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New York in Two Times

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So as I said this response is not in a tone of anger there is no sense of rebellion in his voice and it is difficult for the lawyer to retaliate or to push him and force him in any means and all at every instance when he denies any form of job, the lawyer is not ready to push the argument further because he has got other important works to do, so he keeps those arguments abrupt he ends it abruptly and realizes that there is no point in arguing out with him further and he leaves it to the way it is and finally the situation becomes such that everybody in the office realizes that this is how Bartleby is, so this is the excerpt from the text. The whole business concluded that it soon became a fixed fact of my chambers that a pale young scrivener by the name of Bartleby had a desk there that he copied for me at the usual rate of four cents a folio but he was permanently exempt from examining the work done by him that duty being transferred to Turkey and Nippers, so the only solution that lawyer has in front of him is to give the duty of proofreading these copies made by Bartleby to Turkey and Nippers, so that they would also think themselves to be superior to Bartleby and he even asked them for an opinion about Bartleby to both Turkey and Nippers and even to Ginger Nut and they all said he is a very strange man, he is a lonely person, he is a mad man. So there is nothing more than that even these other colleagues of Bartleby has to say about him and finally the conclusion is that Bartleby was never on any account to be dispatched on the most trivial errand of any sort and that even if entreated to take upon him such a matter it was a generally understood that he would prefer not to in other words that he would refuse point-blank. So everybody realizes in the office that this is how Bartleby is, there is no point in arguing out with him, he would refuse everything point blank and he would only do the job of copywriting because that is why he was hired or that is why he had accepted the job. (Refer Slide Time: 14:58) And one day apart from all the strange incidents, the lawyer also comes to know that Bartleby lives in the office space, one Sunday morning on his way to church because he is early he decides to go to this office and he is surprised to see that the room is locked from inside and it is Bartleby and Bartleby asks him to come back after a few minutes because he is occupied, this also surprises the lawyer but he cannot say anything he cannot make an argument he knows that. So he goes and comes back after a few minutes and sees the room is opened for him and he goes inside and see is that upon more closely examining the place I surmised that for an indefinite period. Bartleby must have eaten, dressed and slept in my office and that too without plate, mirror or bed. The cushioned seat of a rickety old sofa in one corner bore the faint impress of a lean, reclining form. Rolled away under his desk, I found a blanket; under the empty grate, a blacking box and brush; on a chair, a tin basin, with soap and a ragged towel; in a newspaper a few crumbs of ginger-nuts and a morsel of cheese. Yes, thought I, it is evident enough that Bartleby has been making his home here, keeping a bachelor’s hall all by himself. So once he closely examines the office space he realizes that he lived there, he lived in the space and nobody knew this and all that he possessed are perhaps a sheet or blanket, some few ragged towels, soap and he also has small savings in which is neatly tied in a handkerchief, so this is all the possession that Bartleby has. At first, it is a sense of shock to the lawyer that he did not even know the Bartleby was occupying that office and making it his living room, his living space as well, that shocks him but later it immediately occurs to him that he the lives this way because he is such a solitary person there is nobody else in this world that he is at least familiar or acquainted with. And he compares this case of Bartleby to that of the general the roman general and statesman Marius after his transformation into in an innocent man and the reference is to a painting of Marius, brooding among the ruins of the city of Carthage which was demolished by the Romans, so that fall of a great man and the fall of a great city and the innocence and the transformation that Marius undergoes is compared to and Bartleby is compared to this innocent and transformed Marius by the lawyer. And he thinks about the fraternal melancholy, so every time interaction with Bartleby happens this allows the lawyer to think about humanity, to think about the strange way in which people live. (Refer Slide Time: 17:51)
And he keeps on brooding over this kind of thoughts in his mind and he states happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay, but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. So after seeing how Bartleby has been living and the solitariness in his life he realizes that just because the world around us seems to be so happy and it is happiness is visible everywhere does not mean that there is no misery in the world, misery hides aloof and it may not be that visible to us. So this is the idea that comes to his mind when he thinks about Bartleby and he also realizes that perhaps this scrivener is the victim of innate and incurable disorder, I might give alms to his body but his body did not pain him, it was his soul that suffered and his soul I could not reach, so the lawyer can understand that Bartleby is deeply scarred or deeply wound at heart, so there is no proper cure to him and the way he behaves the strangeness of the peculiarity of his behaviour is resulting from the wounds that he has in his the wounds he has got in his heart and his soul is suffering so deeply that it is probably it has probably resulted in some sort of disorder in him. Therefore, he makes a further attempt to try and speak to Bartleby but again as expected there is a complete denial on Bartleby’s side and he is passive, he does not want to open up to anybody, this time the lawyer takes it a little negatively because he believes that this disdain on Bartleby’s part seems to be a little ungrateful considering the undeniable good usage and indulgence he had received from me. So there is some expectation on the lawyer’s side from Bartleby because even after constant denial of work even after being so careless or haphazard about other kinds of works that he had been asked to do in the office, he had been here, he was retained by the lawyer and even being so gratefully even being such an understanding employer Bartleby does not seem to be grateful to the lawyer. So this makes him a little irritated and he thinks that this is not right on the part of Bartleby to deny even an opportunity to open up with him. Apart from this he also realizes that Bartleby’s presence in this office has also influenced other people working there because now everybody else starts using the word prefer inadvertently in their vocabulary. (Refer Slide Time: 20:33) So this particular situation in the office keeps on without much change Bartleby just do his work of copying and others do the proofreading job but one fine day Bartleby all together gives up his job of copywriting, he does nothing but he stands at his window and stares out to the brick wall in a reverie and when asked that why he is not doing his job he replies that he has permanently given up copying. So now the situation becomes worse and there is no other option left with the lawyer, so he asked him to leave the office in six days but he does not, so he even tries to give Bartleby some money and asks him to leave but nothing helps and Bartleby has decided that he would not leave the place no matter what happens. Ther e is nothing that the lawyer seems helpless but the biblical verse comes to his mind which is everybody should love each other a new commandment give I unto you, that ye love another despite being angry, despite being helpless at the situation he realizes that people should love each other, people should have concern for each other, so there is no option left with him. (Refer Slide Time: 21:50) Push him out of the office and he lets him stay without even doing his job but what happens is slowly Bartleby’s presence in the office affects his business, his clients are not very happy seeing this person who constantly stares out of the window and does nothing and this worries the lawyer further because it begins to affect his reputation and he is worried about his own business and therefore with no other option left the lawyer finally decides to shift the office to a new building and ends this complete interaction with Bartleby and this to take him completely out of his professional life. But what happens is the new tenant who occupies this building comes to meet the lawyer and he complains that Bartleby is still residing in that office and that he is refusing to quit the premise. So afraid of a scandal what he does is he goes to the building and tries to persuade Bartleby to leave but he does not, he says I prefer not to and I would continue to stay here and this finally the landlord of the building who with the help of the police takes Bartleby and he is shifted to Tombs which is the city-run jail in Manhattan and he is taken in as an inmate and he is a considering him as a vagrant. So as a part of the procedure of police, the lawyer is called and he goes to the detention centre in Manhattan and also gives his verdict for him and says that Bartleby is, in fact, an honest man only that he is a little strange with his behaviour and he feels very bad for the condition that or the plight of Bartleby, so he asked one of the staff in this detention centre take good care of him and to provide him with decent facilities. But there is nothing more than the lawyer can do for him and eventually in a few weeks the lawyer comes to know that Bartleby has passed away in the detention centre and a few months he also comes to know of a rumour which is he is not sure about it but somehow comes to know that Bartleby previously worked in the Dead Letter Office at Washington, Dead Letter Office is a place where all those letters which have no takers are brought together and burned. So he thinks that probably working in a space like that for a long period might him affected him so deeply and all the positivity, optimism in his life might have been completely drained out after working in such a space and thinking about it and thinking about Bartleby he worries and he kind of broods about the strange way in which humans or people live around the world. (Refer Slide Time: 24:33) So some of the major themes from the story first of all as first of all isolation and solitariness, we know that the character of Bartleby stands for his metaphorical to the concept of isolation and solitariness someone who works in a very busy space like Wall street, is completely isolated, he is a recluse and there is no interest in him to even speak to people and this talks a lot about the urban space and the busy world of commerce and business where there is no human connect or lack and there is no a communication possible. So if you look at the story throughout you do not see these colleagues attempting to even make a conversation possible with Bartleby he refuses it, he is someone who has completely lost that hope in humanity and he realizes somehow there is in Bartleby there is a belief that you know there is no possibility in having a conversation there is no use and having a conversation because after all just like in the Dead Letter Office human emotions are something like those dead letters there are no takers for it. And the second connected to this theme is the theme of the mechanical nature of work in the Wall street from Dead Letter Office and after working in Dead Letter Office Bartleby comes to work in a space like a Lawyer’s office and what he does there is to copy make copies of these legal documents, so there is nothing positive or nothing is refreshing in this work, it is just mechanical work and as I mentioned at the beginning of the presentation itself this is something which is where these people are Turkey or Nippers or even Bartleby they all just human photocopy machines, they just have to sit there and making make copies of existing documents and which are very dry apers. So there is nothing more that is expected of these employees in Wall Street and their mechanical nature of work and how this affects their life is also shown in a much deeper sense through characterization of Bartleby. The question of compassion and humanity which is reflected in the work is quite problematic because that at the outhat the lawyer comes across as a very compassionate person, he cares for people, he has an understanding, he tries to understand all his colleague, all his employees. So instead of scolding them or instead of dismissing them for their lack of dedication to their work, he tries to understand them and he tries to make a way around all these things so that work his work is not affected. But the question is he showing this compassion really because he cares for them or is he completely concerned about his business and his profession that he does not want any kind of conflict to arise between him and his employees and is it the reason why he shows this very superficial compassion. The fourth point as I mentioned is about the lack of communication connect, thorough out the story we never get to know the real names of Nippers, Turkey and Ginger Nut, they all are the nicknames that they have given to each other based on their strange character and the lawyer who seems to be very concerned and care and very compassionate to all these employees do not even he does not even know them personally, he does not know about their family, he does not even mention the real names of these his staff. So there is clear lack of communication and connection that is very visible in the story and he tries to cover up all these things, the lawyer or the narrator te tries to cover up all these things through his philosophical broodings or what are the things that he has in his mind or how these people come across to him, so it is the very detached point of your detached standpoint that the narrator takes. (Refer Slide Time: 28:27) So and it works in a way of overcoming the problems or the sense of guilt that he has in his mind, so based on all this we can put these two points for discussion first one is I prefer no to which is Bartleby’s staple statement thorough out the story and perhaps this is the only thing that you that we ever come to hear Bartleby saying, so does it speak for Bartleby’s agency because yes by saying I prefer not to he can refuse, the commands or the request made by his employer. And there is no sense of rebellion coming across but he clearly states his stand that he will not do anything which he is not interested in and that expresses his agency without being arrogant but does it mean that he is an empowered person is the question because at some point he comes across as a victim of this world of commerce and business where there is no space for human emotions. So this is a point that we can that is there for you to discuss or to think further as you read the story and the second one is the reliability of the narrator’s voices, as I mentioned the sense of compassion or the sense of care and concern that he expresses towards his employees are they are real or is it because some sort of guilt because he knows that it is somewhere he is also responsible for this state of Bartleby and as well as the other characters because they are constantly working for him and for the prosper for his work to be for his business to prosper and this mechanical work is what leads them to the way they are. So there is a sense of guilt and perhaps that is why he makes multiple attempts to talk to Bartleby but those attempts are also very shallow because what he does is to ask him whether he is ready to open up and once he says he prefers not to he ends his attempt at that, he does not go further, he does not even make any other, he does not even think of any other possibilities to give Bartleby a better space to occupy, he inhabits this complete world he is completely immersed in this professional life and he is constantly worried about his reputation as a good lawyer and that is why when Bartleby seems to affect his reputation and when the clients are complaining he is worried about scandals, he is worried about what people would think about him and whether it would affect his profession and that leads him to change the office to a new space. So he is someone who is not interested in any kind of conflict or any kind of scandal he wants a smooth life as he states at the beginning of the story that he believes that the best way to live life is the easiest way. So this when read when we take all these things about the way the narrator presents the story and his point of view the reliability of the narrator becomes little problematic because his compassion can also be read as arising out of his sense of guilt. And his attitude towards his employees is also a matter of debate it is a matter of debate or a contest because what comes across as his understanding about office employees is not an understanding rather it is his way of dealing with them in such a way that they do not affect his work and he can make away with them and circumvent all the possible conflicts. So I hope you can keep these things in mind while you read the story, it is a long story but read it with all these points in mind and I hope you had a clear understanding of the story, thank you. Hello, welcome to the session on Introduction to World Literature. And in this session, we will be working on The Great Gatsby, the novel by F Scott Fitzgerald. So, we will start with a brief timeline of the text and the era in which it was produced. So, the timeline is the 1920s, in America, the roaring 20s as it is known. And the 1920s was an era of massive wealth accumulation in the United States, especially through stock markets and also because of the aftermaths of the First World War, because of which there were too many industries coming up and the industrial production also contributed to the amassment of wealth in the United States. So, these 1920s is also an era of Cultural revolution, in the sense that because of the coming of modernity and also because of the industrial wealth, the American population started to embrace a new culture of flamboyance. So, it is in this context that we will be studying the Great Gatsby and also this is the context in which the Great Gatsby is written. So the characters and the author himself is a product of the 1920s. So, we will be looking at the text through such a cultural and historical context. So, what was the main theme, what were the main themes, what were the main motifs of this roaring 20s? So, it is a jazz age, it is the age the birth of a new kind of music, the jazz music, which is popular music, so it is the age of popular culture, the culture of mass production and mass culture. So, apart from jazz ages, apart from being the Jazz age, it is also the age of the flapper icon. The flapper icon is a cultural icon of the 1920s, which will be very important to our reading of great Gatsby. Because the flapper was a term which had too many connotations, for example. The flapper was such a woman who according to the Moral ethos of the 1920s, the Jazz age of this roaring 20s, embraced the new culture of drinking, of smoking, having short hair, wearing knee-length skirts as opposed to the long flowing gowns of the previous era and it was also the age of new morality of partying, of drinking, of being like men, although it is not exactly a liberated woman icon, it is also a different way of looking at people through a cultural context. And it was also the age of Art deco, which started in Paris, for example, the idea of fauvism, the Art moment of fauvism, which experimented with bright colours, etc. So, these themes give us an idea of how the 1920s were an emerging era of totally new cultural function. So, industries had expanded, as I have already Explained and it was also the era of stock markets, the Wall Street and organized crime as well, especially in metropolitan cities like Chicago we had organized crime syndicates, especially bootlegging. It was also the time of prohibition, where illicit liquor was widely available and it was also linked to the organized crime and also to the new Moral ethos of the 1920s. So, for example, we will see here JP Morgan and John Rockefeller, both very famous figures. So, this is also the time where the idea of The Great American dream came to its maturity. So, for example, these 2 people who were more or less the typical example of the rags to riches story, maybe not Rockefeller but JP Morgan for example and so many others who of which we will see in the coming parts. That the self-made man, the story from rags to riches was an actual and probable event of the 1920s, that a man, even though he is from a low social class, low social setting, he can rise through the social ladder by his persistence and perseverance and hard work. So, in that sense also industry, industry as hard work is important. And yes, the lost generation. So, a group of writers, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, for example, were referred to as by Gertrude Stein herself as the lost generation, the generation of people between the interwar periods, who have seen war and have seen the destruction at closes. Especially Hemingway and Fitzgerald, both were also conscripted in the Army. So, this is also the age of the lost generation, so this is the timeline in which we will be looking at the text. So, let us have a brief biographical note of Scott Fitzgerald himself because it is through, it is also through a biographical sketch of Fitzgerald we will be looking at text Great Gatsby, the text itself. (Refer Slide Time: 6:16) So, one of the main figures in Fitzgerald's life was Zelda Fitzgerald, his wife and we will see a lot of parallels between Zelda Fitzgerald and the protagonist of Great Gatsby, which is the namesake Gatsby himself and also Daisy Buchanan. The idea of of the self-made man can be very much linked to Fitzgerald’s life itself because Fitzgerald when he met Zelda, who was a very rich socialite, was not a well-known figure he did not have so much of wealth and literary connections especially. So Fitzgerald's life through Zelda's eyes is going to be an approach to the text. So, Zelda a socialite who was a typical flapper icon of the 1920s, an outgoing, partying girl. So, both Fitzgerald, both Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda were fascinated by the social life of the new Roaring 20s. So, they partied, they drank, they went on trips and so on. So, Fitzgerald was motivated by fame, so for example, we will see that Fitzgerald's short stories and novels, both these genres in which Fitzgerald dealt with, he always considered his short stories to be very bad inventions, which only helped him to amass wealth. His idea was to write a novel in such a magnificent way that it will give him literary fame. So in that sense, he yearned for literary fame and considered all that he wrote as Short stories as trash, although they were quite popular and they even allowed him to gain a lot of wealth. So he was preoccupied with the objects of his desires. So, Zelda is one of those objects and the other is his literary fame. So, for Fitzgerald to marry Zelda, Zelda was not ready to marry Fitzgerald, until and unless Fitzgerald rose in the social strata. So, Fitzgerald wrote his 1st Novel and got it published and it was only after that Fitzgerald could marry Zelda. So, these ideas of fame and of achieving a higher social class, important to Fitzgerald and thus will be important to us also, while we are looking at Great Gatsby. Now, we will go on to read great Gatsby and we will look at the text through which the text presents to us and also we will go through some of the biographical details of Scott Fitzgerald as I explained in the previous slide. (Refer Slide Time: 9:30) And primarily we will be looking at a new historicist perspective of reading great Gatsby and also we will look at a few other approaches through critical theory. But the special focus will be on the new historicism because the idea of including Great Gatsby which is a classic text in American literature in a course on world literature is that when we situate it in the cultural and historical context, we will see that how it captures the ethos of a nation, a nation which is not isolated but which also spread to other cultures. So it is in this perspective that we will be focusing today. So, it is almost impossible to understand a critical approach to Great Gatsby unless we are very familiar with the plot. So, it is a 1st person narrative told to us by Nick Carraway, a friend of Gatsby, written through 9 chapters. So, we start the novel with Nick Caraway moving from the Midwestern United States to the East course, Long Island, to the fictional village of West Egg, which is separated by another place called the Easter Egg by a bay. And Nick Caraway arrives in West Egg and tries to build his life there as a person dealing with bonds and right next to Nick Caraway's cottage, there is a huge mansion and Nick Caraway does not know whose this mansion is. And coincidently, Nick Caraway's cousin, a distant cousin Daisy Buchanan lives across the bay in the village of East egg. And Daisy Buchanan is married to Tom Buchanan, a millionaire, a wealthy millionaire and who is also one of those people whose richness came through inheritance. So, the inhabitants of East egg were Tom and Daisy Lewis, he is one of those inhabitants whose wealth is not produced because of the hard work but because of the family inheritance. And in the West Egg, where Nick Carraway lives, it is the place of the nouveau rich, the new rich, who symbolises the self-made man of American 1920s. So, and Nick Caraway gets invited to Daisy’s home for dinner and he meets Jordan Baker in Tom's house. So, Jordan Baker is a golfer, is a kind of Introverted, but also symbolises the decadence of 1920s, of the Moral and spiritual decadence, which is also symbolised by Tom and Daisy themselves. So, after this we see Nick and Tom heading for a party in the New York City and they go through a place called the Valley of Ashes, which is an industrial dumping ground and there is a garage owner there called George Wilson, whose wife Myrtle Wilson is the mistress of Tom and Tom and Nick meet Myrtle in the Valley of Ashes, takes her into an apartment in the city and they have a very vulgar party, very bizarre party in the apartment. And so now we get an idea of how Tom's life is, Tom's infidelity is.