Modernism Short Note

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Question: Write a short note on Modernism with special reference to Literature

Almost every generation of society has a habit of reacting against the past by declaring itself “modern.” This quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns is a cyclical phenomenon. Modernism was a similar trend that spanned all of the arts and even spilled into politics and philosophy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Anyone who looks at the evolution of western culture must note a distinct change in thought, behavior and culutural production during this time. This change is known as Modernism. During the course of this essay, I will attempt to discuss briefly the origins of the Modernist movement. Further, I will analyse one of the primary manifestations of the modernist aesthetic, Literature. Lastly , I wish to identify stylistic and thematic traits of the movement as well as probe representative works such as Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Eliot’s Prufrock and Other Observations and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to demonstrate the same.

During the late nineteenth century many of Society’s cornerstones were broken. Scientific discoveries such as those of the X-Ray had egalitarian effects on society. Everyone was “intriniscally” made of the same structure, and things that society held value for such as beauty and grace were revealed as purely superficial. The virtuous maiden and the evil witch were the same. Darwin provided evidence that the Bible may not be true and that Humans actually descended from apes and were not simply “created by God”. The time also saw the rise of Psychoanalytical practice with Freud postulating theories such as the Oedipus complex, where the earlier “innocent and naïve child” was portrayed as an incestuous being. The advent of the First World War, exposed the sheer brutal nature of man. All these demonstrated how slowly and steadly society was moving in to a state of “meaninglessness”. A new structure was needed and it manifested itself...
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