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Book III


... then, the narrator proceeds to make an assortment of limited value judgments. ... of gleaming beauty and youth gives the idea of a new love, one with meaning. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Book III

American Literature
  • Book III

Table of Contents
  • Theodore Dreiser
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Sinclair Lewis
  • Henry L. Mencken
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • John Steinbeck

Theodore Dreiser(1871-1945)
  • American author, outstanding representative of
    naturalism, whose novels depict real-life
    subjects in a harsh light

  • Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana
    in 1871. The ninth child of German immigrants, he
    experienced considerable poverty while a child
    and at the age of fifteen was forced to leave
    home in search of work.

  • After briefly attending Indiana University, he
    found work as a reporter on the Chicago Globe.
    Later he worked for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat,
    the St. Louis Republic and Pittsburgh Dispatch,
    before moving to New York where he attempted to
    establish himself as a novelist.
  • He was a voracious reader, and the impact of such
    writers as Hawthorne, Poe, Balzac, Herbert
    Spencer, and Freud influenced his thought and his
    reaction against organized religion.

  • Dreiser worked for the New York World before
    Frank Norris, who was working for Doubleday,
    helped Dreiser's first novel, Sister Carrie
    (1900), to be published. However, the owners
    disapproved of the novel's subject matter (the
    moral corruption of the heroine, Carrie Meeber)
    and it was not promoted and therefore sold badly.

  • The young author felt so depressed by a decades
    delayin the words of Larzer Ziffin social
    recognition that he was said to have walked by
    the East River at the turn of the century,
    seriously committing suicide.

  • Dreiser was left-oriented in his views.
  • Dreiser continued to work as a journalist and as
    well as writing for mainstream newspapers such as
    the Saturday Evening Post, also had work
    published in socialist magazines such as The
    Call. However, unlike many of his literary
    friends such as Sinclair Lewis, and Jack London,
    he never joined the Socialist Party.

  • In 1898 Dreiser married Sara White, a Missouri
    schoolteacher, but the marriage was unhappy.
    Dreiser separated permanently from her in 1909,
    but never earnestly sought a divorce.
  • In his own life Dreiser practiced his principle
    that man's greatest appetite is sexual - the
    desire for women

  • His strength clearly ebbing, Dreiser died of
    heart failure on December 28, 1945, before
    completing the last chapter of The Stoic.
  • Dreiser was buried in Hollywood's Forest Lawn
    Cemetery on January 3, 1946.

1. Works
Trilogy of Desire
  • Sister Carrie 1900
  • Jennie Gerhardt 1911
  • An American Tragedy 1925
  • The Financier 1912
  • The Titan 1914
  • The Stoic (posthumously)
  • The Genius 1915
  • Dreiser Looks at Russia 1928
  • autobiographically

  • The Financier (1912) and The Titan (1914) about
    Frank Cowperwood, a power-hungry business tycoon.
  • An American Tragedy (1925) was based on the
    Chester Gillette and Grace Brown murder case that
    had taken place in 1906.

About Sister Carrie
Sister Carrie, published in 1900, stands at the
gateway of the new century. Theodore Dreiser
based his first novel on the life of his sister
Emma. In 1883 she ran away to Toronto, Canada
with a married man who had stolen money from his
employer. The story as told by Dreiser, about
Carrie Meeber who becomes the mistress of a
traveling salesman, is unapologetically told and
created a scandal with its moral transgressions.
  • The book was initially rejected by many
    publishers on the grounds that is was "immoral".
    Indeed, Harper Brothers, the first publisher to
    see the book, rejected it by saying it was not,
    "sufficiently delicate to depict without offense
    to the reader the continued illicit relations of
    the heroine".
  • Finally Doubleday and Company published the book
    in order to fulfill their contract, but Frank
    Doubleday refused to promote the book. As a
    result, it sold less than seven hundred copies
    and Dreiser received a reputation as a

  • Sister Carrie sold poorly but was redeemed by
    writers like Frank Norris and William Dean
    Howells who saw the novel as a breakthrough in
    American realism.
  • However, the publication battles over Sister
    Carrie caused Dreiser to become depressed, so
    much so that his brother sent him to a sanitarium
    for a short while.

  • Sister Carrie, published in 1900, is one of the
    best-known story of American Dream, tracing the
    material rise of Carrie Meeber and the tragic
    decline of G. W. Hurstwood.

  • Carrie Meeber, penniless and full of the illusion
    of ignorance and youth, leaves her rural home to
    seek work in Chicago. On the train, she becomes
    acquainted with Charles Drouet, a salesman. In
    Chicago, she lives with her sister, and work for
    a time in a shoe factory.

  • Meager income and terrible working condition
    oppress her imaginative spirit. After a period of
    unemployment and loneliness, she accepts Drouet
    and becomes his mistress.
  • During his absence, she falls in love with
    Drouets friend Hurstwood, a middle aged,
    married, comparatively intelligent culture saloon
    manager. They finally elope. They live together
    for three years more.

New York
  • Carrie becomes mature in intellect and emotion,
    while Hurstwood steadily declines. At last, she
    thinks him too great a burden and leaves him.
    Hurstwood sinks lower and lower. After becoming a
    beggar, he commits suicide, while Carrie becomes
    a star of musical comedy. In spite of her
    success, she is lonely and dissatisfied.

  • The theme in Sister Carrie, a novel written by
    Theodore Dreiser, is materialism. The theme is
    primarily personified through Carrie with her
    desire for a fine home, clothes and everything
    else money can buy.

  • Materialism, including the desire for money, is
    an important theme in Sister Carrie. The
    materialism is shown mostly through Carrie's
    character but also through Hurstwood, a man with
    a respectable life and money, who still wants
    more and for that reason commits a crime. The
    city in itself is also a place of materialism, it
    is a place that offers all kinds of amusements,
    pleasures and things to buy, but to participate
    in what the city has to offer one has to have

  • He faced every form of attack that a serious
    artist could encounter misunderstanding,
    misrepresentation, artistic isolation and
    commercial seduction. But he survived to lead the
    rebellion of the 1900s.

  • Dreiser has been a controversial figure in
    American literary history.
  • His works are powerful in their portrayal of the
    changing American life, but his style is
    considered crude.
  • It is in Dreisers works that American naturalism
    is said to have come of age.

  • Dreisers novels are formless at times and
    awkwardly written, and his characterization is
    found deficient and his prose pedestrian and
    dull, yet his very energy proves to be more than
    a compensation.
  • Dreisers stories are always solid and intensely
    interesting with their simple but highly moving
    characters. Dreiser is good at employing the
    journalistic method of reiteration to burn a
    central impression into the readers mind.

For a commemorative service in 1947, H. L.
Mencken wrote a eulogy in which he stuck by the
argument that he had been making for over
thirty-five years despite Dreiser's flaws as a
stylist, "the fact remains that he is a great
artist, and that no other American of his
generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon
the national letters. American writing, before
and after his time, differed almost as much as
biology before and after Darwin. He was a man of
large originality, of profound feeling, and of
unshakable courage. All of us who write are
better off because he lived, worked, and hoped."
  • Here lies the power and permanence that have made
    Dreiser one of Americas foremost novelists.

Edwin Arlington Robinson(1869-1935)
  • Robinson is the first important poet of the
    twentieth century
  • Poet of transition
  • Pulitzer Prize winner for three times

  • Edwin Arlington Robinson was born on December 22,
    1869, in Head Tide, Maine (the same year as W. B.
    Yeats). His family moved to Gardiner, Maine, in
    1870, which renamed "Tilbury Town," became the
    backdrop for many of Robinson's poems.

  • Robinson described his childhood as stark and
  • Born and raised in Maine to a wealthy family, he
    was the youngest of three sons and not groomed to
    take over the family business. Instead, he
    pursued poetry since childhood, joining the local
    poetry society as its youngest member.

  • He attended Harvard, but his personal life was
    soon beset by a chain of tragedies that are
    reflected in his work. His father died, the
    family went bankrupt, one of his brothers became
    a morphine addict, and his mother contracted and
    eventually died from black diphtheria.

  • Robinson spent two years studied at Harvard
    University as a special student and his first
    poems were published in the Harvard Advocate.
  • Robinson privately printed and released his first
    volume of poetry, The Torrent and the Night
    Before, in 1896 at his own expense.

  • Shortly after, he met a woman, Emma Shepherd,
    with whom he fell deeply in love, but he was also
    convinced that marriage and familial
    responsibilities would hinder his work as a poet,
    so he introduced her to his eldest brother, who
    married her.

  • Unable to make a living by writing, he got a job
    as an inspector for the New York City subway
    system. In 1902 he published Captain Craig and
    Other Poems.
  • This work received little attention until
    President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a magazine
    article praising it and Robinson.
  • Roosevelt also offered Robinson a sinecure in a
    U.S. Customs House, a job he held from 1905 to
  • Robinson dedicated his next work, The Town Down
    the River (1910), to Roosevelt.

  • Robinson's first major success was The Man
    Against the Sky (1916).
  • For the last twenty-five years of his life,
    Robinson spent his summers at the MacDowell
    Colony of artists and musicians in Peterborough,
    New Hampshire.
  • Robinson never married and led a notoriously
    solitary lifestyle.

  • In 1922, Robinson received the Pulitzer Prize for
    Poetry for his Collected Poems He won it again
    in 1925 for The Man Who Died Twice and in 1928
    for Tristram, the third part of his trilogy.
  • With his even starting to drink again, claiming
    that he was doing it to protest Prohibition. He
    published regularly until the day he died, in New
    York City in 1935.
  • He died in New York City on April 6, 1935.
    new-found fame and fortune, he made a radical
    change in his lifestyle too, tending to himself

  • The Torrent and the Night Before 1896
  • The Town Down the River 1910
  • The Man Against the Sky 1916
  • The Three Taverns 1920
  • Richard Cory
  • Miniver Cheevy
  • Mr. Floods Party

Richard Cory
  • As "Richard Cory" is only sixteen lines, we
    scarce need be reminded at the beginning that
    because of its compactness each word becomes
    infinitely important.
  • While stanza one introduces the narrator, more
    importantly it emphasizes his limited view of
    Richard Cory. Line one introduces us to Cory
    while line two establishes that the narrator has
    only an external view of Cory. From this
    viewpoint, then, the narrator proceeds to make an
    assortment of limited value judgments.

  • Richard Cory resembles a king ("crown,"
    "imperially slim," and "richer than a king")
    obviously the speaker imagery (as well as
    movement in "sole to crown") reveal his concerns
    with Cory status and wealth (further emphasized
    by "glittered"). Charles Morris notes the speaker
    use of Anglicism ("pavement," "sole to crown,"
    "schooled," and "in fine") pictures Cory as "an
    English king" thus, the narrator can be seen
    expressing prejudices in terms of nationalistic

  • The poet, with a more profound grasp of life than
    either, shows us only what life itself would show
    us we know Richard Cory only through the effect
    of his personality upon those who were familiar
    with him, and we take both the character and the
    motive for granted as equally inevitable. Therein
    lies the ironic touch, which is intensified by
    the simplicity of the poetic form in which this
    tragedy is given expression.

Miniver Cheevy
  • Here we have a man's life-story distilled into
    sixteen lines. A dramatist would have been under
    the necessity of justifying the suicide by some
    train of events in which Richard Cory's character
    would have inevitably betrayed him.
  • A novelist would have dissected the psychological
    effects of these events upon Richard Cory.

  • Miniver is the archetypal frustrated romantic
    idealist, born in the wrong time for idealism. He
    is close enough to being Robinson himself so that
    Robinson can smile at him and let the pathos
    remain unspoken.
  • Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,    Grew lean
    while he assailed the seasons. He wept that he
    was ever born,    And he had reasons.

  • "Miniver Cheevy" is generally regarded as a
    self-portrait. The tone, characteristics sketched
    by Robinson and shared by the poet and Miniver,
    and the satiric humor of the poem all lead to
    that interpretation.
  • Yet, although as a satire of the poet himself it
    is a delightful poem, Robinson jousts with a
    double-edged satiric lance. More than a clever
    spoof of Robinson as Miniver, the poem satirizes
    the age and, especially, its literary taste.

  • In this poem Robinson does not sympathize with
    Miniver, but lampoons his faults and "laughs at
    him without reserve in every line.
  • The poem's combination of feminine endings and
    short final stanzaic lines contribute to the
    satiric effect.
  • Furthermore, by making his character ludicrous,
    Robinson makes clear within the context of the
    poem that Miniver is out of tune with the age.

Mr. Flood's Party
  • "Mr. Flood's Party" is in some ways much like
    "Miniver Cheevy" and "Richard Cory." It is a
    character sketch, a miniature drama with hints
    and suggestions of the past its tone is a blend
    of irony, humor, and pathos. Yet it is, if not
    more sober, at least mote serious, and a finer
    poem. It is more richly conceived and executed,
    and it contains two worlds, a world of illusion
    and a world of reality.

  • The theme is the transience of life the central
    symbol is the jug. Both the theme and the
    symbolic import of the jug are announced in the
    line "The bird is on the wing, the poet says,"
    though only the theme, implicit in the image, is
    immediately apparent.

  • The main theme or point of "Mr. Flood's Party" is
    a consideration of the effects upon human
    experience of the passage of time. And to the
    elaboration of this theme virtually all of the
    major figures of speech or symbols in the poem
    are functionally and organically related, either
    directly or indirectly.

  • Robinson is a "people poet," writing almost
    exclusively about individuals or individual
    relationships rather than on more common themes
    of the nineteenth century.
  • He exhibits a curious mixture of irony and
    compassion toward his subjects--most of whom are
    failures--that allows him to be called a romantic
    existentialist. He is a true precursor to the
    modernist movement in poetry.

  • Robinson is famous for his use of the sonnet and
    the dramatic monologue.
  • Many of his poems are on individuals and
    individual relationships most of these
    individuals are failures.
  • He is traditional in the use of meter many of
    his longer works are in blank verse.

  • No poet ever understood loneliness or
    separateness better than Robinson or knew the
    self-consuming furnace that the brain can become
    in isolation, the suicidal hellishness of it,
    doomed as it is to feed on itself in answerless
    frustration, fated to this condition by the
    accident of human birth, which carries with it
    the hunger for certainty and the intolerable load
    of personal recollections.

  • The early twentieth century saw American poetry
    experimenting with new forms and content. He was
    noted for mastery of conventional forms.
  • He loved the traditional sonnet and quatrain and
    the often used the old-fashioned language of
    romantic poetry. But his poetry often focused on
    the modern problems.

  • Robinsons poetry includes such typical elements
    as characterization, indirect and allusive
    narration, contemporary setting, psychological
    realism and interest in exploring the tangles of
    human feelings and relationships, and expressing
    the modern fears and uncertainty in his own era.

Carl Sandburg(1878-1967)
  • American poet, historian, novelist and
    folklorist,folk musician,Political Organizer,
  • the singing bard
  • a central figure in the Chicago Renaissance

  • Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, as
    the son of poor Swedish immigrant parents. His
    father was August Sandburg, a blacksmith and
    railroad worker, who had changed his name from
    Johnson. His mother was the former Clara

  • Carl Sandburg worked from the time he was a young
    boy. He quit school following his graduation from
    eighth grade in 1891 and spent a decade working a
    variety of jobs.
  • He delivered milk, harvested ice, laid bricks,
    threshed wheat in Kansas, and shined shoes in
    Galesburg's Union Hotel before traveling as a
    hobo in 1897.

  • His experiences working and traveling greatly
    influenced his writing and political views.
  • He saw first-hand the sharp contrast between rich
    and poor, a dichotomy that instilled in him a
    distrust of capitalism.

  • When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898
    Sandburg volunteered for service, and at the age
    of twenty was ordered to Puerto Rico, where he
    spent days battling only heat and mosquitoes.
  • Upon his return to his hometown later that year,
    he entered Lombard College, supporting himself as
    a call fireman.

  • Sandburg's college years shaped his literary
    talents and political views. While at Lombard,
    Sandburg joined the Poor Writers' Club, an
    informal literary organization whose members met
    to read and criticize poetry.
  • Poor Writers' founder, Lombard professor Phillip
    Green Wright, a talented scholar and political
    liberal, encouraged the talented young Sandburg.

  • The Sandburgs soon moved to Chicago, where Carl
    became an editorial writer for the Chicago Daily
  • Sandburg honed his writing skills and adopted the
    socialist views of his mentor before leaving
    school in his senior year. Sandburg sold
    stereoscope views and wrote poetry for two years
    before his first book of verse, In Reckless
    Ecstasy, was printed on Wright's basement press
    in 1904.

  • As the first decade of the century wore on,
    Sandburg grew increasingly concerned with the
    plight of the American worker. In 1907 he worked
    as an organizer for the Wisconsin Social
    Democratic party, writing and distributing
    political pamphlets and literature.
  • At party headquarters in Milwaukee, Sandburg met
    Lilian Steichen, whom he married in 1908.

  • Sandburg was virtually unknown to the literary
    world when, in 1914, a group of his poems
    appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry
  • Two years later his book Chicago Poems was
    published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author
    found himself on the brink of a career that would
    bring him international acclaim.

  • In the twenties, he started some of his most
    ambitious projects, including his study of
    Abraham Lincoln.
  • His Abraham Lincoln The Prairie Years, published
    in 1926, was Sandburg's first financial success.
  • The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer
    Prize in 1940.
  • Sandburg's Complete Poems won him a second
    Pulitzer Prize in 1951.

  • From 1945 he lived as a farmer and writer,
    breeding goats and folk-singing, in Flat Rock,
    North Carolina.

  • Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22,
    1967. His ashes were returned, as he had
    requested, to his Galesburg birthplace.
  • In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house,
    his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a
    red granite boulder.

  • Collections
  • Chicago poems 1916
  • Cornhuskers 1918
  • Smoke and Steel 1920
  • Good Morning, America 1928
  • The People, Yes 1936

  • Poems
  • Chicago
  • The Harbour
  • Fog
  • I Am the People, the Mob
  • Collections of folk songs
  • The American Songbag 1927
  • Biographies
  • Abraham Lincoln The War Years 1939
  • The Prairie Years 1926

  • Carl Sandburg was one of the best know and most
    widely read poets in the United States during the
    1920s and 1930s. His subject matter is the people
  • Like Walt Whitman, Sandburg exclaimed I am the
    People, the Mob!
  • His poetic tone is always affirmative and he is
    free from rhyme and regular meter.

  • In Whitmanesque free verse he sings about
    factories and the building of skyscrapers.
  • Sandburgs form is the free verse with its lines
    of irregular length, its looser speech rhythms,
    and the absence of end rhyme.

  • Sandburg won Pulitzer prizes in history and
  • He was always trying new forms of writing and
    taking on new challenges.
  • Once he wrote, "I had studied monotony. I decided
    whatever I died of, it would not be monotony."

  • Sandburg's poems are often full of slang and the
    language of ordinary Americans. Sandburg wrote
    poems about Chicago-- the "stormy, husky,
    brawling" life of the city and the lonely peace
    of the prairie. He wrote about real people with
    real problems and he wrote by his own rules.

  • To many, Sandburg was a latter-day Walt Whitman,
    writing expansive, evocative urban and patriotic
    poems and simple, childlike rhymes and ballads.
  • At heart he was totally unassuming,
    notwithstanding his national fame. What he wanted
    from life, he once said, was "to be out of eat get what I write
    printed,...a little love at home and a little
    nice affection hither and yon over the American
    landscape,...(and) to sing every day."

  • He played a significant role in the development
    in poetry that took place during the first two
    decades of the 20th century.
  • In the first quarter of the 20th century,
    Sandburg was a breaker of conventions and an
    innovator of American poetry.

  • Carl Sandburg's poem, "Fog," is among the few
    exceptions that mark Sandburg's break from free
    verse poetry. Fog", a mere six lines long, is
    written in verse-form and is an innocent
    expression of finding beauty in an ordinary
  • "Fog" is a delightful poem, using simple imagery.
  • There aren't a lot of words, and the image, at
    first look, isn't very complex. However, like a
    haiku poem, there is far more than just the
    description of the movement of misty air. Fog
    leaves the natural and becomes surreal and
    ethereal, but always anchored to the familiar
    reality we all know.

  • The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits
    looking over harbor and city on silent
    haunches and then moves on

The Harbor
  • The contrast of the city to the shore is
  • One underlying meaning one may extricate from the
    poem is that of one who has had his share of
    lovers, all of which left him unsatisfied.

  • Yet the shore, and its image of gleaming beauty
    and youth gives the idea of a new love, one with
    meaning. The blue lake appears to serve as a
    symbol for hope and rebirth in the sexual
    awareness of the poet.

  • The overwhelming theme in Illinois is the city of
  • This poem was part of the book of Chicago Poems
    by Sandburg published in 1916. Sandburg said that
    the difference between Dante, Milton, and himself
    was that they wrote about hell and never saw the
    place whereas he had written about Chicago.

I Am the People, the Mob
  • Sandburg the poet gave a powerful voice to the
    "people--the mob--the crowd--the mass.
  • He championed the cause of "the Poor, millions of
    the Poor, patient and toiling more patient than
    crags, tides, and stars innumerable, patient as
    the darkness of night" .

  • He was established as the poet of the American
    people, pleading their cause reciting their
    songs, stories, and proverbs celebrating their
    spirit and their vernacular and commemorating
    the watershed experiences of their shared
    national life.

In 1930, he became the first American to win the
Nobel Prize in Literature. During his lifetime
he published 22 novels.
  • Who was he?

Sinclair Lewis
  • (1885-1951)

Life Experiences
  • Born in the town of Sank Center, Minnesota
  • Graduated from Yale
  • Became an editor and a writer
  • Published Main Street in 1920 and won the Nobel
    Prize in literature
  • Published Babbitt in 1922.

Main Works
  • Our Mr. Wrenn (1914)
  • The Trial of the Hawk (1915)
  • Main Street (1920)
  • Babbitt (1922)
  • Arrowsmith (1925)
  • The Man Who Knew Coolidge (1928)
  • It Cant Happen Here (1935)

Main Street
  • Main Street was a study of idealism and reality
    in a narrow-minded small-town.
  • "Main Street is the continuation of main Streets
  • It meant cheap shops, ugly public buildings, and
    citizens who were bound by rigid conventions.
  • The book had parallels with the author's own
    early life. The protagonist also has skin
    problems. Lewis claimed that Main Street was read
    "with the same masochistic pleasure that one has
    in sucking an aching tooth."

The photographs of Main Street
Illustrations of the photographs
  • When Sinclair Lewis wrote Main Street, it was
    generally believed that his home town, Sauk
    Center, Minnesota, was the locale although he
    called his fictional town Gopher Prairie.
  • Though the heroine of Main Street Lewis
    expressed his own feelings, particularly his

Sinclair Lewis Nobel Prize Address
  • (After praising Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe
    and other contemporary American writers)
  • I solute them, with a joy in being not yet too
    far removed from the determination to give to the
    America that has mountains and endless prairies,
    enormous cities and lost farm cabins, billions of
    money and tons of faith, to an America that is as
    strange as Russia and as complex as china, a
    literature worthy of her vastness.

Main Street (1920)
Lewis criticized at times the American way of
living, but his basic view was optimistic.
  • "His central characters are the pioneer, the
    doctor, the scientist, the businessman, and the
    feminist. The appeal of his best fiction lies in
    the opposition between his idealistic
    protagonists and an array of fools, charlatans,
    and scoundrels - evangelists, editorialists,
    pseudo-artists, cultists, and boosters."

Babbitt (1922)
  • The novel behind the name, Babbitt is Sinclair
    Lewiss classic commentary on middle-class
    society. George Follanbee Babbitt has acquired
    everything required to fit neatly into the mold
    of social expectationexcept total comfort with
    it. Distracted by the feeling that there must be
    more, Babbitt starts pushing limits, with many
    surprising results.

Babbitt (1922)
  • He appears to be a stereotype of millions of
    American men.
  • He sells real estate and lives in a typical
    middle-class house.
  • He has a typical family, a wife and three
  • He expresses typical American prejudices.

Babbitt (1922)
  • He has yearnings, fantasies of youth and love and
  • The slow rise and all too rapid failure of his
    efforts to be himself instead of falling into the
    typical mold is shown.
  • He is grumpily dissatisfied with the existence he
  • He tries a mild sexual adventure.
  • He consorts briefly with radical thinkers.
  • He expresses unorthodox ideas.

Sinclair Lewis
  • A sensational event was changing from the brown
    suit to the gray the contents of his pockets. He
    was earnest about these objects. They were of
    eternal importance, like baseball or the
    Republican Party.

Chapter V
  • Henry L. Mencken
  • (1880-1956)

Menckens Life Experiences
  • Born in Baltimore
  • Studied at the Baltimore Polytechnic
  • Began his career on the Baltimore Morning Herald
    at the age of 18
  • from 1906 until his death was on the staff of the
    Baltimore Sun or Evening Sun
  • (1914-1923) was coeditor of the Smart Set with
    George Jean Nathan together they founded the
    American Mercury in 1924, and Mencken was its
    sole editor from 1925 to 1933.

Menckens Major Works
  • The American Language An Inquiry into the
    Development of English in the United States, 2nd
    ed. (1921)
  • Prejudices, First Series
  • Criticism of Criticism of Criticism
  • A Neglected Anniversary

The American Language (1919)
  • It contrasted American English with British
  • It explained the origin of many colorful American
    slang expressions
  • It examined uniquely American geographical and
    personal names
  • It traced the influence of immigrant languages on
    the American idiom.

Menckens Attack
  • His attack was devastatingly direct, with
    invective as a substitute for caricature and with
    no trace of obliqueness or subtlety.
  • He derided the smugness of the middle-class
    businessman, the narrowness of American cultural
    life, and the harshness of American Puritanism.

The American Mercury
  • It was the most influential magazine of its time.
  • In the magazine, he wanted to stir up the
  • He wanted to arouse his antagonists, and he
    usually succeeded.
  • Nothing was sacred to him. He attacked the
    churches, the business and the government in

Comment on Mencken His Writing
  • Mencken was the most prominent newspaperman, book
    reviewer, and political commentator of his day.
  • Mencken's writing is endearing because of its
    wit, its crisp style, and the obvious delight he
    takes in it.
  • He had a rollicking, rambunctious style of
  • He meant what he said, but he said it with wit.

Menckens Witty Remarks (1)
  • Every third American devotes himself to improving
    and uplifting his fellow-citizens, usually by
  • --from his Prejudices First Series
  • Badchelors know more about women than married
    men. If they didnt theyd be married, too.
  • --from his Chrestomathy 621

Menckens Witty Remarks (2)
  • A celebrity is one who is known to many persons
    he is glad he doesn't know.
  • --from his Chrestomathy 617
  • Consciencethe accumulated sediment of ancestral
  • --quoted in Smart Set Dec. 1921
  • The most costly of all follies is to believe
    passionately in the palpably not true. It is the
    chief occupation of mankind.
  • --from his Chrestomathy 616

Mencken and His Rival
Henry L. Mencken
William Jennings Bryan
The monkey trial at Dayton, Tenn.

Mencken's Assessment of Life in U.S.
  • We live in a land of abounding quackeries, and
    if we do not learn how to laugh we succumb to the
    melancholy disease which afflicts the race of
    viewers-with-alarm... In no other country known
    to me is life as safe and agreeable, taking one
    day with another, as it is in These States.  

Mencken's Assessment of Life in the U.S
  • Even in a great Depression few if any starve,
    and even in a great war the number who suffer by
    it is vastly surpassed by the number who fatten
    on it and enjoy it. Thus my view of my country is
    predominantly tolerant and amiable. I do not
    believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing
    to admit that it provides the only really amusing
    form of government ever endured by mankind.

Chapter VI
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • (1896-1940)

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dominant influences on FSF
  • Aspiration
  • Literature
  • Princeton
  • Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
  • Alcohol.

Life Experiences (1)
  • 24 September 1896 Birth of Francis Scott Key
    Fitzgerald in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • October 1909 Publication of The Mystery of the
    Raymond Mortgage, FSFs first appearance in
  • September 1913 FSF enters Princeton University
    with Class of 1917
  • February 1919 FSF discharged from army. Planning
    to marry Zelda Sayre.

Life Experiences (2)
  • 26 March 1920 Publication of This Side of
  • 3 April 1920 Marriage of FSF and Zelda Sayre.
  • 10 April 1925 Publication of The Great Gatsby.
  • 21 December 1940 FSF dies of heart attack.

Major Works
  • This Side of Paradise (1920)
  • Flappers and Philosophers (1920)
  • The Beautiful and Damned (1920)
  • Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)
  • The Great Gatsby (1925)
  • Tender Is the Night (1934)
  • The Last Tycoon (1941)

This Side of Paradise (1920)
This Side of Paradise an introduction
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the first draft of his
    first novel in the army during 1917 and 1918. The
    working titles were "The Romantic Egoist" and
    "The Romantic Egotist." It was rejected by
    Charles Scribner's Sons in 1918. In 1919
    Fitzgerald rewrote the book as This Side of
    Paradise. Its publication by Scribners in April
    1920 made him a literary celebrity before his
    twenty-fourth birthday.
  • Set mostly at Princeton, This Side of Paradise
    was the most influential American college novel
    of its time and announced the arrival of a
    younger generation with new values and

The Great Gatsby (1925)

The Great Gatsby plot
  • Jay Gatsby is a man possesseddriven by
    greed, ambition and, most of all, an unwavering
    desire for a woman he met before the Great War,
    when he was poor and she was unobtainable. As
    Gatsby reinvents himself in an attempt to buy his
    way into the social elite of Long Island's Gold
    Coast, he yearns to rekindle his romance with the
    woman who stole his heart years before. But when
    the chance finally arrives, a shadow of tragedy
    is cast over what Gatsby long-imagined would be
    his triumphant moment.

The Great GatsbyImportant Quotations Explained
  •   1. I hope shell be a foolthats the best
    thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful
    little fool.
  •    2. He had one of those rare smiles with a
    quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you
    may come across four or five times in life. It
    faced, or seemed to face, the whole external
    world for an instant and then concentrated on you
    with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It
    understood you just as far as you wanted to be
    understood, believed in you as you would like to
    believe in yourself.

The Great GatsbyImportant Quotations Explained
  •   3. The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg,
    Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception
    of himself. He was a son of Goda phrase which,
    if it means anything, means just thatand he must
    be about His Fathers business, the service of a
    vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he
    invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a
    seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent,
    and to this conception he was faithful to the end.

The Great GatsbyImportant Quotations Explained
  •   4. Thats my Middle West . . . the street lamps
    and sleigh bells in the frosty dark. . . . I see
    now that this has been a story of the West, after
    allTom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were
    all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some
    deficiency in common which made us subtly
    unadaptable to Eastern life.
  •   5. Gatsby believed in the green light, the
    orgastic future that year by year recedes before
    us. It eluded us then, but thats no
    mattertomorrow we will run faster, stretch out
    our arms farther And then one fine morningSo
    we beat on, boats against the current, borne back
    ceaselessly into the past.

Study Questions
  • Discuss Gatsbys character as Nick perceives him
    throughout the novel. What makes Gatsby great?
  • What is Nick like as a narrator? Is he a reliable
    storyteller, or does his version of events seem
    suspect? How do his qualities as a character
    affect his narration?
  • What are some of The Great Gatsbys most
    important symbols? What does the novel have to
    say about the role of symbols in life?
  • How does the geography of the novel dictate its
    themes and characters? What role does setting
    play in The Great Gatsby?

F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Fitzgeralds clear, lyrical, colorful, witty
    style evoked the emotions associated with time
    and place.
  • The chief theme of Fitzgeralds work is
    aspirationòthe idealism he regarded as defining
    American character. Another major theme was
    mutability or loss.
  • As a social historian Fitzgerald became
    identified with the Jazz Age It was an age of
    miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of
    excess, and it was an age of satire, he wrote in
    Echoes of the Jazz Age.

Chapter VII
  • John Steinbeck
  • (1902-1968)

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1962.
Life Experiences
  • Born February 27,1902 132 Central Avenue,
    Salinas, CA (what is now the reception room of
    the Steinbeck House)
  • Graduated from Salinas High School--June 1919
  • Attended Stanford University--1919-1925
  • Died in New York, December 20,1968

Steinbeck Family
  • Father John Ernst Steinbeck (1863-1935), County
  • Mother Olive Hamilton Steinbeck (1867-1934),
  • Wives Carol Henning Steinbeck Brown, married
    1930 and divorced 1942
  • Gwyndolyn Conger Steinbeck, married 1943 and
    divorced 1948
  • Elaine Anderson Scott Steinbeck, married 1950
  • Sons Thomas Steinbeck, August 2,1944 John
    Steinbeck IV, June 12, 1946 - February 7,1991

Major Works
  • Cup of Gold, 1929
  • The Pastures of Heaven, 1932
  • Tortilla Flat, 1935
  • In Dubious Battle, 1936
  • Of Mice and Men, 1937
  • The Red Pony, 1937
  • The Grapes of Wrath, 1939
  • Cannery Row, 1945
  • The Pearl, 1947
  • East of Eden, 1952
  • Travels with Charley, 1962

  • Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic
    in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up
    in the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of
    his accomplishments.
  • (from The Grapes of Wrath)

The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

Movie Poster
Cover of 1st Edition
The Grapes of Wrath

Above "66 is the mother road, the road of
flight." Right 1 the setting for Chapters 18-30
ofThe Grapes of Wrath Right 2 places mentioned
in Chapter 12 ofThe Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Grapes of Wrath- the title originated from
    Julia Ward Howe's The Battle Hymn of the Republic
    (1861)--Steinbeck traveled around California
    migrant camps in 1936.
  • The Exodus story of Okies on their way to an
    uncertain future in California, ends with a scene
    in which Rose of Sharon, who has just delivered a
    stillborn child, suckles a starving man with her

The Ending of The Grapes of Wrath
  • Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket
    and bared her breast. 'You got to,' she said. She
    squirmed closer and pulled his head close.
    'There!' she said. 'There.' Her hand moved behind
    his head and supported it. Her fingers moved
    gently in his hair. She looked up and across the
    barn, and her lips came together and smiled

The Ending of The Grapes of Wrath
  • Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket
    and bared her breast. 'You got to,' she said. She
    squirmed closer and pulled his head close.
    'There!' she said. 'There.' Her hand moved behind
    his head and supported it. Her fingers moved
    gently in his hair. She looked up and across the
    barn, and her lips came together and smiled

Themes of The Grapes of Wrath
  • Mans Inhumanity to Man
  • The Saving Power of Family and Fellowship
  • The Dignity of Wrath
  • The Multiplying Effects of Selfishness and

  1. Half of the chapters in The Grapes of Wrath focus
    on the dramatic westward journey of the Joad
    family, while the others possess a broader scope,
    providing a more general picture of the migration
    of thousands of Dust Bowl farmers. Discuss this
    structure. Why might Steinbeck have chosen it?
    How do the two kinds of chapters reinforce each
  2. What is Jim Casys role in the novel? How does
    his moral philosophy govern the novel as a whole?
  3. Many critics have noted the sense of gritty,
    unflinching realism pervading The Grapes of
    Wrath. How does Steinbeck achieve this effect? Do
    his character portrayals contribute, or his
    description of setting, or both?
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