Continental Europe II: Varieties of Modernism

You are required to respond (A) to at least three of the first six discussion topics on Lesson 4, (B) to four of the next eight questions — (C) to all of the last three (the *starred) topics) — and (D) to question 16; 

 Try to keep the answers as thematically focused as possible, to focus the writing and clarify our understanding. 

1. Is society to blame for the conflicts in these stories in Lesson 4, or are the consequences the sole responsibility of individual choice? Explain.

2. To what extent are you responsible for the welfare of other human beings? What are your obligations to others?

3. What circumstances will bring about change in society and in the individual? If change occurs is it lasting?

4. What qualities or lack thereof do you see in these characters that makes a person a human?

5. We take for granted the concept of good; but, what constitutes evil? To what extent, if any, is an evil person human?

6. In looking at the conflicts and resolutions in these stories, what would you consider to be important goals in life?

7. What is the moral that you would give to “the Shadow”?

8. Why does Dostoyevski refrain from entirely endorsing the vision of a heavenly Christmas?

9. How does Tolstoy’s use of the “realistic” convention of the anti-hero help or harm the effectiveness of his fable?

10. What’s the message about the psychological value of fantasy in Chekhov’s story?

11. Luigi Pirandello, “War” (pp.71-76). Analyze the perspectives on love and death. Explain the thematic importance of appearances. Identify the tensions between and within perspectives here.

12. Federico Garcia Lorca, “Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias” (pp.101-111). Simply identify the stages of the treatment of death. How do Pirandello and Lorca view death as a part of the human condition?

13. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, “The Other Wife” (pp.265-269). Distinguish “male” and “female” points of view. 14. 14. Compare Lorca and Colette on love as a part of the human condition.

15. Franz Kafka, “A Country Doctor” (pp.272-280). Comment on the state of the professional man. Compare Colette and Kafka on “male” identity.

*A.  Jean-Paul Sartre, “The Wall” (pp.281-301). What has become of love and death here? Compare Kafka and Sartre on the state, or stature, of human identity in the human situation.

*B.  Albert Camus, “The Guest” (pp.302-315). How does Camus develop the themes of freedom and responsibility in the human situation? Compare Sartre and Camus on what the human situation is, and what it therefore means to be human.

*C. Selma Lagerlof, “The Outlaws” (pp.230-246). How does Lagerlof develop the themes of freedom and responsibility in the human condition? Compare the approaches of Lagerlof and Camus to the human condition.

16. Review the Class Module by answering one of these questions. 

What is the foggiest point in the lecture or reading? How so? Why?

Review all your “unclear” journal notes or questions on class procedures and assignments in previous lessons–and summarize the most important question that you want answered.

Which story treats a political issue best (amongst Camus, Sartre and Lagerlof)?

Which story helps us understand love (or death) best (amongst the first four authors in Lesson 5)?

Which story seems most religious, and in what way?

Identify the irony in one story, and how it makes the point of the story.These Readings deal with extremities of the human condition, especially love and death. This is an appropriate emphasis in 20th century modernism, but what does that abstract name mean?

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