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The English novel flourished immensely in the 20th-century e although it started in the latter half of the 18 century. A vast reading of public fiction encouraged numerous writers to try their hands at fiction. Many of them succeeded though not all of them could establish themselves as novelists. Those who became famous as novelists are: Stevenson, George Gissing, George Moore, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Maddox Ford, H. G. Wells, John Galsworthy, Arnold Bennett, Somerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Graham Greene, William Golding D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce. Among them, the most widely read novelists are Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forester, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, William Golding, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was a Polish but later learned English in his career as a sailor and wrote novels in English. His famous novels are An Outcast of the Island, The Nigger of the Narcissus, Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, Under Western Eyes, and a few others. In Conrad’s novels, the settings are closely related to sea voyages. His novels are studies of human psychology and imperialism. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad presents the brutality, hypocrisy, and meanness of the imperialists. His narrative is retrospective in this novel. The language is very poetic. There is a symbolic pattern that has been used very successfully to convey the intended meaning. Very few non-natives can achieve the excellence that Conrad had as an English novelist. 

E.M. Forster, another famous name in modern English fiction was born in India under British rule in an English family. He had his education in England but worked in India for quite a long time. Among his novels Where Angels Fear to Tread, The Longest Journey, A Room with a View, Howards End and A Passage to India are well-known. Forster's novels are marked by his liberal attitude to human relationships. He was a very keen observer of human relationships. His best novel, A Passage to India, portrays the relationship between the ruling English and the native Indians. The hatred, mistrust, and master-servant attitudes which embittered the relationship between the rulers and the ruled have been presented in this novel. Forster's attitude to them is objective and honest. 

The feminist voice first sounded by a female novelist in the modem fiction is Virginia Woolf. Being a woman she had the advantage of understanding female predicaments from the viewpoint of a woman and expressing them in her preferred language. Mrs. Woolf made use of ‘stream of consciousness’ as her narrative technique. The structures of her novels stand on the revelation or expansion of the mind. Her characters reveal the working of their inner worlds. Her famous works of fiction are Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Wave, and Between the Acts.

George Orwell is another remarkable novelist of the modern age, His real name was Eric Blair he worked in the East for quite a long time. His celebrated fictional works are: Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. His most popular novel Animal Farm is a political allegory. The characters in this novel are animals, as found in a fable, who behave like people in politics. In this allegory, Orwell satirizes the despotism in socialism and the degeneration of socialist ideals. His language is very simple and lucid but it has a unique cutting edge. 

William Golding, an analyst of human nature, studied evil in his novels. His well-known novels are Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, Pincher Martin, Free Fall, The Spire, The Pyramid, Darkness Visible, and Fire Down Below. His novels reflect his penetrative vision and nature symbolism. In Lord of the Flies, he raises the question of whether human beings are basically evil. The novel presents a group of children who fight among themselves for the lust for power proving that man is instinctively attracted by evil rather than by good. 

D. H. Lawrence, another great talent in modern English fiction treats sex psychology in his novels. A kind of psychological probing pervades his novels. His famous novels are Sons and Lovers, The White Peacock, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and The Rainbow. Apart from the psychological interpretation of human behavior, his novels are remarkable for his use of symbols and stream-of-consciousness narrative technique. 

The most famous novelist of the 20th century is James Joyce. He perfected the stream of conscious technique in his narratives. His Ulysses has been considered the best English novel of the 20th century. This novel does not have any conventional plot structure. It records the inner working of the mind covering only one specific day. It studies the flow of thoughts of the three characters who roam around the city. Joyce’s other novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is autobiographical in nature and it also records the inner working of the mind of the protagonist. His Finnegans Wake is also famous for the use of stream of consciousness technique. 

Thus, the major novelists of the 20th century are quite different from their predecessors. The subjects of fiction in the modern age are related to psychological discoveries. The narrative methods also have undergone a change. In this period the novelists used stream-of-. conscious technique instead of conventional methods. Similarly, feminist voice and symbolism characterized modern fiction. 

Main Novelists of the 20th Century


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