Sunday, December 2, 2007

Forster, A Passage to India

While reading the section on the “Caves” we came up with some interesting ideas and questions for you to think about:


Aziz does love Mrs. Moore but not so much Adela "He had never liked Miss Quested as much as Mrs. Moore, and had little to say to her, less that ever now that she would marry a British official."(167)

This sets a mood of conflict between them and shows Aziz' feelings of restraint due to the her engagement-uncomfortable with the British official that has power over him

“She was perfect, as always, his dear Mrs. Moore . . . There was nothing he would not do for her. He would die to make her happy.” (145)

“Yes, I am your friend” Mrs. Moore to Aziz (164)

Although he does not like Adela as much as Mrs. Moore, Aziz still says:

“These two had strange effects on him- they were his friend, his for ever, and he theirs forever…” (157)

Evidence of innocence?


"Life went on as usual, but had no consequences, that is to say, sounds did not echo or thoughts develop." (155)

I think this is a really important quote that describes the echo. It’s almost as if the echo represents trouble and the future arrest of Aziz. Maybe that's why the echo made Mrs. Moore uncomfortable? That's a bit of a stretch but still can show the impending trouble- "echoes generate echoes" (163)

Mrs. Moore “didn’t know who touched her, couldn’t breathe, and some vile naked thing struck her face and settled on her mouth like a pad . . . For an instant she went mad, hitting and gasping like a fanatic.
For not only did the crush and stench alarm her; there was a also a terrifying echo” (162)

“There are some exquisite echoes in India . . . The echo in a Marabar cave is not like these, it is entirely devoid of distinction. Whatever is said, the same monotonous noise replies . . .” (163)

“The crush and the smells she could forget, but the echo began in some indescribable way to undermine her hold on life” (165)

After Mrs. Moore leaves the cave she is looking for a villain. Foreshadowing of the incident with Adela?

The Moguls:

Aziz admires Babur but thinks Akbar is foolish because...
"You keep your religion, I mine. That is the best. Nothing embraces the whole of India, nothing, nothing..."(160)
Not even British culture?

Adela counters with "...I hope you're not right. There will have to be something universal in this country- I don't say religion, for I am not religious, but something, or how else are barriers to be broken down?"(160)
This question seems to show how E.M. Forster is wondering how any humans can connect. Especially in India where there are so many barriers. They then go into a conversation about Adela's impending Anglo-Indian point of view which will further separate her from any sort of universal brotherhood

Aziz says he feels like the Emperor Babur, and later says “But Babur- never in his whole life did he betray a friend” (159)
Foreshadowing his innocence?

And then in regards to the problem with Aziz:

“He was inaccurate because he desired to honor her and- facts being entangled- he had to arrange them in her vicinity, as one tidies the ground after extracting a weed. Before breakfast was over, he had told
a good many lies” (175) Aziz

Aziz is digging himself into a hole

"When an Indian goes bad he goes not only bad, but very queer."
They keep referring to Aziz in generic terms making them seem to represent the larger conflict between the British and English. Fielding plays an important mediator role between the two races, often siding with Aziz. Interesting? Why is this significant?

“When evil occurs, it expresses the whole of the universe. Similarly when good occurs” (197)

What did you think of this passage? I thought it was very interesting- saying they were all responsible- he did it, and so did everyone else.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mina Loy, "Feminist Manifesto"

[Image: Joseph Cornell, Portrait of Mina Loy

It's interesting to me that Loy rejects the notion that woman is equal to man. Her outcry rejects the most fundamental argument of most feminist beliefs in the fight for equal rights. She defines men and women as enemies, not equals, in the fight for dominance in society. She says, " brave and deny at the outset that pathetic clap-trap warcry, 'Woman is the equal of man.' She is not" (259). Do you think that men and women are inherently equal and able to hold positions of power or are they truly unequal in a never-ending battle for respect and responsibility?

Loy claims that women need to become desexualized and unlovable in order to achieve a power role, saying that "Woman must destroy in herself the desire to be loved" (260). This suggests that only when emotion is removed from male-female relationships can an adequate attempt be made by women to gain respect and power. Do you think that women have to assume non-sexual role and avoid loving relationships in order to assume power roles? Or can woman attain power and demand respect while remaining a sexual object of man?

Loy states that "The fictitious value of woman as identified with her physical purity is too easy a standby" (260). She believes that, though sexual attraction needs to be removed from relationships in order for women to advance to dominant positions, sex itself is not a bad thing- it should be regarded as a necessity to continue humanity and not have emotional attachment. She says that "...there is nothing impure in sex... The eventual acceptance of this fact will constitute and incalculably wider social regeneration than it is possible for our generation to acquire" (261). Do you think that men and women can share positions of power while engaging in sexual intercourse without emotional attachment or is it simply impossible to separate sex and emotional attachment, especially for women?
[Posted By Andy Murphy]

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Woolf, Jacob's Room

[Posted by Bailey and Kristina]
Woolf’s novel poses a variety of questions and she’s clearly staggered away from the idea of a conventional novel. How does Jacob’s Room immediately differ from what we’ve read thus far? Do you see any similarities?

In the first chapter of this novel, we are thrown into the middle of a scene.
There is no introducing explanation of what is going on, but we
are forced into
the activities and conversations of the characters. What do you think is Woolf’s
purpose for opening the novel in such a way? Do you think it was merely an
indication that the entire novel would be set in a form where there is never any
concrete explanation of what is happening? Or do you think she has a deeper
reason for throwing us into her text?

Often times, the novel seems confusing and difficult to follow. As we said in
class, we are constantly forced to re-read and revert back to previous passages
in order to understand what is happening. How might the idea of time effect
this confusion? Does Woolf use the same technique that Joyce uses; like Joyce,
does she use time to propel her novel forward? Or does her use of time only
confuse the reader more?
Likewise, there are many references to time and clocks in this novel. It is
something that the characters always seem to be concerned with. What do you
think this says about the characters? Why do you think Woolf changes periods
of time so sporadically throughout the novel? What do you think about this
strategy of writing – specifically does this style support

In her essays, Woolf claimed the modern movement was found in the “spirit”.
She criticizes Bennett, because he is not concerned with the “life” of the
characters. Does Woolf seem concerned with the “spirit” of her characters?
Jacob Flanders is presumably her protagonist, but the reader never hears or
directly follows him. Our interpretation of Jacob, along with all of our thoughts
on his character, is relayed to us by other characters. Why does Woolf use
other characters to portray her main character? Is Jacob really the main
character? If he is, is he a strong main character? If he isn’t, who is the main

Because we don’t receive any unbiased opinion of Jacob, we can never really
grasp his true character. For example, in chapter 5 we see Clara writing about
Jacob in her diary. She cannot quite figure out what to truly say about him. This
would seem to imply that we cannot truly know Jacob’s character. However,
Woolf criticizes Arnold Bennett by saying that we never truly know any of
Bennett’s characters. Do you think we ever truly know who Jacob is as a
person? If not, is Woolf being hypocritical by criticizing Bennett?

It’s important to remember whose opinion of Jacob we are receiving. Most
descriptions of Jacob are told to us by women. How might this effect gender
roles in the novel?
Does Woolf apply the traditional feminine and masculine
roles to her characters? Woolf is generally labeled a feminist; do you think this
proves true in Jacob’s Room? How does she, as a female author, differ from
what we’ve read thus far? Do she and Joyce differ in terms of writing styles
because of their sex? Do you see similarities between Woolf and West because
they are both women, or do they contrast in their portrayal of gender?

Finally, what is the basis for Woolf’s novel? In other words, what is her purpose?

Furthermore, why are we concerned with her novel? Some subsidiary questions
to help you answer this might be: Is there a plot? If there is, what is it; if there is
no plot, what is driving her story? What does Woolf seem to focus on? Perhaps
most importantly, is it interesting? Why or why not? Does her novel grab your
attention or do you feel it’s lacking something important?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Woolf, "Modern Fiction" and "Mr.Bennett and Mrs. Brown"

(Arnold Bennett [left], Virginia Woolf [right])

[Posted by Megan Putney]

1. "Modern Fiction:"

Woolf offers a stinging critique when she claims that “Mr. Wells, Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Galsworthy have excited so many hopes and disappointed them so persistently that our gratitude largely takes the form of thanking them for having shown us what they might have done but have not done” (Woolf 897). Do you agree with this critique of Arnold Bennett’s work? Would you go so far as to say that its only merit lies in our ability to see what it failed to accomplish?

Woolf claims that these three authors can be thought of as “materialists” because they “are concerned not with the spirit but with the body” (Woolf 897). Do you think that this is true of Anna of the Five Towns? Was Bennett more concerned with the body than the soul?

Woolf is looking for a break from the old traditions of novel writing and sees hope for this in the work of James Joyce. She contrasts Joyce to authors such as Bennett by saying that “In contrast with those whom we have called materialists, Mr. Joyce is spiritual” (Woolf 899). What do you think of Woolf applying the term “spiritual” to Joyce and his works? If you were to say how you think the writing styles of Bennett and Joyce differed, would you sum up this difference as the difference between the material and the spiritual?

Woolf claims that the themes of a story can be directly related to the country that the author is from. She claims that “The conclusions of the Russian mind, thus comprehensive and compassionate, are inevitably of the utmost sadness” (Woolf 900) and that English fiction “bears witness to our natural delight in humour and comedy, in the beauty of earth, in the activities of the intellect, and in the splendour of the body” (Woolf 900). Do you agree with her that an author’s native country must so strongly influence their work? Is this inevitable?

2. "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown:"

Woolf characterizes Bennett’s writings, and Edwardian fiction in general, by saying that “in all this vast conglomeration of printed pages, in all this congeries of streets and houses, there is not a single man or woman whom we know” (Woolf 901). How do you think that this statement can be applied to Anna of the Five Towns?

Woolf references Russian novels once more as she looks at the contrasting styles of creating characters that are found in Edwardian, Victorian, and Russian novels. In talking about Russian characters, Woolf states that: “for the undeniable vividness of so many of them is the result of their crudity” (Woolf 902) and that “we go down into them as we descend into some enormous cavern” (Woolf 902). Do you think that this idea can be applied to the characters in Joyce’s novel?

Woolf claims that Edwardian novelists “give us a vast sense of things in general; but a very vague one of things in particular” (Woolf 902). If this is true for Bennett’s novels, do you think that Joyce differs in this respect?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bennett, Anna of the Five Towns,

[For more information on the the West Midlands and the Potteries:]

When reading Anna of the Five Towns in the context of our class, we should grapple first with the question: what makes the book modern? It contains a myriad of themes and issues that engage with the constellation of theories and movements that we've previously read and discussed. Some specific points of interest in the text are:

- Psychology: Characters often act out of impulse or with a compulsion that they do not fully understand. Also, Anna herself, very early on, acknowledges the wish to know what others are thinking as well as the difficulty of doing so. How might this connect to our discussion of a society that is achieving an awareness of itself? Is this an awareness of being 'un-aware'?

- Industry and Mechanization: How is industrialization portrayed in the text? For example, refer to the second paragraph of Chapter 6. The narrator seems to describe an underlying beauty to the industrial landscape. How does this help the text engage with a movement like Futurism?

- Religious and Secular ideals: The world that the novel depicts is underpinned by Methodist religion yet surrounded by secular and capitalist pursuits. How do Ephraim Tellwright and the revivalist brought in by the community typify this interpenetration of religious and economic faith?

- Feminist theory: Though we haven't directly engaged with feminist theory, what are your thoughts concerning the treatment of female characters in the text? How do they relate to male figures of authority? Refer to the beginning of Chapter 9 for a specific example from Ephraim Tellwright's point of view.

- What can we see in the text that would be a commentary on capitalism and class structure? Specifically, is it helpful to read the relationship between the Tellwrights, Mynors, and Prices through a Marxist lens?

- In Victorian novels, the ending usually passes a final judgment on characters, where good characters are rewarded (often with marriage) and bad characters are punished. What is the novel's verdict? Is there a clear verdict?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

(Percy) Wyndham Lewis

[Image: Wyndham Lewis, "Self-Portrait as a Tyro"]

Vorticism, the movement that Lewis co-founded, was the only British avant-garde movement of the early twentieth century and was an attempt to challenge the radical energy of Continental modernism with a home-grown radical aesthetic. In light of this aspiration, does it seem to you that any of the materials that we have read up to this point (inlcuding Freud, Nietzsche, Marx, Mallarmé, Bergson, Marinetti and Lewis' own manifesto--or anything else that you think relevant) help you to gain a foothold on Lewis' complex and elusive quasi-drama, "Enemy of the Stars"? Keep your response brief but try to be as specific as possible in explaining why a given author (or authors) seem to articulate ideas that you think are also at work in Lewis.

For more information on Lewis and Vorticism, including images of his own artwork, go here:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Matthew Arnold, "On the Modern Element in Literature"

Matthew Arnold, English poet and critic, writes in “On the Modern Element in Literature” regarding the phenomenon known as the modern. According to Arnold, this idea of the modern could be described as “intellectual deliverance,” or the desire to obtain such deliverance, satisfy demand for it, and to weigh everything on a utilitarian scale, asking “How far can [it] contribute to this deliverance?” Arnold’s notion of such deliverance arises from “man’s comprehension of [] present and past,” which are closely intertwined:
“The spectacle, the facts, presented for the comprehension of the present age, are indeed immense. The facts consist of the events, the institutions, the sciences, the arts, the literatures, in which human life has manifested itself up to the present time: the spectacle is the collective life of humanity.”
According to Arnold, the past literatures which are most interesting to our present age, that transcend their own epoch, are those which “have most adequately comprehended, have adequately represented, the spectacle before them.” The “coexistence…of a great epoch and a great literature” is what will lead us to intellectual deliverance, and helps define a period as modern. Arnold furthermore describes the “modern epoch” as “banish[ing] the ensigns of war and bloodshed from the intercourse of civil life,” and allowing for the “develop[ment] of the arts of peace uninterruptedly.” Arnold’s ultimate goal is what he sees as “the supreme characteristic of all: the intellectual maturity of man himself.”

• Do you agree with Arnold that the most “modern” nations are those “in which the demand for [intellectual] deliverance has been made with most zeal…”?

• How does Arnold’s understanding of the modern relate to the past and the present?

• Is there such a thing as a “true point of view”?

• “No single event, no single literature, is adequately comprehended except in its relation to other events, to other literatures…” Do you agree with this claim of interconnectivity?

• What pieces of literature could be said to have “adequately comprehended [and] adequately represented, the spectacle before them,” thus surviving their age and still bearing weight in ours? What past culture is perhaps the most “modern” to Arnold?

• How does Arnold's conception of what it means for a civilization to be modern relate to Marinetti's dynamism? Can these two interpretations co-exist?