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Art and Artist in Cakes and Ale - the Moon and Sixpence

Essay by   •  April 7, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  1,284 Words (6 Pages)  •  32 Views

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ART AND THE ARTIST IN S. MAUGHAM’S NOVEL

"THE MOON AND SIXPENCE"

Introduction. The theme of art and an artist was the object of deep reflection in different historical and literary periods. It belongs to the so-called eternal themes. The beginning of the twentieth century in literature was marked by the development of such a literary school as modernism. It peaked in the twenties of the last century in the west of Europe and in America. Modernism arose under the influence of Nietzsche, Jung and Schopenhauer’s philosophical ideas. Their teachings formed the basis of aesthetic concepts of the new century, and the problem of art and the artist in literature understanding has been gained an impetus. Modernists extol individual artistic vision of the world, and the object of special interest for them is the nature of the creative process, the artist’s self-identification and patterns in their perception and interpretation of art, its nature and functions. In English literature, the theme of art and the artist is among the dominant ones. Many writers, as the main character in their works, often choose writers, artists or representatives of other art-related professions.

Urgency and aim of the research. The topic of the artist and art requires profound study of the influence of art on creative personalities and their interaction with society. The aim of this work is to study the peculiarities of the interpretation of the theme "artist and creativity" in the novel by S. Maugham "The Moon and Sixpence". The article deals with the problem of art and the artist through the analysis of the image of the main character in the novel.

Materials and methods. The basis for the research was the novel "The Moon and Sixpence" by S. Maugham, in particular its plot, the system of characters and the main character's image. Here biographical, comparative-typological and descriptive methods are used. Biographical and comparative-typological methods of scientific research allowed to identify the main elements of the theme of art and the artist revelation, on the material of the novel's "The Moon and Sixpence" original text, where it is important to compare the life of the main character with the life of French artist Paul Gauguin.

Results being discussed. The theme of art and the artist in English literature is traditionally interpreted as a relationship between creative nature and society. It emphasizes the protest of the artist, the hostility of the environment towards the creator, the tension of his fate and attempts to protect creative independence. The conflict between the artist and society was often described by the authors of works based on real events from the life of impressionist and post-impressionist artists, for example: Cezanne in "Creativity" by Zola, Gauguin in the novel "The Moon and Sixpence" by S. Maugham, Van Gogh in Stone's "Lust for Life". In all these works, the fate of real artists was borrowed in some way and the main character here are endowed with traits of real person [1, p. 74].

The novel "The Moon and Sixpence" takes place in the early twentieth century, when Charles Strickland, a stockbroker, leaves his old life and begins to paint. His life is changing dramatically. Contrary to the conjectures of his wife, there is no place for women in new life. Strickland uses the best friend's wife, Blanche, as a free sitter, making her a victim of true art and great genius. Art insensibly "kills" human in Strickland. Losing the ability and desire to live by European society rules and standards, he moves to Tahiti. On this island, Strickland spends his last years and marries the native Ata. A few years later, he became ill with leprosy, but the desire to create was still his life priority. Even when he was blind, he continued to paint on the walls of his house. The doctor who came to visit the patient was the only the witness to the artist’s last work. Dying, Strickland, ordered Ata to burn the house after his death and she did it. The doctor was extremely shocked by the work of the dying artist. He described it as something passionate and great, as the work of a man who has comprehended the beauty of nature and transferred its frightening and at the same time beautiful essence to the house walls. In other words, painting for the doctor became a hymn to life and its comprehension.

The novel "The Moon and Sixpence" by S. Maugham can be described as "the tragic story of a genius artist, with a mysterious personality"[2, p. 116]. The inspiration for this story came from Paul Gauguin, a French artist and the founder of primitivism in art. Throughout the novel, the story of Charles Strickland’s life unobtrusively repeats the fate of the French post-impressionist. However, Maugham does not set himself the task of a simple biography, he strives for the ideal creator showing, who feels beauty and is eager to express it. We see a person indifferent to fame and neglecting public opinion. Sometimes in Strickland’s character and actions, evens some immorality can be noticed. The personality of the artist, according to Maugham, is revealed precisely in art. Only by abstracting from civilization on the island of Tahiti, Strickland acquires complete freedom and creates his best work, exposing his individuality.

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