I imagine Conrad's iconic Heart of Darkness must have caused an impact on the Western world at its initial publication, the start of the twentieth cenI imagine Conrad's iconic Heart of Darkness must have caused an impact on the Western world at its initial publication, the start of the twentieth century, when the colonization and exploitation of Africa was deemed politically correct by the Europeans. Conrad, relying on the experiences of his own travels in the Congo, effectively draws out the brutality and fruitlessness of imperialism, simultaneously with the hostility and horror of a primitive world. In addition to this realist portrayal of Belgium's Congo Free State, Conrad finds plenty of opportunities of raising the fundamental social issues - the boundaries civilization imposes upon man's spread of power, social-Darwinistic impulses, madness... Something else I praise Conrad of is his extraordinary sense, unlike so many authors I've read, in evoking the suitable atmosphere - namely of dread, terror, etc - without the use of explicit action. I however found the end to the novella - (view spoiler)[after Kurtz's death and Marlowe's return to London (hide spoiler)] - rather obscure: it came off as anti-climatic, and I fail to see how the Londoners' varying opinions of Kurtz layer meaning to the story. Rather than enlighten some key points, it only mystifies Kurtz's character even further. I suppose I didn't "get" the final part of Heart of Darkness .
The book retains most of its raw power, and is still relevant in our society ( Apocalypse Now , the film adaptation, delivers a clever twist to the theme of colonialism); but after thoroughly studying Europe's colonization of Africa (including all the inhumane gory things the Belgians did to the natives) at school, it might not quite pack the punch it once had to its readers.
I believe there are several characteristics of Hamlet which take responsibility for its excessive critical acclaim and world-wide popularity, as wellI believe there are several characteristics of Hamlet which take responsibility for its excessive critical acclaim and world-wide popularity, as well as for its recognition as the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays (- and most likely as the greatest play of all time): Shakespeare’s philosophical musings seem to be much denser, and more intricate, in Hamlet than in, say, Macbeth or King Lear; in terms of plot, the play is relatively restful in comparison to his other tragedies (aside from the final scene, only one character dies on-stage); and above all, the title character is probably the easiest hero to relate to in all of Shakespeare’s literary works.
The fundamental reason for Hamlet’s downfall is that he belongs to two distinct societies. Within the walls of the Elsinore castle, one is expected to take decisions, and act with sufficient reason and according to the custom of the milieu. In the case of Hamlet, educated at a renowned German university, this can only be achieved with difficulty. His endless philosophizing on justice, mortality and reality dents his ability to act within time (if at all); his tragic flaw is thus considered to be his excessive reasoning, and his inability to act within the appropriate manner in his monarchic family.
The synopsis of the play runs as follows: Claudius takes the throne of Denmark after King Hamlet’s mysterious death, the latter being both Claudius’ brother and Prince Hamlet’s father. Gertrude, King Hamlet’s former wife, is revived as queen when Claudius marries her, and Prince Hamlet himself has sunk into a state of depression. When the ghost of King Hamlet reveals to his son, on one night, that he was in fact killed by Claudius, the former asks Hamlet to avenge him. Instead of fulfilling his father’s command immediately, however, he first has to confirm the nature of this spirit, confirm Cladius’ guilt and even evaluate the form and time of punishment. His reasonings on justice postpones the action for so long that he eventually infuriates himself! As a contrast to Hamlet’s character serves Laertes, who, upon hearing the news of his own father’s death, instantly seeks to kill the murderer, an impulse which was considered conventional and acceptable in Hamlet’s environment. The protagonist does ultimately murder his uncle in the final scene, however, it is already too late for his own good.
The plot to Hamlet may seem relatively straight-forward (in contrast to King Lear for example), yet Shakespeare makes up by introducing numerous metaphysical themes and motifs into the play. The “appearance vs reality” motif is at its most powerful in Hamlet, and reflection on justice, suicide, mortality and the impossibility of certainty is found in abundance in Shakespeare’s longest work. To include a full analysis of the play into one essay is certainly most unachievable; there are endless studies dedicated to the interpretation, characters and meaning of the play. Shakespeare has here expressed more than in any other of his plays. Admirers of the playwright rightfully agree that Hamlet is his masterwork.
I would not consider this a waste, my having started on this novel only to abandon it about a third through. There was a lot of insight to be gained fI would not consider this a waste, my having started on this novel only to abandon it about a third through. There was a lot of insight to be gained from those pages I did read; Rand's philosophy is fresh, very interesting and controversial, especially in today's society. As a liberal, I thoroughly sympathize with Rand's arguments and criticisms against collectivism. As a philosopher, she certainly provides numerous eye-openers and strong points in defending her philosophy (Objectivism); and as a propagandist, succeeds to fuel (or generate) the reader's hostility towards collectivism.
I would not call her a good novelist though. Reading a novel about a group of competitive industrialists; a novel detailing only their stale, professional lives; a novel well running over the 1'000-page mark; and, not least, written in uninspiring, dull, repetitive prose... finishing a novel of this kind will take some effort. All Rand achieves in terms of literary value is a collection of one-dimensional characters interacting on a mere professional, selfish level, with a few interludes of insipid, S&M sex scenes in the process. I recommend my fellow readers, should they want to inform themselves on Objectivism, to study her purely philosophical books, instead of her novels.
Das Drama „Woyzeck” wurde von Karl Georg Büchner 1837 geschrieben, und wurde erst zwei-und-vierzig Jahre später veröffentlicht. Nach der ersten PublikDas Drama „Woyzeck” wurde von Karl Georg Büchner 1837 geschrieben, und wurde erst zwei-und-vierzig Jahre später veröffentlicht. Nach der ersten Publikation wurde dieses fragmentarische Theaterstück mehrmals überarbeitet, imitiert, und zu Filmen, Gedichten, Novellen und Opern beschrieben. Es handelt hauptsächlich von einem mittellosen Soldat, Friedrich Franz Woyzeck, der von seiner Gesellschaft heftig unterdrückt sei, und der am Ende des Stückes seine Geliebte, aufgrund seiner wachsenden Verrücktheit, ermordet. Das Buch ist auf dem Mord Johanna Christiane Woosts basiert.
„Woyzeck” wurde zur Zeit des Vormärz und Biedermeiers geschrieben, and fällt sicher unter die literarische Epoche der ersteren. Die Thematik dieses Stückes fasst die Probleme der Armut und Grundprinzipen der Gesellschaft, die unfair gegenüber den Menschen niedrigen sozialen Status sind, um; und wie die Armen von der Gesellschaft besonders ausgebeutet werden. Der Charakter Woyzeck verdient nur sein wenig Geld, wenn er den Mittelständlern von Nutzen sein kann; er soll den Hauptmann tatsächlich rasieren, und dient als Versuchskaninchen zugunsten des Doktors. Dazu macht er auch Sorgen um seine Geliebte Marie und ihr Kind, und muss sie finanziell unterstützen.
Büchner zeigt im Drama vor, genau wie die Lasten der Armut den Mensch in den Wahnsinn treiben können, und wie, in diesem Fall, das Leiden und die Gewalt zwangsläufig daraus folgen. Die Mitglieder des Bürgertums (der Doktor; der Hauptmann; und der Tambourmajor, der Marie dem Woyzeck wegnimmt) sind nicht verantwortlich für Maries Tod, und, aus philosophischer Sicht, nicht einmal Woyzeck; sondern, die ganze Struktur der Gesellschaft hat Woyzeck in einen Mörder verwandelt. Es ist nicht Woyzecks Natur, solche beschämenden Taten unterzunehmen. Das System in „Woyzeck” ist in verschiedenen Gesellschaftschichten aufgeteilt, genau wie in allen kapitalistischen Ländern der jetzigen Welt. In solchen Situationen haben die Reichen und Mächtigen viel Kontrolle über die Armen.
Die Armut ist zur Zeit eine der gröβten weltweiten Probleme. Ungefähr 25% der Weltbevölkerung lebt unter der Armutsgrenze, d. h. die Mittellosen können nicht alle lebensnotwendigen Ressourcen aufbringen. Diese Armut kann in einem Mangel an einer Ausbildung, an einem Wohnsitz, und in einem schlechten Gesundheitszustand des Menschen resultieren; es ist auch möglich, wie in „Woyzeck”, dass der Wahnsinn, starkes Leiden und die Kriminalität daraus folgen können. Massen von Menschen werden immer wieder durch Leuten höheren Status erniedrigt und demütigt; der Hauptmann, und besonders der Doktor, verweigern Woyzeck als menschliches zu akzeptieren. Die Armen verdienen wenig oder kein Geld, und darum ist es ihnen einfach unmöglich, eine Ausbildung, eine Unabhängigkeit und Macht zu leisten; und ohne den Besitz der ersteren, wegen dem “unfairen” System unserer Gesellschaft, kann man die Leiter der Gesellschaftschichten nur mit groβer Mühe oder Schicksal weitersteigen. Deshalb bleiben die Massen meistens mittellos. Man leidet. Die Behandlung der Gesellschaft (und, wie in der Periode „Apartheid”, der Mangel an Rechten) kann den Mensch in einigen Fällen wahnsinnig machen, wie im Theaterstück. Anzeichen von Woyzecks Verrücktheit schlieβt sein Tierverhalten (er uriniert wo immer er sich wünscht) und seine vorläufige Aggression (der Mord) ein; der Hauptmann meint, Woyzeck hätte einen Mangel an Moralen, weil er mittellos ist. Dies stimmt, denn Woyzeck ist erbarmungslos nach dem Mord. In unserer Welt, aber, ist die Menge der Armut selten proportional zur Mordrate, sondern öfters zur Kriminalitätsrate; Maries Tod gelt nur im Drama als Beispiel, zu welchen Maβen die Lasten der Gesellschaft den Mensch moralisch zerstören können....more
After having read this great novel, Mark Twain supposedly once stated: “Tolstoi carelessly neglets to include a boat-race.” Everything else is includeAfter having read this great novel, Mark Twain supposedly once stated: “Tolstoi carelessly neglets to include a boat-race.” Everything else is included in this massive chronicle to which Count Leo Nikolaievich Tolstoi devoted a total of almost five years shortly after his marriage. It is now considered by many as being the finest book written in any language.
The greatness of Tolstoi’s War and Peace mainly comes from the depiction of both fictional and true characters over a span of fifteen years. The principle characters in this novel are Pierre Bezuhov, Prince Andrei Bolkonski, his sister Maria Bolkonsky, Nikolai Rostov, and finally, his sister Natalia Rostov; each of them striving throughout the book for their own happiness and greatness. Combined with the stories of hundreds of other characters, Tolstoi gives us a clear picture of Russian life in the higher society of that day. The various characters, along with all the possible activities and interests of that day, such as parties, soirées, gatherings, hunting, gambling, duels, friendship, marriage and family; these are all described in the finest detail by the author, known for his precision. But it is the description of the Napoleonic Wars which, along with his thorough study on the human psychology, deserves the most respect in this epic novel. The movement of armies, the state in which they are, the decisions upon decisions made by its commanders and, finally, the depiction of utter confusion in battles (notibly Austerlitz and Borodino) and guerilla warfare, are not only very informing but also outstandingly crafted (Tolstoi himself fought in the Crimean War). Everything, from beginning to end, gives a clear account of Russia during and after Napoleon’s time.
Another great achievement Tolstoi produced in this novel is the inclusion of his philosophical musings on man, history and war. Most notably is his famous last part of his Epilogue, in which he dares to write fifty pages in trying to explain the simple term “history” and the cause of it, in which he continually satirizes and accuses historians of falsehood in their own reports. He concludes his book in stating that people do not choose their actions simply because of freewill (he claims that freedom could not exist), but because of their necessity which they continually have to try to fulfill.
War and Peace is indeed a long novel, and certainly deserves close studying and re-reading. But its length of 1500-odd pages becomes a virtue: the reader gathers a greater study on the natures, the developments of the numerous characters presented in the novel.
Tolstoi merely gives us fifteen years of the lives of several “principle” characters, and it is us who must observe the changes in both personality and spirituality that undergo in these men. We see them, most notably Pierre, Andrei and Natasha, each of them growing up in search for happiness, searching for it in God, freemasonry, the army, fame, charity, parties, drinking, husbands and wives, and all other possibilities. But they finally attain it in the end, all happily brought together. This is the true reason why War and Peace is considered the greatest novel ever written: it instructs where one should place his happiness and greatness, his grief and humiliation. ...more
My initial response to Dostoyevski's powerful Crime and Punishment was that the novel had an unorthodox style compared to other literary greats of itsMy initial response to Dostoyevski's powerful Crime and Punishment was that the novel had an unorthodox style compared to other literary greats of its time, something that could easily dissatisfy many readers not familiar to Dostoyevski's works. To name only a few oddities of style in Crime and Punishment, the most significant are that (i) about half the book consists out of pure dialogue, which occasionally obstructs the author from adding vivid descriptions of St. Petersburg in mid 19th-century; (ii) paragraphs may go up to four pages long, unbroken; and (iii) the book is charged with philosophical theories and deep character study. Above all, the novel is explicit and gruesome, vividly describing the poverty that reigned over the city, and also giving us the famous, grisly and finely detailed account of Raskolnikov's double-murder at the start of the novel. Crime and Punishment is an 'ugly' book, and it appears much too modern for its time; the writing almost seems to mirror the rotten state of Raskolnikov's mind, as well as the destitution and madness of St. Petersburg's slums. Then again, the book, amongst others, marks the departure of realism in literature, and introduces the theories of idealism in novels.
Dostoyevski is obviously more interested in the study of the character rather than his surroundings. Crime and Punishment is a study of guilt. It is the story of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, a destitute ex-student who commits a random murder for no apparent reason. From there on, we follow him through the slums of St. Petersburg, we watch him encounter friends and foes (however hard he tries to avoid all sorts of company). We also gradually see how his conscience and guilt start to grow near the end of the book (he initially felt no remorse for his crime), and finally, how he is forced to choose between either (i) suicide, or (ii) turning himself in, in order to destroy his swelling torment. We are given fine examples of both options throughout the novel (Svidrigailov's suicide comes to mind), and it is to our surprise that Raskolnikov eventually chooses imprisonment over suicide. By either ending his life or receiving his severe punishment, he could destroy his mental suffering.
In the beginning of the novel, we, the readers, are confused by the killings, since it offers no reasons behind it. We are, however, eventually given a theory (crazy as it may be) as to why Raskolnikov murdered the pawnbroken and her half-sister, which serves as a huge explanation to the nature of the murder. But surely his environment, poverty and relations with evil men have also something to do with it? Raskolnikov loathes the evil nature of men and women, and sees this wickedness in almost everyone, most of them driven by greed. We have Petrovich, police investigator, who cares only for himself and his job, and brings many suspects of crime (through torture and psychological games) into madness. Then we have Luzhin, fiance to Raskolnikov's sister, obsessed with power and money (he desires marriages with destitute women not only to have control over them, but also because they only consume little money). Svidrigailov, on the other hand, is a morally crippled and disgusting pervert (and, it is hinted at, a pedophile). And finally, we have the pawnbroker, who, in Raskolnikov's mind, 'robs' money from the poor, and is therefore considered immoral. These four mentioned characters present the evils of different social circles, and are therefore a motivation for Raskolnikov to act against the cruel, crumbling (both physically and mentally) society. It is only in Sonya, a poor prostitute who gives all of her money away to her downtrodden family, that Raskolnikov sees a human being, and finally falls in love with.
Crime and Punishment is a novel of great power and raw emotion. For me it stands out, along with War and Peace (albeit being extremely different to Dostoyevski's work), as the greatest study on the human psychology....more