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|Richard Aldington (1892-1962)|
I. Read the text and do the assignments following it.
Early in 1929 a great number of antiwar books appeared in different countries. Erick Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front"1 (1929) proclaimed to millions of readers all over the world that the First World War had been fatal to a whole generation of youth by causing moral and spiritual death, though it had spared their physical lives. The years of the spiritual growth of this generation were, those of the bloody imperialist war, in the course of which all human values seemed to have been lost. The deadly reality of war made all the fine phrases of politicians and demagogues empty and meaningless.
The hero of Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms"2 (1929) threw aside the traditional values of society as hypocritical. The ex-soldiers could not find a place in postwar life, and therefore were called "the lost generation." The term was coined by Gertrude Stein, an American woman writer, who once said to Hemingway: "You are the lost generation." The name "lost generation literature" was later applied to the wings of many authors, including Hemingway in the USA, Remarque in Germany and Aldington in Great Britain.
Richard Aldington is one of the most prominent twentieth century English authors. He began his literary work in the years preceding the First World War. His participation in the War left a deep mark on his general outlook and greatly influenced his work as a writer. Most of his novels and short stories are a passionate bitter protest against the senseless cruelty and brutality of the war. Among these antimilitary books "Death of a Hero"3 (1929) undoubtedly occupies the first place. It is a story of a young man, George Winterbourne, of his childhood and youth, first love and marriage, his service in the fighting British army and, finally, his tragical death at the front. The book is extremely powerful and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
Of the other books by R. Aldington especially famous are "All Men Are Enemies,"4 "Very Heaven," "The Colonel's Daughter" and some short stories. He is also the author of several biographies (O. Balzak, D.H. Lawrence).
R. Aldington was a very versatile and talented man-of-letters who produced important work in several different genres of literature. His best poetry and prose fiction should survive as "minor classics" of the twentieth century.
1. "All Quiet on the Western Front"– «Ha Западном фронте без перемен»
2. "A Farewell to Arms" – «Прощай, оружие»
3. "Death of а Него" – «Смерть героя»
4. "All Men Are Enemies" – «Все люди – враги»
II. Translate the following word combinations into Russian and use them in sentences of your own:
to proclaim, to cause moral and spiritual death, human values, meaningless, hypocritical, to coin a term, to apply to, to leave a deep mark on, a passionate bitter protest against, to occupy the first place, to leave a lasting impression on.
III. Answer the following questions:
1. What books appeared in 1929?
2. What did Erick Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" proclaim to millions of readers?
3. What did the war cause?
4. Who was called "the lost generation"?
5. Who coined the term "the lost generation"?
6. When did R. Aldington begin his literary work?
7. What do most of his novels and short stories demonstrate?
8. What place does the novel "Death of a Hero" occupy among the antimilitary books?
9. What other novels by R. Aldington do you know?
IV. Read the text with the help of a dictionary and write a summary of it.
The most important work written by Richard Aldington is his novel "Death of a Hero." It is not only an antiwar novel exposing the inhuman nature of war. It is also a history of the spiritual growth of those "who spent their childhood and adolescence struggling ..., whose early manhood coincided with the European War." The author called his book "a memorial to a generation which hoped much, strove honestly, and suffered deeply."
"Death of a Hero" is a lyrical improvisation in prose where the author, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes ironic, sometimes indignant, appears not only as narrator, but as friend to the main character. He often comments on the action and expresses his opinion of the characters, and his commentary occupies a larger place in the book than the actual story itself.
Aldington begins his Prologue on a very personal note. The author-narrator informs the reader of the death of George Winterbourne only a few days before the end of the war, and then proceeds with the description of how several people closely related to his late friend, that is George's father and mother, and also his wife and his mistress, reacted to the fact. The parents did not care much, being deep in their own problems. Their response was much more conditioned by the conventional patterns of behaviour than by any deep personal feeling. The Winterbournes are for the author a symbol of the English bourgeoisie. "It is the tragedy of England," he says, "that the war has taught its Winterbournes nothing."
As for George's wife, Elizabeth, and his mistress, Fanny, they soon dried their tears after George's death. So the narrator feels it necessary to tell the story of George Winterbourne's. The author hopes to find and expose the forces in the social life of prewar England that made it possible for a whole generation to perish in the fire of a world war.
The Winterbournes were ignorant, snobbish, selfassured. They were ready to condemn everything that departed from the acceptable, long settled bourgeois way of life. But young George Winterbourne turned way from the gods of his class and found an alternative in art and literature. It was the concept of Beauty that he opposed to the hateful narrow-minded bourgeois way of thinking. He reveals his own ideas in conversations with his future wife Elizabeth. They talked a great deal about social problems and the need for social reform.
Aldington, like his hero, hated the society he was part of. In his novel he tells the bitter truth about it. But like his hero he could not overcome his individualistic view of life, and that is why George Winter-bourne's fate is so tragic.
V. Give a literary translation of the following extracts. Compare the two extracts.
Given below are two fragments from Aldington's novel "Death of a Hero." In the first (Part II, Chapter 2) George Winterbourne, the main character of the novel, is shown in times of peace. George is a painter and journalist. At a party he meets Elizabeth Paston. George and Elizabeth become interested in each other. They are both young and full of life and a happy future seems to await them.
The second fragment (Part II, Chapter 8) shows George at the front and describes the horrors of war.
1. "What do you do?"
"Oh, I'm a painter, and I write hack articles for Shobbe and such people to earn a living. "1
"But don't you sell your pictures?"
"I try to, but you see, people in England aren't much interested in modern art, not as they are on the Continent or even in America. They want the same old thing done over again and done with more sugar. One thing about the British bourgeois – he doesn't know anything about pictures, but very stoutly stands for what he likes, and what he likes is anything except art."
"Surely there are some up-to-date collectors in England."2
"Why, yes, of course, probably as many as anywhere else but too many of them collect pictures as an investment and so only take what the dealers advise them to buy."
...At that moment they were interrupted by the gentle Mrs. Shobbe.
"Excuse me for interrupting you, Mr. Winterbourne. Elizabeth dear, do you know how late it is? I'm afraid you'll miss the last bus, and you know I promised your dear mother I would look after you..."
1. I write hack articles for Shobbe and such people to earn a living – Чтобы заработать на жизнь, я пишу статейки по заказу Шобба и ему подобных.
2. Surely there are some up-to-date collectors in England – В Англии наверняка есть коллекционеры, интересующиеся современным искусством.
3. They easily found the new Front life in the daylight. Directions in English had been hastily scrawled on the old German trench notices and they wondered how on earth, they could have missed the way the night before. The Front line was full of infantry: some on sentry duty, some sitting hunched up on the fire-steps; many lying in long, narrow holes like graves, scooped in the side of the trench. They found an officer who took them along to show them the new communication trench was wanted. Winterbourne, turning to answer a question from Evans struck the butt of his rifle sharply against a sleeping man in one of the holes. The man did not stir.
"Your fellows are sleeping soundly," said Evans.
"Yes," said the officer tonelessly, "but they may be dead for all I know.1 Stretcher-bearers too tired to take down all the bodies. Some of 'em2 are dead, and some asleep. We have to go round and kick 'em to find which is which."
1. he may be dead for all I know – я не уверен, жив ли он
2. 'em = them
VI. Read the article and speak about R. Aldington's contribution to world literature.
Richard Aldington is best known as one of the leaders of the imagist movement, during the second decade of the twentieth century. His role as an imagist poet and theorist, however, was only a small part of a literary career which lasted nearly fifty years and which witnessed the publication of more than a hundred different books in England and America. He continued to write poetry for many years after imagism had ceased to function as a movement, and his volumes include a series of long poems which embody a variety of poetic techniques. In addition, he has produced several novels and collections of short stories, the majority of which have been published in other languages. He has also published many biographies, translations and volumes of critical essays; he has edited and written introductions to a large number of books.
In addition to the imagist poems and his famous war novel "Death of a Hero," his best long poems are "Life Quest," "The Crystal World" and "A Fool in the Forest." His other good novels are "All Men Are Enemies," "The Colonel's Daughter," "Seven Against Reeves" and "The Romance of Casanova." Along with "Death of a Hero," all but the last of these novels are satires on English society. Two collections of short stories "Roads to Glory" and "Soft Answers" must be included among his best prose fiction.
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