Do the interests, concerns and experiences of writers in the 20th century assist 21st century human beings in the understanding of the purpose of existence?
I believe in order for individuals to understand the meaning of their present day lives and their future they need to be able to reflect on the history that took place before them and allow themselves to empathize with the events that occurred. In particular, for societies to thrive in the 21st century they need to understand the suffering and radical developments that were the catalyst of change for what is now the modern day world. I support the notion that the authors of the 20th century did allow audiences in the 21st century to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.
George Orwell was fundamental in allowing audiences to understand the consequences of political regimes and movements such as totalitarianism and Fascism. Through his works such as 1984 written in 1949 and Politics and the English Language written in 1946 show a different side to what is generally portrayed about governments and social trends. With the novel 1984, it explores the concept of free will and individuality. In particular, the contrast between the characters Winston Smith and Julia delves into the issue of lack of identity and limited creativity. As Winston is able to rebel against society with his ideas and knowledge while Julia is only able to rebel against society physically. Although there is no physical or deep connection between the characters, it does hint to the audience that being confined to limited amount of psychological and physical activity can destroy the essence of the meaning of life as we can see the deterioration of the characters throughout the second half of the novel. Also with the notion of Big Brother, it does show that in the 21st century that we have allowed this to control our lives with websites such as Facebook and Twitter; though this does show that the content that anyone shares or states is able to be patrolled and watched by higher authorities. Considering that Orwell did hint this to his audience in the 1950’s, it is still extremely relevant in the 21st century as we have allowed the notion of Big Brother to control us now in the present.
Even though art styles and genres changed dramatically over the 20th century with artists such as Pablo Picasso, literature changed just as much. I believe that one of the most radical changes in literature was poetry during the first war world where the context and atmosphere of the works changed from being a melodical and didactic to a realistic and personal description of what their experiences were. Poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilford Owen express the horrors of war and what the consequences of governments playing a political war have. This poets’ insight into war does allow audiences from both the 20th and 21st century as the events of the world wars does still effect some areas in the present day. These poems allow the audiences to realize how fragile life is and that they may have a bigger purpose in life than playing a pawn in a political game. I find it ironic that artworks such as Guernica by Pablo Picasso in 1938 are more well-known than some of the poetry created in regards to the aftermath of the world war. In my opinion, I believe that some of Owen’s works such as “Anthem of Doomed Youth” should be a compulsory subject in English studies in schools as I was able to gain a deeper insight into the atmosphere and consequences of war when comparing it to artworks from Modernism.
Overall, in this unit of 20th Century Literature I have been able to understand why the movements and ideals of the 20th century are still relevant to us in the 21st century as many of the authors concerns and interests still apply to a modern society.
This week we weren’t given any formal topic so I have decided to discuss the play Faith Healer written by Brian Friel in 1979 and the impact that it has had on me and why I was able to empathise to the married couple of Francis (Frank) and Grace Hardy.
When I had read the play, I found it interesting but after seeing it in person I have a new respect for it. While reading the play initially, I analysed the work critically and was trying to find the main ideas and arguments that would have related to the context of the Twentieth Century Literature unit but after being able to watch the story I was able to gain an emotional experience with the characters. Similar to the stillborn of Francis and Grace, I remember when I was a child my god mother had trouble with being pregnant and when she finally fell pregnant in her third trimester she had a stillbirth. I remember at the time my family and my god father had to watch over her and ensure that she was stable enough to be able to go on in life. Unlike Grace Hardy and her alcoholism, my god mother dealt with her grief in other ways such as volunteering in nursing homes etc.
During Grace’s monologue, she goes into depth about her issues with life after the death of Frank and how she has become unstable in the daily routines. During the performance, the actress who portrayed Grace created an atmosphere in the room that was almost unsettling but also peaceful at the same time which I think was fundamental in allowing the audience to understand her and the situation she was in. I did like how the title of the play was almost ironic in regards to Grace as she was searching for peace but was unable to ever achieve being truly happy with her relationship with Frank. That the “Faith Healer” had failed her as she was let down continually by Frank.
This is actually the first digital mini-kit that I have come across throughout these blogs and I must say your’s is a perfect example of what one should look like. I found it very insightful and easy to understand. I did like how you did chose two authors but I would of loved to have read one on M. Nourbese Philip because I feel that she isn’t spoken about enough. My only negative is that which is me being nit picky. Wonderful blog post!! Riley
Does the experience of any of the authors looked at today (Louise Bennet, Grace Nichols, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and M. Nourbese Philip) connect with your the experience of language users amongst your family and friends?
I have always believed that the differing styles of a certain language can influence the way a particular message is portrayed and understood by the audience. One of the authors that stood out in our lecture today was the poet Marlene Nourbese Philip, in particular in the video that was played which was the work Discourse on the Logic of Language.
In the video, the way Philip delivered the work was phenomenal as she created a steady rhythm and allowed the words to roll off one another to prove her argument. Her argument discusses that particular areas may have established their own style of a language, meaning that a new dialectic has been created. This notion has only realistically been explored since the twentieth century as due to immigration and mixed cultures new offspring of language as started to occur and are being studied. This influence of a culture in a particular environment does impact the way that a language is understood and how it can evolve into a new dialect.
Now this notion of having created a new language within a certain environment has some similarities in my household. As I have a younger sibling with ASD (Autism spectrum disorder), I have watched over the years him create his own little universe and create his own individualized language. He’s own language is still English and he can understand what someone is telling him but his responses are eccentric because he will respond in quotes of films, shows or books to people he does not know or he will jumble words up in response to a family member. When watching the video of M. Nourbese Philip’s Discourse on the Logic of Language, I was reminded of my brother straightaway as when he learns a new word or phrase he will attempt to say it in multiple accents and attempt to find a way to incorporate it into his own language which I think personally is phenomenal.
Image from http://alchetron.com/M-NourbeSe-Philip-327693-W
Write a letter thanking George Orwell for his amazing insights into how we might shape the future of the world by taking more care of our own writing habits.
Dear George Orwell,
I have studied many of your works over the last few years in both high school and university level. I would like to take the time to thank you for your works and the impact they have made on me and how they have changed my opinions on political ideals.
I have studied in particular the novella “Animal Farm” and how capitalism can destroy a society and cause much grief and damage for future generations. I really enjoyed how you depicted upper class as pigs and the rest of society depicted as animals that do have purpose on a farm while the pigs are symbolic of the greed and hate of communism. One of the most memorable lines from any of your works that has stuck with me ever since I read Animal Farm was “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
This line, in my personal opinion, has been one of the most important quotes from the 20th century in literature as it displays the true nature of humans and how they intact with one another with judgement and prejudice.
In one of our tutorials, our class discussed this work with other two works of your the “Shooting of the Elephant” and “Politics and the English Language”. Your concepts of how society is controlled by standards and trends forces a society to lack justice and truthfulness caused quite a debate over how politics are diluted and unclear for the general public but yet there are expectations of how leaders should deliberate with their societies. With your anti-imperialistic view on society it did highlight how power hungry countries have become in the 21st century such America and Iran. One line that had me confused but that to think about it was “political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible”. Now my tutorial did discuss what the meaning could be but I would be very interesting to learn your interpretation of this and what you were hoping to convey to the audience.
Apart from that one enquiry, I have thoroughly enjoyed studying your works and look forward to our class on your novel 1984 in the upcoming weeks.
Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell
Ironically I did the same topic as you this week and I really have enjoyed reading another perspective of a letter to Mansfield, your work was much more casual than mine and I quite liked it. The context of the work was good but there were a few grammatical errors that I could see such as you end a sentence but just keep adding commas. When I write letters, I like to think of it as if I’m writing a speech and that you need to breathe rather than continuing to add commas. Also I would of liked to hear your opinion on her work the “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” and the impact that it made on you or the emotions that you felt after finishing the work. Apart from that, I really did enjoy your post and look forward to reading more of your posts. Riley