The themes of the modern novel and how philosophy, psychoanalysis and science have influenced these works.

Augustine Martin begins his presentation on the modern novel by discussing the song 'Mrs Robinson' and the reference to Joe DiMaggio, a version of the heroic and a theme which disappears from the modern novel in the 20th century. He examines the central themes of the modern novel which are related and interlinked.

A central subject matter in the novels on the Leaving Certificate course is the notion of progress.

The myth of progress persisted a long time in the human race.

The notion that man was continually perfecting himself disappears in modern life and is reflected in the novels on the syllabus.

Another idea which is central is the notion of order, the ability of man to create an order. This notion of order tended to break down in modern civilisation and is reflected in the set of novels.

A third notion is man's belief in himself as a rational animal. Augustine Martin says for a long time the human race believed that reason could bring man's impulses under control. However, this belief has faded. This is reflected in the novels of the 19th and 20th century with the emerging idea that man is not as rational as previously thought.

A belief that man could find sources of value in human relationships has disappeared from many modern novels.

Modern man tends to be extremely lonely.

The loneliness of man becomes a theme in the modern novel, a theme which is evident in the novels of Joseph Conrad specifically in Lord Jim.

Augustine Martin presents three desert island novels, two of which are not on the Leaving Certificate programme. 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe and 'The Coral Island' by Robert Ballantyne, create perfectly civilised societies both on desert islands. William Golding's 'The Lord of the Flies' on the other hand creates a dark fable of boys on a desert island who degenerate into savages. There is a progression in these three novels that reflects a progression in human thought.

This progression is reflected in the non-literary works of three men, Darwin, Freud and Marx. Charles Darwin with his evolutionary theories discovered that man is descended from animals and therefore not god like. This discovery changed literature. Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis purported that what man believed to be rational behaviour was in fact motivated by darker forces within him. The modern novel has investigated this theory. Karl Marx's work on social order and disorder calling for a radical class revolution. This notion of class entered powerfully into the modern novel.

Remember what the novel is doing is not giving you answers to questions, it's dramatising the problems of man as they are lived and as they exist.

In the context of Marx's theories, Augustine Martin points to two works. 'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens presents the laissez-faire world of 19th century England during the industrial revolution where man is dehumanised.

He showed the terrible gap that exists between man and man.

In the context of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm', the revolution has taken place but nothing much has changed. Both are powerfully pessimistic works.

The modern novel looks back at a time when the world was quite hopeful but became progressively darker.

This episode of 'Telefís Scoile' was broadcast on 21 January 1972. The presenter is Augustine Martin.

'Telefís Scoile' was an educational television programme that gave school lessons in maths, science and literature.