What is Modernism? – a movement in art and literature beginning around WWI and lasting through the 30’s; about the beginning of WWII.
What are the distinguishing characteristics of modernism?
➢ a radical shift away from the aesthetic and moral values of the 19th century ➢ an abandonment of classic form in favor of complex, obscure, and elite structure and allusions ➢ a persistent theme of disillusionment in society
Who are the most prominent modernist authors?
➢ T.S. Eliot
➢ Virginia Woolf
➢ Ernest Hemingway
➢ William Faulkner
➢ Ezra Pound
➢ James Joyce
➢ W.B. Yeats
➢ F. Scott Fitzgerald*
While Fitzgerald wrote during the modernist era and while he uses themes of disillusionment, he tends to retain a more classic style than those of his contemporaries.
What are some stylistic features of modernist literature?
➢ a radical disruption of the linear flow of narrative ➢ ironic and ambiguous juxtapositions
➢ a tone of self-mockery
➢ the opposition of inner conscience and public objective ➢ the use of allusion
➢ employment of stream-of-consciousness
➢ giving the image without explaining the meaning (tip of the iceberg) ➢ a rejection of conventional morals and relationships and the normal cause and effect process
1914 – 1945 marked the height of modernist literature.
The post WWI authors were disillusioned with the new, decadent lifestyle of the twenties.
Defining features of modernism:
➢ rejection of traditional theme and subject matter (instead of love, author’s focused on a character’s inability to commit or succeed)
➢ focus on alienated individuals rather than a hero that reflects society’s idealistic values
➢ frequent themes of impermanence and change (probably due to the war and the stock market crash)
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