Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance is Richard Powers' first novel written over two years and published in 1985 to critical acclaim.[ citation needed ]
Richard Powers is an American novelist whose works explore the effects of modern science and technology. His novel The Echo Maker won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction. He has also won many other awards over the course of his career, including a MacArthur Fellowship. As of 2018 Powers has published twelve novels, and has taught at the University of Illinois and Stanford Universities.
The novel follows the journeys of three young European boys represented in a circa 1913 or 1914 photograph by August Sander. Two parallel narratives - one in the voice suspected to be the author, whose surname, we learn, starts with P - offer contemporary perspectives and illustrate the interconnectedness of events. These voices provide contemporary perspectives on technology, the major theme of the novel. A series of rather academic essays on the nature of photography, including quotes from Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt - in the authorial narrative voice of Mr P - are interspersed with the story.
August Sander was a German portrait and documentary photographer. Sander's first book Face of our Time was published in 1929. Sander has been described as "the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century."
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German Jewish philosopher, cultural critic and essayist. An eclectic thinker, combining elements of German idealism, Romanticism, Western Marxism, and Jewish mysticism, Benjamin made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory, literary criticism, and historical materialism. He was associated with the Frankfurt School, and also maintained formative friendships with thinkers such as playwright Bertolt Brecht and Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem. He was also related by law to German political theorist and philosopher Hannah Arendt through her first marriage to Benjamin's cousin, Günther Anders.
Johanna "Hannah" Cohn Arendt was a German-born American philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.
The story begins with the authorial narrative voice of Mr P. first sighting the photograph taken in the months before the outbreak of World War I of three young boys in Germany - a photograph which is titled Three Farmers on their Way to a Dance and which is being exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The novel follows the fictional fates of these three young men in war time, as well as the stories of Peter Mays, a technical editor for a 1980s electronics magazine and Mr P - the first person narrator of sections of the novel - who is obsessed with the photograph and with concepts of photography and technology.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
Powers's later novel Galatea 2.2 , published in 1995, uses the first person perspective of semifictional narrator Richard Powers to describe to a large extent the conditions under which Powers wrote Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance.
Galatea 2.2 is a 1995 pseudo-autobiographical novel by American writer Richard Powers and a contemporary reworking of the Pygmalion myth. The book's narrator shares the same name as Powers, with the book referencing events and books in the author's life while mentioning other events that may or may not be based upon Powers' life.
Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance attempts to balance the technological advancements that caused the large scale deaths in World War I with those that created art for the masses in the form of photography.
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An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use. The word epistolary is derived from Latin from the Greek word ἐπιστολή epistolē, meaning a letter.
If on a winter's night a traveler is a 1979 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. The postmodernist narrative, in the form of a frame story, is about the reader trying to read a book called If on a winter's night a traveler. Each chapter is divided into two sections. The first section of each chapter is in second person, and describes the process the reader goes through to attempt to read the next chapter of the book he or she is reading. The second half is the first part of a new book that the reader ("you") finds. The second half is always about something different from the previous ones and the ending is never explained. The book was published in an English translation by William Weaver in 1981.
A first-person narrative is a mode of storytelling in which a narrator relays events from their own point of view using the first person i.e. "I" or "we", etc. It may be narrated by a first person protagonist, first person re-teller, first person witness, or first person peripheral. A classic example of a first person protagonist narrator is Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847), in which the title character is also the narrator telling her own story, "I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me".
Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.
A story within a story is a literary device in which one character within a narrative narrates. Mise en abyme is the French term for a similar literary device. A story within a story can be used in all types of narration: novels, short stories, plays, television programs, films, poems, songs, and philosophical essays. The inner stories are told either simply to entertain or more usually to act as an example to the other characters. In either case the story often has symbolic and psychological significance for the characters in the outer story. There is often some parallel between the two stories, and the fiction of the inner story is used to reveal the truth in the outer story. Often the stories within a story are used to satirize views, not only in the outer story, but also in the real world. When a story is told within another instead of being told as part of the plot, it allows the author to play on the reader's perceptions of the characters—the motives and the reliability of the storyteller are automatically in question. Stories within a story may disclose the background of characters or events, tell of myths and legends that influence the plot, or even seem to be extraneous diversions from the plot. In some cases, the story within a story is involved in the action of the plot of the outer story. In others, the inner story is independent, so that it can either be skipped over or be read separately, although many subtle connections may be lost. Sometimes, the inner story serves as an outlet for discarded ideas that the author deemed to be of too much merit to leave out completely, something that is somewhat analogous to the inclusion of deleted scenes with DVD releases of films. Often, there is more than one level of internal stories, leading to deeply-nested fiction.
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a science fiction-infused anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut about the World War II experiences and journeys through time of Billy Pilgrim, from his time as an American soldier and chaplain's assistant, to postwar and early years. It is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. A central event is Pilgrim's surviving the Allies' firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner-of-war. This was an event in Vonnegut's own life, and the novel is considered semi-autobiographical.
The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1969 postmodern historical fiction novel by John Fowles. It was his third published novel, after The Collector (1963) and The Magus (1965). The novel explores the fraught relationship of gentleman and amateur naturalist Charles Smithson and Sarah Woodruff, the former governess and independent woman with whom he falls in love. The novel builds on Fowles' authority in Victorian literature, both following and critiquing many of the conventions of period novels.
A narrative is a report of connected events, real or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images, or both. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to tell", which is derived from the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled".
An unreliable narrator is a narrator whose credibility has been seriously compromised. The term was coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction. While unreliable narrators are almost by definition first-person narrators, arguments have been made for the existence of unreliable second- and third-person narrators, especially within the context of film and television, although sometimes also in literature.
Narration is the use of a written or spoken commentary to convey a story to an audience. Narration encompasses a set of techniques through which the creator of the story presents their story, including:
War with the Newts, also translated as War with the Salamanders, is a 1936 satirical science fiction novel by Czech author Karel Čapek. It concerns the discovery in the Pacific of a sea-dwelling race, an intelligent breed of newts, who are initially enslaved and exploited. They acquire human knowledge and rebel, leading to a global war for supremacy. There are obvious similarities to Čapek's earlier R.U.R., but also some original themes.
Birdsong is a 1993 war novel and family saga by the English author Sebastian Faulks. It is Faulks' fourth novel. The plot follows two main characters living at different times: the first is Stephen Wraysford, a British soldier on the front line in Amiens during the First World War, and the second is his granddaughter, Elizabeth Benson, whose 1970s plotline follows her attempts to recover an understanding of Stephen's experience of the war.
The Winter of Our Discontent is John Steinbeck's last novel, published in 1961. The title comes from the first two lines of William Shakespeare's Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun [or son] of York".
Jazz is a 1992 historical novel by Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning American author Toni Morrison. The majority of the narrative takes place in Harlem during the 1920s; however, as the pasts of the various characters are explored, the narrative extends back to the mid-19th-century American South.
Jacob's Room is the third novel by Virginia Woolf, first published on 26 October 1922.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. The book's narrator is a nine-year-old boy named Oskar Schell. In the story, Oskar discovers a key in a vase that belonged to his father, a year after he is killed in the September 11 attacks. The discovery inspires Oskar to search all around New York for information about the key and closure following his father's death.
Free indirect speech is a style of third-person narration which uses some of the characteristics of third-person along with the essence of first-person direct speech; it is also referred to as free indirect discourse, free indirect style, or, in French, discours indirect libre.
The Gangster We Are All Looking For is the first novel by Vietnamese-American author lê thi diem thúy, published in 2003. It was first published as a short piece in The Best American Essays of 1997 and was also awarded a Pushcart Prize “Special Mention.”
In literature, mood is the atmosphere of the narrative. Mood is created by means of setting, attitude, and descriptions. Though atmosphere and setting are connected, they may be considered separately to a degree. Atmosphere is the aura of mood that surrounds the story. It is to fiction what the sensory level is to poetry. Mood is established in order to affect the reader emotionally and psychologically and to provide a feeling for the narrative.