American Literature Exam Questions

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12. Discuss the characteristic features of the experimental prose in 1960-2000 on chosen examples.

Experimental literature refers to written works - often novels or magazines - that place great emphasis on innovations regarding technique and style.

Naked Lunch is a novel by William S. Burroughs, a complete American edition(1962). •The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes. Burroughs himself stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee. •The manner in which the novel is written the reader to see only part of the picture—as much as he wants to see. It often happens that something mentioned in the book reappears much later producing thus a series of intratextual relationships and echoes. This idea, relating to different perspectives within a larger picture, is itself a theme which runs throughout this book. •The novel's mix of taboo fantasies, peculiar creatures and eccentric personalities all serve to unmask mechanisms and processes of control, and have led to much controversy. •By decentralizing the plot Burroughs produces a series of interrelated literal caricatures, satires, and parodies throughout the novel.

A Pynchon-influenced generation of writers in the 1990s, such as David Foster Wallace, who would combine some of the experimental form-play of the 60's writers with a more emotionally-deflating irony, and a greater tendency towards accessibility and humor. Infinite Jest is a 1996 lengthy and complex work takes place in a semi-parodic future version of North America. The novel touches on the topics of tennis, substance addiction and recovery programs, depression, child abuse, family relationships, advertising and popular entertainment, film theory, and Quebec separatism. •There are frequent references to endnotes throughout the novel. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Wallace characterized their use as a method of disrupting the linearity of the text while maintaining some sense of narrative cohesion. •Acronyms are another signature device in Wallace's work and are used frequently within the novel. •Wallace's writing voice is a postmodern mixture of high- and low-brow linguistic traits. He juxtaposes, often within a single sentence, colloquialisms and polysyllabic, obscure, or esoteric words.

13. On the example of a chosen text by Henry James, enumerate typical features of psychological realism.

A psychological novel, also called psychological realism, is a work of prose fiction which: •places more than the usual amount of emphasis on interior characterization, and on the motives, circumstances, and internal action which springs from, and develops, external action. •The psychological novel can be called a novel of the "inner man," so to say. In some cases, the stream of consciousness technique, as well as interior monologues, may be employed to better illustrate the inner workings of the human mind at work. Flashbacks may also be featured.

The Portrait of a Lady is a novel by Henry James (1881). This is the story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, who "affronts her destiny" and finds it overwhelming. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. It also treats in a profound way the themes of personal freedom, responsibility, betrayal, and sexuality. In this novel James had pushed the analysis of human consciousness and motivation to new levels, particularly in such passages as the famous Chapter 42, where Isabel meditates deep into the night about her marriage and the trap she seems to have fallen into. James made an in-depth account of Isabel's deepest terrors in his preface to the New York Edition of the novel.

14. Characterize the genre of horror on the chosen example of American popular literature of 20th and 21st century.

The trait of the genre of horror is that:
it provokes a...
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