THE FRONTIERS OF MODERNISM
Modernist epistemology. Literature prior to 1911. Factual and fictional narratives: H. G. Wells. The bourgeois saga: John Galsworthy. Empire as the experience of otherness: E. M. Forster and Joseph Conrad. Into the psyche: D. H. Lawrence. G. B. Shaw and Ibsen's heritage: the drama of ideas. W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and poetic drama. The discourse of high modernism. The building blocks of modernist lyric: image, objective correlative, collage. W. B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, or western civilization and its discontents. Narrative structure: focalization, stream of consciousness, and interior monologue. The linguistic ontology of the self: Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. The anti-modernist and pro-realist shift in the thirties: Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell, W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas.
The paradigmatic features we are going to list below apply to a period extending from 1911 to 1930; however, the broad tendencies leading to their canonical expression can also be identified in the last decade of Queen Victoria's reign (the 1890's) and in the Edwardian period (Edward VII, 1901-1910). Despite changing historical circumstances and aesthetic views, the background radiation of modernism lasted well into the thirties and forties. Being an international literary phenomenon, the history of English modernism cannot be separated from its Continental roots, although we tend to agree with Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane  that the wealth of Parisian lore about Aestheticism and Decadence, Impressionism and Symbolism was “grafted onto an ongoing native tradition”. The 1890s climate of the “Yellow Book” aestheticism is “incomprehensible without reference to Huysmans, Mallarmé and Valéry – but is equally incomprehensible without reference to Pater, Blake and the Irish folk tradition”.
In the Bradbury McFarlane version, modernism appears as a reaction against Naturalism and Parnassianism, occurring first in France, with Charles Baudelaire as its prophet. It was a “movement of movements”, a succession of phases, theories, social groupings, spanning the period from the seventies up to the thirties of our century: SYMBOLISM, IMPRESSIONISM, and DECADENCE around the turn of the century; FAUVISM, CUBISM, POSTIMPRESSIONISM, FUTURISM, CONSTRUCTIVISM, IMAGISM and VORTICISM in the period up to and over World War I; and EXPRESSIONISM, DADA and SURREALISM during and after the war.
Our criterion in dissociating between the first grouping of “isms”, which we would rather define as a post-romantic aftermath, and modernism proper (the last two) is provided by the different articulation of textuality at the level of signifier and signified. With the former, we can speak of new attitudes to art, the self, of a shift from burgher epic to representation of inward states of consciousness or of artistic consciousness, etc. But new subjects do not automatically imply new ways of treating them. The textualizing of character through focalization, stream of consciousness and interior monologue reaches incomparably farther than Pater's and Wilde's “imaginary portraits” or Henry James's “point of view”. With the trends cropping up around the war, the narratological purposive models of traditional writing are replaced by grammatical organization, autonomous constructs, reflecting back upon themselves, behind which one can detect the epistemological shift worked by the revolution in sciences and philosophy at the beginning of the century. Whereas Baudelaire or Rimbaud seek to establish “correspondences” between phenomena, abstracted to colours, sounds, tastes, on the one hand, and erotic, moral, aesthetic meanings on the other, the modernists, in one of the most enlightening definitions, that of Lucian Blaga  build “cosmoids” of a completely fictional nature, devoid of any natural signification. Reality no longer serves as art's “forest of symbols”. A work of art does not point outside itself; its parts are subordinated to the grammar of the totality of form. Even space and time are structured in a different way in life and in narrative. One can think of the formal gap between Monet and Cézanne or Picasso when reading the following in Blaga: An imagined world possesses, just like the real world, some horizontal frames: the spatial and the temporal frame. The “para-correspondences” consist in that they are differently structured in the imagined and in the sensible world. For instance, the spatial horizon of the sensible world is always extensive, intuitive yet of a non-determined form, always merging with and being one with the landscape, while the spatial frame of the imagined world is a doublet of this sensible horizon, yet of a more determined structure.
As far as the constructed, “determined” aspect of the modernist text is concerned, we find Jeremy Tambling considering the same aspects (signifier and signified) in his refusal to canonize Forster or Lawrence as “modernists”: Though A Passage to India is sometimes discussed as modernist, it is no more so than D.H. Lawrence's novels, which remain largely realist and antagonistic to modernism's experimentation and interest in language at the level of the signifier rather than at that of the signified. If forced to find analogies between Lawrence, who himself has very interesting points of comparison with Forster, and modernism, they might be located in a certain homoeroticism and a proto-fascism, as well as in an attitude to character which sees it as something in process rather than fixed, but clearly Lawrence rejected most of the tenets of modernism and Forster did the same by the virtual silence as a novelist after “A Passage to India” . The space and time of the “brave new world” of modernism –, as it actually meant an apocalyptic end and a completely new beginning – as well as its “tenets”, among which a sense of catastrophism or radical break with the past, cannot be separated from the new developments in society, and in the history of science and philosophy.
The tensions between the individual and society, which are present at the level of the signified in the Aesthetic Decadence, as a reaction against industrial squalor and bourgeois Philistinism, know a new impetus in the twentieth century. The fin-de-siècle artists grouped in aesthetic coteries, centring on cafes (like the Rhymers' Club, founded by W .B. Yeats and Ernest Rhys), and around vanguard reviews (The “Yellow Book”, “New Age”, “New Review”), had displayed contempt of outside values, and a programmatic tendency to shock bourgeois complacency, not only in their art but also in their outrageous social behaviour. At the beginning of the century, the programmatic slogan “épater le bourgeois” grew into gloomier attitudes, as self-exile was replaced by overt dissent in response to forms of social pressure on the individual. Clive Bloom, in his Introduction to Literature and Culture in Modern Britain. Volume I: 1900-1929  defines the social spirit of the age in terms of the appearance of a collective perspective and a homogenized voice (which) ran through trade unionism, Hollywood films, public broadcasting, suburbanism, scientific management, behavioural science, summer holidays and domestic purchasing. Summing up, it was the cultural birth of the controlled collective and mass produced experience. The state and its slowly growing bureaucratic machinery would attempt to demolish ancient privileges of a new type of individuality the state sought to protect. Thus the state and its nameless, faceless bureaucracy was a symptom of the growth of the mass and the subordination of individuals and their freedom to the demands and pressures of the aggregate. Having finally assumed complete control, the bourgeoisie changed strategies. Bourgeois individualism, the same Clive Bloom writes in another book, Spy Thrillers: from Buchan to Le Carré (1991, pp. 1-2), was accompanied by an equally bourgeois need for public control of all private functions At this moment the bourgeois state came into being, armed with the legislative and cultural power to regulate all forms of expression (including dissent), either through governmental interference (bureaucratised secret police forces at one end) or through cultural control of the mass circulation of printed material (novels, newspapers and journals). Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, V. Woolf and the whole Bloomsbury Group reacted in a negative way to collectivity, manifest in the form of uniform, urban sprawl, the dominance of mass opinion created through national dailies and radio, chains of shops like Woolworth's with their cheap and standardized goods, and in the presence of universal form-filling at the labour exchange and elsewhere (Ibidem). The dominant mood of the period was an aesthetic variety of individualism, figuring the latest, diminutive, “form-filling” version of the imperialist economic venture as a sort of contemporary hell (see the female clerks knitting black wool and barring the entry to the Company, like Lachesis and Clotho guarding the door of darkness, in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness ).
In an article published in the August issue, 1996 of “The Review of English Studies” David Bradshaw qualifies the effect of New Physics impact on literature as revived idealism. The theories of Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg encouraged the contemporary mind to take a leap from actuality into possibility. J.W.N. Sullivan welcomed the liberation from the Newtonian world picture, explaining the universe in terms of little billiard balls and the law of the inverse square and the shift to one in which even mystics, to say nothing of poets and philosophers, have a right to exist, in an article entitled “The Sense of Possibilities”. In physics there was a transition from causal to probability laws. There are limits of predictability in quantum physics, instead of strict causality, Werner Heisenberg admits in his Principle of Indeterminacy. The results of Planck’s researches in quantum mechanics depend for validity on method not on empirical “truth”. There was an end to Euclidean geometry and conventional logic. Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity (1905 and 1916) completely changed the picture of the universe. From homogeneous and of a spherical symmetry, it had become dynamic and incomplete. To Kraus's objection that his definition of simultaneity violates the logical law of non-contradiction, Einstein replied that simultaneity (at different places, not at the same place) is a relative concept, like right and left, and thus no principle of logic is violated. People were invited to consider theories as autonomous and self-validating constructs of the mind, which are logically true, while stating nothing about reality. Did modernism mean a denial of outward social presence, an aesthetic fanaticism, a return to an anti-humanist classicism with emphasis on form, order, law, which finally led to fascism, rejectionism, suicide, religious conversion, racialist propaganda, disillusion and a depressing English snobbery (Clive Bloom, Op. cit., p. 25)? We think not. A new scientific philosophy and new literary modes arose from the results of the scientific research mentioned above. Analytical Philosophy, Fictionalism, Neo-Kantianism, Conventionalism give up on either empirical observation or metaphysical speculation, concentrating on the logical analysis of the hypotheses, observations and conventions that enter into the constructions of a scientific theory. Reality is unpredictable and for the most part illogical. Man's apprehension of reality follows not its laws but those of his inner understanding. As Hans Vaihinger says in Die Philosophie des als ob, 1918 , reality, das Wirkliche, is “unbegreiflich”. It can only be thought by analogy with man's subjective relationships (nach Analogie menschlicher subjecktiver Verhältnisse – Op. cit., p. 42). All knowledge, apart from factual succession and coexistence, is analogical (Alle Erkenntnis kann, wenn sie nicht tatsächliche Succession und Koexistenz feststellt, nur analogisch sein). Cognition is Apperzipieren durch ein Anderes (Ibidem), that is, through fictions (Fictionen). Unlike traditional scientific hypotheses, supposed to be empirically verifiable and validated, Vaihinger's mental structures do not directly correspond to reality. Neither do art's symbolical or tropical fictions (pp. 30-40) reproduce reality directly, but only in a mediated way, through analogy or similarity (ein ähnliches Verhältnis). Dies ist auch zugleich der formale Ursprung der Poesie, Vaihinger says (p. 39), establishing an unprecedented isomorphism between the lyric and the philosophic discourses. Art's fictions (what Blaga calls “simili-lumi”) are meant to impose order upon reality's multifarious show. This is done by Joyce, in Eliot's opinion, by manipulating an analogy between contemporaneity and antiquity, that is between reality and a pre-existing patterned discourse:
It is here that Mr. Joyce's parallel use of the Odyssey has a great importance. It has the importance of a scientific discovery (...) In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history. It is a method already adumbrated by Mr. Yeats, and of the need for which I believe Mr. Yeats to have been the first contemporary to be conscious. It is a method for which the horoscope is auspicious. Psychology (such as it is, and whether our reaction to it be comic or serious), ethnology, and The Golden Bow, have concurred to make possible what was impossible even a few years ago. Instead of narrative method, we may now use the mythical method. It is, I seriously believe, a step towards making the modern world possible for art... („Ulysses”: Order and Myth).
Eliot's own language of quotations builds his texts as precedented discourse, mirroring a contemporary drift towards analytic forms.
There was one more reason for writers dropping the teleological purposive movement in favour of narrative grammar or encoded structures as forms of inner understanding. As Hans Reichenbach records in his Modern Philosophy of Science , Darwinism too had received a serious blow from recent scientific discoveries. They had demonstrated that organic evolution produces not only useful but also useless forms, that not teleological but only chance causal connection can be established. By the end of the nineteenth century, the degeneration plot, with stress on regression, atavism and decline, had replaced the previous evolutionary optimism in progress. Besides, teleological narratives are only possible with a rational agent, within a continuous range of individuality, whereas what the fiction-maker Eliot seems to be alluding to in the above quote is an unstable self, split between the conscious and the subconscious according to post-Freudian psychology, or between the personal and the collective subconscious, according to Jung and the anthropology of James Frazer's Golden Bough.
In a book published in 1963 – The Struggle of the Modern –, Stephen Spender distinguished between a chronological and a typological map of the literature published in the first half of the century. “Modern” is the label of self-conscious writers, or “recognizers”, who deliberately set out to invent a new literature as the result of their feeling that their age was in many respects unprecedented, and outside all the conventions of past art. The merely “contemporary” writers are the “non-recognizers”, who either did not acknowledge the existence of a modern situation, or refused to regard it as a problem special to art. The representation of subjectivity is central to the “modern situation”. The Voltairean I – characterised by rationalism, progressive politics etc. – of Shaw, Wells and the other “contemporaries” – is said to work upon events, whereas the “modern I”, through receptiveness, suffering, passivity, transforms the world to which it is exposed (p. 72). Modernist subjectivity is not just “pathetic fallacy” (J. Ruskin) but a fantasy of the subconscious, subverting the representations of the rational ego or social superego through processes of “condensation”, “displacement”, “revision” etc. The syntax of dreams is based upon chance associations whose “symbolism” needs to be decoded, not upon logical sequences. Association depends on likeness and contiguity. One thing which is the cause of another may appear in a close temporal sequence, without the overt expression of the relationship of causality. The juxtaposition technique in Ezra Pound or the “aggregation method” in T. S. Eliot, with images added to one another, without the imposition of a structure, without logical or narrative continuity are the formal correlatives of Freud's principles in The Interpretation of Dreams. In a way similar to non-representational techniques in the visual arts and atonality in music (thematised by Thomas Mann as the devilish exploit of modernist Faust), the text tends towards non-narrative forms, beginning with a cluster of images just coming into focus, whose meaning is progressively constructed by analogy with other sets of images, juxtaposed through a collage technique. Tancred de Visan, in Lattitude du lyrisme contemporaine (1911), had pointed to Bergson as the philosopher of symbolism. According to Bergson, the perception and presentation of things (des vues pris sur la réalité changeante – L'Evolution créatrice) is the essential function of the artist. The imaged thing, wrapped up in a halo of evocative associations and allusions, is a mere instrument, a symbol (of the soul, the infinite, the transcendental). The modernists' juxtaposition technique yields spatial forms, counter to Bergson's intuition of duration. Ezra Pound's image, which he defines in an interview with Flint, published in the March 1913 issue of “Poetry” (the Imagist manifesto) is an equation for an emotion, an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time. T.S. Eliot keeps close to his American influencer in his own opinion that the only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an objective correlative; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emnotion, such that when the external facts which must terminate in sensory experience are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. (essay on Hamlet, The Sacred Wood, 1920)). The meaning of an image is contextual: the visual chord formed of two images may suggest another that is different from both. Unlike symbols, which, like numbers in arithmetic have a fixed value, images are like letters in algebra, having a variable, contextual meaning. Nature's alphabet is disturbed by the body's alphabet. The “objective correlatives'' as equations for emotion are not part of a universal mytho-poetic thesaurus but the result of a subconscious process of transference (a mode of investing persons and objects with positive and negative qualities, according to the individual's early memories of significant experience or “primary scene”). The relationship between object and emotion is not that of symbolic fusion but one of personal association or analogy. All this may sound pretty abstract, so let us illustrate Wilde's use of symbol against Eliot's objective correlative. Here is a fragment from The Ballad of Reading Goal, where the traditional colour symbolism is playing off the execution of the Trooper against the Christian story of sin and redemption:
Out of his mouth a red, red rose !
Out of his heart a white !
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings His will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight ?
But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison-air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.
So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.
Red is the colour of spilt blood but it is also charged with the symbolism of passion (he had killed his mistress out of jealousy), and of the redemptive power of Christ's blood, as the convict had repented. The flower is the symbol of the renascent soul blooming forth through Grace, through divine forgiveness, which remains unknown to the mechanical way of man's doing justice. The pebble and the mud are symbols of aridity, as execution, unlike forgiveness, is a brutal, violent act, failing to lead to or recognize the value of repentance, of moral reformation. The last allusion to the Crucifixion reinforces the symbolism of the whole passage. Contrariwise, in T. S. Eliot's Whispers of Immortality, the traditional symbolism of the images clustering round the figure of Grishkin, a contemporary Russian dancer, is not enforced but deconstructed:
Grishkin is nice; her Russian eye
Is underlined for emphasis:
Uncorseted, her friendly bust
Gives promise of pneumatic bliss.
The imagistic potential becomes unfixed, variable. It is only through contextualization, through the sophisticated grammar of the entire poem that the images acquire meanings. In fact, the traditional meanings are inverted. The “eye” used to be associated with true spiritual vision. Here, it is the “make-up”, the faked physical outline that is emphasized. Grishkin does not see, like an active cognitive agent, she is seen – the inert object of someone else's “vision”. “Pneumatic”, etymologically associated with the “soul” (“pneuma”), transfers the object of “bliss” – a poetical word for “happiness” – from spiritual to sensuous delight in the dancer's breasts. The shocking epithet – as they are not literally inflated like some pneumatic tyres – suggests the shallowness of the speaker's interest in the dancer to the exclusion of Wordsworth's interrogation of the soul's divinity in the famous Immortality Ode.
A certain disorder of the mind due to subconscious impulses stronger than the forces of conscious individuality is common to the autonomous dictates of the dadaists, the arbitrary associations of the surrealists, the obsessed characters of D.H. Lawrence or to the freely associative discourse of James's Ulysses – which otherwise cannot be reduced to a common stylistic denominator. The thought process is a Jamesian “stream of consciousness” (William James speaks of “The Stream of Thought” in his Principles of Psychology, 1891), knowing of no logical restraints or chronological succession, moving freely from one image to another, back into the past or forwards into the future. This is the genuine life of the mind, Virginia Woolf urges in her essay Modern Fiction, and it is precisely on account of the unaltered recording of its hazy disorder that she praises James Joyce for a “realist”. The formal correlative of such an idea of subjectivity is the confinement of the narrative discourse to centres of consciousness. According to the analytical philosophers, from Bertrand Russel to Rudolph Carnap, knowledge is deconstructed into the solipsist subject's point of view. The autopsychological point of view (I have the same representation of the world and of whatever there is in it as all the other human subjects), which underwrites the omniscient narrative, is replaced by a heteropsychological point of view. In Virginia Woolf's Waves there are as many versions of the same events as there are characters.
And yet the modernist narratives claim universal validity. Anthropology, folklore, comparative religion, Jung's archetypal psychology contributed to the construction of a transhistorical subjectivity. The roots of modern man were discovered in early, primitive worlds (see John B. Vickery, The Literary Impact of the Golden Bow, Princeton University Press, 1973). In Jung, the subconscious takes two forms: at a more superficial level, there lurks the “personal subconscious”, feeding on personal experience; the other, the “collective subconscious”, is not a personal acquisition but inborn, forming the deeper layer of the psyche. Jung considers the latter to be identical in all men, thus constituting a common psychic substratum of a superpersonal nature. While the “personal subconscious” consists chiefly of the “feeling-toned complexes”, the latter is the repository of hereditary “archetypes” . Jung links his “archetypes” to Plato's “eidos” (ideal form or archetype), Philo's “archetype” or “God-image in man” and the anthropologist L'evy-Bruhl's “representation collective”. i.e. the “symbolic figures in the primitive view of the world”. In his Autobiography (1938), W.B. Yeats fashions himself as the founder of a new religion, almost unfallible church of poetic tradition, of a fardel of stories, and of personages and of emotions, inseparable from their first expression passed on from generation to generation by poets and painters with some help from philosophers and theologians. His own definition of the archetype is “archaic or primordial types” or “universal images that have existed since the remotest times”. Naturally, from “God-image in man” to the symbolic representation of “ancestral desires, joys and sorrows”, the term covers too wide a conceptual frame to be useful at all. With the vanguard Georgians (George V, 1910-1936), it tips our thought in the direction of recurrent motifs and narratives in the mytho-poetic tradition, passed on from generation to generation.
Literature Prior to 1911
With more space, the present course would have included two Americans who spent a significant number of years in England, exerting a powerful influence on the native writers: Henry James and, particularly, Ezra Pound. We wonder, nevertheless, whether being physically in England is synonymous with partaking of its literary tradition. In a lecture delivered in 1905, Henry James, whose preferences went to Flaubert and Turgenev, finds Anglo-Saxon literary production uncontrolled, untouched by criticism, unguided, unlighted, uninstructed, unashamed, on a scale that is really a new thing in the world. His cosmopolitan world is for its greatest part a comment on a New Englander's intellectual and emotional experience of the ancient European traditions. Ezra Pound played an important role in the reorientation of Yeats from his early Pre-Raphaelite and symbolist beginnings towards imagism, but he cannot compare with T.S. Eliot, whose contribution to English literature did more than any official application in the way of his “naturalization” as an incontestable citizen of the British Republic of Letters. Although coming from America, T. S. Eliot experienced England as a homecoming, a return to his ancestors' land. He wrote from within the English tradition, as if the spirit of Thomas Elyot, the model-fashioner of the Renaissance, had flashed on him from the dead. The stuff of his work is English history, literature, life. It was through Eliot that so much of the past literary works came into focus, was revived and made part of a living tradition. And it was thanks to him that Elizabethan drama brightened with new lustre in the public consciousness, which elevated it to a national myth during World War II.
Henry James does offer, however, a profitable starting point for the discussion of late Victorian and Edwardian fiction, as one pole in the argument around the comparative values of the “journalistic” and the “aesthetic” parties. From the very outset it is important to emphasize that the awareness of form, of the constructed nature of a work of art, which the Aesthetic Decadence had recently contributed, is missing in neither party. H. G. Wells joined the former no longer as the naive realist but out of a deliberate commitment to the relevance of his personal response to actual experience and moral concern. Here is George Ponderevo, the narrator-protagonist of Tono-Bungay:
I want to trace my social trajectory (and my uncle's) as the main line of my story, but as this is my first novel and almost certainly my last, I want to get into all sorts of things that struck me, things that amused me and impressions I got – even though they do not minister directly to my narrative at all.
As an unsuccessful shopkeeper's son, H. G. Wells might have experienced the same low middle-class aversion towards the poet-priest-and-legislator pose as towards social aristocracy. His attack on Henry James's cosmopolitanism and elitism in his Autobiography betrays something of the social malcontent's hatred of the insider policy and exclusivism of the fin-de-siècle Art for Arters, who had turned from a subversive guerrilla into the new aesthetic establishment:
He had no possible use of the novel as a help to conduct. His mind was turned away from any such idea. From his point of view there were not so much novels as The Novel, and it was a very high and important achievement. He thought of it as an Art Form and of novelists as artists of a very special and exalted type. He was concerned with their greatness and repute. He saw us all as Masters or would-be Masters, little Masters and great Masters, and he was plainly sorry that “Cher Maître” was not an English expression. (...). I was by nature and education unsympathetic with this mental disposition. But I was disposed to regard a novel as about as much as an art form as a market place or a boulevard. It had not even necessarily to get anywhere. You went by it on your various occasions.
The split between art and market-place does seem to have concerned other Edwardian novelists as well. Two Engalnds had been created by the end of the century. One was the product of the champions of industry and imperialism, those who had turned the country into the banker and workshop of the world. The other England was the subtler emanation of Arnold and Ruskin's cultural critique of the former. The issue, with the Edwardians, was an interrogation of the worth and inheritance of either, while the next generation, the Georgians, turned away from both, in order to “look within” the mind (V. Woolf), beneath the surface of the socially patterned ego.
Of H.G. Wells (1866-1946), one can say that he showed the way in both respects. Tono-Bungay (1909), describing the rise and fall of a business racketeer, is one of a pair with Kipling's Mary Gloster, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby or Orson Welles's Citizen Kane – modern versions of biographies of great men as big-business tycoons. If one thinks of the prestigious tradition whose modern avatars they are – Plutarch's biographies of exceptional statesmen, or the histories of the rise and fall of empires – one feels simultaneously disappointed at their anti-heroism and impressed by the impact of internationalized bourgeois enterprise, almost assuming the guise of Fate or Destiny.
Wells's scientific romances, which ensured both his early reputation and income (The Time Machine, 1895, The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896, The War of the Worlds, 1898, When the Sleeper Awakes, 1899, The First Men in the Moon, 1901) draw together separate threads in the history of English fiction: the pastoral (taken over by science-fiction) characteristic strategy of commenting on a real society under the pretext of describing an imaginary one (Swift's Gulliver), the colonialist venture, from Crusoism to Empire, the modern Prometheus or Satan figure of the scientist rivalling God's creation (Frankenstein). The novelist's moral insight is even gloomier, beset by the Darwinian tenets about the biological proximity between man and beast. The Island of Doctor Moreau combines the Defoe story of the castaway on an island with un updated version of Frankenstein creating monsters, not through an experiment in galvanism but through the contemporary experiments in vivisection, and likewise getting killed by one of his own failed creatures. Is Dr. Moreau less inhuman than the monsters he has created, in whom “one animal trait, then another creeps to the surface”, staring at him? Whilst Mary Shelley keeps the inhuman at bay, constructing even Frankenstein's creature as a fallen Adam, with characteristic human needs for love and company, undergoing a socialization process through language and reading, Wells portrays a narrow-minded and reckless scientist assisted by a disciple half-animalised by alcoholism. The human and the inhuman are no longer kept safely apart. The safety valve has been raised, allowing Joseph Conrad to peep within. The view on man and society, coloured by contemporary dystopias, remains essentially unchanged by the dazzling perspectives of technological progress, which cannot of itself reform human nature.
The lack of meaningful purpose, the search for values in imaginary worlds meets with the same failure in the comical transcription of everyday experience, richly enriched by autobiographical elements, in Wells's late fiction: Tono Bungay (1909) or The History of Mr Polly (1910). One senses in such novels, from a mongrel-like position, the same crisis of confidence that political leadership and social institutions suffer in Woolf's classy society in the years of the Empire's decline. With all the comical “impressions” Alfred Polly may record in his pilgrimage through the world, his story of an alienated individual, manipulated by mean and calculated fellow-beings, attending rites conducted by weary priests and habits from which life has departed, mounts with pathetic effects towards the end.
„Middle-brow” literature, prospering with the new spirit of collectivity and bourgeois control even of forms of dissent, has in John Galsworthy (1867-1933) a typical representative. The Forsyte Saga (1906-1922) thematizes a conflict central to the age: that between liberal humanism and bourgeois acquisitiveness. The artists – whether professional, like Bosinney, or amateurish, like young Jolyon, or sympathising with them, like Irene – rebel against society's worship of property and mercantilism, yet, as already noted , is not their anti-social behaviour mere pretence? If Soames's sense of property reaches so far as to conceive of his own wife as the proudest acquisition, does not Irene agree to the bargain? Is not Bosinney ready to make money by exploiting Soames's fantasy of gentlemanliness in addition to a Victorian taste for solid and useful architecture? Or does not Soames take a more earnest interest in his art collection than the vulgar desire to show off? Characters get blurred and sentimentalised, and the moral drama is lost.
The slow yet fluent progress of Galsworthy's yards of writing in The Forsyte Saga and A Modern Comedy (1929) fail to yield the modern epic he had intended, but he cannot be said to miss completely his contemporaries' mutated sense of form. The omniscient narrator tells not only what is inside his characters' minds (apart from their precisely delineated physical lineaments), but also what should have been:
In the centre of the room, under the chandelier, as became a host, stood the head of the family, old Jolyon himself. Eighty years of age, with his fine, white hair, his dome-like forehead, his little, dark grey eyes, and an immense white moustache, which drooped and spread below the level of his strong jaw, he had a patriarchal look, and in spite of lean cheeks and hollows at his temples, seemed master of perennial youth. He held himself extremely upright, and his shrewd, steady eyes had lost none of their clear shining. Thus he gave an impression of superiority to the doubts and dislikes of smaller men., Having had his own way for innumerable years, he had earned a prescriptive right to it. It would never have occurred to old Jolyon that it was necessary to wear a look of doubt or of defiance.
The physical portrait is not a gratuitous naturalistic exercise but extended to include the character's social selves emanating from him: what he feels towards those with whom he comes in touch and what others feel about him (see W. James, Op. cit., Ch. X, The Consciousness of Self). The strategy whereby the characters are reduced to their possessions – Old Jolyon's study full of green velvet and heavily carved mahogany, or Swithin's elaborate group of statuary in Italian marble, deliberately placed upon a lofty stand – is in accordance with their framing as social animals. What is the character of any Forsyte abstracted from his furniture and his saddle of mutton? Arnold Kettle asks in his Introduction to the English Novel  with his own reply at the ready: It is Galsworthy's strength, not his weakness, that he should so continuously insist in his presentation of the Forsytes on the crude material basis of their lives. It is nonsense to assume that behind Timothy or Swithin Forsyte there is some mysterious, disembodied “character” waiting to be expressed by some sensitive artist like Virginia Woolf or Ivy Compton-Burnett.
The imperial theme as well as the conflicting demands of liberal humanism and piled up wealth well up in an Edwardian with a more serious concern for the construction of cultural identity and otherness, the economic basis of society, gender and sexuality: E.M. Forster (1879-1970). Rickie Elliot, a graduate from Cambridge, contemplates The Longest Journey (1907) in modern England's experience: from the pastoral greenwood to the bourgeois mode of living on dividends. From the perspective of his liberal education, the active Sawson may appear vulgar yet efficient. The real life outside the walls of the university, in Wiltshire, throws Rickie into doubts about the Cambridge dons who dealt with so much and they had experienced so little. Could the spirit of his mother be revived from the dead or was there no possibility of re-establishing connections with the past?
Howards End (1910) entertains no more illusions about the end of liberalism in England as well as in the novelist's heart, as he later confessed in Two Cheers for Democracy (1951): I belong to the fag-end of Victorian liberalism (...) (I am) an individualist and a liberal who has found liberalism crumbling beneath him and at first felt ashamed. Then, looking around, he decided there was no reason for shame, since other people, whatever they felt, were equally insecure.(...) I am actually what my age and my upbringing have made me – a bourgeois who adheres to the British constitution... And so does Helen Schlegel, the liberal intellectual, who marries the Wilcoxes new money not out of necessity or to maintain the property she has symbolically inherited, but even approving of their go-ahead business, in the absence of which civilization is unconceivable: there would be no trains, no ships to carry us literary people about in, no fields even, just savagery. The novelist has by now accepted the Marxist thesis voiced by Margaret Schlegel, that the very soul of the world is economic, and the lowest abyss is not the absence of love but the absence of coin, with the difference that he gives his blessing where Marx criticises. It will have seemed a bit confusing for a Marxist critic like Raymond Williams, whom Edward Said  faults for his inability to read the English cultural tradition for its overt imperialism (the treatment and defence offered of the Wilcoxes).
The representation of characters is, as with almost all Edwardians, class-bound, in terms of social and economic determinism, with plenty of authorial comment: The narrator himself can never stop introducing and glossing and paraphrasing what they say as if he were really composing one of Charles Lamb's essays. Some of the characters, particularly the ones Forster is less sure of, look more like debating topics than flesh and blood. This can even be true of his “symbols”, like the Marabar Caves in “A Passage to India”, which can become overcast with discussion .
Even if “racism” is an exaggeration, Forster cannot escape the charge of “Europocentrism” in his invention of India: A Passage to India, 1924. The ex-British colony is constructed as completely other, and it is interesting to notice that Forster had by then been contaminated by the modernists' obsession with form and contents of consciousness. The problem with India is the incapacity of the English mind to take hold of such a country. The “enlightened Englishman's tradition” is less the inheritance of rationalistic thinking than the form-building capacity, which relates England to the rest of Europe. India is the Leviathan world – the teeming, sprawling, mutating life of the Ganges, periodically flooding and modifying the insecure architectural design of the banks. It is only biological life, in its indestructible, fecund mutability that is eternal. India's vastness, secret creeds and history fall outside European comprehensiveness, and, particularly, representability. Adela may experience sexual menace, and Fielding, the temptation and failure of friendship, but more important is the natives' inability to share with them common codes of culture. While writing his postcards representing Venice he intends to send to India, Fielding has a sense of futility: They would see the sumptuousness of Venice not its shape, and though Venice was not Europe, it was part of the human norm. The “norm” is what draws people together, irrespective of geographical boundaries. The Mediterranean is the human norm, whereas the Orient means the monstrous and the extraordinary. Fielding feels home in Venice and alienated in the Oriental British territory, because here he cannot share the “joy of form”. It was not that the geographical Empire had become invulnerable, but that the cultural common language had always been impossible. Contiguity in space is meaningless unless cemented by the values of a common culture constructed in time. As Adela says, in space things touch, in time they part. Forster thinks of Oriental versus West-European cultures in the same way in which Constantin Noica dissociates between temporal and spatial civilizations.
A Passage to India came out in the years of triumphant modernism. The recognition of the importance of consciousness and its constructs is textualized by E.M. Forster, a member of the Bloomsbury Group, in occasional shifts of the narratorial voice into characters' subject positions.
With his preoccupation with the relativity of truth and the possibilities of representation, the naturalized Polish immigrant filled the first blank on the map of modernism. The fact strikes one as the more puzzling as, by contrast with other Edwardians, Conrad wrote from experience. It was however a biography of the restless, anxious modern mind, obsessed with political unrest, cultural and individual identity, and imperialist conquest. Besides, it seems that the more one experiences the less sure one gets about the possibility to get to the core of things, or to communicate the whole complexity or truth of one's exploits: It is impossible to convey the life sensation of any given epoch of one's existence – that which makes its truth, its meaning – its subtle and penetrating essence... We live, as we dream, alone (Heart of Darkness).
Joseph Conrad Nalecz Korzeniowski (1857-1924) was born into the Polish landed gentry, his father being also a talented poet and translator of French and English literature. After his father's death (1869) the orphaned Joseph was adopted by a wealthy uncle, Tadeusz Bobrowski, who sent him to Geneva with a tutor, after his school years in Krakow. The young student did not seem to be moulded for the conventional forms of education. The biography of a deracinated personality, living outside a fixed value system (unlike Forster, falling back on the “English Enlightenment”), naturally favoured a dubitative, restless cast of mind. Conrad joined the French merchant navy, and spent the four next years sailing to the West Indies and Venezuela, losing a small fortune in love, getting involved in a political venture (the Carlists' plot to seize the throne of Spain for Carlos de Bourbon), and finally attempting suicide. Several of his novels, from Almayer's Folly (1895) to The Rescue (1920) are based upon his East and West Indies ventures. As French immigration authorities prevented him from continuing as a sailor on merchant marine vessels, he went to Britain (1878), spending the next fifteen years on British ships.
One particular book out of many echoing Conrad's voyages seems to be connected with a primary scene in his childhood. Heart of Darkness, a novella published in 1902 (after a serial publication in 1889), explores colonial otherness from a perspective different from Forster's and through the distancing device of the unreliable narrator. The biographical elements that went into its making reach further back than his actual trip to King Leopold's Congo in 1890 on the steamer “Roi de Belges”. In Some Reminiscences, he mentions a childhood fantasy: It was in 1868, when I was nine years old or thereabouts, that while looking at a map of Africa of the time and putting my finger on the blank space then representing the unresolved mystery of the continent, I said to myself with absolute assurance and amazing audacity which are no longer in my character now: “When I grow up, I shall go there”. By the time he came of age – he continues the account in a late essay, Geography and Some Explorers – the “biggest, the most blank, so to speak (spot) that I had a hankering after had got filled (...) with rivers and lakes and names. It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery – a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land.
Forster's India is the construct of the rational civilized colonizer, the inheritor of the European Enlightenment. Conrad's story is one that mirrors his own “passage” from innocent childhood to mature initiation: a story of disenchantment, even of the fall. Africa had been innocent, virginal, but the colonists had polluted, blackened her, coming from the sea and sailing inwards along that Congo River, uncoiling like a snake. Forster is presumptuously overlaying European patterns and narratives upon India's formlessness. From the “romantic” myth of discovery, or total revelation, Conrad sees himself reduced to the more modest prospect of reading the signs of an already chartered territory. Hence his scepticism: he may interpret them inadequately. Forster dismisses his subject as incomprehensible, while reserving for Europe the privilege of rational understanding. Conrad admits to a partial understanding of Africa, by introducing a narrator who himself acknowledges his partiality. Marlow (Conrad's mask whereby he distances himself from his narrative also in Lord Jim and Chance) warns the reader that his access to the story of Kurtz, the colonist representing the “European enlightened mind”, is mediated by his own version of it: You know Kurtz because you know me. But Marlow himself is trying hard to make sense of the various stories of Kurtz supplied by the manager of the Central Station, the Russian Harlequin, the Company representative on his return, the cousin and the Intended. Telling his story while sitting cross-legged like Buddha in European clothes, he subverts his own position as the voice of wisdom. He is a false idol  or he may be intimating that his African meta-narrative cannot escape an European's falsifying framing of it, a cultural travesty. And yet, unlike Fielding, Marlow manages to articulate, if not the truth about Africa, at least his sense of it. Maybe he has not discovered its heart, but he has worded it. Fielding is defending himself against the Oriental labyrinth by stepping behind the barricade of reified European forms. Marlow has a voice to defend himself against the sexual threat, the unspeakable rites, and the horror of the wilderness, to which the libidinal self of the dipsychic Kurz falls prey. Apparently he is not a psychologically full but a linguistic self (constructed in language), sharing a discursive “symposium” with the Director of Companies, the Accountant, and the Lawyer, tolerant of each other's yarns. To J. Hillis Miller , these characters, whose names denote social functions, not private individuals, are just disembodied voices, fragments of discourse:
I have suggested that there are two ironies in what Marlow says when he breaks his narration to address his auditors directly. The first irony is the fact that the auditors see more than Marlow did because they see Marlow whom they know; the second is that we readers of the novel see no living witness. By Marlow's own account that is not enough. Seeing only happens by direct experience, and no act of reading is direct experience (...) But there is, in fact, a third irony in this relay of ironies in that Marlow's auditors of course do not see Marlow either. (...) They hear only his disembodied voice. “It had become so pitch dark”, says the narrator, “that we listeners could hardly see one another. For a long time already he, sitting apart, had become no more to us than a voice.” Marlow's narrative does not seem to be spoken by a living incarnate witness, there, before his auditors in the flesh. It is a “narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river.” This voice can be linked to no individual speaker or writer as the ultimate source of its messages, not to Marlow, not to Kurtz, nor to the first narrator, nor even to Conrad himself. The voices spoken by no one to no one. It always comes from another, from the other of any identifiable speaker or writer. It traverses all these voices as what speaks through them. It gives them authority and at the same time disposes them, deprives them of authority, since they only speak with the delegated authority of another. As Marlow says of the voice of Kurtz and of all the other voices, they are what remains as a dying unanimous and anonymous drone or clang that exceeds any single identifiable voice and in the end is spoken by no one: “A voice. He was very little more than a voice. And I heard – him – it – this voice – other voices – all of them were so little more than voices – and the memory of that time itself lingers around me, impalpable, like a dying vibration of one immense jabber, silly, atrocious, sordid, savage, or simply mean, without any kind of sense. Voices, voices…
Is Heart of Darkness really a deconstruction of individual consciousness into a semiological web of universal, anonymous textuality or discoursiveness, a post-modern prophecy? Or is it rather a modernist assertion of the fiction-maker's triumph over the unknown, lurking beyond the level of the conscious self or out there in the world?
The two narrators embody the two poles of the speech act: the one making discourse and the listener. Kurtz can neither articulate his experience of Africa, summed up in the elliptical and reductive “the horror, the horror”, nor communicate it. Marlow's experience cannot be logically articulated, for the story of Kurtz gets lost in the impenetrable darkness of Africa and its libidinal calls, but he can build a fiction analogous to it: one immense jabber, silly, atrocious, sordid, savage, or simply mean, without any kind of sense. Whilst Kurz extorts the greatest amount of ivory from Congo, Marlow colonizes it, appropriates it in language. The “box of dominoes” with its interplay of black and white, light and darkness, may suggest a new genesis, the graphic aspect of the text or a metaphor: the heart of darkness reaching the light of consciousness.
In 1876 King Leopold II of Belgium organized a meeting in Brussels to discuss a plan “to open to civilization the only part of our globe where Christianity has not yet penetrated and to pierce the darkness which envelops the entire population”. Leopold's white speech was hiding dark purposes. He had divided the country into sixteen districts, each governed by a commissioner who built personal fortunes by collecting taxes from the natives, and as the native could only give their labour, the Belgian officials were in fact camouflaged slave-owners. The atrocities described in Conrad's narrative were all too common and they inverted the moral rapport between the savage white colonists and the helpless victims of their idea of progress.
Marlow, the intradiegetic narrator, tells of his childhood passion for maps, and wish to reach the black heart of Africa, which had been fulfilled when he had signed up for a Congo command, thanks to the intervention of an influential aunt. Marlow begins his account of the voyage by subverting the Europeans' narrative of colonialism: the gigantic tale of acts of nobility and renown (Anthony Fothergill, Op. cit.), the joint story of brave conquests and gifts of the “enlightened mind” (bearers of the sword and torch of knowledge). In anticipation of his African adventure, Marlow is trying to imagine what the Romans might have felt while advancing through Britain's threatening wilderness. What he encounters in his voyage towards the Central Station, Kinshassa Inner Station, Stanley Falls, is the savage... colonizers' world. First, the outward show of the blacks starved to death, the rusting machinery, useless and misplaced in an environment of natural vital energies, like the crew of natives suddenly brought into his view.
The metonymic and metaphoric language, fragmenting the bodies of the Negroes exhausted by hard labour and assimilating them to trees and bushes suggests to Anthony Fothergill (Op. cit.) “the depersonalizing forces of colonialism”: Black shapes crouched, lay, set between the trees, leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despairs. But is not the Accountant as readily turned into a hairdresser's dummy? In the vicinity of rotting corpses, the agent with starched collar and got-up shirtfronts, snowy trousers and varnished boots was lying flushed and insensible. Marlow's journey through the hell of colonialism is constantly bridging the gap between the native fashioned as savage and the coloniser fashioned as the inheritor of the Enlightenment. The native with the gun, commanding his fellows as ruthlessly as his masters, has been completely assimilated and is now enacting the imperialistic paradigm, for colonialism not only depersonalises man, it also alienates him from his fellow beings. Kurtz, the most efficient European agent, is alienated from himself: he has extorted the most impressive amount of ivory from the natives, while making exalted speeches about the missionary civilizing role of the white colonist: Each station should be like a beacon on the road towards better things, a centre for trade, of course, but also for humanising, improving, instructing. What has become of the “enlightened mind” making the most eloquent speeches about the noble mission of civilizing the African tribes by... exterminating all brutes? The figure of Kurtz, lost in a muddle of incongruities and paradoxes, becomes emblematic of the hypocritical, unnatural and contradictory character of imperialism. The small sketch in oil Kurtz has painted, representing a woman draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch, is the very symbol of his own spiritual blindness, his gross misunderstanding about himself and the world in which he lives. The Chief of the Inner Station, the emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and the devil knows what else finally recognizes, in that moment of enlightened insight into one's whole life which is believed to flash on a dying man, the horror in his heart. The truth about his assimilation by the jungle world, by the gorgeous apparition of the savage woman, by the unspeakable rites, by the mute spell of the wilderness... The rational is subsided; the “Intended” (his fiancée abandoned in Europe, but also his lofty project) is betrayed. The libidinal self has conquered all. Kurtz crawls away from the steamer sent to take him back to Europe, as he can no longer perceive differences on which values are built: Marlow could not appeal to him in the name of anything high or low. The civilized Europe of social forms and institutions is no test of character, according to Conrad. It is easy to suppress man's beastly instincts when one lives with a policeman at one corner of the street and a butcher at the other; with no fear of getting killed, and not having to kill. The true test is the confrontation with one's own irrationality. Civilization has not laid the beast in man. But the moment he can recognize and name it for what it is he is free of its horror, he becomes man enough. The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there – there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly, and the men were – No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it – this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It could come slowly to one. They howled, and leaped, and spun, and made horrible faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity – like yours – the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough: but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you – you so remote from the night of first ages – could comprehend. Marlow is indeed abstracted from an individual in flesh and blood into a discourse-maker. By contrast with Kurtz's last speech, repetitive and minimalist, Marlow, himself aware of the terrors and horrors of existence, shields himself from the jungle world through his “voice”. He sees and is seen, he is told several “yarns” about Kurtz, acts in the Kurtz story and produces his own versions of Kurtz, depending on the audience he is addressing (for instance, he keeps back from the Intended the things which might have disturbed her, romanticizing the account). But he is also a self reaching not only self-recognition but also some general idea about the human situation. The man who returns to civilization with the steamer and the one who yields to the wilderness provide an Apollonian-Dionysian polarity. The antithesis on which Nietzsche's first book, The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, (1870-71) , is built was a much debated topic at the time. Kurtz, the Superman, undergoes a debasing experience of un-selving, being finally mesmerised by “the demonic chant of the multitude”, by “the maternal womb of being”. According to Nietzsche, the image created by a sculptor or epical poet is a shield from their characters. The poet becomes his images; his images are objectified versions of himself. The “I” is not that of the actual waking man but the “I” dwelling truly and eternally in the ground of being, for only as an aesthetic product can the world be justified to all eternity .
How is the jury to deal with the protagonist of Lord Jim (1857-1924), an exceptional character yet tried for the most despicable cowardice: jumping into a life-boat from the sinking sheep he had in command. Does it matter he had thought there were not enough boats anyway? That he had acted as if in a trance? Are we, readers, always in rational control of our actions? Marlow, the narrator, is there to codify the irrational impulses in man, to reconcile facts and justice.
The transition from the Victorian discourse of perception to perception of discourse is partial in the plays of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) and complete in the intimist theatre of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939).
The Christopher Innes narrative history of Modern British Drama (Cambridge University Press, 1992) takes 1890 for its signpost, because that was the year of Shaw's famous lecture, The Quintessence of Ibsenism. Shaw is allowed to weigh heavily in the progress of British drama over the last hundred years, whose course he set in the 1890s. A statement to the contrary can be read in Michael Woolf's fourth chapter, Theatre: Roots of the New, of the Longman Literature and Culture in Modern Britain (Op. cit. p. 102):
The modern impact of modernity in the British theatre does not really come until the 1950s. In the novel or in poetry (in Joyce and T.S. Eliot, for example) there exist major technical innovations self-consciously and determinedly creating the new by signalling separation from the forms of the past. In the theatre, there is no comparable figure. George Bernard Shaw's work marked a transition from Victorians to modern theatre, but it is expressed in terms of the material and the ideas contained within it, not in any formal innovations or radical departure from traditional techniques.
Although Shaw approves of Ibsenism, in reality he drapes it in much of his personal poetic, departing significantly from it in his own drama of ideas. Ibsen's discrediting of socially-conditioned reflexes, that is of the social norms and codes at the time, materializes with Shaw in a more literary-conscious strategy of building the audience's expectations in the opposite direction – that reversal of expectations and baffling of the audience later practised by the epic theatre of Bertolt Brecht. More audacious in his re-inventing of traditional myths, famous texts and even history, Shaw foregrounds the importance of the point of view in putting traditional material to an entirely new use. The Galatea theme is easily recognizable, but instead of wishing his statue to take life, Higgins-Pygmalion is freezing a lively human being into some speech mould. Shaw, a music and drama critic, displays a fine sense of language structure as well. The simple rearrangement and change of focus in a common saying – Too true to be good – enlarges the negative perspective on one particular case into a generalized pessimistic view of existence. The ladder in Jacob's dream, traditionally symbolizing communication with God, the divine promise of man's kingdom on earth, is pointing downwards in Back to Methuselah, making the descent from heaven to an earthly hell.
With his historical background for several of his characters (Morell in Candida, 1897, based upon James Mavor Morell, a Scottish theologian, the Oxford phonetician Henry Sweet appearing as Professor Higgins in Pygmalion, 1914, T.E. Lawrence as Private Meek in Too True to Be Good, 1932) or events (Caesar and Cleopatra, 1906, reflecting on British Imperialism in Africa, St. Joan, 1924, echoing Ireland's struggle for independence as well as the canonization of Joan d’Arc) Shaw still preserves a semblance to the realistic, documented dramatist. The real personages are however transformed beyond recognition, the result being an augmentation of the importance of discourse. “Too true to be good” is not synonymous with “Too good to be true”, although the empirical facts they refer to remain the same.
1. Shaw's perspective on history is updated, by his shutting Shakespeare's Plutarch and opening the German historian Mommsen. The result is the deflationary treatment of the hero and the superman, and the interplay of ambiguities blocking any illusions about the worth of the imperialistic conquest. Unhooked from heroic motivations, the protagonists are left with a limited choice of opportunities. The down-to-earth Caesar has but one alternative: a man will have either to conquer the world as I have, or be crucified by it. Dick Dudgeon in The Devil's Disciple (1897) is left with none: he will be executed by the British anyway, whether for being himself or Judith's husband. Ceasing to be a drama of grand actions and inflated emotions, it falls back for its powerful appeal on the vividness of the repartee: My plays do not consist of occasional remarks to illustrate pictures, but of verbal fencing, matches between protagonists and antagonists. (Malvern Festival Book, 1931). Exercising himself like Conrad in deconstruction, Shaw exposes the imperialist ethos of progress, science, moral, religion for fictitious glory on robbery, starvation, disease, crime, drink, war... The most daring subversion is probably that of male dominance in Back to Methuselah (1922), where Eve, the first mother, becomes the She-Ancient, the tribe's voice of wisdom and authority. In Shakespeare, anachronisms serve to emphasize the universal pattern of the story. By slipping in allusions to contemporary events and situations, Shaw anticipated Pound's “renovation method” in Homage to Sextus Propertius and Joyce's “mythical method”, in exploiting the present relevance of historical stuff.
2. Shaw's characterisation is a tour de force. He is unique in that, on the one hand, his characters are trans-subjective, trans-historical essences, and, on the other, time-bound. The audience is told that men twenty centuries ago were already just such as themselves (prologue of Caesar and Cleopatra, 1912), and that should Joan of Arc be brought back to life, she would be burnt again within six months (Saint Joan, 1924). At the same time, people and events are historically framed. What Shaw dislikes about Shakespeare's drama is that his kings are no statesmen; his cardinals have no religion (Preface of Saint Joan), whereas the world is governed by forces expressing themselves in religions and laws. Joan is one of those exceptional individuals (like Socrates or Napoleon, Shaw thereby completing the heroic paradigm as thinker/social reformer/saint figures), an embodiment of Bergson's élan vital (vital surge), making progress possible, at the cost of poverty, infamy, exile, and death. At the same time, however, such personalities are often disruptive of social order. At that time Joan represented a threat to the Roman Holy Empire, a germ of heresy and mass insubordination. Shaw adopts a relativist position, showing himself to be fully aware of possible framings of events according to the changing paradigms (fashions and family habits in belief) of one age or another. His plays are usually framed by prefaces, sometimes as long as the texts themselves, and the action proper is superseded by discussion. In the Preface of Saint Joan, Shaw draws attention to himself as un unreliable commentator on the respective historical situation: my fashion being Victorian and my family habit Protestant, I find myself unable to attach any such objective validity to the form of Joan's visions. A more relativist view of human nature helps to dismiss the black-and-white polarity into saint and villain, complexifying the human situation to the degree where no conclusion is finally reached. It is not that Shaw grows progressively into an insular cynic; he is only exploring the multiple and often contradictory points of view from which events are commonly crosslit. His dialectic genius can make the audience agree with both Saint Joan and the Inquisitor. Frequent conversions show the self as a mask or role to be exchanged at will. Shaw is not interested in history but in phenomenology: not in objective truth but in points of view. How did the Inquisition judge of Joan from their point of view? How would Joan or the saint be constructed by contemporaries? The historical overlap produces broad comical effects: Joan would no longer be burnt at stake but put on a diet of typhoid extract, adrenaline thymin, pituitrin, and insulin... Which is worse? the dramatist wonders....His phenomenological relativism produces the same fluidity of roles as the later existentialism. Eliza's father, in Pygmalion, changes from an imaginative tramp figure into a boring lecturer on ethics, as if the character lacked any interiority. An exchange of clothes is enough to turn the rebel into a conforming preacher in The Devil's Disciple.
3. The setting is more selective than that of naturalistic drama, often serving as an objective correlative to the characters on the stage. In the 1897 Candida, Titian's Assumption of the Madonna hanging above the heroine at the climactic point of the action is symbolic of her Christian renunciation of personal delight in eloping with an idealist poet of romantic appeal, out of sympathy for the conventional yet vulnerable husband, who offers her a loveless marriage. She manages to suppress the temptation of the adulterous love triangle of the Western civilization, modelled on the Tristan-and-Isolde romance (Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World), opting for the Madonna figure: joined in marriage to her clergyman husband, the practical reformer and the man of domestic duties, although she finds in the rival poet the holy spirit of man – the god within him, the most “godlike”. The life-size image of half a human head, showing in section the vocal organs exhibited in Dr. Higgins's laboratory is a mise-en-abyme of the inverted theme of Pygmalion: Professor Higgins is trying to freeze the natural flow of life, of thoughts and emotions, into a sound statue, a wooden variety of speech, mechanical, emptied of personal emotional involvement, only marked for social class, like the meaningless sound sequences Eliza is expected to repeat. The flower girl’s passionate, youthful nature, personal thoughts or feelings are stifled into a duchess's correct pronunciation and intonation. In a paradoxical way, her insight into the situation is broader than her professor's. She realizes the automatic vacuity of his handling of human personality, as proved by her question whether she needs to return her clothes for her successor. In refusing to be “stuffed” or “serialized” as one of his fabricated humans, Eliza slips from type back into life's sprawl of free and unique individualities. Where the modern Pygmalion's “art” succeeds, the result is the wooden Doolitle.
4. From demystification of social codes (Pinero, Wilde), Shaw passes to the deconstruction or playful treatment of previous models. We have already mentioned Caesar and Cleopatra, where the whimsical child queen rolling out of a carpet under Caesar's eyes, scratching like the “armorial” cat of her dynasty, baffles the audience's expectations of a love romance. Shaw's realism prevents him from breaking through class distinctions with the unproblematic readiness of sentimental bourgeois comedy. Apart from the ancient sculptor and Galatea figure, Pygmalion refurbishes and denies the unrealistically happy end of Boucicault's Grimaldi: or The Life of an Actress, where a Covent Garden flower girl, trained as an actress, gets adopted by her professor, who turns out to be a duke.
What “technical innovations” do we find in Samuel Becket that were not anticipated by the poetic drama of William Butler Yeats ? He too is blurring the distinctions between genres, building a minimalist dramatic discourse, with a few symbolical images substituted for action, with the tramp-figures of The Purgatory in the attempt to portray generic humanity, with the simplified, internalised scenery, thematic abstraction, severed heads to suggest a “theatre of the mind”, uprooted from the soil of socio-historical reality, defining human condition in the most abstract and universal way? There is an important difference, but, unlike Micael Woolf (Op. cit.), we consider it to be one in terms of vision rather than of form. Becket's heaven is empty; God is the personal fantasy which never comes true of characters reduced to speech. If there are two characters on the stage, there are two names, in English and German, underwriting an endlessly deferred divine project: God + Got (Waiting for Godot).
W.B. Yeats is a poet and playwright brought up among the fin-de-siècle Theosophists, whose lore he handles, according to T.S. Eliot, in a Dublin lecture on Yeats, in two distinct ways. Eliot distinguishes between external and internal ways of handling myths. In his early works, characters are treated with the respect that we pay to legends, as creatures of a different world from ours, while, in his later works, the characters, though still mythical, are at the same time some universal men and women. In the latter case, myth is not present for its own sake, but as a vehicle for a situation of universal meaning . It was about the same time that Blaga made a similar distinction between “mythological” and “mythical”, and so does Mircea Eliade in his record of Structure and Changes in the History of Religion. In our opinion, it does not apply to Yeats at any stage of his career. The Irish writer's use of Celtic “myth and legend” is either a structural device or a characteristically modernist concern with impersonality.
Yeats's personal construction of French Symbolism (The Symbolism of Poetry and The Autumn of the Body) is that of the work of art as full of patterns and symbols and music, lured to the threshold of sleep. That is, based upon the archetypes or patterns of the collective subconscious. Symbols do not belong to a world different from ours, they are produced by the transformational rules of our own subconscious in dreams – a mundane event.. Following a Nietzschean Dionysian drive of mystical un-selving, Yeats reaches towards progressive otherness: the self-portrait as a many-faceted self, the text as the collective portrait not only of himself but also of his friends (Maud Gonne, Olivia Shakespeare, John Synge and Augusta Gregory in The Municipal Gallery Revisited) and, by joining in the collective dream of the noble and beggar man, a portrait of contemporary Ireland as well. The self and anti-self, the will and the mask, complete each other rebuilding the archetype. In reinventing the Ireland of mythical heroes, Yeats produces a modern country's mask, what is mostly unlike it .Whereas myths are acategorical (that is, they step beyond opposites), Yeats builds binary polarities: self and collective imagination, Ireland, past and present, the Ireland of O'Connell's rhetoric or of Parnell's revolutionary action etc. If nations, races and individual men are united by an image or a bundle of images (Autobiography), they are not forms of belief but symbolical or evocative of states of mind. In A People's Theatre, he urges the return of drama to its original source, thereby giving a voice to the multitude's deeps of the mind, articulating values and views which would otherwise have remained unexpressed. While resorting to archetypes of the imagination, in a deconstructive medley of Irish myth, Buddhist cosmology, Oriental theosophy, etc., Yeats turns his back on the “people”, producing “chamber plays” for a small and elitist group, capable to read the patterned dramatic language of the patterned collective subconscious: stylised elements of ritual, minimal and symbolical scenery, a formalized stage language, resulting from a blend of words, dance, music, exploring the symbolist “correspondences” between sense and “sound, colour, form”. The Dublin Hermetic Society, founded on June 16, 1885, Madame Blavatski's Lodge of the Theosophical Society, The Golden Dawn, a society dedicated to the study of the Jewish Cabbala, the Rosicrucian or Rosy Cross Order, which Yeats joined in 1990 initiated him into occult doctrines exploring not so much a transcendental rapport but the transmutation of all things into some divine and imperishable substance: and this enabled me to make my little book of fanciful reverie over the transmutation of life into art, and a cry of measureless desire for a world made wholly of essences. (Rosa Alchemica). As well as the various letter and number relationships through which the Sephiroths (emanations from the original, pure substance) can be combined into infinite series of designs in the Cabbala, Yeats's symbols are merely the primary patterns through which everything can be apprehended. His early plays – The Countess Cathleen, 1902, On Baile's Strand, 1904, The Golden Helmet, 1908 – along with his collections of “fantastic stories “ – The Secret Rose and the Tables of the Law, 1897 – help build a mythico-symbolic system inspired by his esoteric pursuits, whose unified subject is, according to Yeats himself, the anti-romantic and essentially modernist war of spiritual with natural order. The world is disputed between the demands of the real world of material interests and economic profit and the call of the Old Woman looking young – the vagrant muse of immortality This old/young singer of Countess Cathleen is modelled on the Rosicrucians' mystic rose on the rood of time, opening at the trysting place of mortal and immortal, time and eternity. On Baile's Strand pits King Conchubar, representing the need for order and rationality, and the self-assertive irrational spirit in the hero Cuchulain against each other. The Golden Helmet plays on Nietzsche's polarity of weak man versus Superman.
In time Yeats moved to one-act plays, for the sake of intensity of focus: Calvary, 1920, Purgatory, 1938. The allusions to topical British realities in the latter may be misleading. In reality, the minimal scenery reduced to a ruined house and a tree is Cabbalistic: the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life united into one image, paralleling the archetypal Adam (intellectual, moral man, and the material world). The only characters are a Boy and an Old Man, returning to the primal scene of the fall. The Old Man's mother had married a stable groom, who had brought destruction upon the old aristocratic house. The individual house is inflated to the proportions of the country's history, and further on to the broad scene of the British Empire, and, through a final generalization, to universal man's destiny, who grows up, marries, dies:
Old Man: Great people lived and died in this house;
Magistrates, colonels, members of Parliament,
Captains and Governors, and long ago
Men that had fought at Aughrim and the Boyne.
Some that had gone on Government work
To London and to India came home to die,
Or came from London every spring
To look at the may-blossom in the park.
They had loved the trees that he cut down
To pay what he had lost at cards
Or spent on horses, drink and women;
The Old Man had killed his father, and had repeated his mother's mistake of marrying beneath her in begetting his illegitimate son, who now threatens to kill him for money. The Old Man stabs him on that same spot, on that same day of the year, with the same knife. Thereby he thinks his mother's soul has finally found rest, as all that consequence of her original sin has been washed away. The bare tree in the background is now standing in white light, like a purified soul. Death is the only possibility to put an end to the heritage of sin and crime. Life's massy incongruities cannot be made to “rhyme” with the noble order of art. The Old Man cannot find rhyme between his mother's real life and the idyllic story in the lullaby:
„Hush-a-baby, thy father's a knight,
Thy mother a lady, lovely and bright,”
No, that is something that I read in a book,
And if I sing it must be to my mother,
And I lack rhyme.
Childhood and experience, present and past, private and national, present and historical, old man and young man, father and son, noble birth and descent (social, moral, mythical) are dyads which carry over into Yeats's late work the symbolical structuring he had practised from the very first. The emphasis on formalization, stylisation (masked figures, ritualised action through costume, motion, verse and music), borrowed from the Japanese Noh plays (Four Plays for Dancers) merely diversify original formal drives, while A Full Moon in March (1934) and The Death of Cuchulain (1949) bring new emphasis to the myth of art theme. The severed head of the hero (A Full Moon in March), which starts singing and the responsive dance of the Queen stage the same aesthetic parable of a universal spirit incarnated in temporal, embodied paradigms.
The early work of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is wrapped in the mists of symbolist “evocation” and “suggestion”. In fact Yeats is the centre on which hinges the entire English poetry from Pre-Raphaelitism to modernism. It is not often that one can study the metamorphosis of literary ideas and forms within the same writer's work.
Pre-Raphaelite is his early rejection of the city world and cult of the medieval Irish pastoral. Ornate and flourishing in style, of a Paterian, essayistic bent, the early fiction of William Butler Yeats serves, as well as the major work of the aesthetic movement of the time, as a vehicle for ideas. The two pieces published in 1891, the realistic novel John Sherman and the fanciful story of an Irish giant, Dhoya, could raise objections of indecision and a suspicion of the absence of an organic talent, but they serve perfectly well the author's dialectic view of the war of spiritual with natural order as the motive power in history.
John Sherman is an “imaginary portrait” in the negative, that is, it shares with The Picture of Dorian Gray and Marius the Epicurean the scarcity of plot and action, the emphasis upon character, created more by analysis than by incidents . Unlike Dorian and Marius, however, Sherman is not the aesthete but a down-to-earth type, enjoying the “sleepy old society” of Ballah (West of Ireland), dreamily planning to marry money some day, rather than get it himself. His failed experience in London, where he joins his uncle's prosperous firm, Sherman and Saunders, Ship Brokers, his distaste of London's industrious show, with the towering factory chimneys on the Thames and his return to the peaceful Irish provincial life to join the modest-looking yet earnest and profound Mary Carton, the schoolteacher, show that the natural inclination to live with mere facts does not necessarily associate with “mercenary schemes”. Eve Pattern, in her Afterword to an edition of John Sherman and Dhoya, describes the novel as a rejection of the great bourgeois dream of getting ahead in the world. John Sherman is an inversion of the traditional nineteenth-century Bildungsroman, a story in which the hero learns to resist rather than to exploit the various educational strategies proffered, to reject the world of toil and ambition..... The “aesthete paradigm” is present, however, in the other couple of this short novel: Howard, the curate of some Anglican order, and Margaret Leland, Sherman's fiancée in London, whom he “generously” passes off to Howard, correctly appreciating him as the more proper match.
While still in Ballah, the curate takes pride in his Wildean capacity to perceive reality through the shaping mould of previous aesthetic experiences (According to Oscar Wilde's Critic as Artist, the actual sights and events are filtered through interpretational frames provided by what art has touched):
How pleasantly conscious of his own identity it made him, when he thought how he, and not those whose birthright it was, felt most the beauty of the shadows and this river? To him who had read much, seen operas and plays, known religious experiences and written verse to a waterfall in Switzerland and not to those who dwelt on its borders for their whole lives did this river raise a tumult of images and wonders. What meaning it had for them, he could not imagine. (The evening gnats) made his mind stray to the devil's song against the little spirits in Boito's Mefistofele.
Margaret Leland, the woman who puts belladonna in her eyes, also inhabits a world whose “birthright” is artifice. She lives surrounded by bronzes, china vases, heavy curtains, rich Italian and medieval draperies of the Pre-Raphaelites, artificial flowers and stuffed birds – the well-known aestheticized décor of the Huysmans school. The mildly satirical hint at stuffed creatures, Margaret's insistence on neckties, and refined behaviour, her infatuation with new books would rather point to an early resistance in Yeats towards the aesthetic decadence, which he would have joined wholeheartedly in London by the end of the eighties The transformation can already be seen in the new edition of the two prose pieces alongside others in The Secret Rose. Rosa Alchemica, The Tables of the Law, The Adoration of the Magi, 1897 – the author's aesthetic manifesto. The aesthetes' arrogance breathes forth from the very epigraph, borrowed from Villiers de l'Isle Adam: As for living our servants will do that for us. The introductory poem is a vision of the apocalypse:
When shall the stars be blown about the sky
Thy hour has come most secret and inviolable Rose.
As well as with the Pre-Raphaelites, the religious meaning is displaced by aesthetic symbolism. According to A. N. Jeffares (A New Commentary of the Poems of W.B. Yeats), the rose is the symbol of spiritual beauty. Within the tradition of Rosicrucian symbolism, a conjunction of the rose and the cross (four leaves), forms a fifth element, the rose possessing feminine sexual elements, the cross masculine, united in the alchemical wedding. The cross both engenders and crucifies beauty by letting it into and out of time.
The stories drawing on Irish myth, legends, history, in that theosophical heterogeneity characteristic of the fin-de-siècle, progress from pagan Ireland, with its visionary heroes and bards to the fallen Ireland of materialism and utilitarianism. The outcast gleeman, the last of his breed, Costello the Proud, a remnant of the native, disinterested aristocracy, the Knight of Palestine, Hanrahan the Red live in the cult of the Rose, of the immortal beauty in a world beyond.
The final triptych is set in contemporary Ireland, completing the displacing of the Christian orthodoxy by an aesthetic heterodoxy.
Rosa Alchemica compares the artist to the alchemist in his attempt at the universal transmutation of all things into some divine and imperishable substance... the transmutation of life into art, and a cry of measureless desire for a world made wholly of essences. Now it is the narrator-character and not some secondary-rate personage who lives like Des Esseintes (the hero of À Rebours, by Joris Karl Huysmans), surrounded by a collection of aesthetic objects, which shut out reality. The aesthete is a sceptic, removed from the world of actual experience, professing a form of pagan aestheticism, which Swinburne had borrowed from the French: I had gathered about me all gods, because I believed in none, and experienced every pleasure, because I gave myself to none. Art is valuable precisely because it sublimates action and actual emotions. A net of colours mediates between reality and meaning (the relevance of colours to aesthetic moods was one more suggestion coming from Huysmans, and the French symbolists). The passions of the real Shakespeare, Dante and Milton have been abstracted to the symbolical language of the coloured book covers: Shakespeare in the orange of the glory of the world, Dante in the dull red of his anger, Milton in the blue grey of his formal calm.
The author's friends appear in these stories disguised as personae: Mac Gregor Mathers, an occultist friend, as Magus Robartes, and Lionel Johnson, a poet, as Aherne. Robartes ranks with Baudelaire's homo duplex and other decadent doubles: something between a debauchee, a saint and a peasant – all of them melting into the occultist visionary. Following the propositions in Expositio in Apocalypsein, by Joachim of Flora, Aherne announces the end of the two historical cycles – that of the Father and that of the Son – and the advent of the Spiritual Cycle. This spirituality, however, is not of a religious but of an aesthetic order. Aherne transmutes God's metaphysical presence into sensuous surfaces in The Tables of the Law: the hidden substance of God is colour and music and softness and a sweet odour. The new “Law” is a paraphrase of Mallarmé: the world only exists to be a tale in the ears of the coming generations. Whereas the “Tables” prescribe the nature of the new language of art as symbolical, The Adoration of the Magi is the “Annunciation” of the new art for arter. The new magi hear the Immortals speaking to them through a dying prostitute in Paris. But her words are in fact borrowed from Virgil's fourth Eclogue (the “Messianic”), about another Achilles, another Troy. Art is the only immortality; art feeds back upon itself, for here is Yeats writing consciously within a pre-existing convention. He is remarkably aware not only of the aesthetic climate of the moment but also of its genealogy: this is the mood Edgar Poe found in a wine-cup, which passed into France and took possession of Baudelaire and from Baudelaire passed to England and the Pre-Raphaelites, giving birth to a new, great religion.
As his essay The Autumn of the Body openly states, Yeats found the English poets deficient in comparison to the latest developments in France. Like Swinburne, another Frenchified aesthete, Yeats seeks in-between worlds in his poetry – dreamy and visionary shores, lakes, islands, twilight and dawn – avoiding hard outlines, precise locales and the picturesque writing that had handled them in the realist tradition of externalities of all kinds. Yeats's diagnosis of the contemporary French state of mind is exploration of inwardness.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree (from The Rose, 1893) features a departure for a rural seat, which is an allegory of the deep heart's core – the freedom of the inner space, wherefrom spring the transforming hues changing midnight into a glimmer and noon into a purple glow. In true Pre-Raphaelite fashion, the lover is a mystique of the soul not a woman in flesh and blood. The morbid He wishes his beloved were dead or The Lover Tells of the Rose in His Heart (The Wind Among the Reeds, 1899) construe the mistress as an abstraction, a rose, the symbol of eternal beauty, which is permanently fading from the world. Reality is a labyrinth of things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old, a collection of unshapely things. In the manner of Rossetti's “moment's monument”, the poet counterbalances the descriptio in the first part by a fashioning act. Sitting on a green knoll apart – on the other side of nature and against it –, the speaker is seized with reconstructive zest: to build the wasted life anew. The alchemical imagery – the earth's wintry mould changed into gold – serves the poet's redemptive recreation of the world through illusion, through the enduring “monument” of the poem:
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.
 Modernism. 1890-1930. edited by Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, Penguin Books, 1978, pp. 175-176.
 Lucian Blaga, Trilogia culturii, E.L.U., 1969, p. 349.
 Jeremy Tambling, Introduction to New Casebooks: F.M. Forster. Contemporary Critical Essays. Edited by Jeremy Tambling, Macmillan, 1995, p. 2.
 Literature and Culture in Modern Britain. Volume One: 1900-1929. Edited by Clive Bloom, Longman, 1993, pp. 5 and the following.
 David Bradshaw, The Best of Companions: J.W.N. Sullivan, Aldous Huxley and the New Physics, “The Review of English Studies”, August 1996, p. 352.
 Hans Vaihinger, Die Philosophie des als ob, Verlag von Felix Meiner, 1918.
 Hans Reichenbach, Modern Philosophy of Science, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1959, p. 86.
 N. Takei da Silva, Modernism and Virginia Woolf, Windsor Publications, 1990.
 D.H. Lawrence, Pheonix, 1936, p. 547.
 Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel 2, Hutchinson, 1985, p. 88.
 Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, London, 1992, pp. 241-242, apud Introduction to New Casebokks: E.M. Forster, Op. cit., p. 8.
 David Gervais, Literary Englands, Cambridge 1996, p. 71.
 Anthony Fothergill, Heart of Darkness, Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1989.
 J. Hillis Miller in Conrad Revisited, University of Alabama Press, 1985.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music, Doulbleday & Co 1956.
 John B. Vickery, The Literary Impact of the Golden Bow, Princeton University Press, 1973.
 Paul Murray, T. Eliot & Mysticism. The Secret History of the “Four Quartets”, Macmillan Press, 1991.
 John Unterecker, A Reader's Guide to William Butler Yeats, Thames and Hudson, 1959.
 G. J. Walson Introduction to W. B. Yeats: Short Fiction Penguin Books, 1996.
din Bucuresti 2004.