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Ch 9: Turn-of-the-Century Literature

About This Chapter

Watch turn-of-the-century literature video lessons to learn about renowned authors, their trials during life, how their experiences were translated into their writings and more. Take the quizzes that follow each lesson to test your knowledge of turn-of-the-century literature.

English Literature: Turn-of-the-Century Literature

William Styron, the author of Sophie's Choice, once said, 'The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.' In other words, good writers must suffer in life to bring raw themes and emotions to their work. Turn-of-the-century writers, such as Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and E.M. Forster lived lives full of hardship, denial and oppression. Whether they lived harsh lives on the seas, were imprisoned or repressed homosexual desires, these writers questioned religion, society and the government in their lives and their writings.

To understand classic works, such as Howard's End, The Heart of Darkness or The Picture of Dorian Grey, you must learn the background of the writer, the time in which they lived and the events surrounding their writing process. Only then can you find themes, understand the author's stylistic choices and uncover hidden context.

Through reading and analysis, you'll find that the common theme of self-struggle runs through these books with vanity, fear and prejudice. Yet, despite hard lives, these writers were able to bring beauty to their writing through descriptive words and strong characters. By viewing these books as a piece of history and not just a piece of art, you'll learn why these works have been established into the Western literary canon. We hope you enjoy these video lessons. Thanks for watching!

10 Lessons in Chapter 9: Turn-of-the-Century Literature
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Introduction to Oscar Wilde: Plays, Novels, and Sexuality

1. Introduction to Oscar Wilde: Plays, Novels, and Sexuality

From ''The Picture of Dorian Gray'' to the ''Importance of Being Earnest'', Oscar Wilde left an indelible mark on literature and theater. In this lesson, you'll learn all about the Victorian author.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: Plot, Characters & Vanity

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray: Plot, Characters & Vanity

The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only novel Oscar Wilde ever published. Personally, I think he was at his best when he stuck to plays (don't get me started on his poetry), but no examination of Wilde's work is complete without this book.

Introduction to George Bernard Shaw: Life and Major Plays

3. Introduction to George Bernard Shaw: Life and Major Plays

George Bernard Shaw is one of the most prolific and important playwrights in the last 150 years. Don't believe us? Watch this video to learn about his social activism, his important contribution to the world of education and, of course, his plays.

Introduction to Joseph Conrad:  Novels and Colonialism

4. Introduction to Joseph Conrad: Novels and Colonialism

Sailor, groundbreaking writer, incurable racist - these are just some of the terms that have been used to describe novelist Joseph Conrad. Watch our lesson for an introduction to this man's life and an overview of his major works!

Conrad's Heart of Darkness: Plot, Characters, and Style

5. Conrad's Heart of Darkness: Plot, Characters, and Style

Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' is one of the most read and taught stories in the English language. It also inspired a hugely popular film. Watch our lesson to learn all about this horrifying classic.

Introduction to W.B. Yeats:  Life and Poetry

6. Introduction to W.B. Yeats: Life and Poetry

'Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.' Watch this video to learn more about the man behind that quote - W.B. Yeats. Study the events, stages and works of his writing career. Also take a look at his personal history, including his ties to Ireland.

Yeats' The Second Coming:  A Poem of Postwar Apocalypse

7. Yeats' The Second Coming: A Poem of Postwar Apocalypse

In this video, we'll discuss Irish poet W.B. Yeats' most famous poem, 'The Second Coming.' Written after the devastation of World War I, it uses a religious metaphor to capture a Europe in chaos and on the brink of change.

Introduction to E.M. Forster:  Overview of Life and Works

8. Introduction to E.M. Forster: Overview of Life and Works

E.M. Forster is one of the most celebrated British novelists of the 20th century. In particular, his depictions of class issues struck a chord with many readers - and continue to do so today. Watch this lesson for an overview of his six key novels!

Howards End: Forster's Novel of Family and Social Class

9. Howards End: Forster's Novel of Family and Social Class

Throughout his career, British author E.M. Forster wrote about class barriers as an impediment to human connection. His most famous exploration of that theme is the 1910 novel 'Howards End.' Learn about that novel's plot, characters and ultimate message here.

A Passage to India:  Forster's Treatment of Colonialism

10. A Passage to India: Forster's Treatment of Colonialism

'A Passage to India' is one of E.M. Forster's most celebrated novels. Watch this lesson to see why this sad story of British colonialism has stuck with audiences for almost a century.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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