Modernism

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MODERNISM

Even if under the term “Modernism” there are different movements including Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism and so on, common features were the awareness of the sperimental studies that had developed in other disciplines and the loss of faith in the traditional vision of reality and art. As a consequence “modernism” became synonymous with reaction and opposition to the traditional expressive form, mainly to representational art. It was persistently experimental and gave way to Relativism while scientific and philosophical discoveries increased.

The founder of the new poetic theory was the Anglo-American poet T.S. Eliot. He dedicated his poem The Waste Land, the greatest modern poem, to Ezra Pound, the leader of Imagism. Modernism established that the new poet had to reject subjective feelings in favour of a central authority and objective, central standards. T.S. Eliot found this central authority in tradition that consist in the works of the great masters of the past, like Dante. The new poetry, which was deeply influenced by the French symbolists, was highly symbolical and concise, using contrast and paradoxes, colloquial and formal speech, including the vulgar. However it was written for the learned, that could understand the many allusions to different traditions. A great characteristic was that the new poetry rejected the rural in favour of the city, and contemporary life.

The experimental novel focuses on the haphazard flow of thoughts, feelings and emotions that take place within the individual without following a logical or chronological order.

(Freud: with his studies on dreams and sexuality revealed the existence of the subconscious in man, showing that man’s past is man’s present even if we are unable to remember the former. So, for example, a particular experience done in infancy or in childhood will govern future rational decisions. His main works is Interpretations of Dreams. (Einstein: his theories put the very idea of time in doubt. The principles that form the foundation of his Theory or Relativity are simple and based on experience (they were demonstrated experimentally only in the seventies). According to the theory, time and space cannon be separated: Einstein maintained that time was a subjective dimension, a relation between the subject and his speed. (Bergson: he revolutionises concepts of time and consciousness. In fact, to him time was no longer seen as a series of points in an objective chronological sequence, but as a flux of subjective consciousness in which present, past and future co-exist. He thought there is no past or present, but a series of floating memories simultaneously present in Man’s mind. According to his theory, new novel ceased to be a sequence of facts or events chronologically arranged and became a representation of reality as perceived and experienced in the character’s mind.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE INTERIOR MONOLOGUE TECHNIQUE

The creator of the term was William James, who maintained that the work of the mind is like a “stream or flux” with its free play of images and associations according to the current of changing impressions. The stream of consciousness found its proper medium in the interior monologue technique, which can be defined as a soliloquy of the mind with itself.

SYMBOLISM

Symbolism was a poetic movement originated in France in the late 19th century. The French writers (Symbolists) reacted against the descriptive precision and objectivity of realism and the scientific determinism of naturalism as an attempt to “spiritualise” literature. The term “Symbolism” was first used in this sense by Jean Moréas in “Le Figaro” in 1886.

Important precursors of the Movement, which reached its height with Paul Verlaine and Mallarmé, were Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe. Other French Symbolist writers included such poets as Rimbaud and Laforgue. Its influence on the other arts can be seen in the...
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