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In 1901 Victoria died, Edward the seventh came to the throne and at the beginning of the century general election was held; the liberals won and they carried out reforms on pensions, medical service an school, coal mines regulation act, new acts of education, and so on.

We can understand that Victorian conventions gradually faded out; in the pre-war years we have strikes, violence, industrial arrests that come from men and women too. Women were educated and they had been arguing in favour of voting rights since 1860s; they were called "suffragettes".

Among them Emmeline Pankhurst together with her daughter founded the women's social and political union. The suffragettes chained themselves to fences and they broke windows and they made hangar strikes because they wanted to obtain the right to vote.

In 1909 the Prime Minister Lloyd George made a new system of taxation that penalises the unearned incomes in favour of the earned income, coming from work.

Before the first world war we have the end of the balance of power: Germany was a powerful country with a powerful army and navy and a modern industry and began to expand to the Balkans. The 1stWW broke out when the heir to the Austrian throne was murdered in Sarayevo


The effects of the 1st WW were:

the death of 9 million people,

the ruin of 4 empires,

the communist revolution in Russia,

the rise of dictators like Hitler and Mussolini,

the negative economic effects in 313c21d Great Britain.

The causes are huge design of powerful man without taking consideration of modern warfare. (Shall-shock: psychological disorder among the solders of the 1st WW caused by bomb explosion).

In 1912 we have the Home-rule introduced by the liberals that was a self government or even independent parliament in Dublin. It means that the Irish have an opportunity to have an independent parliament: the majority of the population was catholic, but the protestant opposed this rule and in particular the Ulster unionist opposed the Home-rule.

They wanted to keep the union with the British, because of this conflict this rule was suspended till peace time. In 1916 we have a real threat of civil war at East. The Irish republican party Sinn Fein attempted to seize power in Dublin. The uprising was repressed by the British army and rebels whose we leader was Patrick Pearce were executed. (Yearts: poem Easter 1916). With the end of the war the Irish question rose again. The Sinn Fein was founded in 1905 and they wanted an Irish republic and after the 1918 general election 69 Sinn Fein members of parliament refused to attend the English parliament and declared themselves the elected assembly of the Irish people. Eamon de Vadera was the leader; the nationalists organise they army (IRA). In 1921 the England signed a treaty with the rebels and Ireland was divided into 2 parts:

Ulster, the northern part

EIRE, the Irish free state.

The treaty was not accepted by the assembly in Dublin and there was a civil war between 1922-1923. in the end the IRA surrounded their arms. In 1937 we have a new constitution and we have the EIRE completely free; EIRE was the Gaelic name for Ireland. In 1949 Ireland broke the final link with Britain and became a Republic.

After the 1st WW we have to remember the birth of the League of Nations (that will be called ONU) that secured peace in internationals disputes. It was weak because of his vague constitution and besides not all the great powers were members.

THE 20s AND THE 30s.

In 1918 we have the women's right to vote but they had to be over 30 and they had to be property owners. Only in 1928 they have the same right as men.

The Labour Party was born after the 1st WW, while in 1924 the Liberal Party was almost disappeared. The capitalist principles were developed by the Conservative Party, while the reformers belonged to the Labour Party. In the 20s we have the unrest both in Ireland and also in India, that become independent only after the 2nd WW.

In 1924 the leader of the Conservative Party was Stanley Baldwin, after the war we have an economic boom, but then we have a decline in International trade, large scale unemployment, the reduction of miners wage (salario): these are the years of Depression in Europe, America and Great Britain. By 1935 Germany was regaining its position if necessary by force. In 1936 Chamberlain was the leader of the Conservatives. In the same year Edward the 8th abdicated because he wanted to marry a divorced American woman and was succeeded by George the 6th.

In the 30s we have the Spanish Civil War that was won by Francisco Franco and a lot of English intellectuals (like Orwell, Auden, Hemingway) joined the anti-fascist International Brigade.

George change his German title into Windsor because the title Hannover was German and because the wave of patriotism and the hate of the Germanises. In 1918 the right to vote increase:

men could vote if they were over 21

women could vote if they were over 30

voters rose from 8 to 16 million and this is why in 1924 we have the first labour government.

Other important events were:

in 1926 there was a general strike that lasted 10 days; the miners were on strike for 6 months.

In the 20s the main problem was the economic depression.

o   In 1929 there was the great depression with the Wall Street's crack, that was the collapse of the stock market

o   From 1929-1933 this depression affected great Britain with 3 million unemployed people mainly in the industrial north of England, in the south-east and Wales.

During the 1st WW women had taken men's places and they had given a huge contribution to war. (This was the end of the battle to vote of the suffragettes.)


It was an association of self governing countries; in 1926 the independence was recognise by the imperial conference held in London, to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, New Foundland and South Africa. In 1931 the founding of the British commonwealth was declared by the statute of Westminster.


Gandhi was born in 1869 and was killed in 1948. Mahatma means great soul in fact Gandhi was against violence and in favour of passive resistance and non co-operation. Thanks to this civil disobedience Great Britain passed the "Government of India" Act in 1935. With this act was created a federation of provinces, in 1948 the British left India which was divided into India and Pakistan.


We have a lot of important men to be remember:

the main one as regards literature and culture in general was Freud. He emphasise the power of unconscious to effect behaviour; he plays enormous importance of demands of the libido, so he gave great importance to sex; he provided a new method of investigation of the human mind through demands and associations.

Jung introduced the concept of collective unconscious, a sort of cultural memory containing the universal myths. It means that he discovered that a lot of most universal myths are common in different cultures.

Einstein and his theory of relativity that discarded the concept of time and space which he conceived as a subjective dimensions.

William James, Henry James's brother (a famous novelist), was a philosopher; he claimed that our mind records every single experience as a continuous flux.

Henry Bergson that distinguish historical time which is external and linear from psychological time which is internal and subjective.

Nietzsche that replaced Christian morality with a belief in human perfectibility. He declared that God was dead.


The first decade of the 20th century was centred in Paris and was a period of originality and vitality. Innovations took place in Europe and America; we have a variety of trends and currents and we have a break with traditional values, we have the rejection of naturalism and decadentism in favour of introspection and ethical skills. We have the breaking down of limitations in space and time. We have the awareness that our perception of reality is uncertain, temporary and subject to change. The artists in general wanted to reflect complexity and the intensity of isolated moments. Of course is extremely important unconscious and conscious life: the artists wants to show the impossibility to give the final interpretation of the reality. The crisis of waster values are expressed through alienation, fragmentation and disintegration.

The key ideas in the modern literature are 4:

broke with the tradition, so the first writers was traditional writers in language and plot

isolation and alienation

creation of subjective mythology

cosmopolitan literature.




in society's actions

in men psyche


Objective time

Subjective time



The change between traditional novel and modern novel happens gradually. In the modern novel in particular change style. Only few writers anticipated modernism for example Henry James and now we can find psychological analysis to show the complexity of human mind.

Great influence of Freud: Oedipus complex, mental processes, family and love relations; the mind has many layers, come of them are hidden. The greatest blow to traditional ways of ordering reality was the break down of the time division, we have no more division in past, present and future (link to Bergson). We have a continuous flux in which only individual consciousness identified significant moments: Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

In their novels we find these new ideas that is: human perceptions depends on the way the mind is affected by time. This ideas couldn't be expressed in traditional ways; this is why we have new narrative techniques. This technique tried to reproduce the continuous flow of the human through, putting together distant and incongruous ideas or using flash back, using time shift, using different points of view, using new ways of portraying human psychology.


JJ attended Jesuits school, he admired D'Annunzio, Ibsen and so on. He was born in Dublin in 1882, ha always had a love-hate relationship towards Ireland; even if he soon have a trip to London, he lived in Paris and he went back to Dublin only for his mother's death. In 1904 he met Nora Barnacle a woman that become his referent point of emotional life. His master piece the Ulysses is a novel that develops on one day in the life of Leopold Bloom and this date was the date in which he met Nora the 16th of June in 1904.

After that he left Ireland because he was afraid of paralysis → this is a key word and it means physical and moral stillness linked to religion, politics and culture. Paralysis together with revelation to its victims is the climax of the stories. Revelation means also awareness.

So he proposes to Nora to leave Ireland and he moved in Trieste until 1915. he made friendship with Svevo, than he moved to Switzerland, in Zurich, where he published "The Dubliners" and the "Portrait of the artist as a young man". At the same time he had financial problems, this is why in 1917 he received a donation, so he could go on writing the Ulysses. In 1920 he settled in Paris and in 1939 he wrote "Finnigans Wake".


15 short stories. This stories disclose human situations, moments of intensity; they move to a moral, social and spiritual revelation; these stories portrait some characteristics situations which could reveal historical, social and psychological forces and conditioned the life of Dubliners leading them to a moral and psychological paralysis. Joyce in Dubliners proceeded from individual to general. From childhood to maturity; in fact is divided into 4 groups of people:

some belonged to childhood

some belonged to youth

some belonged to mature life

some belonged to public life.

"The Dead" is the last and longest and it's considered his first master piece. This short story is hold together by certain themes, symbols and narrative technique. Each story has a naturalistic description, concise but detailed, and many external details. Realism is combined with symbolism and we often find deeper meaning; epiphany is often the key of the story; epiphany means sudden revelation caused by something you remember or something banal.

Joyce wanted to take the readers beyond the usual aspect of life showing deep and hidden meanings. Paralysis is both physical and moral, is linked to revelation to its victims and paralysis together with the epiphany is the climax of the story.


"Eveline" is a girl who lives with her father and she has some problems with him; she meets a boy and she wanted to escape with him.

Epiphany → the revelation is when she hears a sound, an organ playing in the street and suddenly she remembers when her mother was alive and their promise. So she decided to live, but at the end she can't.

The story is divided into 3 parts

Eveline's family situation

Making d9iscussion, begins with the sound of the street organ, she doesn't want to repeat her mother's life. She had decided, she wanted to live

She reaches the part, but she doesn't have the strength to board.

The setting:

We find a lot of details with a deeper meaning, for example the house is a little brown house, that is the colour of paralysis in Joyce.

In the description we have also the description of the curtains, "dusty cretonne". This suggests death, then we have another symbol that represent the fact that the harmony in the house is broken. We have the "yellowing photograph that have an important religious meaning. One important topic is the role of religion because Eveline puts duty before desire and freedom. she has a serious of constrains, she has internalised and this has become a way of living or better a choice not to live.


Eveline is the first significant female character.


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