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3 POSTMODERN LITERATURE AND ITS BACKGROUND

Like modernist literature, postmodern literature is part of socio-cultural and historical development and can be seen as a specific way of a depiction of the postmodern life and culture. It shows a crisis of identity of human being (ethnic, sexual, social and cultural) and its struggle for legitimization in a hypocritical society. This theme was treated by other authors before (example), but it started to be treated much more systematically after the Civil Right Movement in the USA in the 1960’s (Martin Luther King, ethnic and sexual/homosexual and lesbian minority rights), the Vietnam and student protests in Europe and the USA. While this movement led to democratization of the public life, more prerogatives, education and publishing opportunities for minorities in the Western countries, the East and Central European countries became much more authoritarian under the influence and control of the USSR, especially between the 1950’s – 1980’s. With a more employment, educational and public opportunities to find a place in the society, new authors representing minority ethnic (in addition to quite well-established Jewish and Black-American authors, especially NativeAmerican, Asian-American and Hispanic-American authors), gender (female), sexual (gay, lesbian) started to gain a prominent position in American literature, for example. Later similar development could be observed in British, Australian and Canadian literature in which the authors coming from different cultural background, usually former British colonies, started to appear (Ben Okri, Kasugio Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, for example, in British fiction; or the representatives of formerly oppressed original inhabitants such as Collin Johnson, Kath Walker, Sam Watson and Kim Scott in Australian literature). In literary theory and criticism, it was especially the emergence of feminist and post-colonial theories which was a result of this development. At the same time, literatures in English, especially American literature, depicted a growing awareness of the negative effects of industrialization and commercialization of public life leading to the ecological crisis and consumerism (the Beatnick authors such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Snyder, Gregory Corso and others). These authors expressed negative attitudes to the Western civilization and emphasized oriental vision and understanding of the world (Zen-Buddhism, Buddhism, Hinduism), pacifistic and peaceful way of life along with

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the appreciation of drugs, alcohol and spontaneity as a liberating alternative to the Western ethical norms, hypocrisy, and civilization. In literature, it manifested itself not only on 1) the thematic level (thematization of ecological crisis, criticism of consumerism, appreciation of freedom and spontaneity, oriental vision of the world), but also in 2) the changing nature and understanding of art and its form. Thus art started to be seen not as separated, but a part of reality and experience, art became closer to the public and was often presented in the form of show, happening or performance. The Beats, for example, often wrote poems not for intimate reading at home, but they were often recited on public places (sport stadiums, concert halls) and accompanied by the pop, jazz, or rock bands and music (Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones). Also their poetry and fiction used irregular and open, often fragmented form as well as the rhythms of popular music such as blues, jazz and rock. Painters and sculptors presented their artistic works outside traditional galleries directly in the urban environment or in nature, sometimes not only un-artistic objects, but also living or dead animals or human beings became the artistic objects (see photography, visual arts, dead corps...). It does not, however, mean that the ethnic or other formerly marginalized authors (female, gay, lesbian) became...
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