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Transcript of Modernist Literature
of the 20th Century
Modernist Literary Movement
with literary form
Writers shared a mistrust of institutions of power such as:
Government & Religion
American and European writers produced groundbreaking work in the 1920s
"Make it new," was the maxim to which modernists adhered. (proposed by Ezra Pound)
The horrors of WWI saw the prevailing assumptions about society reassessed.
Thinkers such as Sigmund Freud questioned the rationality of mankind
Many rejected the notion of ABSOLUTE TRUTHS
Modernist works such as T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) were increasingly introspective, self-aware and explored the darker side of human nature.
Late 19th century &
beginning of the 20th century
D. H. Lawrence
Modernism is characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional styles of poetry and verse.
World War I
Writers were driven by a conscious desire to express the new sensibilities of their time.
Nude Descending a staircase by Marcel Duchamp
Poverty in the cities was at an all time high.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Modernism and the Self
the chief characteristic of the self is one of alienation
The character belongs to a "lost generation" (Gertrude Stein),
suffers from a "dissociation of sensibility" (T. S. Eliot),
and who has "a Dream deferred" (Langston Hughes).
The impact of the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
The Jazz Age.
The passage of 19th Amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote.
Prohibition of the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages, 1920-33.
The stock-market crash of 1929 and the Depression of the 1930s and their impact.
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
In Search of Time Lost
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 heartily discouraged.