Smellscape Writings in The Web and the Rock—— A Material Cultural Perspective毕业论文_英语毕业论文

Smellscape Writings in The Web and the Rock—— A Material Cultural Perspective毕业论文


摘 要




  1. Introduction 1
  2. Demonstration 2
    1. Smell writings of Libya Hill 2
      1. Smell of family members 2
      2. Smell of the changing hometown 3
      3. Smell of the golden city 4
    2. Smell writings of New York 5
      1. Smell of the basement 5
      2. Smell of the perfume 6
      3. Smell of the apartment 6
    3. Smell writings of alien cities 8
      1. Smell of London 8
      2. Smell of Paris 9
      3. Smell of Munich 9
      4. Embracing the smell of hometown 11
  3. Conclusion 11

Works Cited 12

Bibliography 13


Smell Writings in The Web and the Rock

Thomas Wolfe (October 3, 1900-September 15, 1938) was honored as one of the pioneers of American Southern Renaissance because of his brilliant literary achievements. Most of Wolfe’s works are semi-autobiographic in that the characterization of protagonists in his novels resembles Wolfe’s own life experiences. In 1929 he published his first novel, Look Homeward, and began his career as a professional writer. His representative works are Of Time and the River, The Web and the Rock, You Can’t Go Home Again as well as The Hills Beyond and From Death to Morning.

The Web and the Rock, one of the Thomas Wolfe’s most famous full-length novels, centers on George Weber’s life journey which ranges from the hometown of the protagonist to European countries. In this novel, we can see the recurrent theme in most of Wolfe’s works: the spiritual growth of a young man who is caught between cultural conflicts between southern rural areas and modern urban cities. In The Web and the Rock, Thomas Wolfe uses the “web” to symbolize the “universal evil consciousness” that hangs over the real world.

As a great writer in American literature, Thomas Wolfe is practically good at writing of the settings, especially sensory writings in his novels. Due to his controversial historical position and style of works, Thomas Wolfe has triggered rich literary studies. However, most scholars have studied the language style, writing skills, characterization as well as the influence of Wolfe upon his contemporary writers. However, Wolfe’s writings of smell didn’t attract much literary attention.

In the past ten years, there is a rising interest in the study of sensory writings in the western literary criticism. From the book of Jonathan Reinarz, Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell, to the speech at the French National Library of Mo Yan, to The Power of Smell in American Literature: Oddor, Suffice, and Social Quality, written by German literary critic Daniela Babilon, they all admit that smell writings are closely relevant to the characterization and help reveal the subject identity of the protagonist.

Thomas Wolfe, as a representative writer of modernism, presents a hero in The Web and the Rock who seeks the modern individual identity. He uses many unique smell writings which are the essential material background in the novel. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to study smell writings in detail, thereby searching for the main identity of the protagonist and thus exploring the theme of the novel. Apart from the introduction and the conclusion, the thesis will be divided into three parts. Each part will study in detail the smell writings in George Weber’s different stages of life, with the focus on how George Weber’s inner conflicts are conveyed through exquisite sensory descriptions.


Smell writings of Libya Hill

Libya hill, the opening background of The Web and the Rock, is a poor and backward southern township which is a fictional version of Thomas Wolfe’s hometown, full of violence and barbarism. George Weber is forced to grow up in an environment with deep hatred so that we can infer from George Weber’s real olfactory senses the decadent social atmosphere and terrible living habits of this southern town. In addition, some emerging and special olfactory experiences can prove the degree of development and industrialization of the small town. Therefore, we can explore the source of the protagonist’s aversion to his hometown, and have a direct and in-depth understanding of how George Weber constructed a pure land of mind. Next, we will dig deep into George Weber’s inner experience and pursuit of life noumenon consciousness through specific analysis.

Smell of family members

Due to totally different personalities, Weber’s father frequently quarrels with his mother which has led to his father’s betrayal to the family. Then, Weber is picked up from his father by the Joey’s family. As Puritans, the Joey family is so narrow with strong religious ideas that he is often inculcated with the history full of death and decay where Weber cannot find empathy but unspeakable fear. And because the Joey’s family always condemns his father’s behaviors, Weber, who shares the same blood, feels guilty under the so-called irrefutable correctness of the Joey’s family. Under

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