Authors We Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in st. Paul, Minnesota, to a family of small businessmen. His ancestors, who had once been rich and powerful, have faded down to his parents’ generation. In 1913, supported by relatives, he attended Princeton University, an aristocratic institution of higher learning in the eastern United States. But he had no interest in his studies, often missed classes and failed exams, and focused almost entirely on social activities. He managed to get into the school’s literary group, was invited to the most famous clubs, shook off his country accent, and developed a standard “advanced” English, trying to subtly erase differences of birth. In 1915, when Princeton’s theater troupe toured the United States with his comedy “The Evil Eye,” he was barred from performing with the group because of his grades.

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered World War I, and Fitzgerald joined the army. In late 1918, Fitzgerald left the army and headed to New York, where he found only a job writing the words for a little-known advertising agency. In June 1919, his lover Zelda lost patience and called off the engagement. Early experiences led to Fitzgerald’s lifelong sensitivity to money. In 1919, Fitzgerald returned home with nothing. Published in February 1920, the novel “This Side of Paradise” became an instant hit for its vivid sense of The Times, and the first edition sold out in a few days. Magazines began to scramble for him.

On December 21, 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack caused by alcoholism at the age of 44, leaving behind an unfinished work, “The Last Tycoon”.

He is a legendary author with a flourishing life, but his outstanding literary understanding and writing abilities did not leave him with a glorious ending.

-Coreen C. 

The works of F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: Ruta Sepetys

Ruts Sepetys is one of the most well known young adult historical fiction authors ever! With historical fiction being my favorite genre, I consider myself proud to say that Ruta Sepetys is my favorite author of all time. I have read all of the books she has written and I consider every single one of them to be some of my favorite books. 

Unlike many historical fiction authors, she doesn’t exclusively write about one event in history. With a setting like New Orleans, Barcelona, and Siberia, Sepetys takes us into a plethora of historical events, with different time periods, people, and settings. 

One specific thing I love about historical fiction is you learn something along the way, and all of Ruta Sepetys writes about overlooked events in history. These aren’t things you learn from your history textbook, they’re much more than that. Her books take you on a journey through events like the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that took 10 times the lives the Titanic did, and is the biggest maritime disaster of all time. But for some unknown reason, nobody talks about it, except for Sepetys.

Not only does she shed these huge historical events to light, but she does also these events justice. Although what she writes is fiction, the historical events they’re based on are all too real. Sepetys does an amazing job of research. In her most recent novel, The Fountains of Silence, the back of the book offered more details about her writing and research process, as well as pages of her notes. Sepetys do years and years of research for just one novel, and by reading the books you can tell how much effort was put into them. 

As for her World War Il novels, she has interviewed countless figures, both strangers and family, that were involved in those events, and based some of her books off of real events her family has gone through. 

Another part that I really love about her books is her writing style. With short and quick chapters, the writing allows you to be constantly engaged. The constant point of view switches keep you on your toes and makes every single one of her books a page-turner.

Between Shades of Gray (2011): Not your everyday World War 2 novel, Between Shades of Gray shows the dark side of Polish deportation and labor camps. With a knowledgeable protagonist and a family trying not to fall apart in the face of war, this brutal novel is a must-read. My Rating: 9/10

Out of the Easy (2013): Out of the Easy is a novel describing the life of the daughter of a prostitute longing to be free and live her own life outside of the bustling city of New Orleans. When a customer at her bookstore is found dead, she finally finds the escape she’s been looking for. My Rating: 7/10

Salt to the Sea (2016): The biggest maritime disaster, and the long path refugees are forced to take to flee Germany, this story tells the tale no one wishes to tell about World War 2.  In this novel, everyone has a secret to tell, and with them come guaranteed tears. My Rating: 10/10

The Fountains of Silence (2019): the Fountains of Silence tells the unknown story of how the Spanish people recovered after their own civil war. Told through the eyes of a photographer tourist from Texas, and a hotel employee who works hard for every penny she earns. This novel shows the trials and tribulations of most families during the reconstruction, but the star of this novel is truly the romance. Greatest of all, you get to learn about what’s really happening with the Spanish government behind closed doors. My Rating: 9/10

-Asli B. 

The works of Ruta Sepetys are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: Jack London

Jack London - Oakland - LocalWiki

In Jack London’s works, one can often feel the complex of heroism. There is the worship of life itself and the pursuit of primitive form and spiritual freedom for the meaning of life and existence. In Jack London’s work, the protagonist is merged with the harsh wasteland, where life tends to take on a primitive form, releasing a desire that is the opposite of what the vulgar world will never be familiar with, a kind of intense, leaping and even violent emotional anger. The combination of freedom and passion of Dionysus gives out the most primitive call of life — tenacious survival.

Jack London is a writer of very complex ideologies. For many ideas that influenced the social history at that time, London accepted them almost without any choice. Influenced by the social and historical environment at that time, and without any formal and systematic education, London’s ideological beliefs were complicated and contradictory. As a result, many London researchers believe that London’s thinking is chaotic and lawless. His philosophical views, though confounded and discouraged by their many contradictions, should be carefully combed and studied. Jack London, a writer with the ideas of reform and progress, keeps pace with the times and views women from a broader perspective.

Far from being an anticlimatic feminist, However, London advocated women’s independence while also extolling the traditional virtues of women as faithful male partners. London not only expressed her definition of the “perfect woman” but also greatly enriched the female characters in American literature by creating a group of “superwoman” characters who were gentle, submissive, strong, and capable. London and his work provide a case study of American society and culture at the time. The period of childhood and adolescence in London was very miserable. Although London’s works are vast, fragmented and difficult to categorize, it is possible to draw a simple line through the works of early, middle and late London. That is the transition from the male-dominated narrative to the female-dominated narrative, through which is London’s eternal love for life and endless exploration and pursuit of the meaning of life.

-Coreen C.

Authors We Love: Mary Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O'Connor (Author of A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other ...

Flannery O ‘Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, and graduated from Georgia Women’s College and the University of Iowa. She is a Catholic American novelist, short story writer, and critic. O ‘Connor has written two novels, 32 short stories, and numerous book and film reviews. O ‘Connor is a southern writer whose works have a southern Gothic style and rely heavily on regional settings and grotesque characters. O ‘Connor’s work also reflects her Roman Catholic beliefs and often examines questions of morality and ethics. O ‘Connor’s “The Complete Stories” won the National Book Award in 1972, posthumously, and was hailed by online readers as “one of the best American National Book Awards of all time.” Flannery O’Connor is said to have taught her favorite dwarf chicken to walk backwards when she was five years old. The stunt caught the attention of Pathe Studios, and a cameraman from the North was sent to O ‘Connor’s backyard in Savannah, Georgia, to record the stunt. O ‘Connor never saw the funny film, although it was shown in many American cinemas in 1932.

By The time she wrote “The King of The Birds” in 1961, O ‘Connor was a literary and artistic celebrity with a cult following. She made her name by publishing two novels — “Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away” and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Newsweek magazine featured a photograph of O ‘Connor’s pre-World War II home in Milledgeville, GA. Harper’s Bazaar has a rather glamorous portrait of O ‘Connor while her work has also been featured in Vogue. In her work, O ‘Connor depicted the American South. Set mostly in the rural South, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” features at least four main characters — a widowed, conservative old lady and her unsociable daughter — living on a farm. These characters probably have something in common with O ‘Connor and her mother. As time went on, people began to notice that O ‘Connor herself was a devout Roman Catholic, and that her novels seemed to have something to do with religion. In the writings of a collection of essays and a collection of letters published after her death, O ‘Connor not only makes clear her own religious beliefs and the crucial role they play in her work, but also makes detailed interpretations of some of her own novels.

-Coreen C.

Authors We Love: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (Author of The Old Man and the Sea)

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961) was an American writer and journalist who lived in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Hemingway won many awards during his life. He was awarded the silver medal for bravery during World War I. In 1953, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the Old Man and the Sea, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. In 2001, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms were included in The American Modern Library‘s list of The 100 Best English Novels of The 20th Century. Hemingway was a representative figure among the “Lost Generation” writers in the United States. In his works, he showed confusion and hesitation about life, the world and the society. He has always been known as a tough guy in the literary world, and he is the spiritual monument of the American nation. Hemingway’s works mark the formation of his unique style of creation, and occupy an important position in the history of American and world literature.

Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park and was baptised at Walloon Lake. Hemingway spent most of his childhood in his farmhouse at Walloon Lake, reading picture books and animal comics and listening to all kinds of stories. He liked to imitate different characters and was interested in sewing and other domestic things. Hemingway’s mother wanted her son to pursue a musical career, but Hemingway followed his father’s interests, such as hunting, fishing, and camping in the woods and lakes. So Hemingway, who grew up in a farmhouse on Walloon Lake, loved nature. From 1913 to 1917, Hemingway received high school education, academic performance, physical education, and an outstanding talent in English. He got his first writing experience in junior high, writing for two literary newspapers. When he entered high school, he became the editor of the journal. He sometimes uses the name Ring Lardner Jr in honor of his literary hero, Ring Lardner . After high school, Hemingway, rejecting college, began his writing career at the age of 18 as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, an influential newspaper in the United States. During his six months working for the Kansas City Star, Hemingway received good training.

In 1918, despite his father’s opposition, Hemingway quit his job as a journalist and tried to join the U.S. military to observe the fighting in World War I. Hemingway failed the physical examination due to a visual defect and was transferred to the Red Cross ambulance team as an ambulance driver. On his way to the Italian front, he stopped in Paris under German bombardment. Instead of staying in a safe hotel, he kept as close as he could to the battle. Hemingway witnessed the cruelty of war on the Italian front, shocked by the explosion of an ammunition depot near Milan and the fact that more women than men died in a makeshift morgue. Hemingway was awarded a silver medal for bravery by the Italian government on July 8, 1918, when he was wounded while transporting supplies and dragged the wounded Italian soldiers to safety. Later, Hemingway worked in an American Red Cross hospital in Milan. It was the inspiration for his early novel A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway regarded himself as the protagonist of the novel, the original creation.

In 1920, Hemingway moved to Toronto, Ontario, where he lived in an apartment. While there, Hemingway took a job with the Toronto Star as a freelance writer, reporter, and overseas correspondent, and struck up a friendship with Morley Callaghan, a star reporter. Between 1920 and 1921, Hemingway lived near Chicago’s north side and worked for a small newspaper. In 1921, Hemingway married his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and moved to a three-story apartment on the North side of Chicago in September. By December, the Hemingways had moved out of the country and never returned to live there. Ernest Hemingway, settled in Paris, gave an interview to the Star newspaper about the Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922). Back in Paris, Anderson guided Hemingway into the “Paris Modernist Movement.” Hemingway’s first novel, “Three Stories and Ten Poems,” was published in Paris in 1923. After the birth of his first son, Hemingway quit his job at the Toronto Star to support the family.

In 1925, the short story series In Our Time was published, showing a concise style of writing. 1926 Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises was published. In 1927, Hemingway divorced Hadley Richardson and married his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer and published Men Without Women. Hemingway left Paris in 1928 to live a quiet idyllic life in Florida and Cuba. He often goes hunting, fishing, and watching bullfights. Within a few years, Hemingway’s second and third sons were born. In 1931, Hemingway moved to Key West (where he lived in a house that is now a museum) and gathered material for Death in the Afternoon and Winner Gets Nothing. Death in the Afternoon was published in 1932. In 1937-38, he worked as a war correspondent on the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. During World War II, he went with the army as a journalist and fought in the liberation of Paris. During this time, Hemingway’s essay “Denouncement” was published in 1969 with “The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War.”

Hemingway and Pfeiffer’s marriage ended in 1940. During this period, physical health problems came one after another, causing great trouble to Hemingway. In the same year, Hemingway published For Whom the Bell Tolls, an anti-fascist novel set in the Spanish Civil War, and in 1950, Across the River and into the Trees, set in Venice after World War II. After the Pacific War broke out at the end of 1941, Hemingway immediately converted his yacht into a patrol boat to monitor the operations of German submarines and provide information for the destruction of the enemy. In the mid-1990s, Alexander Vasiliev, a former KGB officer, was granted access to Soviet intelligence archives. He was surprised to discover that Hemingway had been recruited as a KGB spy in 1941, codenamed Argo. Unfortunately, he had no talent for obtaining any valuable information.

In 1944, Hemingway accompanied the American army to Europe for an interview. He was seriously injured in a plane crash, but after recovering, he still went behind enemy lines for an interview. After the end of the second world war, he received a bronze medal. Hemingway divorced Martha in 1948, married Mary Welsh Hemingway, a wartime correspondent, and returned to Cuba shortly thereafter. Hemingway took his own life with a shotgun in Idaho on July 2, 1961, at age 62. Hemingway has an excellent command of language. He often employs the simplest words to express the most complex content, basic words and short sentence patterns to express the specific meaning, nouns and verbs to reveal the true colors of things without any affectation. Hemingway’s life and literary career were controversial from the start. Hemingway, whether as a legendary figure or as a writer, created a concise and smooth style with his unique artistic style and superb writing skills, which purified the traditional style of writing of a generation and had a great impact on the European and American literary circles.

-Coreen C.

Authors We Love: James Joyce

James Joyce | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica

James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish writer and poet. He was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and one of the founders of postmodern literature. His works and stream of consciousness had a great influence on the world of literature. He has lived in Paris since 1920. He moved from place to place throughout Europe, teaching English and writing for a living. In his later years, he suffered from eye diseases and nearly lost his sight. His works are complex in structure, peculiar in language and highly original. His main work is a collection of short stories called Dubliners (1914), which describes the daily life of lower citizens and shows the destruction of people’s ideals and hopes by social environment.The autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) describes the psychology of the characters and the world around them with a large number of inner monologues. The masterpiece novel Ulysses (1922) shows the loneliness and pessimism of people in modern society. In his later work, the full-length novel Finnegan’s Wake (1939) borrows the dream to express the ultimate thinking on human existence and destiny, and the language is extremely difficult to understand.

James Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 2, 1882. His father had a strong faith in nationalism and his mother was a devout Catholic. When Joyce was born, the beautiful island nation of Ireland was a British colony, plagued by war and poverty. He had a large family of younger brothers and sisters, but his father favored the talented eldest son and gave him money to buy foreign books, whether the family had enough to eat or not. He grew up at the Catholic church school. Joyce is the youngest of the students. His academic performance is outstanding, and he initially shows extraordinary literary talent. Since the 19th century, the Irish Renaissance movement formed in Dublin with Yeats, Lady Gregory and Singer as the center, and he received the influence directly. Through friends, he was also influenced by the Irish National Independence movement. But what influenced him even more strongly was the emergence of liberal ideas in European literature at the end of the 19th century. Before he graduated from high school, he became suspicious of religion.

In 1898 Joyce entered University College Dublin, where he specialised in philosophy and language. On January 20, 1900, delivered a speech at the Literary and Historical Society of the College on the topic of Drama and Life. On April 1, the Half Moon Review, an English literary magazine, published his review of Ibsen’s work When We Dead Awaken(1899). This article was praised by Ibsen, who was over seventy years old, which encouraged Joyce and strengthened his determination to embark on a literary career. In October 1901, he wrote a self-published essay, The Noisy Times, criticizing the narrow nationalism of Irish theatrical houses.Joyce graduated from University College Dublin in June 1902 with a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages. On October 2, he enrolled in classes at St. Cecilia’s Medical School. However, he only studied here until the beginning of November when he gave up his studies due to financial difficulties.

Joyce’s literary career began in 1904 with a collection of short stories called Dubliners. In a letter to Richards, the publisher, he made it clear that the principle of its creation was to write its own chapter in the moral and spiritual history of our country. This, in fact, became his lifelong literary pursuit. In Joyce’s eyes, Dublin was the centre of paralysis in Ireland, a hopeless country under the double oppression and stranglehold of the British Empire and the Catholic Church. In this city at all times there are numbness, depression, reduced act of living drama. Araby, a short story from Dubliners, reveals the charm of the author’s writing and the beauty of his stream-of-consciousness style novels. At the end of July 1906 he went to Rome as a bank correspondent. Since April 1906, the problem of rewriting a collection of short stories called Dubliners has gone back and forth with Richards. A refusal of publication was received on 30 September.

James Joyce began his novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in Dublin in 1908 and finished it in Trieste, Italy, in 1914, which lasted for 10 years. The novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has a strong autobiographical color. Through the story of Stephen Dedalus, Joyce actually raises the issue of the relationship between artists and society and life. Stephen Dedalus himself was exactly what he was trying to escape from the world of Dublin, which had taken its revenge on rebellious young artists. Ulysses, a novel written in 1922, borrowed the framework of the Ancient Greek epic, The Odyssey and compared it to character Bloom wandering in Dublin for 18 hours a day as opposed to Odysseus’s 10 years of wandering on the sea, giving Ulysses a generality of modern epic. Through the life of these three people in one day, the novel shows their whole history, their whole spiritual life and their inner world incisively and vividly.

Finnegan’s Wake, a novel published in 1939, borrows the idea of the world circulating in four different social forms from the Italian ideologist Vico in the 18th century, and develops a complex content within this framework. The book is a metaphor for the Bible, Shakespeare, ancient religion, modern history, Dublin local chronicles and so on. It borrows a lot of foreign words and even makes up its own words. Through exaggerated association, it describes the history of Ireland and even the whole mankind and the movement of the whole universe. In addition to the above three works, Joyce also wrote the poetry anthology Chamber Music and the play Exiles.

Authors We Love: S.E. Hinton

S.E. Hinton is an American author we are often introduced to in school. Her classic novel The Outsiders remains one of the most popular books in youth literature to this day. The Outsiders tells the stories of the lower class (Greasers) and the upper class (Socs) from the perspective of narrator Ponyboy Curtis. The novel explores hostile interaction between social classes and is often seen as Hinton’s greatest work due to its stark realism and relatability. 

Rumble Fish is another one of Hinton’s greatest works. Rumble Fish follows the life of teenager Rusty James who struggles to live a life in his brother’s shadow. His brother, the Motorcycle Boy, had taken a trip to California and left behind a notorious, criminal reputation that Rusty James tries his best to embody. Unbeknownst to Rusty James, Motorcycle Boy never truly made it to California and was battling his own mental strife. In the end, Motorcycle Boy’s life is ended by his final, fatal encounter with the police as he tries to steal “rumble fish” from a local pet store. Possessed by grief, Rusty James decides to make his own trip to California and reaches the ocean in honor of his lost brother. Through this intense story, Rumble Fish teaches readers that the world becomes less dark if we know where to find the light. 

One of Hinton’s lesser known works is That Was Then, This is Now. That Was Then, This is Now contains many of the same elements as The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, but takes place a few years later. Now, social classes are less defined, and violence between Greasers and Socs is less frequent. The current omnipotent issue is no longer gang fights; it’s drug abuse. Main characters Mark and Bryon are close friends, and consider themselves brothers. When Bryon’s mother is hospitalized and needs surgery, the two scramble to find sources of necessary income. Bryon finds a job at a supermarket, while Mark supplies money without an obvious source. During this time of financial stress, their friend M&M goes missing until Bryon finds him under the influence of narcotics. M&M is hospitalized, and Bryon finds out that Mark has been selling drugs in order to help pay for his mother’s surgery. Bryon must choose justice for M&M or Mark’s life. In the end, their brotherly bond is severed when Bryon reports Mark and Mark is sent to prison. This story shows readers that the world is not divided into black and white, or good and evil. The most difficult decisions are often made in the area of divergence between the two extremes.

S.E. Hinton’s is one of the greatest authors of the 1900’s, and her books have remained popular, years after publication. Her didactic novels continue to teach modern youth crucial life lessons that will never die with age.

-Katie A. 

The works of S. E. Hinton are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Authors We Love: Jane Austen

Jane Austen | Biography & Novels | Britannica

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 — 18 July 1817) was an English novelist and novelist. Her novels include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen wrote her first novel, entitled First Impressions, when she was 21. She contacted a publisher to publish it, to no avail. In the same year, she began writing Elinor and Marianne again, and later Northanger Abbey, which was completed in 1799. More than a decade later, First Impressions was rewritten as Pride and Prejudice, and Elinor and Marianne”was rewritten as Sense and Sensibility, and each was published. As for Northanger Abbey, the author did not publish a book before her death. These three are Austen’s early works, written in her hometown of Steventon. Her later works were also three: Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion, all written after the author moved to Chawton. The first two were published successively. Only Persuasion, which was completed in 1816, had to be rewritten because the author was not satisfied with the original ending, and was not published. After her death, her brother, Henry Austen, published Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and for the first time assumed the real name of Jane Austen.

Jane Austen was born in December 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire, among eight children. Her father was a rector there for more than forty years. He was a learned priest, and his wife came from a relatively wealthy family and had a certain amount of culture. Therefore, although Austen did not go to a formal school, the good conditions of her family and the reading environment provided her with the conditions for self-study and cultivated her interest in writing. She began to write at the age of thirteen or fourteen, showing her aptitude for language. When his father retired in 1800, the family moved to Bath, a place Austen did not like and was said to have suffered from depression. Here Austen rejects the proposal of a young man who will inherit a fortune because she does not love him. After living there for about four years, when her father died, Austen, her mother and sister moved again to Southampton in 1809. At the beginning of 1816, she became seriously ill and became increasingly weak. In May 1817, she was sent to Winchester for medical treatment, but the treatment failed and she died in her sister’s arms on July 18 of the same year. She never married and was buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Authors We Love: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens - Wikipedia

Dickens lived and wrote in the early years of the Victorian Era in the mid-19th century. Dickens’ activities and creations throughout his life kept pace with the trend of the times. He exposed the hypocrisy, greed, baseness and cruelty of the upper class and the bourgeoisie in a realistic way, and showed the miserable situation of the lower class, especially women, children and the elderly, with great indignation and deep sympathy. And with a serious and cautious attitude he describes the awakening of the struggle of the toiling masses. At the same time, he also eulogizes the truth, goodness and beauty in human nature with idealism and romanticism, and looks forward to a more reasonable society and a better life. Dickens embodies the core spirit of the English, a kind of joy and satisfaction from the heart. But there is another British spirit in Dickens, a kind of self-conscious reflection and critical spirit. He spoke for the disadvantaged groups, pursued social justice, explored the core values that can make human beings live in harmony, and expressed the aspirations and dreams of many people with 15 novels and a large number of prose works.

In Dickens’s early works, the reader sometimes finds his affirmation of commercial value. But the later Dickens took a more derogatory attitude towards business. His work also tends to show in a violent way the subversive power of money in an increasingly industrialized society. In the real society, there is a philosophy that ignores human nature everywhere. All spiritual life, including religious life, has hopelessly become a vassal of money and a quantifiable index. With the development of Victorian society, the ethical and moral concepts of the aristocracy were inevitably impacted by the culture of the middle class. The ethics and morals of the middle class have gradually and widely influenced people’s way of life. The development of ethics reflected in the culture is the development of Victorian culture, thus breaking the original monistic cultural values.

Thus, it can be said that Dickens is not only criticizing the inequality of social classes in his novels, but also commenting on the culture of that society, especially its moral concepts. From this we can see his concern and thinking about the future of that society, and also reflect his deep thinking about the human life itself. Dickens’ early novels are grand, popular and fluent, humorous and pungent, and full of sentiment, in which the criticism of the society is generally confined to local institutions and fields. For example, “Oliver Twist”, “Nicholas Nickleby”, “The Old Curiosity Shop“, “The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit”, “Christmas Carol” and so on. After “Dombey and Son”, Dickens’s writing became more mature. “David Copperfield” further explores the struggle of life and is autobiographical. It is a long picture that reflects the middle and lower classes of Britain in the mid-19th century.

“Bleak House”, “Hard Times” and “Little Dorrit” are three politically conscious masterpieces. Dickens’ later works clearly reflect the deepening of the creation of the theme, technical maturity and various aspects of exploration. “Great Expectations” can be seen as a negative of “David Copperfield,” but it is more realistic and apocalyptic in its approach to life, and the author’s early optimism is markedly diminished. The hero Pip is also an orphan. However, he can not withstand the temptation of the environment and loses his original simple nature. After experiencing harsh hardships, he realizes repentance and starts to live again, and the whole novel is more concise in structure. “Our Mutual Friend” is another critical novel that goes deep into the society. The human nature exploration and life philosophy contained in it are also more profound. The symbolism and detective novel techniques used in the novel add more to its artistic charm.

Dickens’ final novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, is only 23 chapters long, but it is also exquisitely written, scrupulously conceived, and seductive with suspense and mystery. He describes a large number of people in the middle and lower classes, which is unprecedented in literature. With his high artistic generalization, vivid detail description, witty humor and meticulous analysis, he created many unforgettable images that truly reflected the social face of Britain in the early 19th century, which had great appeal and cognitive value, and formed his unique style. He reflects the breadth and variety of life, the depth and power of it. Instead of preaching or conceptualizing his tendencies, he tends to inspire his readers’ indignation, hatred, sympathy and love with vivid artistic images. Most of his characters have distinct personalities. He is good at using artistic exaggeration to highlight some features of the characters and reveal their inner life and mental outlook with their customary movements, gestures and words.

Dickens’ works have a strong romantic atmosphere, and the things he describes seem to have some kind of spirituality that can match the feelings and temperament of the characters, which enhances the appeal of the works.

Authors We Love: Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow was born on June 10, 1915, and passed away on April 5, 2005. He was born in Lachine, a small village located in Quebec, Canada and immigrated with his parents to Chicago, United States with he was eight. Due to this reason, Hyde Park, Chicago was the backdrop of a lot of his famous works because he was the most familiar with it.

Both of his parents were from Russia and were very strict Jews. They wished Saul Bellow could be a rabbi or a violinist playing in church when he grows up. However, he couldn’t overcome his passion for writing and therefore did not relinquish to these two occupations even when his mother passed away. He went to Chicago University and later switched to Northwestern University because he felt the former disliked Jews and therefore mistreated them. Bellow did his graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin.

As a Novel Prize Literature winner, Pulitzer Prize fiction winner, and the only writer to win the National Medal of arts three times, Bellow in his entire life has composed a lot of works. These include Dangling Man, The Victim, The Adventures of Augie March, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Herzog, Mr.Sammler’s Planet, Humboldt’s Gift, The Dean’s December, More Die of Heartbreak, A Theft, The Bellarose Collection, The Actual, and Ravelstein. He also wrote a lot of plays and some nonfiction as well.

One thing which marks his unique style is his philosophical views embedded amongst the paragraphs and in characters’ dialogues. It provides on his insight of life, death, marriage and other themes which he values as important. Although some critics argue that this style of approach can be very elusive and a form of digression, I thought if sociology and anthropology are vital in Bellow’s life, he should put it down to let people who he really is.

-Coreen C. 

The works of Saul Bellow are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.