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20th Century Literature

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20th Century Literature. Modernism. Vital Statistics. began somewhere between 1850 and 1915 ... Complaints about Modernism. postmodernists tend to think ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 20th Century Literature


1
20th Century Literature
  • Modernism

2
Vital Statistics
  • began somewhere between 1850 and 1915
  • ended between 1914 and 1950
  • it was a movement only in retrospect

3
Influences
  • the context of late capitalism, dominated by
    industrialisation and technology, shaken by WWI
  • spiritual climate is ambivalent -- exhilarating
    and exalting because of humankinds increasing
    momentum and endless prospects

4
  • but also frustrating and alienating because of
    the discrepancy between the human spirit and
    technological civilization
  • modernist art is at once an expression of and
    protest against the process of modernization

5
  • dualist view
  • optimism/pessimism
  • confidence/feelings of doom
  • irrationality/intellectualism
  • chaos/order

6
Victorians
  • believed in
  • predictable universe presided over by benevolent
    God, governed by immutable natural laws
  • humankind arriving at a unified and fixed set of
    truths
  • insistence on preserving absolute moral standards
    based on human/animal

7
Modernist Reaction
  • restructuring fragmented concepts
  • merging things previously held to be mutually
    exclusive -- manifested in paradox, cinematic
    montage
  • breaking up Victorian binary systems
  • shift toward belief that subject and object are
    linked and that the subject cannot see, describe,
    or transmit an object without changing it

8
Beliefs
  • findings of natural and human sciences are
    universally and timelessly true
  • science is inherently progressive
  • workings of the mind can be scientifically
    revealed
  • aesthetic judgments are radically individual

9
  • root justification of moral judgments must be
    scientific
  • works of art are self-contained worlds
  • personal identity is refashioned out of
    experience
  • art is principal vehicle for fashioning meaning
    in a world where meaning must be constantly
    re-created

10
Philosophy
  • fundamentally new conception of time -- eternity
    rejected in favour
  • of here and now

11
  • priority of space (spatial form) over time-bound
    narrative
  • use of allusion and verbal collage a result of
    attempting a radical compression of time --
    collapsing meaning into a moment of time

12
Characteristics
  • attempts to efface the author
  • emphasis on identity
  • locating or recovering the essential self
  • split between inner and outer self
  • objective reality exists, but is distorted by
    subjectivity

13
  • depiction of individual consciousness -- attempt
    at new realism
  • detachment
  • irony
  • fragmentation of perception
  • cosmopolitanism

14
  • technology
  • urbanism
  • predominance of metaphor
  • elimination of omniscient narrator
  • stream of consciousness
  • the unconscious
  • emphasis on connotation over denotation

15
Reaction of Modernist Writers
  • taking in the objectives of existing sciences
  • distinguishing new objects which belong a
    potentially scientific domain or have the truth
    value of disinterested natural description
  • largely abandoning any pretension to primary truth

16
Influence of Freud
  • sharp opposition between conscious surfaces and
    unconscious depths
  • heavy influence of the unconscious
  • psychoanalysis stresses the common foundation of
    all cultures

17
Complaints about Modernism
  • postmodernists tend to think
  • more emphasis should be placed on popular forms
  • political praxis is more important than
    experimental innovation
  • textual gaps should be valorised rather than
    patterns of transcendence or aesthetic wholeness
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