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The 20th Century British Novel

ENGL 065.001

Does the twentieth-century British novelist seeks more to repudiate than to continue the forms and traditions of Victorian fiction? To what extent do the radical changes in consciousness precipitated by the decline of the British Empire and the horrors of the Great War make the illusory world of fiction irrelevant to English political and social life? In the wake of the Great Depression and a more horrible Second World War, does imaginative literature remain a viable agent for prescribing needed social changes, or does it merely become a refuge for the bitterly disillusioned artist, chronicling the collapse of civilization to an ever diminishing select audience? In this class we will read ten or twelve novels, addressing these questions from various perspectives, while exploring what happens to the assumptions about race, class, gender, and nationalism that form the backbone of Victorian fiction. We will read several masterpieces and some lesser known novels by Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, Christopher Isherwood, Flann O'Brien, John Fowles, Jean Rhys, and Anthony Powell. All are welcome here! But you should be forewarned of periodic quizzes to insure you are keeping up with the reading, a short paper, a term essay, and a final. (NOTE: Taking this course, and either English 45 or 55, will fulfill the usual English 203 requirement.)

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