The twenty century was marked by great transformations. It was two world wars that modified the world and man and it developed science, communication and psychology. Men believe that all human misery would be swept away because they gave more importance to progress. In this period scientists and philosophers destroyed the Victorian age values and new views of man and universe emerged.
The death of Queen Victoria seemed to mark the end of an era, even if all the attitudes defined as “Victorian” disappeared gradually.She was succeeded by Edward VII. During his reign there weren’t political changes till the election of Liberal Party. Different reforms were introduced:- to protect trade unions;- to protect children with medical service in school;- to protect people over 70 with the pension;- introduced the eight hours working day ;- were given insurance to the working class.
Violence from woman: they were arguing in favour of voting rights for women since the 1860s, but none gave much attention to them until in 1903, when two ladies founded the Women’s social and political Union.
The Imperial hegemony and the white race superiority were the results of the dissolution of the English Empire in the free associations of Commonwealth.
The invention of the atomic bomb, of the psychology and of new communications and faster means of transport changed the world forever.
Attitudes were changing rapidly among writers, artists and intellectuals. At the beginning of the 20th century, faith had been questioned: people found more difficult to believe in anything (be in religion, art, progress, science or philosophy). Disillusionment Frustration Cynicism
The first decade of the 20th century knew an explosion of new ideas that would change man’s idea of himself and of the universe. To remember: Sigmund Freud Albert Einstein Henry Bergson and William James
Sigmund Freud 1900 “The interpretationofDreams” He discovered the unconscious: not a new idea but he described it in a scientific way giving scientific explanation:➢ conscious mind is dominated and controlled by reason and works according to reason, logic cause and effect…➢ unconsciousis apart of mind that we cannot control because we don’t know; all our emotions, feelings, impulses, memories are free to associate without a precise order; unconscious mind works according to the Law of free association of ideas and is revealed through analysis of dreams.
He spoke also about the presence of the super - ego as that man aspects composed of all moral and social constraints and laws imposed form the outside and that influenced the behaviour of everyone of us. This new view of investigation of the human mind brought to the method of analysis of the “free associations”.
Albert Einstein 1905 Publicationof “TheoryofRelativity” E = mc² He discovered relativity in science: putting in discussion scientific entities, time and space, he said that they have not an absolute meaning but they are related with a specific point of view. The world view lost its solidity.
The idea oftime New views of time was suggested by a great philosophers as Henry Bergson and William James. William James: claimed that our mind records every single experience as a continuous flux. The already The notyet Henry Bergson: distinguished:- historical time: external, linear, and measured in terms of spatial distance- psychological time: internal, subjective, measured by the relative emotional intensity of a moment.
The breaking down of limitations in space and time. The awareness that our perception of reality is uncertain, temporary and subject to change. The artists wanted to reflect complexity and the intensity of isolated moments. Extremely important is unconscious and conscious life: the artists wants to show the impossibility to give the final interpretation of the reality. The crisis of waster values are expressed through alienation, fragmentation and disintegration.
All these important revolutions influenced inevitably modern poets and writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, who developed in literature the interior monologue for bringing out the stream of consciousness of their characters.In fact this new literary technique consisted on making not an external but an internal description (for this reason many stories developed only in one day) of confusion thoughts before they expressed in logical phases.
A number of common features can be highlighted:• The intentional distortion of shape (in poetry, rhymes disappeared in favour of blank verse)• The breaking down of limitations in space and time;• The awareness that our perception of reality is necessarily uncertain, temporary and subject to change,(characters’ introspection become a central theme);• The need to reflect the complexity of modern urban life in artistic form;
The intensity of the isolated “moment” or “image” to provide a true insight into the nature of things;• An interest in the primitive and a reconsideration of the “past” without the restrictions imposed by national or continental culture;• The importance of unconscious as well as conscious life;• The impossibility of giving an absolute interpretation of reality.
This period was called “Age of Anxiety” because of the general feeling of alienation in the society and a common attitude of isolation.