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Artists have inspired life stories by their unique personalities as well as their achievements in literature, music, and the visual arts. Proverbially eccentric, individualistic, and so different from the norm, artists have been portrayed as being at odds with society, but they are also shown to be agents of society and humanity as they interpret the spectrum of human experience, elucidate universal values, and forge bonds with audiences through artwork and performances. Accordingly, their social status has alternated between center and periphery, and the stereotypes attributed to artists have ranged from prophet, model, and magician, to rebel, outsider, and parasite. This paradoxical combination of qualities and shifting social perspectives on artists gave rise to the literary genre “artist novel” or “portrait-of-the-artist novel,” an offshoot of the novel of character development, in an era that appreciated both the individuality and the artistic achievement: the Romantic era (ca. 1790-1930 in Great Britain and Continental Europe).
Artistic Individuality: A Study of Selected 20th Century Artist Novels written by Živilė Gimbutas studies a series of artist novels, finding that individuality is elucidated by childhood experiences, sensuality and receptivity, the urge for self-expression, relation to nature, and creative work. This individuality is essentially the recognition of one’s self as a unique part of a whole, which is apt to be discovered in kinship with nature and expressed in aesthetics that stem from an appreciation of nature.
This book features compelling novels such as Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, M. Allen Cunningham’s Lost Son, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, John Updike’s Seek My Face, and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.
Artistic Individuality: A Study of Selected 20th Century Artist Novels shares with readers literary masterpieces which present human experiences that have more to do with beauty and related perceptions than social, economical, political, or scientific concerns. The artistic expression represented in these novels conveys perceptions of nature as well as perceptions of world influenced by kinship with nature; therefore, the art work is apt to be a source of pleasure, insight, or inspiration for fellow human beings, bearing traces of its provenance and attaining very unselfish ends.
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About the Author
Currently an independent scholar and translator, Živilė Gimbutas has worked as a teacher, managing editor, and English Instructor in Southern California; as a Visiting Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature in Lithuania. She earned a B.A. in Psychology at UCLA, an M.A. in Drama at California State University, Northridge, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her publications include The Riddle in the Poem (2004) and several articles on twentieth-century poetry and fiction.
Artistic Individuality: A Study of Selected 20th Century Artist's Novels * by Zivile Gimbutas
Publication Date: November 20, 2012
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 243 pages; 978-1-4797-1110-9
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