CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERN ENGLISH LITERATURE
* Formal/Stylistic characteristics
Juxtaposition, irony, comparisons, and satire are important elements found in modernist writing. Modernist authors use impressionism and other devices to emphasize the subjectivity of reality, and they see omniscient narration and fixed narrative points of view as providing a false sense of objectivity. They also employ discontinuous narratives and fragmented plot structures.]Modernist works are also often reflexive and draw attention to their own role as creator. Juxtaposition is used for example in a way to represent something that would be oftentimes unseen, for example, a cat and a mouse as best friends. Irony and satire are important tools used by the modernist writer to comment on society. * Thematic characteristics
For the first-time reader, modernist writing can seem frustrating to understand because of the use of a fragmented style and a lack of conciseness. Furthermore the plot, characters and themes of the text are not always presented in a linear way. The goal of modernist literature is also not particularly focused on catering to one particular audience in a formal way. In addition modernist literature often forcefully opposes, or gives an alternative opinion, on a social concept. Common concerns of modernism are: the breaking down of social norms, rejection of standard social ideas, and traditional thoughts and expectations, rejection of religion and anger against the effects of the world wars. As well, modernists tend to reject history, social systems, and emphasize alienation in modern urban and industrial societies.
AUTHORS AND MASTERPIECES
1) Early 20th Century Prose
* JOHN GALSWORTHY (pseudonym John Sinjohn )
A prolific author who worked in many genres, Galsworthy is most widely recognized as a chronicler of English bourgeois society during the early twentieth century. His most acclaimed work, The Forsyte Saga, is a trilogy of novels and two short stories, featuring SoamesForsyte, a prosperous and materialistic solicitor. A passionate humanist, Galsworthy criticized social injustice in Victorian society and exalted nature, beauty, and love. His style was noted for its charm, delicacy, and descriptive detail. * H.G. WELLS
He wrote science fiction like the time machine. He also wrote social and political satires criticizing the middle class life of England. A good example is Tono-Bunhichaywhich attacks commercial advertsing. * JOSEPH CONRAD
He wrote remarkable novels as the Nigger of the Narcissus and Lord Jim where he depicts characters beset by obsessions of cowardice, egoism or vanity. * E.M. FORSTER
He is a master traditional plot. His characters are ordinary persons out of middle-class life. He is famous for A Passage to India, a novel that shows the life of Englishmen in India. 2) Early 20th Century Poetry
* A.E. Housman
He was an anti-Victorian who echoed the pessimism found in Thomas Hardy. In his Shropshire lad, nature I unkind people struggle without hope or purpose. * WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Irish poet, dramatist, essayist, critic, short story writer, and autobiographer. Yeats is considered one of the greatest poets in the English language. He was devoted to the cause of Irish nationalism and played an important part in the Celtic Revival Movement, promoting the literary heritage of Ireland through his use of material from ancient Irish sagas. Further, Yeats employed national themes in his poetry, thereby attempting to restore the cultural unity that he felt was needed to bring an end to Ireland's internal division and suffering. Magic and occult theory were also important elements in Yeats's work. Yeats viewed the poet as kindred to the magician and the alchemist; thus he was deeply interested in spiritualism, theosophy, and occult systems. Many of the images found in his poetry are in fact derived from Rosicrucianism as well as from his own occult researches, which are...
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