Betrayal · Lost · Passion · Lost

  The European and American societies in the 20th century were turbulent, the October Revolution, the world war, the economic crisis, the frequently changing social thoughts… The human spirit was turbulent and changeable. Against this background, European and American literature in the 20th century has emerged with a new pattern and new characteristics that are different from any previous period. It grew in the spiritual soil of modern irrationalist cultural thoughts, which is a betrayal of the modern Western rationalist cultural value system, and also a The dissatisfaction and resistance to the entire capitalist modern civilization condenses the profound thinking of modern intellectuals on their own value and destiny.
  The Betrayal
  Generation The “betrayal” here does not include any value judgment, but only refers to the separation and contradiction of the intellectuals’ inner spirit when faced with the dilemma of modern civilization, which is the alienation and conflict between material production and spiritual creation.
  At the beginning of the century, with the development of monopoly capitalism, intellectuals not only realized the illusory nature of the ideals of human freedom and equality, but also saw that the modern capitalist society built on the basis of private ownership not only existed Contradictions and conflicts in the goals, powers, and interests of different social groups also stimulate people’s selfish desires or the dark side of their hearts to frantically pursue self-satisfaction. On the other hand, the alienation effect of the irresistibly developed modern scientific and technological rational civilization on human beings and the resulting various social problems are a real experience and painful feeling for intellectuals. Coupled with the social unrest before and after the First World War, the war caused huge damage to people’s bodies and minds, and the European intellectuals were shrouded in general spiritual loss, all of which led intellectuals to come to the conclusion that civilization has been corrupted. For example, the British novelist D. H. Lawrence slammed the modern capitalist industrial system, the bourgeois civilization system and all the values ​​regarded as sacred in his works. The whole system of Western civilization withered and emotionally drained. Contemporary E.M. Foster also focused on expressing the British middle class in works such as “Where Angels Are Afraid to Walk”, “A Room With a View”, “Howards House”, “A Trip to India” and other works The intellectuals’ attitude towards life in the changing times, social development, and the long-term division and conflict between rationality and sensibility. Influenced by the progressive trend of thought, the writer Galsworthy was deeply dissatisfied with the existing private ownership and traditional concepts. In his works, he tried to expose social malpractices and help people understand their roots. Class dissatisfaction and sympathy for the lower classes. When “self”, “individualism” and “individualism” were rapidly expanding in literary works, the French writer Romain Rolland insisted on the position of “spiritual independence” for a long time, he advocated that intellectuals serve all mankind, And in “John Christopher”, the theme of social duty was raised (which was deepened in “Mother and Child”, written between 1921-1933, and merged with the theme of the historical responsibility of the new age intellectuals. ), which describes the arduous journey experienced by outstanding intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to pursue a new society and a new life for mankind.
  lost generation
  The peace after World War I was only a 20-year armistice. The scarred and severely damaged situation made many intellectuals calm down and think about the meaning of the war. The sentiment of pacifism is rising day by day, which is reflected in the literature as an anti-war theme. After the outbreak of World War II, many writers and artists participated in the struggle against fascism with unprecedented courage and sense of justice. These experiences not only made them write excellent works, but also made the writers further realize the mission shouldered by intellectuals. At the same time, the two world wars made sensitive literary youth feel confused, confused and even pessimistic. They joined the army with the ideal of saving democracy, but the cruel reality made them feel deeply deceived, so they expressed disgust and contempt for the existing ideals and values. , this sentiment is expressed in different literatures, and they are also called “the lost generation”.
  Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” is a representative work of the “Lost Generation”. This work reflects the pain and sadness of the post-war youth. The catastrophe of the war has impacted traditional ethics and morality, and young people who have been shattered unconsciously embark on the wrong path of debauchery. The protagonist of the novel, Jack Barnes, is a typical example of this group of young people. He was not only devastated physically, but also suffered incurable spiritual wounds. The future and ideals he had longed for had also vanished with the flames of war. The loss of reason has made the minds of these young people deformed and morbid, but the endless pursuit of pleasure and debauchery has not freed them from mental anguish. Through Barnes’ group of bohemian youths, we can see the shadow of the author’s confusion. In the words of the female writer Stein, Hemingway and other talented young writers “are all a lost generation”. Although the brutal war has educated them and aroused their deep hatred for war, their understanding of the nature of war is still vague. They only know that the evil war has shattered the beautiful “American Dream”, but they are not clear about the truth. Who started this dehumanizing world war? It is through the development clues of the protagonist’s participation in war—injury—spiritual emptiness—debauched deeds—failure in love that the author places his “fuzzy and indirect” anti-war tendency. In “Farewell, Weapons”, the anti-war theme has made new progress, and the author’s understanding of the essence of war has also improved, from “the first time the side involves the First World War” to “directly touching the war itself”. “. But judging from the tragic ending of the novel, the author’s thoughts are still full of idealistic fatalism – exaggerating the destruction of personal ideals and happiness to the point that the entire human race seems to be in a desperate situation. In 1940, Hemingway published the “longest and most ambitious” novel of his life, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and like the earlier novel “A Farewell to Arms,” ​​the theme of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is against. The imperialist war, but the difference is that the author uses the Spanish front as the background to describe a lofty image of an American volunteer soldier who is heroic and unyielding and devoted himself to the anti-fascist struggle, thus changing the anti-war theme of the work from the destruction of personal ideals in the early days. Passive war weariness is elevated to the point of self-sacrifice for foreign people.
  Passionate Generation
  After two world wars, Europe is riddled with darkness. The ruins of the war, the poverty of material life, and the desolation of spirit all lead people to live in extreme embarrassment, anxiety and doubts, and the inner wounds are difficult to heal. When the world has not yet come out of the darkness of war, new contradictions, crises, and shadows come quickly: the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Cold War between the East and the West are like a huge dark cloud over Europe and the United States. The resulting friction and confusion have made people realize that this is not the hopeful period expected.
  In such a troubled and confused period, the post-war intellectual elites felt, thought, chose, acted, and struggled. Almost all of them are at a loss in that specific environment, and no one can predict what their personal situation and prospects will be, but they are in trouble, not because they are backward or stand against the trend of the times, lack ideals and passions, Nor is it due to their negativity and inability to act. On the contrary, they have always been full of progressive ideals and revolutionary passion, and have been struggling, unwilling to give up their responsibilities, such as Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir in France.
  Known as the “conscience of the century”, Sartre accurately grasped the trauma of the war and the anxiety and hesitation caused by the post-war Cold War situation, and tried to use his own theory to point out a spiritual way out for people. His teachings are particularly attractive because they signify an independent spirit that is true to personal convictions. Mathieu, the protagonist of the “Road to Freedom” trilogy, is an independent intellectual who advocates freedom. In Camus’s writings, the essentially absurd life can be deduced into three results: resistance, freedom, and passion. Dr. Rieux in “The Plague” keeps the spirit of the novel away from nihilism, the collective spirit of resistance. It constitutes a transcendence of the individual awakening in The Outsider. According to Mr. Liu Mingjiu’s point of view, Beauvoir raised the question of the path and role of intellectuals in contemporary social and political struggles in the novel “The Merry of Honor”, which describes the intellectual elites active in Paris after World War II. Can intellectuals maintain independence and freedom under the conditions of class, party, and camp confrontation? Can it function as a transcendent intermediate force? Can it be recognized by social reality as the embodiment of absolute truth and abstract truth? Can a third path be opened up to an ideal society? Beauvoir casts her generation of elites into grim reality with such a naive fantasy, making them hit a wall, embarrassed, and stuck, and come to a negative answer. It is worth noting in particular that Beauvoir got her intellectuals to reassert themselves and play their part after they had admitted their insignificance in the real world. The novel ends on a positive note, a positive note and a bright ending, brought about by confidence in the future and an unshakable will to choose oneself regardless of success or failure.
  lost generation
  Since the 1960s, Western countries have entered a period of post-industrialization. The rupture of tradition, the disappearance of individual subjectivity, and the emergence of social secularization have demonstrated various contradictions between the mode of production and social system and related literature and art. Modern people’s one-sided pursuit of the efficacy of things and the development of science and technology has not only failed to solve the problems of people’s beliefs, values ​​and emotional needs, but has in turn become an irrational force that constantly stimulates human appetites, strengthening people’s pessimism and evaluation of self-power. Disappointment has created a crisis for modern civilization and the existence of modern people. In this context, the romantic passion of intellectuals gradually receded, the tiredness of politics began to disperse, and the social goals lost their attractiveness to a considerable number of people. Foucault thus lamented that the intellectuals had historically disappeared, leaving only a large number of “experts”. The French postmodern thinker Lyotard formally raised the issue of “the death of intellectuals”.
  American writer Saul Bellow’s creation has always been concerned with the trauma and crisis brought by the visible or invisible alienation forces in modern society. Most of the protagonists of his works are intellectuals. Instead of bringing peace to the lives of these middle-class intellectuals, they brought new difficulties, new anxiety, and new anguish. They often have a conscious sense of social responsibility, a high degree of cultural accomplishment, and a keen insight, so they face it. When it comes to the changes in all aspects of society and the pain of the times, it is difficult to understand, and my heart is full of troubles and confusion. Both “Herzog” and “Humboldt’s Gift” profoundly demonstrated the spiritual crisis and inner anxiety and search of the American intellectual class in the middle and late 20th century. Another academic writer, David Lodge, starts from the group of scholars he is most familiar with in a specific social and cultural context, and critically reflects on the entire social situation and the general existential predicament of people at that time. On a level, his works are more profound. This is how David Lodge exposed and criticized the filth of the modern world and the depravity of Chinese people, secular lust and pursuit of fame and fortune in a post-industrial society where hedonism is the main ethos in “Small World” Unrelenting, sharp eyes are often hidden in ridicule and laughter. From his series of works, we can see that on the one hand, the entire Western society is extremely developed in material production, but on the other hand, its spiritual life is extremely empty. Everyone pursues the principle of hedonism and selfishness, and money becomes the driving force for everything.
  The writers selected above come from different eras, different social environments, and have completely different personalities. The author has only made a brief description of their images, which is not enough to represent the entire Western intellectual class. A unique dissociative or persistent state holds the discourse power and cultural direction of the society, which allows us to clearly depict certain aspects of intellectuals from novels of different historical periods and ideologies, and see the formation of some different models. and development, which is not easily felt so concretely in other non-fiction material. Studying the situation of intellectuals and the societies associated with them through novels written by authors about intellectuals can help us uncover new dimensions that were previously unnoticed.