Sunday, December 04, 2005
I am using Jacob's Room as the second novel in my paper and I came to the part in the novel about the Scilly Isles and how they "shake the very foundations of scepticism and lead to jokes about God" (42). I remember you had said something in lecture that provided a lot of insight into this passage and I can't remember exactly what it was, perhaps you could remind me?Well, on the principles of the Freudianity which underlies "Jacob's Room," laughter is in part how human beings react to uncomfortable encroachment or threats or perceived danger to deeply-seated beliefs & values. In the jargon of Freud, this is covered under the concept of tabou. Thus, where the rises of the Scilly Isles invoke the sense of the noumenal which similar British phenomena are recorded to have done through so much of the nation's literature and folk tales, forms of disbelief (such as scepticism) among vestigal Victorian and Edwardian casts of mind are challenged. One result of this, then, is internal discomfort, impinging on the individual's idea of God -- still strong by virtue of its historical foundation in the national character -- and producing uncomfortable jokes as a (Freudian) means of dealing with the inner dis-ease.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Well, we won't do that, but remember that if you bring a fiver to class Monday we can at least salute the trench dead with a shared lunch of fish & chips - or just chips - & who knows what all, and a bottle of Bass ....
Update: And the historical toast offered was ....
Our Valiant Dead, & God Save the Queen!
Monday, November 28, 2005
Here is Kirsty's helpful presentation bibliography on conscientious objectors.
Anyone who has material from their class presentation that they would be willing to have blogged, please email it along.
Works Cited and Referenced
Conscientious Objection: <http://www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/cos/st_co_wwone1.html#unwilling>.
Conscientious Objectors: <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/conscientious_objectors.htm>.
Cruttwell, C.R.M.F. A History of the Great War 1914-1918. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1964. p.238.
Edmonds, Brigadier-General Sir James E. compiled. A Short History of World War One. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968. p.24.
First World War.com – Encyclopedia – U.K. Military Service Act: http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/ukconscription.htm>.
First World War.com – Encyclopedia – Conscientious Objectors: http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/conscientiousobjectors.htm>.
Hart, B.H. Liddell. History of the First World War. London: Cassell and Co. Ltd., 1970. p.269.
Hayes, Carlton J.H. A Brief History of the Great War. New York: The MacMillain Co., 1929. pp.147, 310.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Update: Re. Wikipedia, see this NYT article on "Rewriting History: Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar."
This supports the caution given repeatedly now in lecture that particular care is needed when making moral attributions of British individuals and their social and political systems, due to the uneven and deceptive way that the views of Edwardian individuals and the social systems that they manifest map onto our own political categories and assumptions. We have seen this, of course, in examples such as opposition to Free Trade coming from the Tory position exemplified by Madox Ford's character Christopher Tietjens in Parade's End
From a succinct and comprehensive article in the online Telegraph at the death of the odious Hitlerite Diana Mosley:
One of the funny, charming, intelligent and glamorous Mitford sisters; a denizen of the "Hons' cupboard''; a dedicatee of Vile Bodies; a beautiful woman whom Churchill called "Dinamite''; an inspired interior decorator; a steadfast friend to a wide galère (including some Jews); a fine autobiographer and loving mother; yet Diana Mosley was also a woman who could - when she was inadvisedly invited to appear on Desert Island Discs - describe Adolf Hitler in almost wholly positive terms.When Evelyn Waugh dedicated Vile Bodies to Bryan and Diana Guinness, the future Lady Mosely was still married to the likeable Guinness heir -- later a novelist, playwrite and poet -- and one of society's belles. This was a decade before she would abandon the future 2nd Baron Moyne and, in Joseph Goebbels' front room with Adolf Hitler the Best Man, marry Sir Oswald Mosley; founder and head of the British Union of Fascists; ordinary hero and wounded veteran of the Trenches; buffoon; sycophant; imitator; rank traitor who would have been shot had he not been English and thus forced to suffer, for him, fate worse than death -- his countrymen's derisory farce, ridicule, mockery and lampoon (indeed, imortalised in ignomy by the Master, P.G. Wodehouse.)
Next week (our final class) will consider Herbert Read's astonishing "The End of a War" along with several of the translated German War poets from Georg Heym on p.238 to Yval Goll to p.255
Thursday, November 24, 2005
When you do visit another group's blog, why not leave them a comment to say you've been, and any compliments and suggestions that you may have. That would be blogosphere synergy: an aggregate of individuals improving the quality of the larger system.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
Here is a link or three to some blogging of mine on How to Blog Effectively.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
- Sorrows of Satan and The General can be said to account for Britain's conduct, if not very participation, in World War One as being consequent upon certain prevalent social facts. Incorporating one of the poems studied in class into your analysis, explain with express reference to lecture and seminar discussion how Marie Corelli and C.S. Forester transmuted this idea into literature.
- Parade's End and Jacob's Room are historically significant works in the construction of literary Modernism. Both books incorporate new and varied techniques of fiction in an attempt to speak the unspeakable -- the effects of World War One on its survivors. Using one or more of the poems discussed in class as counter-text, elaborate upon your specific contributions to seminar discussions either for or against the success and aesthetic appeal of the Modernist project that Virginia Woolf and Ford Madox Ford set for themselves.
- Pat Barker makes the point in her Regeneration trilogy that the First World War can be understood as a traditionally British masculine affair gone cruelly wrong, as the rush to manly adventure became in the trenches four wasting years of, in her words, "feminine passivity." Using the particular facts of biography presented in lecture, discuss how the lives and personalities of Marie Corelli and Virginia Woolf influenced their distinctly female fictions in relation to the Great War.
- Shell shock has been a recurrring theme in our course engagement with the fiction of World War One. Limiting your argument to ideas raised in class, explain how Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies engages shell shock, with one other course novel and any of the course poetry used as counter-point in your literary analysis.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Friday, November 11, 2005
On the two minutes silence:
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the guns of Europe fell silent. After four years of the most bitter and devastating fighting, The Great War was finally over. The Armistice was signed at 5am in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, France on November 11, 1918. Six hours later, at 11am, the war ended ....
All locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Click the diagramme below for a full-size version of the author's matrix of some of the possible uses of blogs in education.
Monday, November 07, 2005
More cases, by the bye, of Canada creeping steadily away from Britain and toward the United States ....
Nb: in recent years, Britain has introduced a two minutes silence on November 11th, when all offices, government, factories, schools, &c, are encouraged to volutarily observe two minutes silence at 11:00 am in memoriam.
[Ms. McKinnon was good enough to take the trouble to honour my request for elaboration of her piquant polemical parentheses to her academic presentation on British propaganda in support of World War One. She blogs delightfully, thus.]"This is just a quick blog to cover some of my more personal objections to the use of propaganda during WWI which were not included in the body of my presentation on the 31st of october.
My first frustration with the propaganda machine of the British is that it used some of the most gifted minds of writers and artists to manipulate the British people, particularly young men. Authors such as Bennett, Conan Doyle, and Kipling were sent over to view "real" trench-warfare and lie to their public and I find that disgusting.
My presentation divided propaganda into several categories of my own devising, with which I will list my objections:
- Peer Pressure: This involved the classic attempt to make any man feel like "less than nothing" by insinuating that he is the only man not man enough to go to war. It invoves degrading men infront of their peers and family and forcing them to support the effort as that is supposedly synonymous with helping friends and family.
- Backward Notion of Warfare: Many of the propaganda posters of the era said things like "Forward to Victory!" while using antiquated notions of warfare to depict life in the trenches. Men on horses, and knights slaying dragons, were meant to be accurate representations of what war in the trenches would be like. This kind of thinking was what drove generals to murder millions of their own men in mass slaughter while pushing for a "break through". It is what destroyed the youth of multiple nations. It is one of the most
terrifying instances if misrepresentation in propaganda as the thinking behind it killed millions of innocents.
- Appeal to British Sympathies and Shame: This category includes visions of 'brave little Belgium' and the "What did you do in the Great War Daddy?" poster. Charity is one of the major Christian values used in Britain, even today, to manipulate the masses. It was used to pull Britain into the war to protect other, weaker nations - with this, I have little problem. Shaming a man into going to war by implying that his children may be ashamed of him later if he does not is a reprehensible act. The sense of pride in a good British workman would not stand up to such attacks, nor would his body to the rapidly fired enemy bullets. What a shameful use of tactics!
- Demonisation of the Germans: These posters only really bother me because I feel that their influence can still be felt today. In war, it is necessary to demonise the enemy, but in the form of propaganda it is also dangerous as the images are not as easily erased from the human mind as they are torn off walls.
The point is - propaganda did more than help the nation, it bled the nation until there was naught left to bleed. It falsified, to an astonishing degree, the realities of life at the front, and extended the chasm between home and the front itself. Soldiers were coming home to a different world and many found themselves unable to fit in where they had left, and unable to reconcile what they had seen with civilian visions of the war. Shame threatened by pro-war posters mutated into the guilt of war, the guilt of surving...I wonder how many would have held off volunteering, how many more would have lived, how much more life would have been valued...if not for the betrayal of the propaganda office.... "
Update 2: An excellent website "Poetry of the First World War" here.
Because we lose a week of the term due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be working through selections of the Great War poetry from our Penguin anthology gradually during the remaining weeks of the term.
If you have any favourites from your own reading, please let me know by e-mail & we can enjoy and study them as a class.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Talking to a classfellow in an Office Hour this week, it came to me that attributing a cause to the War is not an empirical or academical problem, but a historical-conceptual failure to use the term "cause" properly.
Before the putative Enlightenment, it was understood that there are four causes, delineated by Aristotle in his Physics, that together explain an event.
- Material cause: the physical properties involved.
- Formal cause: the aggregate of underlying properties which amount to its unique identity.
- Efficient cause: the initial motion or action which began the event.
- Final cause: the event's function or purpose -- its end.)
Take a simple illustrative example. I am about to pot the black in a game of snooker. Thwack! It's in; I win yet again. Material cause is the solid constrution of the table, balls, &c.: if the cue ball were tissue and the black jello, the event (the potting of the black) would not take place. Formal cause is the rules of billiards, the shape of the table, cue, rack, and all the other contributing elements that shape and frame -- i.e. that form -- the event. Efficient cause, of course, is the mechanics behind the cue hitting the cue ball. And final cause is Stephen Ogden winning the match and having his universal supremacy at billiards re-affirmed for posterity . Or something like that.
Applying, then, the robust pre-Enlightenment concept of causation to the problem of how and why the First World War began we see at once its great explanatory power as well as the relative feebleness of the Englightenment's shrunken understanding of "cause". The killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by an inept Bosnian terrorist is efficient cause of the First World War: and a good efficient cause it is. But being stuck in Englightenment-Cause thinking has trapped the generations of post-War scholars in an impossible search for more, or for bigger, or for better efficient causes: impossible, because no efficient cause and no amount or quality of efficient causes can ever fully explain an event. Now, of course, if the event should happen to be small enough, and if the mind contemplating the case be sufficiently bereft of imagination (or, it might be said, of rigour), then an efficient cause can seem adequate. But events on a large or more significant scale reveal the impotence of the Enlightenment-Cause model.
Material cause of the War includes 1914 Europe's demographics, military technology & ordnance, national-geographical, and perhaps the crossover network of treaties in effect. Its formal cause can be summed up as the ethnic, cultural and political histories of the nations and Empires involved. And final cause is ..... well, final cause is for each historian, historiographer and theologian to decide and to argue individually.
Ford Madox Ford in Parade's End puts one conviction of WWI's final cause -- the Tories' -- into the mouth of the protagonist Christopher Tietjens; and that would be the altruism of England. Tietjens is Ford's literary manifestation of Tory England, so when it is said of him that "....it is, in fact, asking for trouble if you are more altruist than the society that surrounds you," [Penguin, 207] it is actually England that has asked for trouble (and will, in fact, be smashed -- insofar as its Tory character is concerned) by entering the War altruistically to defend the "surrounding" societies of the Belgians and the French primarily for the sake of (to Madox Ford, cricket-inspired) Duty.
[Tietjens'] mind was at rest because there was going to be a war. From the first moment of his reading the paragraph about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand he had known that, calmly and with assurance. Had he imagined that this country would come in he would not have known a mind at rest. He loved this country for the run of the hills, the shape of its elm trees and the way the heather, running uphill to the skyline, meets the blue of the heavens. War for this country could only mean humiliation, spreading under the sunlight, an almost invisible pall over the elms, the hills, the heather, like the vapour that spread from .... oh, Middlesbrough! .... But of war for us [i.e. Britain] he had no fear. He saw our Ministry sitting tight till the opportune moment, and then grabbing a French channel port or a few German colonies as the price of neutrality.
You each will, I trust, be able to advance your own final cause of the War with our course under your belt ....
And to conclude, there was indeed no "cause" for the First World War: but there were, as for everything, four causes.
Update: Click this link for a typical school history attempting to explain the First World War in terms limited to efficient causes. It is actually a fairly sophisticated attempt of its type, differentiating as it does between "long term" and "short term" [efficient] causes.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Yet, that being said, in my estimation, Ford has done what only literary genius proper can do: craft his art into a delightfully, trippingly, captivatingly readable narrative. Now, admittedly I have loved Edwardian fiction from youth, brought a passionate conviction that the absolute horror of First World War shaped our own world down to the smallest cultural effect (not the so-called butterfly effect but the rogue moon, Deep Impact asteroid-collision effect;) and allow, even encourage, the distortions caused by my Yorkshire diaspora to influence my reading. But still, Parade's End is simple & varied, fast-paced, engagingly clever, suspenseful and arousing, and a real tale of a love triangle between three alluring chracters.
In a phrase, it is not Ulysses -- though Madox Ford was instrumental in the successful creation, advocacy and defence of Joyce's cause celebre. Now we have completed our three-week study of Parade's End, we have, I believe, a very strong sense of the Great War in its historical context; of the political and social nexus that created and prolonged trench warfare; of the timbre of the men -- mass millions yet discretely individual -- who, if they did not die or lie smashed, fought for four years amid rats, gas and shell-shock, up to their necks in mud; of the character of an Age, dead and discredited, but with much, if seen advisedly and from a charitable prospect, to commend it and to admire.
The lectures on Parade's End sought to make the larger work accessible by concentrating on its binding themes: the history, characteristics and fate of English Toryism; the literary devices, techniques and methods of Madox Ford's vanguard modernism; the operation of Freudianism in the text; and the manifold binaries represented by Tietjens and Sylvia -- repression & impulse; Sadism in its clinical sense & continence on principle; Roman Catholicism & Anglicanism; promiscuity & monogamy; Whigism & traditionalism; id & super-ego, etc. etc.
Please be encouraged to add your comments (either signed or anonymous) to this post on your assessment of our engagement with Parade's End.
Anger has made the English an ugly race. But then this anger is also the source of England’s most admirable achievement — their heroic self-control. It’s the daily struggle of not giving in to their natural inclination to run amok with a cricket bat, to spit and bite in a crowded tearoom, that I admire most in the English. It’s not what they are, but their ability to suppress what they are, that’s great about the English.The article goes on, very helpfully, to relate this to English humour and England's beligerant attitude toward all, repeat all, non-English countries; having its greatest intensity for its closest neighbours (Scots & Irish, certainly; but first and best, the French):
English comedy is war by other means and it still is the actual last war. The rest of Europe looks on with growing exasperation and incomprehension at the English’s ability endlessly to bait the Germans for losing the war and consistently tease the French for losing it as well .... English humour is the sound of the bullies.And, as if to oblige, this article appears in today's press bringing this point home empirically.
Eighty-six percent of people in Britain aged 18 to 30 think the French deserve "a popular negative stereotype," suggests an opinion pollUpdate: The above, all perfectly true, notwithstanding, it leaves unmentioned a peculiar paradox. That is, that the English are highly tolerant of non-English within England. Here is a remark from the French manager of a one of London's top football clubs, Arsenal FC:
conducted for an Anglo-French art show in London .... "British people should face up to the fact that they have an enormous problem when it comes to the French," said exhibition organiser Richard Kaye, a Brition resident in France. "The British will make jokes about the French which would, if made to the detriment of other national or ethnic groups, be considered extremely racist and dangerous."
When I came to England, I was happy to come and be confronted with the English culture, where the owners of the clubs were English and they opened the door to foreign people .... [But now] it looks more like foreign people are buying the clubs and employing English people .... it's a change and it's very important that the values of the game remain as they were before - respected and admired everywhere.London is far and away the most multi-ethnic city in Europe, yet race violence is quite rare. When it did occur -- Brixton in the early 80s -- everyone seemed to agree that it was not cricket and moved on. Football hooliganism, for instance, is between club supporters at home, and that even mere preparation for real hooliganism -- against European countries during International matches.
Part of this attitude derives from the ethos exemplified by Speakers' Corner: click here for a Canadian article from this past weekend on the current threat posed by New Labour legislation to the British public commons' speech tradition.
Quite delightfully from the perspective of our course, the "UK Religious Hatred Bill" will possibly be defeated by the last place on Earth where Parade's End Toryism may be found -- that is, the House of Lords. And of course Blackadder is campaigning against the Bill ....
Update: Well, when I read this headline today I thought I had blogged too soon on racial toleration in England. However, "Race Row Stuns Kop" ("the kop" is the home supporters end at Anfield - Liverpool FC's ground) refers to a visiting player racially abusing one of the Liverpool's black players.
Friday, October 28, 2005
From the left, you heard this nearly verbatim in our opening lecture:
It is now conventional wisdom that the First World War and its senseless, unimaginable slaughter was the Ur-catastrophe of the last century. It brutalized a Europe that before 1914, though deeply flawed by injustice and arrogance, also contained the promise of great emancipatory movements, championing the demands for social justice, for equality, for women’s emancipation, for all of human rights. The war radicalized Europe; without it, there would have been no Bolshevism and no Fascism. In the postwar climate and in the defeated and self-deceived Germany, National Socialism flourished and ultimately made it possible for Hitler to establish the most popular, the most murderous, the most seductive and the most repressive regime of the last century.From the right, an analogy between England before, after and during the First World War with the United States of America today:
At the beginning of the 20th century, the British Empire was an unopposed hyperpower (much as the United States has been since 1989). As historian Colin Cross observes: "In terms of influence it was the only world power" .... But after the conclusion of the first World War, Britain's imperial psyche began to fracture" .... Why did it all crumble? Several interrelated reasons - among them the grisly fact that England had lost virtually an entire generation of future leaders in the trenches of Europe. But another important cause was the waning of confidence on the part of liberal British elites .... In an important sense, the British Empire's strength failed because its elite liberal citizens stopped believing in it.Most pertinent for us in the article from which this quotation is taken -- most especially in relation to Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End -- is the writer's premis (and our own course's thesis!) that England was irrecoverably ruined by the First World War: the Great War, that is, still directly effects all that is English -- its literature very much included.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
An excellent illustration of their politically canny -- and electorally successful -- method of applying Whig ideology by using Tory language is their current "Schools White Paper." The Labour party's own description is here: the populist tabloid The Sun describes the proposals this way:
Kids to Pick the Teachers: Pupils as young as 11 will help hire their own teachers under a huge education shake-up unveiled yesterday.As I say, Christopher Tietjens' (& Henry Ryecroft's) England is divided from Blair's Cool Brittania by a fissure in the Parade of Time ....
As it happens, Arts & Letters Daily today features this article from left wing writer David Sirota which berates the equivalent centre-left party in America (i.e. the Democrats) for, in effect, not cloning Tony Blair. Blair, by the bye, would win virtually by acclamation were he to run for the American presidency.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
N.b. I'll see if I can get online access to the original article that sparked the exchange through our Library.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
All group members should have two or three preliminary posts each and a growing level of familiarity with blogger.com
Blog posts do not have to be long; nor need they be discursive. As a rough estimate, three posts per week per person is a good average, and only one of these every two weeks need be significantly lengthy - that is, an extended reflection on some aspect of your blog focus. Shorter posts can be done in an idle five, ten or fifteen minute break among regular computer time.
You will be graded on the variety, frequency, even distribution among group members, relevancy, and imagination of your posts. Simply make a note when an idea or connection arises related to your theme and them make a quick blog entry.
In five years or so, students will be blogging frustrations, excitements, and requests for collaborative assistance while writing course assignments ....
Monday, October 24, 2005
Specifically, it was asked how it can possible for a contemporary Western reader (possessing what I call triumphant Whig mentality) to read Ford Madox Ford's literary representation of "the last Tory" sympathetically, when Ford was purposely portraying a type cut off from our present by the absolute fissure that was World War One.
Now, this post from my Japanese literature course presents one way of approach, mapped by C.S. Lewis in his Discarded Image.
The concept from Romanticism that escaped me on the spot in seminar, and which I offered as a solution to this problem, is Keats' negative capability (I had Eliot's "objective correlative" in mind -- pertinent to Parade's End in another context -- blocking Mr. Keats from my mental foreground!) Here are the pertinent sentences from a letter of Keats':
Brown and Dilke walked with me and back from the Christmas pantomime. I had not a dispute but a disquisition, with Dilke on various subjects; several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason-Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration. [My emphases.]
Again, my compliments and gratitude to you all.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Here are two examples.
The perennial and deep-rooted English attitude that all the world's troubles are ultimately the result of French perfidity or decadence is evident in Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton's new book Holy Terror. The left-wing (formerly Manchester) Guardian describes Eagleton as "the High Priest of Lit Crit .... a Catholic-turned-Marxist from a working-class background." Nonetheless, Eagleton's thesis in Holy Terror is that "Terrorism itself may be a new concept – it arose with modernity in the French revolution."
And in general, the English perennially fret about decadence. Theodore Dalrymple merely continues a type. And it's in the water there. Madonna - yes, that Madonna - has now married an Englishman and is evolving herself into a model of English country life propriety: literally, modelling herself on the cover of Ladies Home Journal.
The English press have re-christened her with the very English name "Madge." And in due course she has delivered a screed against .... decadence: "Madonna warns how people 'are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behavior;" protests that "most priests are gay;" and, waxing eschatological, declares that "'The Beast' is the modern world that we live in."
And it is like way that the English class system, so strong a concern in our course texts, will persist despite official policy designed to eradicate it.
Monday, October 17, 2005
1.] “Tempest, if there is one human being more than any other that I utterly abhor, it is the type of man so common to the present time, the man who huddles his own loathly vices under a cloak of assumed broad-mindedness and virtue. Such a one will even deify the loss of chastity in woman by the name of “purity” – because he knows that it is by her moral and physical ruin alone that he can gratify his brutal lusts. Rather than be such a sanctimonious coward I would openly proclaim myself vile!”
This execration from Satan in persona Rimanez is arguably the quintessential passage of Sorrows of Satan. Analyse the significance of three telescoping levels. One, fully unpack the moralism on its straightforward reading. Two, explain its significance as a Demonic doctrine, according to Correlli’s characterization of the Prince of Darkness in the novel. And three, suggest how Corelli applied the passage as an indictment of the state of Edwardian England leading up to the singularity of the First World War.
2.] C.S. Forester and Ford Madox Ford both have superlative genius as raconteurs. Rare among storytellers, however, both are also writers of high literary quality. Select one passage from The General and explain how what seems to be pure storytelling in addition demonstrates elite literary technique, and one passage from Parade’s End which exemplifies High Modernist esoterica but is at the same time roustabout tale-telling such as would lighten a watch of soldiery under eighteen hours of bombardment in a rat-run trench.
3.] Parade’s End is a tour de force of literary modernism which contains multitudes. It has plausibly been praised by writers of unimpeachable calibre as the finest fictional representation of the First World War. From your reading of the tetralogy select any two passages which support this claim and detail, with entirely open possibilities, the literary means by which Ford accomplishes this. This is an “Open-topic”question.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Forester's achievement in The General is to combine readability, character portayal, historiography, lament and caution in artistic balance. Having read the novel, one forever feels that an insight into the Great War has been gained, an opinion created, and an interest piqued.
But, over to you .....
Update: the comments so far are of an astonishing calibre. read for your edification, & by all means add your own (even it pre-empts your essay argument!)
Click through to the pop up menu and select from various types of material. Best for me was the now-digitised archive of Film from the Great War.
Friday, October 07, 2005
One of the best literary treatments of the First World War is The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell. Its "Dedication" says much:
Fussell has written a recounting and reflection on the Great War through the mind of a literary scholar. Though unique, this succeeds brilliantly -- the book won the 1976 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award -- by uniting in a seamless whole the facts of history, the research and sensitivity of of a literary scholary and the literary power of the great poets and novelists of the war. A brief account here gives the flavour
To the memory of
Technical Sergeant Edward Keith Hudson, ASN 36548772
Co. F, 419th Infantry
Killed beside me in France
March 15, 1945
A copy is on course Reserve.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
As I see it, we have come a long way and have made a very effective use of our time & effort. From a beginning of tabula rasa concerning the First World War years, we now have a good grounding in salient issues of the period preceeding, the specific character of trench warfare, and a sense of engagement with its peculiar horrors and their nearly universal reach in the world that the Great War brought into being - our world.
We will complete our engagement with Forester's The General in the first half of our next class together and begin Madox Ford's Parade's End. Your reading of this substantial work will perhaps be assisted by an awareness that the author has written a self-consciously modernist text - and you will need to calibrate your stance as a reader accordingly.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
It has as much and more than one needs for a very good understanding of the Great War: I will be linking to specific sections from it, with comment, over the term (crediting the original in each instance.)
I note happily, for instance, that in a press release on her scholarship, Dr. MacCallum-Stewart supports our incorporation of Blackadder Goes Forth as a very valuable and accurate evocation of the First World War soldiery:
Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder offers a more accurate social view of the soldier's experience of Wrld War One than poets such as Wilfred Owen, according to new research.
This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might,majesty, dominion, or power, except war. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They maybe to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why true Poets must be truthful.
~Wilfred Owen, from a preface to a planned book of his poetry.
Friday, September 30, 2005
There will be no effect on grading for your preference of length beyond the five minute minimum.
As I said passingly in the last lecture, the Edwardian era enjoyed a nostalgia moment in the seventies. The word "dude, originally popularised in the Edwardian age (etymology here) attained its present-day popularity in the seventies.
See also In Search of Blandings on course reserve.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
A short tutorial on setting up a blog will be given in the Library on Monday October 3rd. At this time you will be assigned to a Group.
The manner of approach to, and treatment of, your text is entirely for you to decide. This assignment offers you the opportunity to enhance, challenge or re-invent the specific focus of both the lectures and your seminar discussions.
The grading criteria are the scope, originality, inventiveness and literary insight of the accumulated blog entries. Technical proficiency will not be graded, but of course you are free to use any mechanical technique you wish. I will publish all the Groups' blog addesses on the Course blog and you are encouraged to solicit advice & criticism from the whole class throughout the course of the semester. Open collaboration is one great strength of blogging: some scholars, for instance, post parts of articles or even books in the blogosphere for criticism and correction before publication.
Of course, I am available for expert consultation: in person during Office Hours, and online most times.
Because this is a Group project, you will find that synergy will soon animate and enlived the assignment. I offer the suggestion that each Group assign responsibilities to members based on individual proficiencies and preferences. For instance, in principle, only one member need do the mechanics of posting the collaborative entries. There will be one group grade for all members.
I will take a snapshot of your blog on the day of the last seminar of the term and use that for grading: however I will look in regularly throughout the term as a means to, shall we say, encourage you not to leave the whole enterprise until the last minute. The experience of blogging regularly for a couple of months will, I believe, be its own benefit to you down the years.
This strain within the traditional British character (it is, historically, intertwined with Christianity) is important to understand if one wishes a full understanding of the Edwardians' (in general) and Marie Corelli's (in particular) reaction to the Deacadent movement. One small example is Gilbert & Sullivan's satiric operetta on aestheticism, entitled Patience. You'll be familiar with its immortal lines:
If you're anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line / as
a man of culture rare ... And ev'ryone will say / As you walk your flow'ry way, / "If he's content with a vegetable love which would certainly not suit me, / Why, what a most particularly pure young man / this pure young man must be!"
Monday, September 26, 2005
Update: please feel free to use any types of aid, media or format that you prefer. The only criterion in this regard is effectiveness.
Update 2: again, the specific format of your presentation is for you to decide. If I might offer a recommendation, one effective method would be to use the last minute of your presentation to state your opinion on the connection of your chosen topic to the literature of our period.
Update 3: the five minute time limit will be strictly enforced - from both sides. This is a discipline that will prove effective in many future practical applications.
Update 4: another recommendation is that you use the opportunity to develop your oral presentation skills. Design and incorporate techniques which give your presentation its greatest effectiveness. As always, of course, I am available for consultation ...
The choice of topic is entirely up to you: your only criterion in addition to that of relevancy as stated above is that you find it intriguing. Select your topic from any one of three areas:
- Pre-War: the Edwardian age.
- The War: 1914-1918
- The aftermath: 1919-1945
Some illustrative examples of specific topics, all with direct relevancy to the period literature, within these three areas are as follow:
Pre-War: country life; the Decadents; individual Edwardian authors; Winston Churchill in the Boer War; the Aesthetes; French absinthism; the English Music Hall age; Edwardian scandal; Darwinism and the myth of Progress; the "Little Englander" controversy; Jeeves and Bertie Wooster; London in the 1910s; fin de siecle; bluestockings and the New Woman; King Edward VII.
The War: life in the trenches; war poetry; women and the War; casualty rates; masculinity in the Great War; the conscription issue; the Somme; Lawrence of Arabia; War paintings; politics and Prime Ministers; war propaganda and censorship; Gas warfare; the causes of the War; shell-shock; the aristocracy in the war; the Christmas truce; war experiences of specific authors; war invalids; the Red Baron and the Sopwith Camel.
The Aftermath: post-war lives of individual authors; the Versailles treaty; Georgian poets; Adolf Schicklgruber - wounded German army corporal, gas victim and impecunious painter; literary modernism; depression in Britain; the Balfour Declaration - British Empire and the Palestine Question; Winston Churchill, the wilderness years; anti-semitism in Britain; decline of Empire; King George V.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
The narrator, Paul Gross, has this to say elsewhere about his engagement with the War:
Paul Gross has never been able to forget watching his grandfather die.
"He went completely out of his mind at the end. He started telling me about a hideous event that happened during a skirmish in a little ruined town in World War I. He'd killed someone in a miserable, horrible way and that had obviously haunted him throughout the rest of his life. As my grandfather died, in his mind he was back in that town, trying to find a German boy whom he'd bayonetted in the forehead. He'd lived with that memory all his life - and he was of a time when people kept things to themselves. When he finally told the story, it really affected me and I've
not been able to get it out of my head." Unable to rid himself of the tale, Paul decided to put it down on paper. It is now a screenplay which he hopes to be able to turn into a film.
Now Magazine (UK), 11 June 1998
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The caution is a fair and, in the general case a valuable, one. Example could be multiplied. Even in the New Testament warning is given:
 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [II Timothy 3.]Indeed, the argument I made earlier in the lecture was that History is a process of reaction, with each current denouncing its predecessor - frequently special pleading by label: "The Enlightenment" & "the Dark Ages;" and not to forget "Modernism."
Yet, for all that, among the Victorians was an obsession with they perceived as a crisis of degeneracy unique in its degree and different in its kind. To give a slightly trivial example, the tang of degeneration is part of the piquancy contributing to the enormous popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories. A much better piece of evidence is ... Marie Corelli! The unmatched popularity of her fiction and its immediate and uniform concern with degeneracy is very strong testimony to the zeitgeist. I own a copy of one of the better scholarly treatments of the matter,
Degeneration, Culture, and the Novel, 1880-1940 by William Greenslade, which I will put on course reserve.
Reasons for the obsession with degeneracy among Victorians, one that cut across class, sex and income, are manifold and over-determining. Ordinary fin de siecle consequences are of course important. Additionally, a technological explosion had originally driven the Industrial Revolution which at once created a working class and forced it into urban concentrations. The resulting slums throughout the proliferating major cities -- Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, &c. -- ignored hygiene and bred disease and ignored social welbeing and bred vice: gambling, prostitution, brawling and drunkenness. Victorian England was the high water mark of Methodism and Evangelicism and its crusade for social reformation was uniquely intense. Slavery and child labour were abolished; fourteen-hour factory work days were reduced for women; prisons and hospitals, through campaigners such as Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale, were made more humane. The Salvation Army campaigned to counter alcoholism and other vices. And the ever-intensifying technology of the Industrail revolution was turned, by reformers, to improve drainage, sewage and potable water systems.
To this social atmosphere I would add an element that I have not yet fully defined nor mapped the origins of (beyond its evolutionary connection to Puritanism), but which amounts to an aesthetic, emotional and an erotic preference for hid delights. It can be contrasted with an Age -- such as ours perhaps -- which prefers things revealed and decries restraint. The Victorians were titillated, and comforted, by what was known to exist but was draped from universal sight.
Add to this the intellectual earthquake which was Darwinism: a theory taken as a justification for progress and improvement -- the progress and improvement, that is, which is so much the character of Victorianism. The intellectual climate, then, produced a cast of mind which can be termed, not merely progressivist, but outright perfectibilian.
These, and indeed other, aspects of the Victorian Age, then, made it intensely (I don't say uniquely) expressive when developments which are comprehensibly termed "degeneracy" became evident. And thus it has become a commonplace among scholars of the Nineteenth Century to take obsession with degeneracy as a salient characteristic of the times.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Johnson suddenly began to speak of subordination, then of fame, of wealth, and finally of war. Johnson observed provocatively, "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been [a sailor with hard service] at sea." Boswell pointed out that "Lord Mansfield did not." But Johnson denied it by saying that if Lord Mansfield were present when Generals and Admirals were talking together, "he would shrink; he'd wish to creep under the table." Boswell denied this also.This attitude, which underlies the war poetry of Rupert Brooke, is manifest in Owen and Sassoon - albeit in individual ways - at the time of their entlistment, and which speaks to the performative model of British masculinity universal before the great war, is an important explanans for many of the tensions and paradoxes in their war poems - the ultimate clause in Sassoon's Lamentations for instance; and, indeed, Owen's Apologia Pro Poemate Meo.
Finally, in exasperation, Johnson replied to Boswell, "No, Sir; were Socrates and Charles the Twelfth of Sweden both present in any company, and Socrates to say, 'Follow me, and hear a lecture on philosophy;' and Charles, laying his hand on his sword, to say, 'Follow me, and dethrone the Czar;' a man would be ashamed to follow Socrates. Sir, the impression is universal; yet it is strange."
Nb: To what degree this applies to contemporary Canadian culture is a question for the individual to determine.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
To Robert Nichols
A Working Party
'The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still
Prelude: The Troops
Does it Matter?
Glory of Women
Repression of War Experience
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Anthem for Doomed Youth
Apologia Pro Poemate Meo
From 'Wild with All Regrets'
Smile, Smile, Smile
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Novels should be read for at least the first time on the following schedule. The Poetry will be read passim and schedule announced in class: one week is dedicated for a concentrated study of the singular phenomenon of the War poets.
Marie Corelli - The Sorrows of Satan
C.S. Forester - The General
Ford Maddox Ford - Parade's End
Virginia Woolf - Jacob's Room
Evelyn Waugh - Vile Bodies
Penguin Book of First World War Poetry
Review and Wrap-Up
See support material available on Library Reserve.
Assignment Deadlines: Nb. There is a 3% per day late penalty for assignments, documented medical or bereavement leave excepted.
1. Mid term paper, two thousand words: due October 31st at midnight in the Instructor's Department mailbox. Assignment sheet with suggested topics will be handed out in lecture on October 17th. Criteria will include literary analysis, engagement with course themes and writing mechanics.
2. Group e-text project: in collaboration with the Course Instructor, create a web log dedicated to a distinct topic the works from the course reading list. Groups set & assignment sheet handed out September 26th. Seminar time will be set aside throughout the term to work with the Instructor on this project
3. Individual class presentation: schedule and assignment sheet handed out in seminar. A five minute presentation on one of a choice of topics to be blogged, with five minutes more for class response. Five minutes is a firm limit: the Instructor will blow the whistle ....
4. Final Paper, three thousand five hundred words: due December 8th at midnight in the Instructor's Department mailbox.
The course is working toward an understanding of the imaginative effect of the First World War on British Literature to 1945. The novels on the course reading list are all masterpieces by authors of wide credibility which have, in the main, sunk from common view by accidents of history. The novels are embellished by selections from the great poets of the Great War. The approach to the fiction involves reading them in their historical context and from a close analysis of the literary techniques they manifest.
Course requirement weighting:
10% Course participation
10% Seminar presentation
20% Group blogging project
20% Mid-term paper (approx. 2000 words)
40% Final Paper (approx. 3500 words)
Nb: “Participation requires both participation in seminar and attendance and punctuality at lecture and seminar."
Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 13:30 – 14:20, and by appointment, in rm 6094. Also firstname.lastname@example.org and http://firstworldwarlit.blogspot.com. Use campus mail accounts only for email contact, please.