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DESPERADO - Contemporary British Literature | There are two major directions in 20th century literature: the stream of consciousness and the Post-stream of consciousness, the latter being known as Postmodernism (including Post-Postmodernism as well)...


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portrait by VIC (Cristina Ioana Vianu)



Professor of Contemporary British Literature at the English Department of Bucharest University.

Profesor de Literatură contemporană britanică la Catedra de Engleză a Universității București. 


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Available E-BOOKS:

+ British Desperadoes at the Turn of the Millennium - click here to read the book

+ The Desperado Age - British Literature at the Start of the Third Millennium - click here to read the book

+ T.S. Eliot - An Author for All Seasons - click here to read the book

+ Alan Brownjohn and the Desperado Age - click here to read the book


Doris Lessing was born of British parents, in Persia in 1919, and was taken to Southern Rhodesia when she was five. She spent her childhood on a farm there, and first came to England when she was thirty... [ READ MORE... ]

Centre for the translation and interpretation of the contemporary text

Centrul pentru traducerea si interpretarea textului contemporan


Invata o limba straina!



Desperado is an unusual term for postmodern literature. Lidia Vianu, Professor of contemporary British literature at the English Department of Bucharest University is using its violent connotations to say that nowadays literature is not exactly an oasis of peace. It is a struggle, gun in hand, for new boundaries. A struggle which challenges the past more than anything else, which reshapes this past according to yet unknown rules. Actually, what the author of this theory concerning literature since the end of Modernism says is that we are vastly ignorant of what is going on. The only criterion that ought to make us point at a work as Desperado is the sense of confusion it stirs up.


We are ill at ease, shocked, bewildered. We feel inadequate, we are not up to the mark with these writers. Are they too smart for us? They are being very clever, no doubt, but the main mood of all recent literature is that we feel we are left out in the dark without a clue. We struggle to get in, to understand what we are reading. It takes a while for us – at least a hundred pages – to get into the game. Because this is what it all amounts to, a game.


Some writers play for fun, some for money – each with his own luck. This is the age of receipts for bestsellers. It is the time when people go to special courses to learn how to write, which actually means how to take us by surprise more effectively. The whole of literature is essentially a big surprise, a party ending in blinding fireworks. And, whether we like it or not (we may be pining for romanticism, realism or whatever – it will all be in vain), it is here to stay. Desperado is a word that will not go away easily. It is, in fact, a bit more than a word: with these books by Lidia Vianu, it becomes a theory.


British Desperadoes

at the Turn of the Millennium


This is NOT a book of scholarly criticism. It may not even be criticism at all, but an informed chat, a reading diary. Its major aim is to establish the name that could be attributed to all literature at the turn of the millennium. I am suggesting Desperado instead of the all too vague Postmodernism, which means everything and nothing any more. Any moment in the history of literature has its postmoment, but not every age has so many Desperadoes as ours.

I mean by Desperado literature everywhere that all writers are desperate to use all the tricks ever invented, to be different, to shock at all costs, to be their own trend. The main trick used during the last six or seven decades, which is not new, though, is the hybridization of literary genres, which now mix freely, creating new, baffling, uncertain forms.
Though light and friendly, this book is a tricky diary with a thesis, in the end. It aims at offering an image of diversity and unity in British literature at the turn of the millennium. It formulates common features, sneaks into theorizing when expected least, hides behind clarity in order to debunk the confusing myth of Postmodernism and replace it by a different approach.
The choice of writers is somewhat arbitrary – as the idea of a reading diary suggests – and open to all possible objections. Frankly speaking, this is only one first volume of a much larger project. Whatever reproaches may arise, we must bear in mind that Desperado literature creates its own Desperado readers and – why not – its own Desperado critics.


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The Desperado Age



The first few decades of the 20th century, the years between Henry James (at the turning point between the 19th and 20th centuries) and Joyce, Woolf, Eliot – culminating in 1922, when Ulysses and The Waste Land were published almost simultaneously, were an age of denial. Writers rebelled against established conventions, while apparently challenging literature, trying to replace it with life itself, with absolute veridicity. They did not aim at replacing imagination with reality (true reports or lists of strictly authentic incidents), but at changing the face of literature, which, for more than twenty centuries had been doing the same thing over and over again: telling a story about a past which led inevitably to a present, which present expected a future. They also rebelled against the old dependence of the plot on the life...

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British Literature

at the Start of the Third Millennium


This book is an attempt at renaming literature at the start of the third millennium. It hopes to offer a bird’s eye view of what was written during the last five decades of the twentieth century and what is being written in this first decade of the twenty-first.

The book is just a starting point. More than offering a definition, it means to challenge those who read literature today and, for one reason or another, write about it.

The project called Desperado includes a book of criticism (British Desperadoes, 1999), a monograph on the British poet, novelist and critic Alan Brownjohn (Alan Brownjohn and the Desperado Age, 2003) a large selection of British contemporary verse (Desperado Poetry, 2004) and volume of Desperado Interviews with the authors dealt with in The Desperado Age.

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Vrei sa studiezi limba engleza la facultate? - Intra la www.limbi-straine.ro !  | RAAS - Visit the American Studies Website!

(c) LIDIA VIANU | Desperado - Contemporary British Literature


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