Modernist literature

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20th-Century British and Irish Modernist Literature A Quick Overview of General Characteristics, Themes, and Agendas Historical Background ► ► ► ► ► ► ► ► ► ► ► 1901- The End of the Reign of Queen Victoria 1903- Ford Motor Company Founded 1905- Einstein Unveils the Theory of Special Relativity 1914-18- WWI 1916- Easter Rising in Dublin 1920- League of Nations Formed 1929- Stock Market Crash 1933- Hitler Rises to Power 1939-45- WWII 1945- Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan 1969- Apollo Lands on the Moon Who is a “British” Writer in the 20th Century ► 20th-century writers who we call British    Conrad (Polish) T.S.Eliot & Pound (Americans) Yeats & Joyce (Irish) The British Empire has Stretched Across the Globe Who is a British Writer in the 20th Century? ► Writers that were once marginalized by sexuality, gender, and class were now celebrated W H Auden Virginia Woolf D H Lawrence Much has Been Brewing in the World of Science, Philosophy, and Ideology ► Marx (1818-1883)  Marx felt that reality was determined by materialist cultures and economics He called for a social revolution ► Darwin (1809-1882)  Darwin's theory of evolution and “survival of the fittest” suggests that survival is determined by the ability to adapt The Origin of the Species ► Nietzsche (1844-1900)  Feels that traditional religions have been debunked by physical and natural sciences and thus, that moral and ethical systems that arise from traditional religions are illogical ► Freud (1856-1939)  Freud ‘s theories of the dynamic unconscious suggested that humans are not fully aware of what they think or why they think it His ideas proposed that awareness existed in layers and that many thoughts occur "below the surface.” ► Einstein (1879-1955)  Overturns Newtonian conceptions of Physics The universe is uncertain and we are ill-equipped observers Reed’s Reflections on Modernist Literature ► Modernist literature is a movement away from Romanticism, Victorian trends in literature, and Realism, and really, is marked by its determined desire to break away from all previous forms and conventions It reflects the lack of order seen in a growing urban society, celebrates passion over reason, and questions traditional moralities Some Formal Characteristics of Modernist Literature ►Open and Experimental Form ►Discontinuity ►Juxtaposition ►Intertextuality ►Classical Allusions ►Borrowings From Other Cultures and Texts T.S Eliot I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each I not think that they will sing to me ( “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” lines 120-125) Some Thematic Characteristics of Modernist Literature ► Alienation of the individual and the artist ► Society as fractured and culture as fragmented ► Sense of dislocation and meaninglessness ► Questioning the value of cultural norms ► Rejecting recorded history and valuing the mythic ► Focusing on the urban, the mundane, and the marginalized James Joyce I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use, silence, exile, and cunning (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)
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