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Modernism in American Literature

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Katherine Vasquez

on 23 April 2015

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Transcript of Modernism in American Literature

The United States' involvement in World War I is often believed to be the main driving force behind the Modernist movement in the United States. This is because, due to developing warfare technology, which greatly increased the magnitude of damage done to the opponent, many believed war began to be about mass killings.
This idea was opposed by many Americans and caused them to lose patriotism, doubt the government, and question morality.
Historical Backdrop
Genre and Style
Significant Authors and Works:
In American Literature
What Is Modernism?
Modernism is often considered a literary style marked by nonconformity and rebellion, hence the term "modernism," which is characterized by the shift away from traditional beliefs toward more modern, contemporary ideals.
Originating in Europe, modernism spread to the United States around 1914, which was a time in which the United States was seeing many changes in the traditional way of living, mostly because rapid industrialization was taking place.
Both wealth and technology contributed to the shift toward increased city life, which had not previously been the custom for most Americans. This caused many to feel insecure about this new, foreign lifestyle, which was reflected in the literature of this period.

The 20 century was one packed with reforms, the women's rights movement being one of the most prominent. The 1910's-1920's was a period especially significant in this movement, because in these decades women began to be liberated from their traditional "womanly" roles.
In modernist literature, this "new woman" was depicted as one who "demanded her right to a career or family, or both, depending on her individual choices and desires."
Women's Rights Movement
a literary style in
which a writer presents his thoughts and ideas in no particular sequence, similar to the way humans do when thinking.
a style of poetry that engages in free
verse, like that of natural speech.
the use of sarcasm, irony, or mockery to
expose or ridicule human behavior.
a long narrative
Highlighted Passage

They sucked us in;
King and country,
Christ Almighty
And the rest.
Words and phrases,
They either *****ed or killed us.

Ernest Hemingway "To Good Guys Dead"
Significant Authors and Works
The opposition to war that many Americans had during WWI is strongly reflected in Hemingway's "To Good Guys Dead."
Hemingway chastises the very purpose of war by utilizing some of the rallying cries that soldiers used at war, and then concluding with the way these motivations to fight ultimately forsook the soldiers.
Ernest Hemingway was an American author/journalist and WWI veteran.
He served in WWI in 1918, where he met his first fiance, Agnes von Kurowsky, but she later left him for another man. This event devastated Hemingway, but also helped inspire one of his most famous works,
A Farewell to Arms.
Recognized most for his short, fragmented, straight-to-the-point sentences, Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for
The Old Man and the Sea
in 1953, and was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature a year later for that same novel, which acts, even today, as a landmark of this unique artistic style that lays at the heart of Hemingway's legacy.
Ernest Hemingway
Distinguished by his unique and remarkably intricate writing style, American poet/novelist William Faulkner is often regarded as one of the greatest and most innovative writers of the 20 century. He was a Nobel Prize Laureate and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner for his novels
The Reivers
A Fable.
Falkner has gained a lot of recognition for publishing three of his "powerhouse novels,"
The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying,
Absalom, Absalom!
all within the span of a decade.
William Faulkner
Significant Authors and Works:
Frances Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American novelist, and one of the most prominent writers of the Modernist literary movement. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fitzgerald began writing at a very young age and saw his first published work in his school newspaper when he was only 13.
Fitzgerald got his breakthrough as an author after the publication of
This Side of Paradise,
a book based on love and greed, which was often believed to be inspired by his own experiences with love.
Although Fitzgerald did not receive any major literary awards, he was, and is, considered one of the greatest authors of the 20 century.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
This Side
of Paradise
This Side of Paradise
, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, documents the life of a wealthy young man, Amory Blaine, who enjoys life's riches through his mother's wealth, Beatrice Blaine. While serving overseas for WWI, Beatrice passes away and Amory is left with no money. This newfound poverty is what keeps Amory's love, Rosalind Connage, a beautiful young, wealthy girl, from marrying him.
The novel concludes with a quote by Amory, in which he raises his hands to the sky and says, "I know myself, but that is all--" These last words are a summation of his true purpose throughout the novel: his quest for self-knowledge.
A Rose
For Emily
"A Rose for Emily" is a short story about Emily Grierson, a well-known woman who is admired by the community, but conceals horrific truths about herself. Sorrow, violence, mystery and, worst of all, necrophilia--are the elements that made this story so enticing to readers.
This seemingly innocent short story takes an eerie turn after Emily purchases arsenic from a local drug store. Soon after this purchase, Emily's lover, Homer Barron, mysteriously "disappears." It is revealed to the reader later in the story that Homer had not disappeared, but had been murdered by Emily.
In addition to this already-gruesome murder story, the story concludes with the tell-all line: "We saw a long strand of iron-grey hair."
Values and Beliefs
Values and beliefs became less traditional during the modernist period. Because of things going on during this era such as prohibition, women's suffrage, the Great Depression, and the two World Wars, Americans lost trust in the government and in religion.
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