents. I am doing it for my next project. In fact, I just got back from China last week. I spent my summer digging out books in the basement of the Museum of History in Shanghai. Every time I got in, I felt like a cockroach being sprayed --- the book-storage is heavily sprayed with chemicals in order to prevent the bugs from eating the pages away. It is a place filled with treasure --- lots of out of print and lost books. Material that is crucial to my subject. I am reading everything that interests me around the late Qing Dynasty 1800-1911.

TBR: In one sentence, what is one piece of invaluable advice you have picked up over the years of writing?

AM: I ask myself, "Will you still write if this piece doesn't get published?" If the answer is yes, then I know that I meant to write it.  

To learn more about the Cultural Revolution, go to web link where Professor Keefer uploaded original librettos of the operas that her Canadian father attended while doing business with the Chinese when trade was closed with the U.S.

 



 
Atwood claims her novels are speculative fiction, not sci fi, because she does meticulous research with her team on subjects like bioengineering, firewalls and hacking, food production, and global warming and then imagines or speculates on what kind of world to create for her characters. Do you agree that the world in MaddAddam trilogy is almost here now? If so, why or why not? In what way does Atwood's work differ from traditional science fiction?


Life of Pi by Yann Martel, winner of Booker prize. Do you agree with his observations on the difficulty of finding a good story? How does story differ from dramatic structure? Second draft of webfolios due. Be prepared to read aloud. Group discussions on "How to find and develop good stories" and "The American Dream."

New York-- The Twenties versus the Nineties. Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Even though they symbolize the American Dream, what are the prisons embedded in The Great Gatsby, Jazz and Cosmopolis? Is your American Dream just to be-- happy? Remember this when we get to Brave New World. In the twenties, the American Dream was Forbidden Fruit for many Americans. Langston Hughes captures this dilemma brilliantly in his poem, Harlem--

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or does it fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

The following is my favorite descriptive passage from The Great Gatsby because I love the way he personifies the lawn and uses kinesthetic imagery to capture the brazen energy and grandiosity of the nouveau riche and the role the women, particular Daisy, play in this splendid charade-- "Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walls and burning gardens--finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold, and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy, straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggessively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body--he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage--a cruel body....
We walked through a huge hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew thorugh the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling-- and then ripple over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an achored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor." (11-12) Note the synesthesia--"groan of a picture," the use of dashes to make the description dynamic, and the way these short passages show how completely Tom dominates the scene, physically, sexually, materially--but maybe not spiritually.

Note how DeLillo deconstructs his journey through Manhattan. Is the author seeping in through Benito? Is this a naturalistic journey? DeLillo does not orchestrate his characters, although he is a fierce and fabulous social critic. Every word must succumb to his personal style--

DeLillo simply and vividly describes his raison d'etre-- "I am a sentence maker. Like a donut maker, only slower," or "Every sentence has a truth waiting at the end of it and the writer learns how to know it when he finally gets there. On one level this truth is the swing of the sentence, the beat and poise, but down deeper it's the integrity of the writer as he matches with the language. I've always seen myself in sentences. I begin to recognize myself, word by word, as I work through a sentence. The language of my books has shaped me as a man. There's a moral force in a sentence when it comes out right. It speaks the writer's will to live....The words typed on the page have a sculptural quality. They form odd correspondences. They match up not just through meaning but through sound and look. The rhythm of a sentence will accomodate a certain number of syllables. One syllable too many, I look for another word. There's always another word that means the same thing, and if it doesn't then I'll consider altering the meaing of a sentence to keep the rhythm, the syllable beat. I'm completely willing to let language press meaning upon me. Watching the way in which words match up, keeping the balance in a sentence--these are sensuous pleasures. I type rather than write longhand because I like the way words and letters look when they come off the hammers onto the page--finished, printed and beautifully formed."

Futuristic America-- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. How do Huxley's predictions still apply to the world of clones and bioengineering? Have our values changed since the 1930s? Is happiness incompatible with art, science, monogamous love and family ties? What would happen if there were no death? If old age, suffering, weakness and disease were abolished, would that also mean the end of religion? If everyone were happy on earth, would we need God? What is your ideal designer baby? If you could stop aging at 50 and stay the same for the next fifty years, would you do it? What would happen if everyone did? What do you think of nursing homes and early retirement? Should people just 'hang out' for thirty years, living off the state?

At one point in most writers' careers, they tackle the unknown, ineffable and potentially blasphemous task of imagining god and personifying prophets. Like Nikos Kazantzakis, they can be a believing Christian who creates a more sensuous, tormented version of Christ tortured by temptation as he struggles with the demands of divinity. Or they can be like Aldous Huxley as he creates an alternative religion based on a distortion of science, bioengineering, and technology where people worship Our Ford instead of Our Lord. Where is god in books like The Bluest Eye, Lolita, The Sand Child, or The Patience Stone? In Saadawi's books, God often dies (or at least the personification of him or his embodiment in corrupt leaders), or resigns as in her censored play. But in God Resigns at the Summit Meeting, Eve, Bint Allah, and Isis offer humanity alternatives as female deities. Naguib Mahfouz and Salman Rushdie almost lost their lives for personifying Mohammad in Children of Gebelaawi (of the Alley) and Satanic Verses because they made him flawed--a womanizer and a hashish smoker. Where is god in books like The German Mujahid, The Kindly Ones, Night, and If This is a Man? God lets these stories be told but he also didn't stop the holocaust. In Gao Xi Jiang's Soul Mountain, God is a frog with one eye open and one blinking. Savoring the moment of falling snow is as close as we get to paradise.
 
For a scientific perspective on imagining god, I recommend Alan Lightman's new book Mr. G. Like Einstein's Dreams, this short novel is based on a lifetime of study as a prominent theoretical physicist and in its pithy prose poetry invites us to imagine the creation of our world, our galaxy, and an infinite number of galaxies. I met Lightman at an MIT conference in 2006 where I was invited to give a paper on the personification of particle physics in my narrators in my trilogy of novels published in 2006, now censored by the Dean. MIT was one of the few places that actually understood what I did in my novels, (London, Paris, and Tel Aviv were the others) in part because of the work Lightman has done for years as Humanities and Physics Professor and author of extraordinary compressed, brilliant prose poetry. I personally prefer longer, linguistically complex works, but Lightman is one of the few minimalist writers I adore probably because his intellect is so maximal. Even if you have no time at all because you are so busy with work and school, spend five minutes every night reading a chapter of this book and reflecting on it as you go to sleep. You will get a deeper understanding of science and religion as well as ideas to stimulate your own imagination and sense of wonder. Unlike Joyce and Rushdie, Lightman's writing is simple and clear, but it reflects the same depth of research, understanding, and knowledge, albeit in a different area. Lightman is one of the great writers of our century.

Links--1) Jihad vs McWorld-- Whose Paradise is Lost?
a)Jihad vs McWorld-- Only One Will Stand by Dylan Tucker

b) Integrating Current Events with Twentieth Century Literature and Rhetoric-- Keefer's Course Syllabus Fall 2001
i. Afghan Woman's Imaginary Journal by Jane Schreck
ii. An Imaginary Journal of Einstein's Dreams through 9/11 and Twentieth Century Literature by John Marrapodi
iii. Literary Journey of Sherida Davis-Bryan as Madame Mao
b) Osama Comes to New Paltz. Cameraman-- Kleber Delgado, Post-Production-- Douglas Short, Digitalization-- Linda Smith, NYU Streaming Video-- Rich Malenitza-- Fast Connection or 56k
Osama-- Micheil Yohannes, Suicide Bomber-- Yiannis Petrohilos, Tony Blair the Breaker-- Sean Pulliam, Komain Kool J the Afghan dancer, Head of MTV--Sean Hackett, Maureen Dowd with a gas mask-- Marilynne Troiano, The Colin Powell-- Michael Sweatt, The Singer-- Aria McKeon, George Carlin--Matthew Saikaly, Guiliani-- Dan Dugal, The Little Girl-- Erin Brady, The Shrink-- Jennifer Sheeley check out pictures of class!
c) Mock Criminal Trials of John Walker Lindh and Zacarias Moussaoui--
i. How Can You--Defend John Walker Lindh? by Frank Mosono
ii.Mock Attorney for Moussaoui by Michael Boyd
iii. Walker's Road to Jihad via McWorld by Christopher Tripoli
2) Leaders, Loners, True Believers, Corporate Clones
a)Americans-- The Truest Believers by Ioannis Petrohilos
b) Non-Believers-- Adopting the Buddhist Way by Thomas Maunz
c)Can Buchanan's Death of the West Threaten the True Multicultural America in 2002? by Eugene Thomas
3) Literature and Terrorism Webfolios
a)Mohammad Atta by Jacqueline Cervantes
b)Black Water Suczek
c)Elie Wiesel by Nicole Hughes
d)Ruth Snapper the Whirling Dervish
e)The Shaman of Soul Mountain by Leslie Marini

f)The Two-Sided Poet, Dr. Phil and Herself by Joan Lavanant
g)Elie Wiesel Wanders through Twentieth Century Literature by Carrie Caro
h) Marquez and Colombian Terrorism by Ziel
i) A Dead Soldier Talks to God by Stacy Larue
j) Sex, Lies and Terrorism by Yessica Gonzalez
k) Global Literature through the Eyes of an American Democratic Islamic Lawyer by Danelle Pitts
l) Weaving Einstein through Literature and Terror by Mildred Castagna
m)Eric On... by Jill Balme
n) Margaret Puleo Races through Modern Global Literature as Nefertiti
o) Lee Wilson's COPENHAGEN
4) Fighting Terrorism with Education Around the World
a) Violence Like a Volcano in Dominica by Marjorie George

b) America and Islam-- A Loving Relationship by Julia Evergreen Keefer

CYBERPERFORMANCE WEBFOLIOS

Hope DeVenuto, the Poet of Light

Rosie

Sylvia Felendler, the Russian Shrink

Mary Kursar, the Prosecuting Attorney

Zachary Papazahariou, the Defending Attorney

Stacy Reilly, the Irishwoman

Gratia, the Neo-Deconstructionist

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

Cyberperformance II: Self versus State on 19 December 1998 in Rm. 109.

Program:

PART I: Characters (including audience) mix, mingle, drink (whatever), eat international food, read poetry, describe research projects (on creativity, Indian marriage rituals, the deleterious effects of internet addiction on marriage, Dante, Socrates, aging in the millenium, dying in Catholic hospitals,the misogyny of gangsta rap music, investing in Manhattan real estate, and therapeutic approaches to respiratory therapy) while giving advice about humanity's dilemmas in the millenium, mceed by Einstein. The conflict begins between self and state. This section ends with a cacophony of foreign tongues, merging into a dissonant national anthem.

PART II:The Twentieth Century Trip: A virtual trip through some of the Twentieth Century literature:
What is Literature? by the God of the Internet, Mr. Lies and Virginia Woolf
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, Picasso, and Einstein
God Dies by the Nile (Egypt) by the God who died, Einstein and Virginia Woolf
Ulysses and the stream of consciousness by Marquez/Escobar, the God that Died by the Nile, and Einstein
Red Azalea (Communist China) by Marquez/Escobar, Mr. Lies and Roy Cohn
The God of Small Things (India) by the God herself, Marquez/Escobar, and Virginia Woolf
Yoga, meditation and the afterlife by Tagore and Red Azalea/Sartre
The New York Medley:Jazz, Rains of New York, Mao II by entire cast, climaxing in New York cacophony with audience

PART III: Expanding and Condensing in Time and Space, inspired by Einstein's Dreams.

with Einstein, God of the Internet, Roy Cohn, Virginia Woolf, Tagore, the God that Died by the Nile, the God of Small Things, Satan, Marquez/Escobar, Einstein and then the God of the Internet extinguishing all electricity.

Cast of Characters

Angel in America: Holly Hochstadt

Roy Cohn from Angels in America: Julian Moya

Dante:Dominique Russo

Einstein:Larry Zeller

The Cyber-Housewife

The French Businessman: Claude Guihounov

Our Ford: Andrew Baksh

Gangsta Rapper a la Sartre: Michelle Eskengren

The God of Big Things (the Internet)that will NEVER DIE:Gabriel Ioan

The God that Died by the Nile:Frank Valente

The God of Small Things:Lisa Brown

The God of Untimely Deaths: Antoine Williams

Bill Gray, the depressed, dying, decadent writer from Mao II: Jim Bernard

An old woman looking for a place to die: Julie Cooke

Mr. Lies from Angels in America:Lawrence Montle

Gabriel Garcia Marquez/Pablo Escobar: Juliet Paez

Picasso: Jesse Sweeney

Prisoner from Rikers Island:Pier Le Gendre

Rainbow Mother: Linda McKay

Red Azalea reincarnated as Jean-Paul Sartre:Evergreen Keefer

Satan: John Panico

The Savage from Brave New World: Mary Kursar

The Schizophrenic Investment Analyst searching for the Perfect Home: Barbara Weaver

Sisyphus: Michael Harkins

Socrates/Plato:Androniki Servos

Rabindranath Tagore:Sujit Bhattacharjee

A terminally ill patient trying to die in a Catholic hospital: Michele Watson

Virginia Woolf:Kristen Bernard

 

This explosive course is an intensive reading, writing, thinking experience designed to analyse the work and explore the themes of major writers of the twentieth century, thereby improving our own abilities to read closely and thoroughly, write and think. Course objectives are to expand our knowledge and appreciation of the style and structure of literary works, and to examine their didactic, aesthetic and entertainment values in terms of the cultural relativity of world literature.

 

Classes are a combination of Meatspace as we bring selected reading to life through oral interpretation and performance; Deepspace as we do in-class writing on close textual analysis, subjective interactions and the relation of our unconscious, dreams, emotions etc. to the reading; and Cyberspace, investigating themes and multidisciplinary issues related to our weekly expository papers and the final research project. In addition we will design literary web sites on our chosen topics.

THEMES:
Angst and Alienation: Selections from What is Literature and "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre and
Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison. "The Myth of Sisyphus" by Camus.

Alienated Hells: Shoot the Kids... by Kenzaburo Oe, and News of a Kidnapping
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Alienated Gender: God Dies by the Nile , The God of Small Things, and Things Fall Apart .

Gender and the Unconscious: A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, "Lethal" by Joyce Carol Oates, Molly Bloom's soliloquy from Ulysses , and Red Azalea by Anchee Min.

Heaven: Utopias and Dystopias: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. and Mao II by Don DeLillo. "Angels in America" by Tony Kushner.
"The Red Detachment of Women" and other operas from the Peking Revolutionary Opera.

Einstein's Dreams. by Alan Lightman.

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?

 

"Angels in America" (Kushner.)What is Literature and "No Exit"(Sartre). Playing in the Dark (Morrison). News of a Kidnapping (Marquez). God Dies by the Nile(El Saadawi). The God of Small Things (Roy)Things Fall Apart (Achebe). Red Azalea (Min). A Room of One's Own( Woolf). Mao II (DeLillo). Brave New World (Huxley). Einstein's Dreams. (Lightman).

"We do not rank our favorite books in linear fashion, we hold them like planets around us, where they spin in and out of view." Alain de Boton

Optional Reading List: (Consult the following for special projects)

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.

 

Match the following sentences to authors on the reading list:

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;...it 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.


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