Modernist Literature

Topics: Modernism, Ezra Pound / Pages: 7 (1617 words) / Published: Oct 24th, 2013
The term modernism refers to the radical shift in aesthetic and cultural sensibilities evident in the art and literature of the post-World War One period. The ordered, stable and inherently meaningful worldview of the nineteenth century could not, wrote T.S. Eliot, accord with "the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history." Modernism thus marks a distinctive break with Victorian bourgeois morality; rejecting nineteenth-century optimism, they presented a profoundly pessimistic picture of a culture in disarray. This despair often results in an apparent apathy and moral relativism.
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes a set of cultural tendencies and movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The term encompasses the activities and output of those who felt the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world. The first half of the 20th century is then normally referred to in literary histories as ‘Modernism’, a very general term used to talk about a series of different movements and tendencies (impressionism, expressionism, imagism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism...) that tried to break with old tradition and the realistic concept of art.
Modernism challenged the assumption of reality, which is at the roots of realism: that there is a common phenomenal world that can be reliably described. Psychoanalysis, Darwinism, Nietzche and Marxism questioned traditional assumptions and so did World War I and the skeptical spirit it brought about. They all helped to shatter traditional beliefs. Regardless of the specific year it was produced, modernism is characterized primarily by a complete

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