Modernism and Modernist Literature

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Christina Ortega

March 30, 2013

Modernism and Modernist Literature

Modernism is the movement in visual arts, music, literature, and drama which rejected the old Victorian standards of how art should be made, consumed, and what it should mean. The concept was what is reality? It used art and literature to replicate reality, and traditions cultivated in Romanticism and Victorianism. It was against all traditions. The Modernist Period in English Literature occupied the years from shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century through roughly 1965. The period was marked by sudden and unexpected breaks with traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Experimentation and individualism became virtues, where in the past they were often completely discouraged. In the world of art, generally speaking, Modernism was the beginning of the distinction between “high” art and “low” art. Still, the most effective poets and novelists did manage to make deep statements that were absorbed by the whole of society and not just the writer’s inner circles. In Modernist literature, it was the poets who took fullest advantage of the new spirit of the times, and stretched the possibilities of their craft to lengths not previously imagined. In general, there was a disregard for most of the literary making of the last century. The following are characteristics of Modernism:

• Marked by a strong and intended break with tradition. This break includes a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views. • Belief that the world is created in the act of perceiving it; that is, the world is what we say it is. • There is no such thing as absolute truth. All things are relative. • No connection with history or institutions. Their experience is that of alienation, loss, and despair. • Life is unordered.

• Concerned with the sub-conscious.
Ambrose Bierce, turn of the century California's one of the...
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