Historical Line: Woolf/Faulkner/Anand/Huston

Historical line: Social climate and futurism (i.e. anticipation of the future).


Mrs. Dalloway (1925): Published in the aftermath of the First World War. Deals with the domestic state of Great Britain following a massive loss of life during the war and the weakened state of British colonialism (see the reflections of Peter Walsh throughout the novel). Anticipates, through indirect criticism, lasting effects of the First World War on British international politics and domestic perception (i.e. the waning power of the English monarchy, the disintegration of British colonialism). Virginia Woolf herself had portentous ideas of what would eventually befall Britain as a result of the social, political, and economic consequences of WWI on the Isles and on the Continent (Woolf infamously committed suicide shortly before the Britain entered WWII and the Blitz ravaged London).

As I Lay Dying (1930): Published at the outset of the Great Depression. Addresses an extremely poor lower class of the Southern United States which is in continual economic hardship. Challenges ideas of class being connected to intelligence and/or capacity; possibly a thematic “response” to the Roaring ’20s credit economy, wherein the Nouveau Riche were able to make their mark in the Northern United States, while the Southern United States remained in relative poverty.  Arguably a precursor to the notable works of John Steinbeck, i.e. The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

Untouchable (1935): Published 12 years prior to India’s independence from Great Britain, and 2 years after Mahatma Gandhi began his political campaign for the Harijan movement. Anticipates an independent India which has removed the ideas of class and caste from daily life/a rejection of the social structure which enables the oppression of lower classes. Ideas of passive resistance and quiet protest are examined in Untouchable; the novel anticipates the growing impact of 1) Mohandas Gandhi’s teachings on Indian independence and class relations, and 2) the political mobilization of the lower classes in India towards a democratic society.

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937):  Published during the latter years of the Great Depression. Deals with a similar economic climate which Faulkner addressed in his own writing, only here addressing issues of race and gender as well; challenges traditional ideas of marriage and perception of female sexuality and economic/social independence. Anticipates a long future for hostile race relations/racial hardship in America.

Notes: Anticipation of the future; how Woolf/Faulkner/Anand/Hurston “got it right”; economic downturns; political movements; gender issues; racial issues; social “progress”; modern cynicism; voices of the lower class; the persistence of poverty through history.

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