These are the four novels we will examine this semester. Each one is a very short novel, all of them under 200 pages, and easy to read, so you will not be overwhelmed with reading. And each one is extremely entertaining. To cover British and American novels of the Twentieth Century, I chose two novels from each nation that deals in some manner with the period around World War I, and two novels that deal in some way with World War II. The two World Wars have the biggest impact on literature in England and America. Literary history generally separates literature into post-War periods. In order to simplify generic terms, I will be calling movement that includes the first two novels, “Modernism,” (1900 – 1945)  and the movement of the last two novels, “post-modernism,” (1945 – today) .
Below each illustration I give a brief description to prepare you for reading each novel.
electricity, automobile, airplane, phonograph, radio, in-door plumbing. At the same time, Fitzgerald chronicles the emptiness and heartache that ensues when individuals value materialism over the spirit.

The Great Gatsby is one of the most famous and popular of the classics of American literature. Written in the middle of the 1920s, it encapsulates the post-World War I boom era in America, known as The Jazz Age. For the first time, America becomes a super power, and vast inventions turned the country into a fast and dynamic country: electricity, automobile, airplane, phonograph, radio, in-door plumbing. At the same time, Fitzgerald chronicles the emptiness and heartache that ensues when individuals value materialism over the spirit. Of course, there is a famous movie based upon the novel with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.

Written around the same time as The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway chronicles the thoughts and activities of several characters during one day in post-World War I London. Woolf develops the famous modernist style called stream of consciousness. The novel moves fluidly between the thoughts, memories and impressions of several characters, and we gain access to their hopes and struggles. In particular, the novel contrasts the materially comfortable and optimistic Mrs. Dalloway to the disturbed, post traumatic stress victim and veteran of World War I, Septimus Smith. Accordingly, Woolf explores two different psychological experiences.

Written around the same time as The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway chronicles the thoughts and activities of several characters during one day in post-World War I London. Woolf develops the famous modernist style called "stream of consciousness." The novel moves fluidly between the thoughts, memories and impressions of several characters, and we gain access to their hopes and struggles. In particular, the novel contrasts the materially comfortable and optimistic Mrs. Dalloway to the disturbed, post traumatic stress victim and veteran of World War I, Septimus Smith. Accordingly, Woolf explores two different psychological experiences. A very good movie based on the novel came out in the 1990s. Recently, the very popular novel and movie, "The Hours" is based upon the novel, and is worth renting.

Written in 1963, Muriel Sparks short novel is about a womans hostel in London during World War II in 1945. Unlike our experience with war in America, German bombs during periods known as the Blitz dropped often times for weeks on end. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed. The May of Teck Club,where the novel takes place, still stands near the end of the war while its neighbors are in devestation. But there remains a bomb in the garden that did not explode! Taking place in the last months of the war, the novel chronicles the various members of the Club, and how they psychologically survive the war, particularly how they cope with the tragic ending.

Written in 1963, Muriel Spark's short novel is about a woman's hostel in London during World War II in 1945. Unlike our experience with war in America, German bombs during periods known as "the Blitz" dropped often times for weeks on end. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed. The May of Teck Club,where the novel takes place, still stands near the end of the war while its neighbors are in devestation. But there remains a bomb in the garden that did not explode! Taking place in the last months of the war, the novel chronicles the various members of the Club, and how they psychologically survive the war, particularly how they cope with the tragic ending.

The author of this famous novel, Kurt Vonnegut, was one of only a few survivors of the bombing of Dresden in World War II, which remains the bombing that cost the most lives in history. Figures of the death toll range from 60,000 to 200,000 people. The devestation Vonnegut witnessed had, obviously, an impact on his life, and he wrote this novel in 1969 as a response to what he experienced. This is a novel that combines absurdity, dark humor, science fiction, history and memoir all in one short narrative. He presents the horror and absurdity of war by departing from a normal, realistic style. Notice how he puts goofy drawings in the middle of the text. Nonetheless, it is considered by many to be the most powerful piece of literature about World War II, and it will end our course with post-modernism, the most current movement in the novel.

The author of this famous novel, Kurt Vonnegut, was one of only a few survivors of the bombing of Dresden in World War II, which remains the bombing that cost the most lives in history. Figures of the death toll range from 60,000 to 200,000 people. The devestation Vonnegut witnessed had, obviously, an impact on his life, and he wrote this novel in 1969 as a response to what he experienced. This is a novel that combines absurdity, dark humor, science fiction, history and memoir all in one short narrative. He presents the horror and absurdity of war by departing from a normal, realistic style. Notice how he puts goofy drawings in the middle of the text. Nonetheless, it is considered by many to be the most powerful piece of literature about World War II, and it will end our course with "post-modernism," the most current movement in the novel. There is a FANTASTIC movie based upon this novel from 1972. Vonnegut himself claimed that the movie is better than the book. Rent it! It's worth it!

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