Literature, along with music, painting, cinematography, and others, is one of the art forms. The word “art” has many meanings. In this case, it implies actually the artistic activity and its result. The specificity of literature consists in the fact that it is an art form that uses words and the structure of human language as a single material. Thus, literature is the art of the word. Further, it is divided into numerous genres. Literary genres are historically folding groups of literary works united by a set of content and formal characteristics. Since the time of Aristotle, who gave the first systematization of literary genres, the notion has strengthened that literary genres represent a natural, once designated system for all individuals. The author’s aim is to achieve the fullest possible conformity of the work with the essential properties of the chosen genre. For a long time, literary genres have evolved. Some of them disappeared, while others, on the contrary, appeared. Nowadays, this process continues. However, there are still numerous genres that are popular at all times. Nevertheless, this division into genres is rather relative. Many of them are usually combined. My favorite literary genre is fiction, which is considered a classic of literature.
Fiction is an art form that combines the works of authors using verbal and language material for the transmission of sensory information. Fiction is an art where the word is the principal means of figurative reflection of life. The basic concept of literature is an image. With the help of images, fiction recreates different epochs in the variety of their past, present, and future. To my opinion, the main tool of fiction is a word. Through the images created by word, the author tries to captivate the reader, turn him/her into action, and make the reader’s presence real in time and space. This participation is necessary for a complete and deep understanding of any fiction work.
Fiction is closely connected with society and its movement to the humanistic ideals. This genre is a center of the social and historical experience as well as the experience of a person in the development of the surrounding world. It helps establish the link between generations. Fiction also forms, develops, and strengthens the scale of people’s values. In my opinion, fiction performs several functions in society – cognitive (the study of the world), aesthetic (upbringing the sense of beauty), heuristic (the opening of the world), and communicative (dialogue between the author and the reader).
I became interested in the fiction genre since school. Most of my classmates did not like literature classes. However, I waited for these classes with impatience. Without a doubt, I was not thrilled with all the books. I did not read some of the works. However, I have read avidly most of the works. After that, I liked analyzing the main characters, their actions, and a plotline as a whole.
There are many authors working in this genre. I have two favorite fiction authors – J. D. Salinger and Oscar Wilde. Both of them have made a great contribution to literature by creating numerous outstanding classical works.
Jerome David Salinger was born in 1919. His home city was New York. He was born in the family of a wholesaler of smoked meat and cheeses. His father was Jewish and his mother was Irish. Perhaps, this Judeo-Celtic dualism influenced the original outlook of the future writer. It is associated with the fact that one of the most important features of his character is the contradiction. The fact that he was half Jewish caused serious internal conflict associated not with religion but rather with a social status. It is known that in those days, discrimination against Jews was highly widespread. Salinger had an older sister, Doris. Mother brought up children in the spirit of Methodism. Salinger had good relations with his father. This was caused by father’s desire for David to earn much money and have a steady job with a high social status. Moreover, the father wanted David to continue family business. However, this perspective did not attract the future writer as, since childhood, he was interested in literature.
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Salinger spent his childhood in New York, where he lived on the west side of Manhattan. He was expelled from several private schools because he did not want to study. Later, he began to study at the military school in Pennsylvania. At that time, Salinger began to write. He liked his studying because he wanted to live separately from parents. For some time, he attended literature courses at Columbia University.
The author published the first story in 1940 at the age of 21. At that time, he wrote for Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and many other publications. When he was 23-year-old man, Salinger joined the army and had served there for two years. He participated in World War II. Cardiac arrhythmia made the writer unfit for infantry. Despite this, he participated in landing on the coast of Normandy and served in counterintelligence. It was extremely tough at the front, and the future classic of American literature ended up in the hospital with a nervous breakdown.
1945 was the most creative year for the writer. He published the stories one after another. In 1951, Salinger published his only novel – The Catcher in the Rye, which became the US bestseller in a few months. This book has brought real glory to the writer. After the novel became popular, the author began to lead the life of a recluse and rarely appeared in public. Jerome David Salinger died in 2010 at the age of 91.
Salinger dedicated twenty-one years of his life to literary work. Despite this fact, he published only one novel, a collection of short stories called Nine Stories, and two dozen stories in magazines. Nevertheless, despite such a poor performance, any writer except Salinger failed after World War II to find so many magic words particularly affecting young people. Salinger’s works belong to a long-standing American cultural tradition revealing discrepancy between the reality and democratic ideals, the contradiction between material progress and spiritual impoverishment of the person. Rejection of the surrounding world is combined with the search for lasting values, on which it is possible to build beautiful and peaceful life.
The novel The Catcher in the Rye is the central work of Salinger’s prose. In the book Who’s Who of Twentieth Century Novelists, it is stated that “he first came to prominence with The Catcher in the Rye about Holden Caulfield’s adolescent rebellion against the world of phoniness and conventionality, which has become a modern classic of the teenage rejection of the cultural values of the adult world ” (Woods 301). The author chooses the form of the novel-confession that helps readers to better understand the state of mind of the protagonist. A seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield tells the readers about the crucial events in his life. Firstly, the boy was excluded from the third school, and he would have a joyless meeting with his parents. Secondly, Holden failed as a captain of the school fencing team. He absent-mindedly forgot all sports equipment in the underground and, thus, disgraced the whole school. Thirdly, the main character could not get along with his friends (Graham 21). The story raised the issue of human communication as well as the relationship between an individual and the society. The author has made an attempt to explain the loneliness of kind people in society. Holden does not accept the adult world for its snobbery and hypocrisy.
In my opinion, Jerome David Salinger is an extremely modern author. In his works and especially in The Catcher in the Rye, the author raises the questions that are highly significant for young people. The novel is interesting not only to young people but also to adults. With its help, the adults can better understand the inner emotional experience of their children. I also want to emphasize on the use of slang in the novel The Catcher in the Rye. The most interesting is lexicon, which is characterized by mainly expressive function. In such a way, it makes the novel closer to adolescents.
Another writer who, as I think, is one of the best representatives of the fiction genre is Oscar Wilde. In contrast to Jerome David Salinger who is considered to be a modern writer, Oskar Wilde is a classical one. Even during his lifetime, the British writer was called Prince of paradox. Paradoxically, there are two dates of birth of Oscar Wilde in various British media – 1854 and 1856 (Reader 21). Besides, it is not the only thing that remained a mystery for researchers of the life and work of this extraordinary and talented person. As a teenager, Oscar had his opinion on everything that surrounded him. The future author bravely demonstrated his position, even if it was contrary to generally accepted notions.
Oscar Wilde lived a short life – only 46/44 years (1854/56 – 1900) (Reader 21). His life was shortened, blighted, and humiliated with social hypocrisy, the letter of the law, and the arrogance of decadent behavior of the poet. Born in an intellectual Irish family, Oskar Wilde has aspired to refined style since childhood. He has started writing since his university years. There were several authors that influence the future writing style of Oskar Wilde. Among them, there were Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, and some others.
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In the works of Wilde, two periods are clearly distinguished. Most of the works of a variety of genres have been written in the first period. They include poems, aesthetic treatises, stories, the only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, the drama Salome, and comedies. The second period includes only works that fully reflect the spiritual crisis experienced by the writer in the last years of his life. The most famous works written in this period are De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol. The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only major work of fiction written by Oscar Wilde. The author did not give a certain genre definition to this work (Craft 109). Some critics call it a novel. However, it also can be regarded as a story and even a drama in prose. The Picture of Dorian Gray is deprived of a clear genre definition. Thus, there are qualifying characteristics: a novel-allegory, a novel-symbol, and a novel-myth.
The novel is based on the traditional motif of the deal with the devil and the participation of a magic item in the fatal destiny of the hero. When people talk about the source of the direct influence on the creative idea of Oskar Wilde, The Magic Skin by Balzac is commonly mentioned in the case (Craft 111). However, in addition to The Magic Skin, critics name other sources of influence on the plot of the novel and the character of the hero such as a novel Melmoth the Wanderer written by Charles Maturin and Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Craft 111). Nevertheless, in the opinion of the author, The Picture of Dorian Gray is not an imitation of any other piece of literature.
The title of the novel emphasizes the particular importance of the portrait in the story, and it is meant to orient the reader that the picture deserves attention in terms of assessing the merits of this feature invention. The transfiguration of the portrait expresses the essence of what is happening in the novel. In my opinion, the narrative in The Picture of Dorian Gray is based on the story and characters that combine the credibility and fiction. It is associated with the tradition of this genre. As usual for the genre, the main characters in the novel, including Dorian Gray, do not differ from the fullness of life. On the contrary, there is a conscious and consistent break with the traditions of realism. Oskar Wilde excludes his characters from their public relations and replaced major life conflicts with artificially created problems. The world of the author is the world of the chosen people, whose superiority over the gray mass is strongly emphasizes by Oskar Wilde.
Literature is deservedly named a leader among all other arts. It is associated with its importance for the development of both a single individual and the whole humanity in a particular era and in a global sense. Literature represents all written texts. These works can be divided into groups or genres. In my opinion, fiction is the broadest of all literature genres. There are a great number of writers working in this genre. My favorite authors are Oscar Wilde and Jerome David Salinger. Although literature heritage of these authors in fiction is not very big, their works are good examples of this kind of literature.