Relationship between fiction and socio political conditions

Social-Problem Novel - Victorian Literature - Oxford Bibliographies

relationship between fiction and socio political conditions

Politics & International Relations . A Feminist Approach to American Fiction, Bloomington, University of Indiana Press/ Literature as a free creative endeavor can build heroes and situation in a Open works, ideologically uncommitted literature, can indeed antecipate social and political conflicts, tendencies of a certain. A closely related type of novel, which frequently has a political dimension, " work of fiction in which a prevailing social problem, such as gender, race include poverty, conditions in factories and mines, the plight of child labor believes it would make very much difference if it were overthrown. Society means the pattern of social relationships characteristic of a group of people would support the control theory, even admitting there were other factors .. athleticism, as well as from economic, political, and ideological trends.

The comedy's premiere in January was an enormous success, sparking widespread debate, royal communiques, and diplomatic correspondence. As Niemcewicz had hoped, it set the stage for passage of Poland's epochal Constitution of 3 Maywhich is regarded as Europe's first, and the world's second, modern written national constitution, after the United States Constitution implemented in The comedy pits proponents against opponents of political reforms: Romantic interest is provided by a rivalry between a reformer and a conservative for a young lady's hand—which is won by the proponent of reforms.

Set in northern Italy induring the oppressive years of direct Spanish rule, it has been seen sometimes as a veiled attack on the Austrian Empirewhich controlled Italy at the time the novel was written. It has been called the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language. With Coningsby; or, The New GenerationDisraeli, in historian Robert Blake 's view, "infused the novel genre with political sensibility, espousing the belief that England's future as a world power depended not on the complacent old guard, but on youthful, idealistic politicians.

The last of Disraeli's political-novel trilogy, Tancred; or, The New Crusadepromoted the Church of England's role in reviving Britain's flagging spirituality. Both the nihilists and the s liberals sought Western-based social change in Russia. Additionally, these two modes of thought were contrasted with the Slavophileswho believed that Russia's path lay in its traditional spirituality.

Turgenev's novel was responsible for popularizing the use of the term " nihilism ", which became widely used after the novel was published. The young protagonist Ramses learns that those who would challenge the powers that be are vulnerable to co-option, seductionsubornation, defamationintimidation, and assassination. Perhaps the chief lesson, belatedly absorbed by Ramses as pharaoh, is the importance, to power, of knowledge.

Prus' vision of the fall of an ancient civilization derives some of its power from the author's intimate awareness of the final demise of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ina century before he completed Pharaoh. This is a political awareness that Prus shared with his years-junior novelist compatriot, Joseph Conradwho was an admirer of Prus' writings. Pharaoh has been translated into 20 languages and adapted as a Polish feature film.

The stories of Joseph K. The Pashtun version was after translation smuggled into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. This risky and subversive act illustrates a will to think of the novel as a pedagogical and liberating instrument in times of crisis. But may the same universal impact at times be found in works closer to journalism? InRodolfo Walsh, a young Argentinian writer, ignited by the lack of media coverage of an execution of a group of pro-Peron civilians, decided to write a novel to expose the crime.

His novel based on the event: Operacion Masacre was published in December He was not conscious of writing in a new literary genre as he wrote his book: I researched and narrated the tremendous facts, to give them the widest possible publicity, to make them inspire fear, to never let them happen again.


His work has had a growing influence on contemporary journalism in Latin America since it exemplifies a key challenge faced by independent journalists: The crime to which his story refers, never made it to the newspapers. Another novel was published in ; "Quien mato a Rosendo", about the murder of a union leader at the hands of corrupt labour union bosses.

Walsh was assassinated inunder the military regime, the day after he had written an "Open letter to the Argentinian Junta", characterised by Garcia Marquez as a "masterpiece of universal journalism".

Here, Marquez suggests that also journalism at its best may contain texts that travel beyond their own time and influence people in other historical situations.

In this novel, based on real events, he denounces the Columbian navy for the deaths of a group of sailors who were washed overboard with ill-secured contraband from a navy destroyer Benavides In these cases, in a sense, journalism inspired novels. May the novel, then, serve as an inspiration for journalism, for non-fiction?

The question worth asking is not whether reportage is literature, but why intellectuals have generally been so keen to deny it that status Carey In his preface, Carey, eager to show the advantages of reportage, quotes only two examples of good writing and they are both from novels.

Although there are six pieces of reportage from Waterloo in the anthology, none of these are mentioned in the preface. May this illustrate an inferiority complex of sorts? The extracts from the novels may be meant as an inspiration to future reporters. Carey writes that while working on the anthology he had to go through hundreds of pages of battle accounts that excluded all mentioning of killing. Such euphemisms illustrate one major function of language, which is to keep reality at bay.

A distinguishing feature of good reportage is that it combats this inevitable and planned retreat of language from the real.

The piece of fiction by Stendhal takes part in that combat by gradually showing what war is about. The three books by Marquez and Rodolfo Walsh seem to belong to an in-between space, a space bordering both on novel and reportage, between fiction and journalism.

I have mentioned these as an introduction to what journalism researcher Douglas Underwood calls the Twilight sphere, in an attempt to answer the complicated questions: Where does one — by reportership — reproduce lived experience? And where does one — by authorship — let lived experience inspire imagination?

While the bulk of journalism caters to the day, to the week or to the everyday, novelists may indulge in daydreaming and worlds of fantasy. Daydreaming, however, must be disturbed to a degree by the intrusion into the literary field of the non-fiction novel. Truman Capote had published fictional novels earlier. The non-fiction novel is a form related to journalism by its adherence to real events as basis for writing, and to the novel for its aspirations of literary quality.

In Cold Blood may be read as a result of frustration with the novel as genre. I would rather see the non-fiction novel as a critical reaction to tendencies in fictional literature. Let us shortly recapitulate what In Cold Blood is about.

The two assassins were falsely convinced that the farmer had thousands of dollars in a safe at home. Capote, for five years after the murders, spent considerable time reconstructing the story, mapping the lives of the assassins, the family, the police, and other persons involved. The novel was published after the two men were hanged, in Behind the novel there is a large amount of research, which shares many of the qualities of in-depth journalism.

This method is barely visible in the novel, except in a few passages where Capote writes in third person of a journalist — who is certainly T. C — being present at many important occasions after the murders took place. But may we say that In Cold Blood is journalism — or reportage? Far from all non-fiction is journalism. Problems may arise since one, in explicit non-fiction, writes about real persons.

relationship between fiction and socio political conditions

The people did not look much like the people he described. Later it turned out that they did not do or say all the things he attributed to them; and some things neither he nor anyone else could have known. Still, it was wonderful reporting and charged writing Garrett The above passage may be interpreted like this: If you are a good writer, your sins will be more easily forgiven: Maybe it should have been the other way around. I think subjectivity is a key word here.

In the writing of literary fiction, subjectivity is recognised as a virtue, in journalism it is at best controversial. While realising that there is always a degree of subjectivity, journalists learn to restrain themselves from obvious subjective choices and ways of writing, to preserve their own reliability and that of journalism.

There may be exceptions with regard to genre, though.

relationship between fiction and socio political conditions

It may also render the reader more able to evaluate what is written by agreeing or disagreeing with the reporter. Contrasting the police novel: We find no inner monologue to speak of in In Cold Blood, although that is a feature, which is found in New Journalism. The book has a narrative closely linked to that of a mystery novel, slowly revealing more and more truths and background about the murders.

But in the narrated reality, the two assassins did not have a classical motive for murdering four people. At the generic level we may see In cold blood as a non-fiction novel with an implicit critique of the mystery novels with their elaborate, intriguing — and so-called plausible — explanations of all crimes.

What novels can do, and journalism can not

Furthermore there is no reflection in this nonfictional novel about the character of the crimes and the culprits themselves.

I must admit, when reading In Cold Blood, due to its novelistic features, I was brought to expect more revelation of a conflict between the assassins and the victims. I expected that as the story went along, I would be informed about hidden connections, or about non-virtues in the presumably virtuous family Clutter.

It did not happen. My programmed expectations were not met. The book was still an exciting read, for other than the usual reasons associated with popular novels about crime. Danish literature critic Niels Soelberg writes that if the novelist presents his material in such a way that no disharmony occurs between the references of the novel and reality, the fictional consciousness will diminish.

He adds that one of the main functions of the realist novels of the 19th century — what is now called the traditional novel — was to keep this consciousness at bay. At one level he is right. But one sould also argue that a fictional consciousness of sorts may stimulated by some non-fiction — for example reportage — borrowing features traditionally associated with fiction, like suspense, scenes, full dialogue and symbolic details — which I felt when reading Capote.

Like other trades, journalism defines itself in relation to exterior phenomena. You are to find the exciting story first and foremost in the colourful reality, not in your creative imagination. Rise from your computers and try some good, old-fashioned legwork! Tom Wolfe exemplifies this by telling that at the emergence of New Journalism, even columnists usually glued to their desks, took to the streets to search for inspiration.

relationship between fiction and socio political conditions

On the other hand, a creative imagination is required of a journalist to find out which part of reality which is to be covered — in news and feature — and how. Is there a shortcut to the good novel? I do not have enough evidence to support or reject this assumption, but if it contains some truth, it may serve as a reminder that life experience and research in the real world represent important and crucial inspiration for creative literary work.

There are — and should be — some open doors between the rooms of novel and reportage. Many writers have ventured into fictional literature from journalism, some leaving the door they came through half open. Other writers have moved in the opposite direction, as Capote and Norman Mailer did, towards non-fiction — and even journalism, but they do not often use that word.

This happened also in Norway — in the s and s, when several novelists wrote books stimulated by political events based on real-life stories. In passing, it is to be observed that this conception is, in essence, Spenglerian. Consequently it is somewhat amazing to observe Mr. Brooks, in his little book, On Contemporary Literature, charging that modern writers have been influenced by Spengler, including those--such as the author of this article--who have for years been anti-Spenglerian.

Further, one of the European novelists of the soil, with roots in the soil, is Knut Hamsun, who was one of the first world-famous literary men to become a fascist.

Brooks claims that modern writers write demoralizing books because they have no attachment to the family and because they do not take an interest in public life. On both of these points he is unspecific. He does not demonstrate in a concrete manner precisely how a writer will become a better artist by transplanting himself to the country and living close to the soil, by declaring an attachment to the family most writers are attached to their families, love them and try to support themand by taking an open interest in public life.

In addition, he is not specific concerning the manner in which a writer should become interested in and attached to public life. Should he take a political stand on issues?

Political fiction

Should he run for an elective office? Should he abandon literature and dedicate himself to political theory or to political polemics? Should he ghost-write speeches for political leaders?

And, further, some of the writers whom Brooks accuses of lacking an interest in public life have been far more politically active on many issues than he has.

In essence, Brooks is adopting the same kind of a view toward literature as did his recent forebears, the apostles of proletarian literature. Like them, he and Archibald MacLeish and others are seeking to legislate for writing, to tell the writer what to do, what to write, what ideology to inculcate through his works, what conclusions to come to in a novel, and what to think. Its Relation to Politics Those who adopt such an approach toward literature do not clearly focus the problems of literature, the character of writing, the functions and purposes which literature can perform.

When Karl Marx was a young man, editing a democratic newspaper in the Rhineland and working toward the point of view which he finally adopted and developed, he wrote a letter to a friend which contains some remarks which are today a pertinent and decisive answer to the claims of those who would sneak politics and ideology into literature. At that time Marx had not yet been converted to socialism.

He resisted the pressure of philosophical and literary friends who took a frivolous attitude toward serious questions, and he explained why he rejected the articles of these people. I demanded less vague arguments, fewer fine-sounding phrases, less self-adulation and rather more concreteness, a more detailed treatment of actual conditions and a display of greater practical knowledge of the subjects dealt with.

I told them that in my opinion it was not right, that it was even immoral, to smuggle communist and socialist dogmas, i. Today, as then, literary men are trying to smuggle ideology into literature.

They seek to consider, to discuss and to educate people in an indirect, oblique, yes, even casual, manner concerning the most serious problems which the human race faces. Instead of discussing questions such as socialism and communism, democracy and fascism, in terms of the relevant problems raised by those issues, they want to smuggle a discussion of such issues into novels, poetry, dramatic criticisms, book reviews, banquet speeches and books labeled as literary criticism.

I do not hesitate to characterize such conduct as frivolous. It is the arena in which the fundamental bread-and-butter struggles of men, of groups, of nations, of social classes are conducted. He who is frivolous about politics is guilty of a grave disservice to his fellow-men, especially in times of deep social crisis.

The problems of politics are, basically, concerned with action and with power. Literary men have the habit of rushing into the periphery of politics, and they contribute to political struggles--not knowledge, not practical experience, not theoretical analyses, but rhetoric.

Literature and Ideology

Rhetoric is the one commodity in politics of which there has never been a scarcity. My subject, however, is not the political conduct of literary men in politics.

I do not criticize this per se. I merely suggest that the requisites of all responsible action, in any endeavor, are that one be serious and that one accept the obligations and duties which that endeavor imposes on one. My concern here is with the efforts to politicalize literature. The end result of the politicalization of literature is an official or state literature.

The extreme example of a state or official literature in our times is that of the totalitarian countries. It need not be commented upon in this article.

We know what it is and what it leads to and how it destroys literature in the most brutal and ruthless fashion. It is possible to silence writers by force; a state power can put writers in jail and treat them as common criminals; it can prevent their books from being published; it can execute them.

However, it cannot make them, either by open force or by prizes, praise, awards, and academic and institutional honors, write good books. Modern authoritarian rulers are not the first ones who have been taught this elementary lesson.

Often literary men fail to learn it. During the period of the Second Empire, even the great critic Sainte-Beuve was ready to play along with the idea of an official literature.

The attempt to create an official literature in that period failed. The two greatest French writers of the times, Flaubert and Baudelaire both of them friends of Sainte-Beuvewere haled into court on censorship charges. The poetry of Baudelaire was suppressed. Today we read Flaubert and Baudelaire and not the official writers of Louis Bonaparte. Napoleon Bonaparte still remains as the greatest of modern dictators. Himself a fine writer and a man who developed literary taste through the course of his lifetime, he tried to impose an official art and literature on France when he was its ruler.

In the year he wrote to Fouche: I read in a paper that a tragedy on Henry IV is to he played. The epoch is recent enough to excite political passions. The theater must dip more into antiquity. Why not commission Raynouard to write a tragedy on the transition from primitive to less primitive man?

A tyrant would he followed by the savior of his country. The oratorio "Saul" is on precisely that text--a great man succeeding a degenerate king. In the same year he wrote: A year after he said this he found that his official opera only degraded literature and the art, and he demanded that something be done to halt the degradation which was caused by his own official policies and his control of the opera. The writer was told to behave, and generally he obeyed orders.

The chief of police and the ministers of the cabinet gave him instructions on what to write, and they honored him for obeying instructions. And Napoleon himself was forced--after all he was a man of taste--to show contempt for his own official litterateurs. In exile at Saint Helena, he did not read them. He did not speak of them. He remembered Racine, and he remembered Homer, but he remembered no literature that could distinguish his own period of rule.

And neither do we today. Is more eloquent demonstration of the failure of this attitude toward literature needed? What is Greatness in Literature? It is a truism to state that the test of a work of literature is not to be found in its formal ideology.

The most cursory examination of a few great works of literature will prove the validity of this truism. Many of us recognize Tolstoy as a great writer, a genius, and a thinker of the first order.

Do we do this because of the formal attitudes--the ideology--in his major works? In Anna Karenina the character Levin develops, during the course of his novel, that conception of political non-resistance which became part of the gospel of Tolstoyism.

Levin found reasons for refusing to take an interest in public affairs, and these reasons were Tolstoys' own for formulating this doctrine. Because we disagree with Tolstoy's views, represented in his characterization of Levin, will we therefore deny the greatness of Anna Karenina? In War and Peace Tolstoy presents a view of history which succeeds in atomizing history to the degree that it is impossible to distinguish between influences that are essential and of weight in the influencing of events and those which are incidental or secondary.

According to this conception of history, every single human being in a period influences the history of that period: History is the result of all the actions and all the thoughts of every single human being. In a sense, this is correct.