Modernism In BritModernism was the most influential literary movement in England and America during the first half of the twentieth century. It encompassed such works as The Waste Land (1922), by T. S. Eliot, Ulysses (1922), by James Joyce, and The Great Gatsby (1925), by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Representing an unequivocal rejection of Victorian aesthetic standards, moral precepts, and literary techniques, Modernism was initiated during the opening decade of the century, a time of extensive experimentation in the arts.
Writers of the movement embraced the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and the anthropological relativism espoused by Sir James Frazer, and in their works the Modernists emphasized the psychological state of a character through the use of such devices as the interior monologue, or stream-of-consciousness narrative. In English literature, manifestations of the modernist aesthetic in fiction range from the sexual explicitness of D. H.
Lawrence to the formal experimentation of Virginia Woolf and the myth-based narrative of James Joyce. The disorienting effects of the era of modern warfare that began with the First World War gave rise to such American expressions of modernist concerns as the novels of John Dos Passos, whose Manhattan Transfer (1925) utilized montage-like effects to depict the chaos of modern urban life, and Ernest Hemingway, whose The Sun Also Rises (1926) portrayed the aimlessness of the “lost generation” of American expatriates in Europe during the postwar era.
Similarly, The Great Gatsby is seen to epitomize the demoralization of American society and the end of innocence in American thought. While sharing the novelists’ preoccupation with themes of alienation and ambivalence, Modernist poetry is chiefly known for its dependence on concrete imagery and its rejection of traditional prosody. Considered a transitional figure in the development of modern poetry, W. B. Yeats rejected the rhetorical poetry that had gained prominence at the height of the Victorian era, favoring a personal aesthetic, natural rhythms, and spare style.
American expatriate Ezra Pound, who with Richard Aldington and Hilda Dolittle founded the Imagist movement in poetry in 1910, favored concise language and free rhythms, and became a champion of avant-garde experimentalists of the era. The thematic preoccupations and technical innovations of Modernist poetry are seen to culminate in The Waste Land, Eliot’s complex, erudite expression of modern malaise and disillusionment. Navigate 1. Introduction 2. Representative Works 3. Definitions 4. Modernism And Earlier Movements 5. Stylistic And Thematic Traits 6. Poetry And Drama
7. Redefining Modernism 8. Further Reading 9. Copyright Modernism | REPRESENTATIVE WORKS 1. Printable Version 2. Download PDF 3. Cite this Page REPRESENTATIVE WORKS Anderson, Sherwood Winesburg, Ohio (short stories) 1919 Crane, Hart The Bridge (poetry) 1930 Dos Passos, John Manhattan Transfer (novel) 1925 U. S. A. (novels) 1930-36 Eliot, T. S. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (poetry) 1917 “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (prose) 1919 The Waste Land (poetry) 1922 Murder in the Cathedral (drama) 1935 Four Quartets (poetry) 1943 Faulkner, William
The Sound and the Fury (novel) 1929 Fitzgerald, F. Scott The Great Gatsby (novel) 1925 Ford, Ford Madox The Good Soldier (novel) 1915 Hemingway, Ernest The Sun Also Rises (novel) 1926 Isherwood, Christopher The Berlin Stories (short stories) 1935-49 Joyce, James A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (novel)… DEFINITIONS Anna Balakian SOURCE: “Problems of Modernism,” in The Snowflake on the Belfry: Dogma and Disquietude in the Critical Arena, Indiana University Press, 1994, pp. 24-43. [In the following essay, Balakian considers the variety of meanings and manifestations of Modernism.
] Each generation of writers had the habit of reacting against the past by declaring itself “modern. ” The quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns used to be a cyclical phenomenon. “New” is in itself empty of meaning, a connective word between what was and what is to come. In early uses the word had a pejorative meaning, implying that what was new and modern could not be as good as what had the prestige of approval over a period of time. Baudelaire as both poet and critic was one of the first to splice the meaning of “modern” in a modest article relating to his viewing of the art of his time.
In his piece called “La Modernite” he first gives the… MODERNISM AND EARLIER MOVEMENTS Gabriel Josipovici SOURCE: “Modernism and Romanticism,” in The World and the Book: A Study of Modern Fiction, Macmillan Press, 1979, pp. 179-99. [In the following excerpt, Josipovici studies the relationship between Modernism and the earlier artistic movement of Romanticism. ] [The] years between 1885 and 1914 saw the birth of the modern movement in the arts. What are the specific features of that movement and how are we to account for its emergence?
Two points need to be made before we start. First of all we must be clear that in one sense our inquiry is absurd. There is no physical entity called ‘modernism’ which we can extract from the variety of individual works of art and hold up for inspection. Every modern artist of any worth has achieved what he has precisely because he has found his own individual voice and because this voice is distinct from those around him. Yet it cannot be denied… STYLISTIC AND THEMATIC TRAITS James Sloan Allen SOURCE: “Self-Consciousness and the Modernist Temper,” in Georgia Review, Vol.
33, No. 3, Fall, 1979, pp. 601-20. [In the following essay, Allen considers self-consciousness as a defining trait of the Modernist temperament. ] If there is one undisputed attribute of the modernist temper, it is self-consciousness. Even quarrels over the merits of that temper fall into agreement here: self-consciousness—in such guises as the mirror, shadow, multiple selves, self-reflecting thought, an anxious pause between sensation and expression, shuffling feet, or quickly averted eyes—marks every work of the modernist imagination.
Critics who find fault with that temper often locate the fault in self-consciousness. A generation ago, Jacques Barzun, observing that “the first striking trait of the modern ego is self-consciousness,” belabored this trait for subverting the “willingness to take… POETRY AND DRAMA Philip Hobsbaum SOURCE: “The Growth of English Modernism,” in Tradition and Experiment in English Poetry, Rowman and Littlefield, 1979, pp. 289-307. [In the following excerpt, Hobsbaum examines Modernism in English poetry. ] A conventional account of the rise of modern poetry would, I suppose, run something like this.
The Georgians of Sir Edward Marsh’s anthologies represented the last lap of Victorianism; sheltered subjects and literary diction. English poetry was shocked out of such torpor by the Imagists; insistence on experiment, free verse. The resistance to ‘modernism’, so called, was overcome by the mature work of T. S. Eliot in The Waste Land and of Ezra Pound in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. But their work has never been satisfactorily implemented in English poetry. Hence the thin poetic haul of the last thirty years. There is a lot in this that one can agree with. Yet it seems to… REDEFINING MODERNISM Harry Levin
SOURCE: “What Was Modernism? ” in Varieties of Literary Experience: Eighteen Essays in World Literature, edited by Stanley Burnshaw, New York University Press, 1962, pp. 307-29. [In the following essay, Levin reflects on the distinguishing traits and cultural significance of the Modernist era in literature. ] A new apartment building in New York City, according to a recent announcement, has been named The Picasso. Though I have not had the pleasure of seeing it, I would suggest that it ought to be hailed as a landmark, indicating that we Americans have smoothly rounded some sort of cultural corner.
Heretofore it has been more customary to christen our apartments after the landed estates or the rural counties of England, as if by verbal association to compensate for the rootless transience of metropolitan living. A few years ago the name of Picasso, as house-hold god, would have conjured up notions of… Anthologies Ellmann, Richard, and Feidelson, Charles, Jr. , eds. The Modern Tradition: Backgrounds of Modern Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, 953 p. Presents thematic arrangement of writings by novelists, dramatists, poets, artists, and philosophers. Bibliographies
Davies, Alistair. An Annotated Critical Bibliography of Modernism. Totowa, N. J. : Barnes & Noble Books, 1982, 261 p. Includes books and essays discussing the origins, development, techniques, and cultural context of literary Modernism, and provides comprehensive individual bibliographies on such figures as W. B. Yeats, Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence, and T. S. Eliot. Secondary Sources Bergonzi, Bernard. “The Advent of Modernism, 1900-1920. ” In The Twentieth Century, edited by Bernard Bergonzi, pp. 17-45. London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1970. Traces the origins and delineates prominent traits of…