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ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West (birth name: Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein) (1903-1940). American Writer West as.

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Presentation on theme: "ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West (birth name: Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein) (1903-1940). American Writer West as."— Presentation transcript:

1 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West (birth name: Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein) ( ). American Writer West as Drawn by David Levine

2 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Anaïs Nin ( )

3 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Christ as a Stockbroker: # 1 on the Bestseller List at the Start of the Great Depression (1929)

4 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931)

5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

6 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque A Cool Million (1934)

7 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Horatio Alger ( )

8 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque The Day of the Locust (1939)

9 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Young Nathan with His Parents, Max and Anna

10 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West at 21 (1924)

11 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West’s Passport Photo, 1930

12 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West (1931)

13 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West, First Trip to Hollywood, 1931

14 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West, Erwinna, PA, 1932

15 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West on the Cover of Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

16 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West on a Hunting Trip with William Faulkner

17 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West in Mexico (1937)

18 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nathanael West with His Wife Eileen

19 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Eileen McKinney West in Mexico

20 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Notice of Nathanael and Eileen West’s Death

21 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque West’s Grave

22 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque "Perhaps I can make you understand. Let's start from the beginning. A man is hired to give advice to the readers of a newspaper. The job is a circulation stunt and the whole staff considers it a joke. He welcomes the job, for it might lead to a gossip column, and anyway he's tired of being a leg man. He considers the job a joke, but after several months at it, the joke begins to escape him. He sees that the majority of the letters are profoundly humble pleas for moral and spiritual advice, that they are inarticulate expressions of genuine suffering. He also discovers that his correspondents take him seriously. For the first time in his life, he is forced to examine the values by which he lives. This examination shows him that he is the victim of the joke and not its perpetrator.” —Miss Lonelyhearts to Betty (32)

23 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (1) And on most days he received more than thirty letters, all of them alike, stamped from the dough of suffering with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

24 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (2) “I would like to have boy friends like the other girls and go out on Saturday nites, but no boy will take me because I was born without a nose....”

25 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (4) [T]he air smelt as though it had been artificially heated. He entered the park at the North Gate and swallowed mouthfuls of the heavy shade that curtained its arch. He walked into the shadow of a lamp-post that stood on the path like a spear. It pierced him like a spear.

26 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (5) What the little park needed, even more than he did was a drink. Neither alcohol nor rain would do. Tomorrow, in his column, he would ask Broken- hearted, Sick-of-it-all, Desperate, Disillusioned-with-tubercular-husband and the rest of his correspondents to come here and water the soil with their tears. Flowers would then spring up, flowers that smelled of feet.

27 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (5) But the gray sky looked as if it had been rubbed with a soiled eraser. It held no angels, flaming crosses, olive- bearing doves, wheels within wheels. Only a newspaper struggled in the air like a kite with a broken spine.

28 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (8) His caresses kept pace with the sermon. When he had reached the end, he buried his triangular face like the blade of a hatchet in her neck.

29 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (9) And how dead the world is... a world of doorknobs.

30 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (10) Miss Lonelyhearts found himself developing an almost insane sensitiveness to order. Everything had to form a pattern: the shoes under the bed, the ties in the holder, the pencils on the table. When he looked out a window, he composed the skyline by balancing one building against another. If a bird flew across this arrangement, he closed his eyes angrily until it was done.

31 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (11) [H]er arms showed round and smooth like wood that has been turned by the sea. [H]is tongue had become a fat thumb.

32 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (13) He finished his laugh with a short bark. He felt as though his heart was a bomb, a complicated bomb that would result in a simple explosion, wrecking the world without rocking it.

33 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (14) Miss Lonelyhearts drank steadily. He was smiling an innocent, amused smile, the smile of an anarchist sitting in the movies with a bomb in his pocket. If the people around him only knew what was in his pocket. In a little while he would leave to kill the President.

34 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (17) Miss Lonelyhearts felt as he had felt years before, when he had accidentally stepped on a small frog. Its spilled guts had filled him with pity, but when its suffering had become real to his senses, his pity turned to rage and he had beaten it frantically until it was dead.

35 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (19) The stone shaft cast a long, rigid shadow on the walk in front of him. He sat staring at it without knowing why until he noticed that it was lengthening in rapid jerks, not as shadows usually lengthen. He grew frightened and looked up quickly at the monument. It seemed red and swollen in the dying sun, as though it were about to spout a load of granite seed. Giorgio De Chirico, Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

36 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Nostalgia of the Infinite Giorgio Di Chirico

37 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (39) He saw a man who appeared to be on the verge of death stagger into a movie theater that was showing a picture called Blonde Beauty. He saw a ragged woman with an enormous goiter pick a love story magazine out of a garbage can and seem very excited by her find.

38 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (44) The signal was answered by a little cripple, who immediately started in their direction. He used a cane and dragged one of his feet behind him in a box-shaped shoe with a four-inch sole. As he hobbled along, he made many motions, like those of a partially destroyed insect.... The cripple had a very strange face. His eyes failed to balance, his mouth was not under his nose; his forehead was square and bony; and his round chin was like a forehead in miniature. He looked like one of those composites used by screen magazines in guessing contests....

39 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Miss Lonelyhearts (45) He watched the play of the cripple’s hands. At first they conveyed nothing but excitement, then gradually they became pictorial. They legged behind to illustrate a matter with which he was already finished, or ran ahead to illustrate something he had not yet begun to talk about. As he grew more articulate, his hands stopped trying to aid his speech and began to dart in and out of his clothing. One of them emerged from a pocket of his coat, dragged some sheets of letter paper. And Homer Simpson in The Day of the Locust

40 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque The Day of the Locust

41 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (59) Around quitting time, Tod Hackett heard a great din on the road outside his office. The groan of leather mingled with the jangle of iron and over all beat the tattoo of a thousand hooves. He hurried to the window. An army of cavalry and foot was passing. It moved like a mob; its lines broken, as though fleeing from some terrible defeat. The dolmans of the hussars, the heavy shakos of the guards, Hanoverian light horse, with their fat leather, caps and flowing red plumes, were all jumbled together in bobbing -disorder. Behind

42 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (59) the cavalry came the infantry, wild sea of waving sabretaches, sloped-muskets, crossed shoulder belts and, swinging cartridge boxes. Tod recognized the scarlet infantry of England with their white shoulder pads, the black infantry of the Duke of Brunswick, the French grenadiers with their enormous white gaiters, the Scotch with bare knees under plaid skirts. While he watched, a little fat man, wearing a cork sun- helmet, polo shirt and knickers, darted around the corner of the building in pursuit of the army.

43 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (59) "Stage Nine you bastards—Stage Nine!" he screamed through a small megaphone. The cavalry put spur to their horses and the infantry broke into a dogtrot. The little man in the cork hat ran after them, shaking his fist and cursing.

44 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (60) He left the car at Vine Street. As he walked along, he examined the evening crowd. A great many of the people wore sports clothes which were not sports clothes. Their sweaters, knickers, slacks, blue flannel jackets with brass buttons were fancy dress. The fat lady in the yachting cap was going shopping, not boating; the man in the Norfolk jacket and Tyrolean hat was returning, not from a mountain, but an insurance office; and the girl in red slacks and sneaks with a bandanna around her head had just left a switchboard, not a tennis court.

45 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (60) He was determined to learn much more. They were the people he felt he must paint. He would never do a fat red barn, old stone wall or sturdy Nantucket fisherman. From the moment he had seen them, he had known, that, despite his race, training, and heritage, neither Winslow Homer [see below—Homer’s painting The Rustics] or Thomas Ryder could be his masters and he turned to Goya and Daumier.

46 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (61) On the corner of La Huerta Road was a miniature Rhine castle with tarpaper turrets pierced for archers. Next to it was a brightly colored shack with domes and minarets out of the Arabian Nights. Again he was charitable. Both houses were comic, but he didn't laugh. Their desire to startle was so eager and guileless. It is hard to laugh at the need for beauty and romance, no matter how tasteless, even horrible, the results of that are. But it is easy to sigh. Few things are sadder than the truly monstrous.

47 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (69) “Here you black rascal. A mint julep.” A Chinese servant came running with a Scotch and soda.

48 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (70) The air of the garden was heavy with the odor of mimosa and honeysuckle. Through a slit in the blue serge sky poked a grained moon that looked like an enormous bone button. A little flagstone path, made narrow by its border of oleander, led to the edge of the sunken pool. On the bottom, near the deep end, he could see a heavy, black mass of some kind. '"What is it?" he asked.

49 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (70) She kicked a switch that was hidden at the base of a shrub and a row of submerged floodlights illuminated the green water. The thing was a dead horse, or, rather, a life-size, realistic reproduction of one. Its legs stuck up stiff, and straight and it had *an enormous, distended belly. Its hammerhead lay twisted to one side and from its mouth, which was set in an agonized grin, hung a heavy, black tongue.

50 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (88, 98, 101) Homer Simpson’s Hands One day, while opening a can of salmon for lunch, his thumb received-a nasty cut. Although the wound must have hurt, the calm, slightly querulous expression- he usually wore did not change. The wounded hand writhed about on the kitchen table until it was carried to the sink by its mate and bathed tenderly in hot water. His hands began to bother him. He rubbed them against the edge of the table to relieve their itch, but it only stimulated them. When he clasped them behind his back, the strain became intolerable. They were hot and swollen. Using the dishes as an excuse, he held them under the cold water tap of the sink. His hands kept his thoughts busy. They trembled and jerked, as though troubled by dreams. To hold them still, he clasped them together. Their fingers twined like a tangle of thighs in miniature. He snatched them apart and sat on them.

51 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Surreal/Grotesque Passages in Day of the Locust (142) As he watched these people writhe on the hard seats of their churches, he thought of how well Alessandro Magnasco would dramatize the contrast between their drained out, feeble bodies and their wild, disordered minds. He would not satirize them as Hogarth of Daumier might, nor would he pity them. He would paint their fury with respect, appreciating its awful, anarchic power and aware they had it in them to destroy civilization.

52 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Alessandro Magnasco, Soldiers Feasting

53 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Alessandro Magnasco, Interrogations in Jail

54 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Honore Daumier, The Third Class Carriage

55 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Honore Daumier, Louis Phillipe

56 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque The Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger, 1975)

57 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger, 1975) TitleChapterDuration “Everybody Works”1616 “Homer”8628 “Danger”16350 “Premiere Night”21923 “Pestilence”227 Total32 minutes


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